Anyone dealing with the dom/sub world or working in adult entertainment will sooner or later encounter the issue of taboos. Taboo topics may be those considered inappropriate even for an adult site, or that are not permitted by licensing authorities. Cam sites typically prohibit discussion or depiction of anything involving minors, rape, incest, bestiality, fisting, necrophilia, urination and defecation. Some of these topics are also now prohibited on UK video clips, thanks to the recent ATVOD legislation.
What is a taboo? Why do we create them? And why break them? Taboos exist for social or religious reasons. Mistress Julia defines them as ‘any subject or activity that the majority of society considers morally reprehensible or beyond the realms of public decency.’ As well as the topics mentioned above, they may also include such topics as religion, and race play. But why are these topics still taboo even if only in a fantasy sense? It’s an intriguing topic, because taboos go beyond what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ behavior. And of course, for every rule that exists there is someone who likes breaking it. People like breaking taboos because they find it thrilling dealing with the forbidden and pushing boundaries.
But even among people who enjoy taboo topics, there are degrees of involvement. Some taboos are considered wrong even by BDSM practitioners; it should never be assumed that just because people are kinky or unconventional in their sexuality that anything goes for them. Indeed, those in the BDSM world have their own code of conduct and standards. And models on cam sites also decide on what they will or will not do in their show.
Religious taboos are naturally very common. Recently Mia Khalifa hit the news on social media. She shocked people because a Muslim woman was doing porn (strangely enough, a LOT of guys posting porn pics on social media appear to be Muslims … ho hum). As Mia herself put it when a ‘fan’ commented that, although he thought she was shaming her country of origin (Lebanon), he also found her hot: ‘Your boner must be so confused’. Which reminds me of the hypocrisy so often found in adult entertainment – the same people that avail themselves of these services often despise the people who provide the services. But that’s a whole other article.
Aside from any perceived offense to religion, Mia is shattering the accepted ‘meek’ image of the Muslim woman. Yet if it’s still male-oriented porn – i.e woman on knees subserviently satisfying male needs – what’s really new? A bit of fabric. The shock seems to be that she performed scenes wearing the hijab. Though perhaps the greatest taboo would be to perform femdom in a patriarchal society. Submissive men in such countries find it extremely difficult to meet a compatible mistress, because the D/s scene is naturally extremely hidden.
Religious taboos are not only touching something deemed untouchable, but it also hits at an uncomfortable truth: that religion denies people their natural sexuality and attempts to control it. It’s probably no coincidence therefore that, as our own Ivor Irwin suggests, Muslim countries are more enthusiastic than anyone when it comes to perusing porn. But the hijab scenes are in fact playing into a well-worn route of perverting religion – naughty nuns and perverted priests.
Many taboos stem from genuine concerns, such as incest being genetically risky, and the chance of contracting illness from scat play. Others may not be entirely logical. Indeed, bodily fluids seem to cause widespread revulsion, except for semen or vaginal fluids. There is a niche market for adults drinking breast milk, and any mention of this always engenders a tsunami of disgust. The idea of an adult drinking breast milk seems abhorrent to most people, even though they’ll happily drink the milk of another species. Many people -including women – find the idea of period play repulsive, even though half the population bleeds, and cam girls may be reluctant to do shows while menstruating. Indeed, many couples don’t like having sex while the woman is on her period – and if you’re comfortable having sex with someone, it seems odd to be squeamish about menstruating while you’re doing it.
Each girl decides her own personal boundaries, which is important when you work in the adult industry. Go beyond these, and you won’t enjoy the session. Personally, one topic I won’t touch is race play. I’m asked for this fairly frequently and decline every time. It loses me cash, but I can’t separate fantasy play from reality here. Race play goes against my own personal boundaries. The same goes with age play; I simply consider it absolutely wrong to engage in age play in a sexual context. Though I see nothing wrong with anyone role playing an adult baby or ‘little’ in a non-sexual sense. That is a totally different issue.
Taboos may not have played much of a part in my style of camming and domination so far. Perhaps this may change, at least to some degree, although I will never deal in age or race play. Yet religious role play intrigues me, and I’d have no problem dealing with that, providing I am in the dominant role. I also wouldn’t be bothered by talk of menstruation in my room, although many girls find period play an unpleasant topic. Mistress Julia, on the other hand, is much more comfortable, and happy to do most taboo subjects on her terms and within official guidelines. She comments: ‘I personally am not comfortable playing roles under the age of 16 but if others are adults playing together who do consent I can’t see a problem, as long as they are not involving non-adults.’ She has even pushed her own boundaries regarding taboos on occasion. As she told me when I interviewed her, she used to find scat play a distasteful subject, until she began to explore it with a scat fetishist and found his enthusiasm made her look at the fetish in a new light.
Cam girl K agrees with Mistress Julia that cams provide a safe place for people to explore less acceptable fantasies. ‘I cater for many taboos, such as playing your daughter’s best friend (of legal age), your best mate’s girlfriend, or your sister-in-law – as long as they are all of a dominant persona. At the end of the day, I would rather satisfy someone’s urge via a webcam than have it manifest elsewhere and them go seeking this by other means.’ But she naturally has her own limits: ‘The things that I will not do are any sort of non-consensual role play like rape or physical abuse towards myself, or any sort of bestiality.’
While conforming to any requirements of the sites she works with, Mistress Julia is skeptical about attempts to control taboo topics. ‘Prohibition will never prevent the human mind from wishing to explore such topics, and in a minority of cases prohibition actively encourages individuals to want to explore taboos. The BDSM / kink scene is all about the exploration of our minds and desires without society’s perceived limits, albeit in a safe, sane, and above all consensual manner.’ She adds, ‘Consenting adults over the age of 18 privately exploring any taboo are doing no harm in my opinion.’ But this is only if they keep it purely as fantasy. Otherwise she would be concerned: ‘Obviously I don’t condone any one progressing from the fantasy role play to actually age play scenes involving underage or vulnerable people.’
K is fairly pragmatic about dealing with taboos in her shows. ‘At the end of the day it’s a big business. Besides, I prefer a challenge rather than just taking my clothes off, it keeps people away from the providers who prefer to cater for a more conventional kind of show.’ For myself, I’m wary of taboos like age play, because I don’t feel comfortable about even the idea of people roleplaying such a topic. But K is not so bothered. For her, ‘age play is sometimes not an issue depending on the content of the show’ – for example, she would feel happy with playing a schoolgirl bully humiliating a younger person, but would never engage in sexual age play, something that most cam girls feel strongly is unacceptable.
Since even among cam girls there can be a degree of hostility towards girls who cater for taboo topics, K urges that ‘people should not be judgmental towards taboo service providers’. She suggested that catering for taboo topics means that other girls won’t be bothered with requests they find distasteful. ‘Some girls are of a delicate disposition and I think they would quit if someone came into their cam room asking for these sort of fantasies to be fulfilled, whereas nothing phases me and I just take it all in my stride. Every client has needs, be they vanilla or not.’
I was also interested in how a cam site owner regarded the issue of taboos. So I spoke to Pete Cass, owner of CassCams. He is largely relaxed about models’ choices, as long as they don’t break any regulations. ‘I’m no fan of age play, BDSM, dominatrix, etc., but I do value the freedom of censorship above my own personal tastes. As long as everyone is having fun, nobody is being taken advantage of (without that being the ‘victim’s’ kink of course), and nothing illegal is happening, then I have no issues with the content being performed in a role play sense.’ He has occasionally had to step in and stop a performance when the model was allowing something unacceptable to continue.
So I suppose that there will always be a place for taboos. The day they stop existing is the day we’ve pushed sexuality as far as it can go, and that will probably be too far. But the issue can be an emotive one, and few would disagree that we have to do our utmost to protect minors.