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Has BDSM Become "Normal" In Society? The Evolution of BDSM in Society & Culture - Then and Now

One of the most effective ways to track the development of any social phenomena over the years is through literature and media covering the topic.  This is also true of BDSM as a sexual subculture in America and around the world.

Let’s take a look at some f the key events, publications and visual media that give us a glimpse at how kinky sex has gradually gone from being taboo, to simply part of the diverse fabric of sexuality.

 

1946-1959: John Willie's Bizarre Magazine

John Coutts (aka John Willie) was born in 1902 to a British family in Singapore, but moved with his family to England in 1903, where he grew up during the Edwardian era. It has been suggested that the restrictive fashions worn by women of that time, such as whale-bone corsets, and the constant repression of sex and sexual desire characteristic of this era, may "go some distance to explain [Willie's] fluency in the semiotics of dress."

Bizarre magazine began in 1946, while Coutts was living in Canada. He published the magazine under the phallic pseudonym of "John Willie" a name he kept for the duration of his career as publisher of the magazine. Willie also worked with Irving Klaw, the infamous BDSM photographer who was tried in New York for obscenity in 1955, and many other girlie magazines, but he is best known for his character Sweet Gwendoline, which he drew in a clear, anatomically correct style that influenced later artists such as ENEG and Eric Stanton.

Despite the pornographic nature of the magazine, Coutts was able to circumvent censorship and orders to cease publication because he was careful to avoid "nudity, homosexuality, overt violence, or obvious depictions of things that might be read as perverse or immoral and that might rankle those parties who were capable of banning, censoring, or blocking circulation."

In one of Coutts’ most famous quotes about non-traditional sexual practices, he states,

"As for sex, ignorance is abysmal, because for centuries those who could not satisfy themselves, except by denying pleasure to others, have taught generation after generation that "sex is taboo." Thou shalt not think about it or discuss it. In fact, it's a dreadful thing, but it's all right as long as you don't enjoy it. If you have any other ideas on the subject, you are a pervert. The basis of a decent society is a happy home. Marriages break up almost invariably because of sex. What you do, or do not do, is your own business, all that matters is that the enjoyment be mutual,—and the time to discuss these things is before you get hitched up. There is a partner to suit everyone somewhere, but the search will be difficult until we can discuss our likes and dislikes, openly, in good taste, without threat from our own brand of standardized Police State.”

Bizarre Magazine’s last issue was in 1959 and John Coutts died in 1961

 

1960-1994: BDSM Goes To The Movies!

As BDSM continued to grown in underground popularity starting in the 1960’s, film directors took note of this and began creating Bondage movies for theatrical release in “Blue Cinemas” around the US and Europe.  One of the forerunners in this was Carter Stevens,  one of the true founding fathers of 1970's American East Coast adult cinema. The majority of his 1970's porno features tend to be kinky, light-hearted and mildly comic in tone while his 1980's films are often darker and more serious. Stevens reinvented himself in the early 1980's as the editor/publisher of "The S&M News," which was the third largest fetish paper in America. He largely retired from the porn industry in the late 1990's.

During this period, hundreds of BDSM films were created, often with surprising twists!  One of the most notable was the appearance of Hollywood superstar actress Cameron Diaz who starred as a Dominatrix in a relatively hardcore BDSM movie.

 

1994-Present: Then Along Came The Internet

As the internet gained popularity and ability to display photos, BDSM found it’s niche on the Web.  In 1994, the first BDSM site, Wasteland.com was launched and is still going strong to this day.  Shortly thereafter, Kink.com was started by UK-native Peter Acworth in 1997 while he was a PhD student in finance at Columbia University. After reading a story in a British tabloid about a fireman who made £250,000 in a short period by starting an internet pornography site, Acworth decided to start a porn site of his own. Since Acworth had what he described as a lifelong interest in bondage, he oriented the site toward BDSM porn. The site was called Hogtied.com and initially featured content that was licensed from other primary producers. The site was successful and was soon grossing several thousand dollars per day. Acworth left his graduate studies to work on the site full-time, which also continues in operation to this day.

Today, there are a wide variety of BDSM movie sites on the internet and the “kinky” phenomena has also spread over to mainstream books and films such as the wildly successful “Fifty Shades Of Gray” trilogy.

 

We’ve come a long way, Baby!

 

Interested in BDSM and Kinky Sex?  Check out Colin’s site at Wasteland.com for more info, original movies and much more!

 

Name of author: 
Colin Rowntree, Founder of BDSM site Wasteland.com

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