Something really interesting has happened here in Sweden – BDSM and the right to practice it has been in the limelight during the last couple of weeks.

It all started with an article in a local newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, about a club in a residential area where violent porn and other obscure activities were carried out.

The club that the article revolves around is well-known within the BDSM community and is called The Mansion. They have, as every other club, playrooms and regular parties where people gather to have a chat, exchange experiences or to play. The Mansion is run in a professional manner by people that are into BDSM.

The article is making a spin out of the fact that it is a BDSM place. It starts by explaining in a very “objective” manner that people at the club have slaves and there are masters. The slaves might be whipped and then borrowed out to have sex with other people in orgies.

Exposed neighbours are then interviewed who claims that it is not a proper thing for people to have sex in the surrounding  woods, while other neighbours have heard about other people that have seen striptease in the windows of The Mansion.

As that wasn’t enough, one exposed neighbour claims to have seen people that had clothes that normal people don’t wear – Clothes like long leather coats, uniforms and corsets!

The article is a journalistic masterpiece written by K William Svärd and reflects the local witch hunt that is going on in the small community of Åsbro. It has all the familiar signs; exposed children and neighbours, sex, perceived violence and people that are not like everyone else – And of course, mostly rumours instead of facts.

These are all key ingredients that are used as a rational reason for the normative society to strike down on something that is outside the norm. But the most important key ingredient is lack of knowledge and the beauty with this specific ingredient is that people that have a great deal lack of knowledge don’t actually understand that they don’t have knowledge and insights into everything.

The “investigative” tone continues with the “objective” journalist confronting the owner of The Mansion with the fact that she is running a sex club, who is trying to use discretion instead of blowing things up.

The Mansion is not a secret, it is known within the BDSM community, it has a website – So no secret sex club. It is actually not even a sex club. It is a membership based BDSM club for people within the BDSM community. To me there is a big difference between being a sex club compared to being a club for people with a specific interest that MIGHT involve sex, but not necessarily. That is one crucial detail that the “objective” journalist forgot about; That sex is not something that will necessarily occur within BDSM related activities.

The debate on the newspaper’s web page is also a testament to the narrow minded outlook on reality that some people have. One parent that lives next to The Mansion is calling people participating in the debate, that are into BDSM or positive to the kink, pedophiles.

I could at this point take a very polarised position towards the people living in Åsbro and say that they are stupid and narrow minded small town people. But I won’t because they only act from what they know and they don’t know what  they actually don’t know.

To some parts of the BDSM community this is an opportunity to argue for the opinion that we should stick to our own and work in the shows. To me this is a great opportunity for educating and informing people according to what I have written before about in my Consideration Manifesto. It is not the optimal situation to work with, but it is at least something to work with. People living around The Mansion are probably scared and clueless, and if you are scared then you are less likely to confront the things you are scared of. Things that are different compared to what you are used to will make you clueless and will fuel your fear.

So the BDSM community in Sweden is a at a defining crossroad at the moment, expressed in the conflict in Åsbro; Either we choose to call the people in Åsbro narrow minded, stupid, frigid individuals and close our community even more or we make a choice were we open up the BDSM community to the public eye and actively educate people what BDSM is about and wash away the opinions that refer to BDSM as something voilent and abusive.

I advocate the choice were we open up the BDSM community and build a bridge of understanding through information and education. I am not naive; this is a process that will involve some pain and a great deal of effort.

It is about time that the BDSM community take responsibility of who we are and how we are being described in media. It is about time that we spread the knowledge about BDSM ourselves, rather than journalists interested in getting a cheap scoop.

The things happening in Åsbro have created a very interesting debate in Sweden and positive things are happening in the aftermath of it.

One person that is doing something that is in accordance with my Consideration Manifesto is Marcus Rehnberg. Marcus is allowing himself to be interviewed by the weekly magazine ETC Örebo. Marcus is an active member of The Mansion and is in a calm manner explaining how he functions within BDSM, what BDSM is a about and how it all is connected to The Mansion.

Åsa Wilson is the author of the article in ETC Örebro and it is an honorable thing she is doing which deserves all the credit she can get. She is actually writing a real investigative article regarding the people that populate The Mansion. This means that she is going against the ordinary sensational articles that involves BDSM and The Mansion that have been in the national newspapers here in Sweden.

Marcus should also be honored for the courage he is showing by giving people that are into BDSM a face. He is also doing an honorable thing when, in a non aggressive manner, trying to meet all the accusations that have been floating around regarding The Mansion and people into BDSM in Sweden. He is taking the initiative that is necessary in conflicts like the one in Åsbro – He is spreading the knowledge and is trying to make people understand.

These are definitely some interesting times in the kingdom of Sweden.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE 16th Agust 17:20 2009

I have been in touch with the people from The Mansion and I have corrected one fact that I misunderstood.

They also informed me that the journalist have never been in touch with the owners of The Mansion, even tho he makes it look that way in his article.


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