The most crucial principle in BDSM, the SSC principle, has a history that you must understand to appreciate its value today.

In 1972, amidst the fervent second wave of the feminist movement in the United States, a fierce and enduring tug-of-war between feminist groups and conservatism was taking place. Gerard Damiano, a 44-year-old director, met Linda Boreman, a 23-year-old R-rated film actress, in a nightclub.

Holding a glass of wine, Damiano cut straight to the chase, “Linda, as you know, the women’s liberation movement is at its peak right now. It’s the perfect time to capitalize on the trend. Let’s make a film that caters to women’s tastes, with a cast of muscular, handsome men as your co-stars. You just play the eye candy, and I guarantee it will be a hit across all age groups, making money like rainfall. What do you think?”

Linda rolled her eyes and pointed to her lower body, “Can we stop focusing on that and get a bit more creative, boss?” She then pointed to her throat, “My real talent lies here.”

Damiano swallowed hard, “What do you mean??”

Without a word, Linda grabbed a cola bottle from the table and inserted it into her throat.

 

Deep Throat

Six months later, still in 1972, if you were in New York, you would see long lines outside theaters and cinemas, with audiences waiting for the next showing even before the current one ended. The New York Times’ front page was dominated by a headline about an adult film called “Deep Throat.”

Its plot was quite fantastical, revolving around a woman, played by Linda, who couldn’t achieve orgasm until a doctor discovered that her sensitive spot wasn’t in her vagina, but in her throat (the rest is left to the imagination). The film’s message was straightforward: “Women need orgasms, no matter how bizarre the method may be.”

In terms of cinematography and aesthetics, I assure you that if it were posted online today, it wouldn’t garner more than a hundred downloads. However, at the time, it was like a depth charge that detonated the embers of desire just awakened by the feminist movement in everyone’s hearts.

Feminists also used this momentum as a propaganda machine to vigorously promote the ideology of sexual liberation for women.

The turning point came in 1973 when Linda revealed in her autobiography that the film’s production involved sexual abuse, rape, and many acts she did not consent to. Even the abusive scenes in the film were performed under duress from her ex-husband, who was paid $1,250 for that scene.

She demanded the film be banned, tearfully stating in interviews, “In fact, every time someone watches this film, they are watching me being raped.” Supporters of Linda later noticed visible bruises on her body in certain scenes of the film.

In just one year, Linda went from being a spearhead of the “women’s liberation movement” to becoming a standard-bearer of the “anti-pornography movement,” dealing a nearly fatal blow to the liberal feminist movement at the time. She became the Trojan horse delivered into the “feminist fortress,” carrying out a pinpoint explosion from within, raising a soul-searching question for feminists:

“Is the sexual liberation you advocate truly helping women, or is it merely making it easier for some to satisfy their own desires?”

On March 1, 1973, the U.S. Federal Court officially ruled “Deep Throat” as obscene and brought obscenity charges against more than 60 people involved in the film, including director Gerard and lead actor Harry Reems, resulting in multiple imprisonments.

 

The MacKinnon Ordinance

Ten years later, in 1983, those who had been imprisoned were gradually released and gathered to prepare for the filming of “Deep Throat 2.”

At that time, the radical anti-pornography feminist Catharine MacKinnon, a professor at the University of Minnesota, saw what was happening and immediately proposed: “Let’s criminalize pornography as a violation of women’s civil rights, allowing women harmed by pornography to sue porn distributors and producers.”

This proposal, known as the “MacKinnon Ordinance,” was a big deal. If passed, not only would selling adult films be illegal, but acting in them would be as well. Who’s to say whether you’re acting or engaging in the acts yourself? It’s no exaggeration to say that the introduction of this ordinance sent a shiver down the spine of the entire U.S. adult industry.

Some may wonder, after all this talk, what does it have to do with BDSM and the SSC principle? Patience, for the connection is about to be made. Let’s look at the specific definition of pornography in the MacKinnon Ordinance:

“Pornography” refers to the explicit sexual depiction of women through pictures or words, including one or more of the following:

  1. Treating women as sex objects, commodifying or objectifying women;
  1. Treating women as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain;
  1. Treating women as sexual objects who experience sexual pleasure from rape, incest, or other sexual assaults;
  1. Tying up women, imprisoning them, or treating them as sexual objects who have the right to be physically injured.

The saying “when the city gate is on fire, the fish in the pond suffer” applies here. At that time, there was no clear and unified stance within the BDSM community. Some believed that all participants should “consent voluntarily,” while others thought that taking on some unknown risks was part of the appeal of BDSM. This fragmented and divided state was a direct hit within the scope of the MacKinnon Ordinance’s impact. Although the MacKinnon Ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by the Federal Court, it still had a profound impact in some U.S. states and in the UK and Canada – the notion that BDSM could be considered pornographic and needed to be curbed.

 

Operation Spanner

In 1987, Manchester police obtained a video labeled “KL7,” which showed a man piercing another man’s genitals with a needle, accompanied by kicking and other violent acts.

Michael Hames, the head of the police’s Obscene Publications Unit, asked for opinions on the matter. A junior officer, Xiao Li, said, “I think the man’s genitals are in such a state that he might be dead. This is a case of violent murder!”

Thus, with a mutual understanding, they decided to apprehend the individuals involved. The Manchester police began investigating “KL7” and searching for the men in the video.

On November 4, 1987, the police identified the three individuals in the video and raided their homes separately. The arrest warrant stated, “It is believed that someone may have died during the production of the video by these three individuals.”

The police found over 400 more videotapes at the homes of the three individuals, many of which contained scenes of whipping and wax play. The only regret was that no one was found dead.

The defense lawyers of the three defendants insisted that everyone involved had given voluntary consent during the filming, and there was no coercion. However, Hames argued, “Remember the movie ‘Deep Throat’? Remember what happened to Linda, the actress? Such recklessness and escalating violence, if left unchecked, will inevitably lead to murder.”

Hames’ emotional plea resonated with mainstream society, and people took to the streets in support of him, almost shouting slogans like “Burn the homosexuals, beat the sadists to death.”

On November 6, the Manchester police and two subordinate county police forces held an expanded meeting, deciding to expand the scope of the investigation. They deployed three police dogs and 16 officers to investigate the gay and BDSM communities, an operation code-named “Spanner.”

On November 11, a Birmingham club was raided by the police, and a large number of BDSM tools were seized. On the same day, a gay magazine’s office was also raided, and some editors and underground contacts were taken in for questioning.

In 1989, 16 men, including the three from “KL7,” were charged with over 100 counts, including “actual bodily harm assault,” with the longest sentence given to Brown, who received four and a half years. Brown’s defense was, “All actions, including physical harm, were consensual among everyone involved. We did not force or coerce anyone to do anything.”

However, the presiding judge, Baron, stated, “The sadists indulge in cruelty, and the masochists suffer humiliation. Faced with the cult of violence, society has the right and the responsibility to protect itself.”

 

Fighting Back 

When the “MacKinnon Ordinance” was issued, there was an American BDSM community that wanted to organize a protest march, but no one cared about it. “This is a clause against pornography; it has nothing to do with us,” they thought. When the “KL7” members were arrested, no one wanted to stand up against the mainstream opinion and the police. However, when 16 people were sentenced to prison for their private BDSM activities, everyone finally awoke.

The community realized that silence for the vulnerable is like a bottomless black hole in the starry sky. If you ignore it, it will eventually swallow everyone up one by one.

The awakened individuals gradually learned to unite and support each other, and a major counter-offensive began.

In 1990, the Gay London Policing Group, a London LGBTQ+ community organization, publicly criticized these convictions as a violation of human rights. The group’s secretary, Andrew Puddephatt, demanded that the government protect citizens’ “right to privacy as stipulated by law.”

On February 16, 1991, a 5,000-strong sexual minority parade assembled in London. They marched through the city center, protesting the court’s guilty verdict on the 16 individuals.

At the same time, a large discussion was held within the BDSM community online. They reflected on what kind of words and prejudices made the mainstream community so unwelcome to them, while also engaging in heated debates about how the BDSM community should confront the mainstream space.

Before this, many believed that “BDSM is a matter of the bedroom, and it’s enough for us to know it. There’s no need to discuss it openly.” However, faced with persecution by public power, discrimination by biased glasses, and even imprisonment, this viewpoint suddenly vanished overnight.

Almost everyone agreed that whether it was organizing the community internally or giving an explanation externally, the group needed a unified consensus.

David Stein’s 1984 paper for BDSM and other minority groups, “Safe, Sane, Consensual: The Evolution of a Shibboleth,” was brought up again at this time. Everyone suddenly realized that someone had already proposed such a great view, like a “touch of brilliance when the group is leaderless.” So, why wait? Let’s go for it!

 

This is the SSC principle I mentioned in my previous article, which many people in the comments section scoffed at. In the West, it is a modern BDSM basic consensus reached through the loss of freedom for 16 people and countless debaters online: the SSC principle.

Safe, Sane, Consensual (SSC) is an English translation, and SSC is its abbreviation. It is one of the principles used by a large part of the modern BDSM community to describe their philosophy, adopting safety, sanity, and informed consent as a safe slogan.

Its principles are as follows when engaging in BDSM:

Safe: One should try to identify risks and prevent them from causing harm to health.

Sane: All activities should be carried out in a clear-headed and sensible state.

Consensual: All activities should be carried out with the full informed consent of all participating members.

This consensus attempts to present a new image of the BDSM community to mainstream society: We are rational, we are orderly, and we pursue the freedom granted to us by the constitution under the principle of informed consent.

After reaching this consensus, all BDSM people seemed to be united as one. In August 1992, BDSM individuals even established a civil campaign organization, with the campaign platform being “to recognize sadomasochism as a valid, sensible, and legitimate part of human sexual behavior.”

In the following month, this organization planned several demonstrations and issued real-time newsletters to popularize BDSM knowledge.

 

Ultimately, in September 1992, thanks to their efforts, our instigator, Officer Hames, resigned in disgrace.

To expand the victory, on November 28, the first SM Pride Parade was held in London, with over 700 BDSM enthusiasts carrying protest signs and marching across central London.

In 1995, the first trust fund supporting the BDSM community was established, called the Spanner Trust, aimed at helping anyone discriminated against due to sexual behavior.

In December of the same year, the UK Law Commission drafted a proposal to legalize BDSM behavior based on the SSC principle.

Thus, the BDSM community finally established a consensus that allowed them to coexist with themselves and mainstream society.

When looking at history as a mirror, we can see that the current situation of our circle is similar to the chaos and individual struggles in the West before a consensus was reached.

In the previous article, I introduced the SSC principle at the end, and many people sneered at it. They thought, “What is this nonsense? Why should I follow it?” or “It’s none of your business how I play. Who are you to demand that I conform to your standards?” or “What SSC principle? Isn’t it just something you made up to deceive people, forcefully imposing your value recognition, with a stench of condescension?”

Admittedly, I have no right to demand anything from anyone, nor am I advocating that everyone must follow the SSC principle. I just want to tell everyone that the birth of every consensus is not easy, and there may even be bloodshed and sacrifice behind it. So, if one day we can establish our own consensus, we must cherish it. Everyone can choose not to fight for freedom, but they should not contribute to building the walls either.

In 1992, Brown, who was sentenced to prison for SM, wrote a poem while serving his sentence. Now, it seems like a prophecy for our times.

Between the rusting bars,

Strike a unified sound. In every corner,

There is gradually no place to stand.

I have been silent for too long,

And when I wanted to speak,

I was already speechless.

 

By Anthony

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