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by Katie Peachesa April 10, 2020 5 min read
Just about everyone who watches TV shows or movies knows the golden rule of entertainment. With a few specific exceptions, Hollywood writers don't know anything about different lifestyles, nor do they care to be educated. You see this quite often any time a movie or show tries to talk about Native American culture, people living in other countries, or Southerners, to list just a few. Most of the time, however, people see this and they already know that Hollywood has no clue what they're talking about, which means that nobody really cares. For some reason, though, one of the big exceptions to this rule is the D/s lifestyle.
Most people who live the lifestyle are often puzzled at how quickly the average viewer makes judgements on them based entirely on shows or movies that use the lifestyle as a punchline or running gag. Frankly, it's insulting to Dominants and submissives alike how their lifestyle is portrayed, and even more so that people believe it. It's honestly led to several highly inaccurate articles and "reports", as well as severe persecution for some people who are living the lifestyle in a way that makes themselves and their partner or partners happy. One of the main reasons for this seems to be Hollywood's love of portraying Dominants and submissives in the same couple of roles every time.
The Dominant can serve one of two major roles, that he or she very rarely deviates from. The first is the stereotypical "bad guy" role, the Dominant using the D/s lifestyle as a cover that allows him or her to be overly controlling or abusive. The other is the "all business" Dominant, the one who works at a professional dungeon, taking advantage of people with a psychological "problem" that makes them want to be controlled. These two highly inaccurate stereotypes lead to a declaration of being a Dominant akin to saying you're a wife beater, or that you take advantage of men for their money, depending on your gender.
On the other hand, submissives almost always serve the same role, unless they're used a joke character. The submissive is always portrayed as a victim of abuse early in life, be it sexual, physical, or psychological. This leads the character to have a deep need to be abused and controlled, until something happens that makes them realize submission is unhealthy. Thanks to this highly pervasive stereotype, declaring yourself to be a submissive to people who know you can carry arguably worse consequences than admitting you're a Dominant. Almost anyone who's not in the lifestyle only knows what they've seen on TV or movies, and declaring yourself a submissive means that a lot of your friends and family may try to "save" you. You can probably already see the issue, namely that if you tell them you don't need saving, or if their attempts to do so fail, you run the risk of being ostracized for being "broken".
Now, this is not to say that there aren't people like this in the lifestyle. Every group of people has their share of crazy people, after all. But, while Hollywood seems to claim this is the norm, the truth is that these people are looked down on by most practitioners of the lifestyle. The majority of Dominants are very caring people, who truly love their submissive or submissives. Most submissives, by the same token, are surprisingly outgoing people, and only show their submissive side to their Dominant. Submission, you see, is a gift, according to most people in the D/s lifestyle. The submissive kneels to the dominant because he or she wants their Dominant to take control, not because they feel they're not capable of doing so for themselves.
The degree of submission or Dominance is something else that modern media frequently misleads the average viewer about. According to most TV shows and movies, every Dominant out there demands that his submissive call him Master or Sir, and institutes several rules such as no eye contact, no speaking unless spoken to, etc. Submissives, on the other hand, are constantly addressed as Slave, or one of several extremely derogatory names that aren't fit to repeat. This particular choice by Hollywood tends to get a laugh out of lifestylers, as opposed to true anger. Not because it isn't insulting-it is-but because it's so laughably wrong. There are several degrees of D/s relationships, everything from the relatively rare "Master and slave" relationship down to an average couple where one member simply tends to obey what the other one says. Simplifying it down to "Master keeps a lock on his slave's every movement" is the D/s equivalent of old Westerns implying all Native Americans enjoyed nothing more than burning wagon trains.
However, the character and relationship portrayals, insulting though they are, are actually fairly small potatoes compared to some of the whoppers Hollywood has told people about what kind of activities are common in the lifestyle. You see, the D/s lifestyle is a subsection, of sorts, of the BDSM lifestyle. BDSM is an odd anagram, the BD meaning Bondage & Discipline, SM meaning Sadism and Masochism, and DS meaning Dominance and Submission, with DS holding the other two together. Now, some Dominants and submissives like a little bit of S/M play in the bedroom, preferring to spice things up with a little bit of spanking and whatnot. Some others like to use B/D, tying their partner up or instituting punishments to further enforce the positions of Dominance and submission. However, Hollywood seems to go out of its way to state that all D/s play involves strapping your partner to a device and whipping them fiercely. This wouldn't be as big an issue if the characters referred to their lifestyle as the BDSM lifestyle, but, almost every time, they refer to practicing the D/s lifestyle.
With all of these errors, it's easy to see why so many in the D/s lifestyle are frankly insulted by Hollywood's portrayal of them. The truly sad part about it is that so many of the lies that are put into these shows and movies are the result of laziness on the part of the writers. It's possible that, in the future, these embellishments will go the way of the "Injun Savage" of long ago. It would be nice, after all, to see a more accurate portrayal of the lifestyle and those who live it. Unfortunately, given the glacial pace at which Hollywood tends to move when it comes to abandoning stereotypes, it's unlikely to happen any time soon.
Katie Peachesa is a sex and lingerie blogger based out of the urban chic Wapping in the heart of East London, United Kingdom. In her spare time, Katie enjoys photography, yoga and fitness, a bit of boxing, traveling, keeping up with the latest fashion trends and mudlarking and exploring pastoral settings. You are likely to find Katie in an artisan cafe in Brick Lane on a Saturday afternoon furiously typing her next article on her laptop whilst she is sipping on her flat white and drawing inspiration from the hustle and bustle in the heart of creative London. Katie runs the "Fashion Life Mag" and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Allure, Grazia, Tatler, Evening Standard and other popular media outlets.
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