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My sister, with whom I’m quite close, has been getting into S and M. Recently she announced that she has acquired a slave. Even after much thought and discussion, I’m still having a very hard time coming to terms with this. The problem I have is that she treats him like a slave 24 hours a day. They are planning a “collaring.” I’m the first person to admit that I don’t understand all this. I’ve talked about it with my sister, but our last conversation ended in her hanging up on me. We haven’t spoken since.

My husband and I are complete equals in every way, and I just can’t feel comfortable watching my sister humiliate and degrade someone. I sure wouldn’t sit back and allow someone to treat her that way! We’re all expected at my mom’s house for the holidays, where we’ll be staying under the same roof. My mother isn’t comfortable with the situation either. I realize that I don’t have much choice but to suck it up if I want to have a relationship with my sister. My sister compares my feelings to the way gay people were treated when they first started struggling for social acceptance. It makes me very angry that she’s so impatient with me. She told our father about her new relationship when he was in town last week. –Sister and Mistress

This advice may come too late, S and M, so please accept my regrets if your sister and her slave have already come and gone. But just in case everyone is staying at mom’s place through New Year’s Eve–and your sister is still ordering her slave around in front of the whole family–I wanted to address your sister directly: Knock it off, Mistress Fuckwit.

Asking people to accept BDSM–the pastime, the lifestyle–doesn’t give you the right to force other people to take part in it. Your slave is no doubt humiliated when you treat him like shit in front of others, and doubtless this humiliation turns him on. BDSM subs are like that. So, MF, when you humiliate him in front of your family members, you’re forcing them to play an active role in your sex life. That’s not asking for tolerance, that’s demanding participation. And that’s not OK.

You brought up gays and lesbians and our struggle for acceptance. Sorry, MF, but the comparison just isn’t apt. Not once in our struggle for social acceptance have gays and lesbians demanded the right to have sex in front of our relatives. We want to be accepted by our families, tolerated by strangers, and treated equally by our government. But people who don’t want to watch us have sex aren’t compelled to.

This mistress/slave stuff is, at bottom, about sex. Yeah, yeah: it can be sooooooooo much more than that, some 24/7 BDSM folks insist. Some people feel dominant or submissive deep down in their kinky souls, and they build their lives around those roles. I get it. And–dare I say it–some of my best friends are 24/7 BDSMers. But BDSM isn’t ultimately who you are, it’s what you enjoy in bed–or in the dungeon, the playroom, the fetish club, etc. Here’s a rough rule of thumb: If you’re talking about something that gay, straight, and bisexual people can all do–fisting, snowballing, BDSM–then it’s a sex act, not a sexual identity. However many times you collar your slave, however many slave contracts he signs, however many nights he sleeps in a cage, it’s still a sex act, and forcing your family to watch you treat him like your slave compels them to participate in your sex life. And, again, that’s not OK.

Sensible BDSMers–and, yes, I include 24/7 BDSMers in that group–keep the heavy stuff behind closed doors and keep it subtle when they’re out in public or with their families. That’s not oppression, Mistress Fuckwit, that’s common courtesy.

I love my husband so much, but I have this male friend at work that I just click with. He’s really funny and nice and witty. He was down in the dumps a couple of weeks ago because his grandmother, with whom he was very close, had died. He came into my office, and I was talking to him about it and comforting him. I started hugging him, and the next thing you know I was giving him a hand job. I wasn’t even thinking about it–I just did it. Then I honestly thought, “I don’t want to make a mess in here,” so I swallowed his come. Now I don’t know what to do. We’re still just friends, but I can’t decide if I should tell my husband about the incident. Can you help me? –Just One Break

Excuse me, JOB, but do you really expect me to believe that you were innocently comforting some dude whose grandmother just croaked and that this somehow led to innocent hugging, which in turn somehow led to a “next-thing-you-know” hand job? Oh, and once the grief-stricken coworker got ready to shoot his load, JOB, your concern for the cleanliness of your office prompted you to swallow it? Where were folks like you when my grandmother died?

But I haven’t really answered your question: Should you tell your husband about this incident? If you think it was a onetime thing, if it really did just “happen,” and if you’re sure it won’t happen again, then spare your poor husband–this man you love so much–the ridiculous details and absurd rationalizations.

Personally, JOB, I could forgive my boyfriend for jerking off some dude he thought was funny and nice and witty–hell, I’d wanna watch–but I’d have to slap the guy right off his face if his admission came bobbing along in a similar stream of bullshit. “And then the next thing I knew, honey, I was beating him off because, golly, I wasn’t thinking about it and, gosh, I only swallowed his load because I didn’t want to make a mess.” If you decide to tell your husband you cheated on him, JOB, don’t make things worse by insulting his intelligence too. Tell him you’re into this guy and you took advantage when he was vulnerable and you ate his spunk because you dug him. And then tell him you’re sorry–even if it’s a lie, which I’m guessing it would be.

I’m a 26-year-old woman and a “devotee,” which means that I am primarily attracted to men with disabilities. I appreciate the recent column you did on the sex lives of people with disabilities, although I was a little dismayed by the follow-up letter from a disabled man who said that having a relationship with a devotee is emotionally crippling. While I thank you for sticking up for us, I want to point out that there are a lot of devotees who have no desire whatsoever to torment a man in a wheelchair. I simply find wheelchairs very sexy–it has nothing to do with helplessness. I’m sorry if some disabled men have had bad experiences with devotees, but I know for a fact that there are plenty of men out there who have had wonderful experiences. –Loves Guys in Chairs

Thanks for sharing, LGIC.