SVU: All That Glitters

By Katiee McKinstry

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the diamond laundering industry, Benson and Stabler have got you covered. This episode of SVU on the surface is about the diamond embezzlement industry, but it goes even deeper than that. From there, the show defines the line between consensual S&M play and rape, as there was a raped murder victim and two other survivors who came forward. That’s what I’d like to focus on today: the line of consent.

With the surge of popular S&M fiction like Fifty Shades of Grey, we have seen a normalcy added to the BDSM community. That’s wonderful in and of itself, but I sometimes feel like a lot of people don’t understand the lines of consent. According to the episode, these lines can be blurred in violent sex play. However, for the BDSM community, they practice the most consensual form of sex and have the least amount of sexual assault than any other sexual community. It’s important to establish what you’re comfortable with when taking an S&M partner. This episode of SVU highlights just that. We see two survivors who agreed to be submissive partners and were assaulted. The victims did not realize that they were being assaulted at first because they thought it was part of the agreed S&M. That’s what exposes this case as more than black and white.

I think SVU does a great job of highlighting what is consent and what isn’t, in cases we otherwise wouldn’t think about. Sex is supposed to be safe and consensual, and when that boundary is crossed that’s when you find Benson and Stabler at the scene. Awareness is key, here. While these women could not prevent the course of events, it’s important to know that assault in every sexual community can happens every day. The more we talk about the role of consent, the more awareness we can bring to rape culture. It all starts with a conversation, and in this case (let’s be honest, in most cases) SVU propelled us into a constructive discussion.

By having a conversation about consent beforehand, we can all engage in safe sex play. Talk to your partner, create a safe word, establish those boundaries. If you at all feel uncomfortable or unsafe, that is valid. Don’t doubt yourself. It all comes down to these conversations that helps us have a safe sexual environment. It’s easier said than done, I know. Sometimes a situation cannot be prevented, and that is NOT your fault. However, talking about it can create change for others, as well as yourself. Take a little advice from Olivia Benson, and always believe and support survivors, creating a sex positive dialogue. My hero.