I'm anti-BDSM. This is something I haven't talked about because honestly, I know that I am rather ignorant about it yet I have very strong feelings about it. Usually when I share an opinion or claim a label it is done after a lot of research, when I am confident that my opinion is the right one for me. This one I still feel conflicted on, so I hesitate to share -- but after a message from a friend I realized that my reticence is a lack of openness so I'm going to share anyway. Please take into consideration that my thoughts on this are not firm or concrete, and remember that this opinion may change.
What this means for me, philosophically:
Ultimately, I see inequality (power imbalance) as a problem that needs to be addressed and corrected in every form. Whether bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism or any subdivision of those, BDSM includes a power imbalance (taking turns being the powerful one does not make it balanced, in my opinion). I feel that a great deal of human pain can be traced back to power imbalance, and since BDSM is the practice of power imbalance, I feel that it encourages inequality in the minds of those practicing. I do not know this (and I can't imagine how one would study such a thing), so I could be wrong, but it seems that way to me. HOWEVER, I think that since we are so conditioned to relate to each other via roles, BDSM could be helpful to some people as a stepping stone to more equal/unhurtful ways of relating. I don't think it is the best way objectively, but it may be the best way for some people in some situations. I do understand that some people can see BDSM as an equal, respectful way of relating, but I cannot share that perspective.
What this means for my lovers:
I do not like power imbalance (inequality) in any aspects of my relationships, especially sex. It goes against my belief in the full equality of all human beings at all times. I don't see sex as different from other aspects of life; since I wouldn't practice humiliating, beating, binding, or controlling anyone in other aspects of my life (nor would I tolerate those things being done to me), I do not practice them in sex. I would not have sex with anyone who was into BDSM (even if they were willing to put it aside with me) because to me it is the underlying philosophy that counts even more than the actions. With my lovers I need to share the same definition of respect and equality.
What this means for me in friendships:
As a lifestyle (having/being a slave 24/7) it would be a deal-breaker for me in friendships; I cannot relate to someone who would take control of someone else's will in every way, nor can I relate to someone who would allow someone else total control over them (as a continuous state). ((I once came across someone who had signed a very explicit 7-year contract which completely stripped zir of the most basic rights and it made me cry then and every time I remembered it, for a long time. Fortunately I have forgotten most of the details)) But as an experience, something that you participate in sexually which does not extend into the rest of your life, it is not a barrier for me with friendship. It does make me feel more of a difficulty relating, but I do think it is possible for me to be close friends with someone who is into BDSM as an experience. (there are some people on my friends list whom I love very dearly who practice BDSM) Especially since I consider most people to be into dominance/submission in one way or another and it's all the same to me; whether it's the chick-flick pursuer-and-responder or the crop-wielding dominant-and-submissive, it's the philosophy underneath that I see.
If you participate in BDSM and you would care to share your reasons I would be sure to consider them carefully, as I do think this is an issue that I do not fully understand. I would love to find a perspective that allows me to consider BDSM a positive way of relating (while still being true to my beliefs about equality and refraining-from-causing-harm).