The Atlantic reports on BDSM at Harvard, and the incorporation of BDSM into the mainstream:
Like the excerpt notes, BDSM has been a popular topic this year ever since the Fifty Shades trilogy brought BDSM into national media attention. Its status as a subculture will only remain so long as it remains disruptive and has relative independence from forms of media. The subculture's independence from media has been decreasing as more documentation of the practices and objects of BDSM have surfaced, but the BDSM lifestyle still has the ability to "shock" more conservative readers, as evidenced by the disapproving comments found in the Crimson about this topic. On the other hand, the Crimson's op-ed, voicing its support for Munch will lead to a decline in BDSM's status as a subculture and the dominant hegemony subsumes it into the mainstream.
This story has been getting lots of attention. Fox News is shocked, The Daily Mail is breathless, and Gawker is amused. But none of these pick-ups note how Harvard is a bit derrière on the Ivy League BDSM support group trend. "The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey has accelerated a mainstreaming of the BDSM subculture already underway," The New York Observer's Rachel R. White reported earlier this month.
One way that Harvard College Munch (specifically) has remained independent from the hegemony of the dominant class has been by avoiding media exposure of individual members. Munch members are kept anonymous. It is also difficult to find extensive documentation of the culture of Munch members unless you are on their email list, which assumes that you've been accepted into that subculture already.
This subculture is also influenced by class. For example, one BDSM/Fetish demographic survey done by Gloria G. Brame, PhD in 1999 revealed that 63 percent of people who participated in BDSM/fetish had middle class incomes. 62 percent had parents who had middle income as well. Of course, some of this data is outdated, so it is difficult to say how relevant it is today. However, it is still a high enough percentage to take note of. The following two results are from the released survey results.
|4. How would you describe your household income?|
|5. How would you describe your parents' household income when you were growing up?|
These results suggest a link between those who identify themselves as having "middle" income and those who participate in the kink community. Perhaps those with more time and money on their hands were able to indulge in kinks. After all, kink objects range from cheap plastic handcuffs to expensive toys. Thus, those with more money will have a greater ability to explore their kink. Even designing complicated rope constraints takes a certain amount of leisure time, something people with greater distance from economic necessity can afford to do.