People are having a debate about whether this is appropriate for air travel? I can’t believe it. The scene — a man pulling a woman on a leash — down the aisle of an airplane is so grossly inappropriate that a debate would be moronic.
Would this be appropriate on a public street? That’s different. Unlike an airplane, on a street you can turn away, step away, and refuse to be part of the scene. In fact, this is a common porn trope: public sex. It’s okay, as long as you aren’t actually in someone’s face. Not really a debate here.
The interesting issue in this s-and-m’y scenario is not appropriateness but arousal. Is there something arousing — appropriate or not — in this airplane scenario? In the s-m world, this kind of scene is arousing, as it is an expression of complete dominance. You, as a top, are so completely in control of the bottom that you can make her risk public humiliation. This is a much more forceful expression of dominance than forcing the “slave” to eat out of a dog bowl, or whatever.
There are forms of public sex that don’t involve domination and submission. Just a boy and a girl having sex under a picnic table or behind the phone booth. This is known as exhibitionism, and a lot of women find the concept appealing — just as a way of breaking away from familiar sexual routines — like every Saturday night at 11:00 just after teeth-brushing. The s-m dimension introduces a bit of wildness.
So let’s get away from Miss Manners and talk about wild sex: the more complete the dominance, and the vaster the submission, the wilder the sex. I think Newsweek may have missed the point. There’s no debate about sexual control. Whatever ruffles your truffles.