EXTRA 15% off ALL items with code UNBROKEN | Free FAST delivery on orders of £40+

Tainted Love: Marilyn Manson and the Weaponization of BDSM

It’s been called the ’50 Shades’ defence. We saw it after backpacker Grace Millane was murdered – when her killer claimed that her death was an accident; a result of consensual rough sex gone wrong. “She wanted this” is the underlying argument – as it so often is when sexual violence is committed against women.

Feminists and feminist organisations – including ours – may now be wondering whether a preference for ‘rough sex’ is the new ‘history of mental illness’ when it comes to blame-shifting attempts by predators and their scummy defence lawyers.

After Evan Rachel Wood publicly named Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson) as her abuser (prompting several other women to make similar claims), he commented that his “intimate relationships” had always been “entirely consensual with like-minded partners”, insinuating that the violent acts described had been shared fantasies, now being “misrepresented”.

Like Manson, Grace Millane’s murderer had a history of terrorising his partners, including threatening one with a knife and forcing her into humiliating sex acts. This is scarily similar to Wood’s testimony, in which she describes once being restrained by Manson, who shocked parts of her body with an electrical device.

Men who are physically, sexually and/or psychologically abusive may think they can get away with claiming kink when they are called to account, but ‘BDSM’ is not interchangeable with any of the above behaviours. There is a huge difference between discussing and enacting shared fantasies where someone may feign fear in a safe environment with limitations and precautions – and abuse.

Manson is a man who has admitted to ringing Wood hundreds of times after one breakup and who said in an interview that he fantasised about breaking her skull. He has also expressed views about women that are not generally shared by members of the BDSM community. One example, from an interview with a music magazine, is this: “Girls should always present themselves to you when you come home – ‘Hi, honey, I’m home,’ and she’s wearing lingerie, legs akimbo. ‘Come and get it, honey.’”

Vile.

50 Shades of Grey got BDSM wrong. Now it is being used to frame abuse as not abuse. But BDSM is not a relationship in and of itself. It is part of a relationship. It happens when both participants enthusiastically consent, and it stops – immediately – if one of them becomes genuinely distressed. This is not what happened with Manson and his victims, who describe, among other things, having been coerced, harassed, manipulated, thinking they might die at his hand – and suffering from PTSD.

It is also not okay within the BDSM community for someone to have sex with another person while they are asleep, as Wood has claimed Manson did to her. Why? Because consent, safety and emotional care are important – and absolutely not optional.

Finally, can we also just take a moment to address the fact that Manson and Wood met when she was 19 and he was 38. This might be an unpopular opinion (most likely among grown men lurking on 4Chan) but if you’re pushing 40 and the person you’re having sex with still has the suffix ‘-teen’ after the number of years they’ve been alive, then you’re a problem.

I’d like to add my support to that which has already been directed towards Evan Rachel Wood and Manson’s other victims who are now bravely speaking out against him. It takes immense bravery to bring about the change this world – and Hollywood in particular – desperately needs. I hope the allegations against Marilyn Manson are investigated to the fullest possible extent, and that the women making them are supported and protected.

* Featured image by Sharon Mccutcheon on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published