A judge ruled last week that consensual slavery is not a protected belief in the U.K. - Believing in Bondage.
The crux of the story is a midwife who was fired from her work for wearing her silver slave collar, and the counter assertion that her dismissal was discriminatory.
Opposition to fox-hunting and a commitment to combat climate change may now be protected under the law – but the UK is not yet ready to recognise "consensual slavery".
The issue arose last week as the long-predicted collision between protections for "philosophical belief" and proponents of the BDSM (bondage, discipline, sado-masochistic) lifestyle hit the courts in Bedford. In balance was the claim by a local midwife that her dismissal for wearing an emblem of her beliefs – a silver collar – was discriminatory.
Not so, according to North and East Herts Health Authority, which represented this as purely an issue of health and safety.
Nonsense, shot back the midwife, alleging a distinctly lesser degree of fastidiousness over the wearing of other traditional (religious) symbols and costume. And the game was afoot.The heart of the matter was whether her lifestyle was capable of constituting a belief in accordance with the employment equality (religion or belief) regulations 2003, which have already seen beliefs in foxes' rights and the hypothesis of man-made global warming – not to mention a belief in the higher purpose of public service broadcasting – all ruled capable of being protected philosophical beliefs. As debates went, this was possibly a tad above the pay grade of a local employment tribunal.
I don't need to tell you that I live in a 24/7 M/s relationship, my slave/wife by my side both at work and at play, that is very obviously what this blog is all about. She also wears a steel collar that is locked around her neck.
So, you'd think my natural sympathies would be with the midwife. Perhaps I'm a contrarian, even for the BDSM community, but the only discrimination I am seeing is the apparent lack of discriminating behavior by the midwife.
One of the core tenets of the BDSM community is that our actions all take part between consenting adults. I also need to qualify my personal beliefs by saying very clearly that I don't see consent as a totally black and white issue, just like with legal proceedings - there are always shades of gray. With that said, it's generally accepted and advised that BDSM values shouldn't be imposed upon individuals from "vanilla" community.
Not an acceptable collar in my workplace!
I may very well be a contrarian, but I am also reasonable, and refusing to impose some particular forms of sexual expression on the unsuspecting public seems very reasonable.
So, now I'm having questions pop into my head - How exactly did things become unreasonable? How did her collar become an issue? Were their complaints by clients? Is there an obvious lock present? Are there overt markings denoting the jewelry as a slave collar?
You see, I'm pretty sure silver jewelry isn't out of the ordinary in the midwife profession . . .
So I'm just speculating, but I do think it's logical to assume this particular midwife's problem isn't the wearing of silver jewelry, but instead there is a specific problem her employer has with the style of her jewelry. I can imagine some kinds of BDSM collars making clients uncomfortable, and as an employer I can completely understand why that is unacceptable.
I'm a business owner. My slave/wife, in addition to being my servant at home, is my very capable administrative assistant at my office, so it's important to me that her collar blend in seamlessly in a professional setting. I know it's difficult, but not impossible to find a solid steel collar that looks dressy even in the vanilla world but locks around a slave's neck.
Because, just as a slave lives with protocols under their Master's direction, so must an employee live with protocols devised by their employer.