Of all the kinks out there, D/s ‘enjoys’ the unique position of being incredibly common, mainstream enough that it is incorporated into several religions and yet is more reviled than acts that would have gotten one thrown in jail or killed not long ago. Why would something so prevalent be so hated in our society? I think the genesis of the problem lies in the murky waters of male/female gender roles in the United States and modern feminism.
First, we have to lay some groundwork: Most Doms are men, most subs are women. Period. Without getting too deep into the psychology and evolution of our species, there are very sound reasons for this. On average, men are bigger, stronger, more aggressive (testosterone… amazing stuff). In 99.9% of societies we’ve invented, it’s been the males that the primary warriors and guardians. Females (on average, of course) are the nurturers, the homebodies, the protected. We’re a flexible species, though, so we have crisscrossed the usual gender roles almost to the point where they can barely be discerned. But still the old patterns of behavior that are etched into our genes make themselves felt.
Modern feminism (as opposed to the classic equality feminism) exists, in part, to tear down gender stereotypes. In some cases this is good (nothing wrong with a male nanny or a female CEO), but it can go too far. It has gotten to the point that men who occupy traditional roles are viewed as primitive reactionaries, at best. Women who prefer to stay at home and raise kids, happily, are seen as traitors to the cause.
Given this background, it is very predictable what their reaction will be when confronted with the largely male Dom population meets the largely female sub population. In their world, it’s “men subjugating women” even if both parties want it that way. Throw in some domestic discipline, bondage play or some sexy underwear and they’re convinced that over a century of the women’s liberation movement has been wiped out in an instant.
Without getting into a big debate about which way the media tilts politically, it can’t be doubted that they are pro-feminist (as typified by NOW and similar groups). Anything that gets NOW riled up is unlikely to get any sort of good press. Compare that to what has happened to gays in the US. The media is strongly pro-gay and, indeed, they have now become mainstream. Nothing wrong with that… it’s nice to have friends give you good press, though.
On the other side of the ideological aisle are the far-right religious types. Being, typically, anti-sex-just-for-fun they come down pretty hard on alternative lifestyles. They wield less influence than the left, to be sure, but since they view people who spank each other on weekends (and holidays) for fun as going to hell, it gives their arguments a lot of volume.
So where are the poor spankos left in this mess? Two distinctly different groups are both convinced that their behavior is immoral… though for different reasons. The only honest course is the one that maximizes freedom. A woman’s right to choose to be in a submissive position as well as a man’s right to be a Dominant for her. It’s stunning that, in the 21st century, purely consensual relationships between adults should be so reviled.
When can we come ‘out of the dungeon’, so to speak and be accepted in the mainstream? It doesn’t look good for the near future. The left cannot conceive of the concept that a normal, rational, intelligent woman can choose to be submissive without coercion. The religious right is pretty convinced its all sin and deviltry. The D/s community doesn’t have a powerful pro-freedom sponsor that will take up our cause. Pretty grim, eh?
Perhaps not. Many women are rejecting the knee-jerk dogma of modern feminism at the same time otherwise religious folks are saying, “Hey, sex doesn’t HAVE to be sinful.” If we are to succeed, it will be by evolution, not revolution. Which, if you recall, is how we got in this situation in the first place.
So, if I were to bet, I’d say 30 years. A generation and a half for the old diehards to, well, die off and let new thinkers take their place. Freedom from the twisted ideals of the left and the moldy ideas of the religious right can only be a better thing for everyone, spankos and vanillas alike.