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The dictionary of perversions

by Gert Hekma in Columns & Opinions , 04 september 2001

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Till the mid-nineteenth century slavery was a normal thing and till this very day in some remote corners of the world it still is. In the Fifties of the last century the catholic church withdrew her moral approval of slavery. Pretty quick, since a mere hundred years before all westeren countries had abolished it. Maybe we can expect the church's approval of gay marriage by 2095!

Slavery stands for private ownership of people by people. Slaves had no say in matters concerning their own life or work, but were in different degrees dependent on their owners. In general they were commodities which were bought and sold. Often life and death of the slaves was a matter of their owners, who could do with them as they pleased.

Lecherous cruelty

Slaves came in sorts and sizes. For a long time Russia had Serfs, who worked the land for their owners and only were sold together with the land. There were prisoners of war, who had to perform forced labour, galley slaves, house slaves, plantation slaves, gladiators who could kill each other for the entertainment of the Roman people. Fathers sold their children, who, instead of costing, this way brought in money. Men sold their wives when they'd had it with them. Warriors losing battle ended up for sale as spoils of war on the market. Villages in Africa and elsewhere were looted and the inhabitants carried off in slavery. Free people who couldn't pay their debts, had to pay by selling their body. Slavery these days comes mostly under the guise of constrictive contracts, offering laughable salaries for some sort of forced labour. People sometimes swallow the bait of managers promising mountains of gold for work which behind closed doors turns out to be heavily underpaid.
In China, in the Ottoman empire, in the Arabian world and elsewhere beautiful boys were valuable trade who, with firm hand, were trained for an existence as catamites. When they were good at their job, they could continue their adult life as eunuchs. If they were lucky they found themselves a wealthy protector who would buy their freedom and gave them the opportunity to have a career in another field. But for most whoreboys their life of abuse ended in the gutter or with death. It was a tough and cruel world in which slavery flourished. But precisely that cruelty has a streak of horniness which has fired the imagination of lots of people. In times of slavery, when the ruling class could abuse slaves sexually, and in the days when there were no more slaves and masochists started dreaming of being possessed and abused by a cruel master.

Complete surrender

The symbols of slavery like the whip, shackles, cage, clamps, pins, chains, branding, wooden horses, rods, pillories have transformed from symbols of horror and abuse to exciting items in kinky sex. Expressions like slave sale, humiliation, submission, abuse, torture, incarceration, bondage these days inspire lust.
The sexual ideal of slavery can bring love to a head as complete surrender to the beloved. The giving of one's soul and body to the loved one who can do with it as he pleases. The surrender to someone else as the ultimate gift of yourself. After which the beloved becomes your master and can do with you as he fancies. These are beautiful dreams bringing tears to my eyes.
It also happens a bit more practical. In the world of leather, slave sales have been organized. Sometimes for the sake of benefits and then slavery didn't mean more than giving the buyer the right to have a beer and a dance with his purchase. In the US the police sometimes raided places where such sales were being held, so the merchandise changed from free slave into unfree prisoner. For most of them no fun but rather an expensive joke. And then people talk of wanting more police blue in the streets!
In Holland S/M venues like Vagevuur in Eindhoven and the Schouw in Apeldoorn organize slave markets where the buyers can use the slaves for a certain, limited period of some two hours, within limits indicated beforehand by the slaves. In the context of private parties and S/M weekends the duration of the slavery is somewhat extended and the freedom of the slaves further limited. On a Sklavenhof in Austria you can experience what forced labour means physically for a period of several days or a week.

Sexual identity

Slaves nowadays can sing to their own tune, so the S&M roles seem to be reversed. It must be a masochist who as a sadist performs all the special and complicated wishes of a slave. It's no longer the slaves who have to work hard, but the masters. In a previous article about "cleaning sex", forms of modern sex slavery were introduced which are somewhat lucrative for a sadist: doing little work and making money nonetheless by renting out cleaning and sex slaves to others. Work goes mainly into acquisition, training and the sale of slaves. Contemporary sexual slavery goes back to the writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (see masochism), who handed himself over under contract to "belles dames sans merci", beautiful ladies without mercy. His voluntary sexual surrender to a cruel woman came at a time when the Western world was busy abolishing involuntary slavery. The official abolishment of abuse and slavery at the dawn of modern times obviously created a space for a sexual identity which was inspired by the old custom of man as merchandise, but distinguished itself by an element of free will which sadomasochists still emphasize. Maybe postmodern capitalism will finally liberate the people who want to be merchandise and give them the freedom to give up their free will and autonomy and hand themselves over to an animal market of people. So the idea of a free market suddenly gets an unexpected horny twist.

Next time: sodomy

The Drawing on this page is taken from The Hun Book of Bondage # 2, 46 pages filled with ropes, chains and rough stuff, published by the artist himself: PO Box 11308, Portland OR 97211, USA. Price in the Netherlands approximately 50 guilders.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 323, July 2018

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