Research Summary: A preliminary study on BDSM and social media


Introduction of Research BDSM refer to specific modes of human sexual intercourse related to sadomasochism which connects sexual pleasure and pain as together, in other words, getting sexual pleasure through pain (force) physically or mentally. BDSM briefly included ‘Bondage & Discipline (B/D)’, ‘Dominance & Submission (D/S)’ and ‘Sadism & Masochism (S/M)’.

The screening of American erotic movie <Fifty Shades of Grey> dropped a shock bomb among the mainstream society onto the BDSM issues, even in Hong Kong people started to be aware of the BDSM as a kind of sexual intercourse, and bring up a short-lived further discussion. However, the society are still having the stereotype of ‘BDSM is abnormal and dangerous sex’ (mostly in Hong Kong) What we need is sexual education and information no matter for which kind of sexual intercourse, and what we have is a new age of mass (social) media. We informed by the social media every day and getting new knowledge. But what about the information of BDSM? Can the social media help us understand such kind of ‘abnormal sex’ and even stop the death of participants? As social media are commonly used in Hong Kong, how the information being present in this platform? How the audience response to such kind of information? And finally is social media a good platform for this information? With these in mind, here are the research question we have:

1. How social media provides BDSM sexual education or information in Hong Kong?

2. Is social media the main source for BDSM sexual education nowadays in Hong Kong?

3. How Hong Kong audience perceive online BDSM sexual education or information?

4. How highly accessible BDSM sexual education influences Hong Kong audience’s sexuality? The Previous Literature

- Literature 1: Byer, C., Shainberg, Louis W, & Galliano, Grace. (2002). Dimensions of human sexuality / revised by Sharon P. Shriver ; Curtis O. Byer, Louis W. Shainberg, Grace Galliano (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. - Literature 2: Crooks, R., & Baur, Karla. (2002). Our sexuality / Robert Crooks, Karla Baur ; with contributions by William Zangwill (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning.

- Literature 3: Greenberg, J., Bruess, Clint E, & Conklin, Sarah C. (2011). Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality / Jerrold S. Greenberg, Clint E. Bruess, Sarah C. Conklin (4th ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett. - Literature 4: Attwood, F., & Ebrary, Inc. (2009). Mainstreaming Sex [electronic Resource] : The Sexualization of Western Culture / Edited by Feona Attwood. Two Interviews and Observation of Social Media Sites​

There are two interviewee who are: Sickmuse (nickname) and Chris Ko. Sickmuse is an active participant of BDSM in various ways, she is personally engaged in BDSM activity as a women domination and a writer of BL and BDSM literature. She is interested in BDSM since early childhood and this interest grow on her by reading BDSM comic and literature. But she did not really participate in BDSM until 22 when she started to comprehend BDSM in dating website and forum which provides BDSM information as well. Chris Ko is one of the editor in the Chinese University Student Press who just wrote an article which briefly introduced BDSM in the recent issue, the reason why he wrote the article is because there are still many misunderstandings about BDSM although the movie <Fifty Shades of Grey> brought a thread toward the discussion of BDSM among the Hong Kong society. In the interview, Sickmuse remembered that she was only imagining BDSM fancy by reading comic and literature but not really educated by parent or school which are the main sex educators in early childhood. Being educated in mainstream sex environment where BDSM is perceived as taboo, she never had the opportunities to approach to BDSM information and she can only act like herself in front of her close friend. When it comes to family and workplace, she thinks she should pretend herself and hide this interest because she might be annoyed by other or get herself some troubles or underprivileged. But in recent decades, the appearance of social media indeed changed the atmosphere of society towards sexuality. Rubin’s report showed that there are an increasing number of BDSM participants and in his survey, nearly 25% of the respondent reported that they have tried BDSM activity. In “Our Sexuality”, Crooks and Baur values the accessibility of social media for the purpose of self-education, in fact, Sickmuse revealed that the turning point of she engaging in BDSM activity was encountering an international social media website “Fetlife”, a facebook-like BDSM communication platform. The website “Fetlife” did provide an internet platform for the BDSM community in Hong Kong and they may make use of this social group to exchange their information and interact with each other internationally. And Sickmuse thinks that the information in social media actually helps people to rethink what is normal and what is not and consequently open their mind by knowing there are no so-called normal or good. After that, they could comprehend their own sexuality but not only restricted by or follow to mainstream sexuality. However, the horizontal structure of social media and unchecked authority can lead to confusion because the trustworthiness of the information will be decreased without authority. This kind of sites provides relatively inaccurate information which eventually affects the understanding of BDSM for the public. Chris Ko further criticized that even though people could self-educate in the social media, for instance, Fetlife, they are possible to block themselves from that information. The exposure of information in social media depend on the interest among social media users and how they react to a specific piece of news, for example, how many “like” and “share” it get from Facebook users will then affect the exposure to other users. Although the Stand News (立場新聞) had exported a series of news talking about BDSM, the reaction of the audience in Facebook isn’t strong enough to make noises of this topic as the post only get a few “like” and “share”. To conclude, Sickmuse and Chris Ko both appreaciate the apperance of social media because it do broaden the possibility of sexuality, due to the fact that in these days people acceptance towards altrtnative sexuality such as BDSM are increasing. Also because of the dating and educational function of social media, it normalize BDSM, and people who engaging in BDSM activity can feel united by finding partner. However they also pointed out the instability and untrustworthiness of social media, there are a lot of misinformation of BDSM in social media. by reading that inacurate information, it will negatively affect the perceision of the public. And in a sense, the information you can received is largely limited by you “likes” so that the educational impact of social media might be not beneficial as we assumed. But in the end, Sickmuse and Chris Ko recapped that social media do bring more good than harm in this stage so far.

#BDSM #HongKong #socialmedia

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