© Informed Consent
I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Robin Mortimer, who I am sure has been a loving family member and dedicated professional, whatever people think of his curious hobby. I am sure the loss to Mr Mortimer's loved ones is great and the press interest in his death, the presumptions about the cause of it, and the prejudice about people who have an interest in non hetero-normative forms of consensual adult intimacy, will be adding extra confusion and upset to an already heartbreaking situation.
It is always sad news when any story reaches us of a person dying during a non typical or alternative intimate encounter. Various situations cause this to happen - accident, mistakes, neglect, underlying health problems, risky solo play, incompetence or unsafe techniques of other players, and so on. Post mortems in such instances are extremely important to establish what the cause of death has been.
Whilst sharing encounters with experienced people, thankfully, such deaths are rare and most people (without serious underlying health problems) remain at more risk of death just getting out of a bath in our own homes. Many people use a professional service, including married people and in many cases, their partner is in full awareness of this because they don't share that interest, but accept their partners'.
Dominatrixes such as Ms Slide (who has made a commentary on this issue also http://bitchblog.sliderulesyou.com/?p=448 , are amongst the most experienced players in the BDSM scene, and ordinarily provide a good safe space for exploration for people who cannot safely be around in the scenes and communities where other players go to make friends. It is far safer to use a service like this than play alone, as then there is someone to call an ambulance in an emergency should it be necessary, as Mistresses Lucrezia and Juno, (professional dominants) did in Mr Mortimer's case. It is very sad that Mr Mortimer subsequently died - speculating about the cause as salaciously as the press are doing, is deeply disrespectful to everyone involved.
People commonly die after over exertion, in any context, as Jane Fae outlines in her commentary http://sexualitymatters.wordpress.com/2010/06/25... on this issue. I have a partner in their 60's and I feel slightly sad to admit that I have more than once worried what would happen should one of my partners die from natural causes during or after a loving BDSM play session? What would be my chances of surviving this tragic ending to our romantic night in, without going to prison for having happened to be there at the time of death?
In this circumstance, as with the circumstances of the Mistresses who tried to save Mr Mortimer's life, my life would be in the hands of the coroner. We could choose to stop our favourite pastimes, or give up when we reach a certain age in fear, but why should anyone have their sexuality denied in case one of us dies one day? We'll all die, one day.. during or after a happy intimate encounter is unlikely to be the worst way to go.
When bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, or sadomasochism (BDSM) and fetish are involved in a death, the most common reason is people have been engaging in unsafe activities on their own, and because of lack of information. People feel afraid to share their unconventional interests with others because of the social prejudice and risk to people's jobs and lives were they outed. Many people practice alone or continue in BDSM relationships in secret as their entire lives might be ruined should someone find out about their consensual adult interests. Informers about risk aware practices and safety have been gagged in the sense that we can;t publish images of life threatening activities due to the extreme porn ban in UK. That information is the most important BDSM information of all though.
If invited to comment, we'll show respect and give the police time to do their enquiries with the women involved who I am sure are helping as much as possible. Then see what can be poitively learned from this? There are counsellors from our scene who specialise in BDSM related counselling which is also available to family members of the deceased, should this be of interest.
We will keep fighting for all intimate or loving practices between consenting adults to be legalised, and against the demonisation of kinky people.. which takes some responsibility for many a shameful death of well known people who cannot be out, often totally unnecessarily.
We'll keep raising awareness towards the day we can publish and research better information to save lives - and improve on mistakes fuelled by prejudice (eg - if someone's dead it must have been the SM) which bring further grief to already distraught families who just wish to mourn in peace.
Clair Lewis (Dennis Queen) Convener Consenting Adult Action Network
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