Have we, the “experienced” kinksters become too intolerant of the new “up and comers?”
When I first started really digging into the BDSM lifestyle in the 90’s, I remember first hearing about “Old Guard” leatherfolk who – although not bad people – were very resistant to new and daring ideas. The ideas such as “earning your leathers,” dress codes in the play scene, “flagging” codes were pretty much set in stone as far as the “Old Guard” was concerned. The idea of a twenty-two year old coming into lifestyle with zero past experience and calling himself “Master” was frowned upon by Old Guard. Switches didn’t exist in “Old Guard” circles. You were Dominant, or you were submissive – and you didn’t “switch” roles. You had to learn their ways – at least most of them – if you wanted to fit in.
These ideas were non-negotiable. And they were written too. Sure! There were resources one could go to and find the ideals of the Old Guard and learn them. (Although , from the 50s up until probably around the 80s, they were UNwritten, learned only from one leatherman to the next, once one was allowed “in.”) And learning these ideals was necessary if one wanted to be accepted in these circles.
One always asks the Dominant before addressing his submissive. One nevertouches a Dom’s toys (especially a whip – whips are sacred) without receiving permission first. Only the very experienced could wear hats. Boots were mandatory. Black leather and brown leather were never mixed. (Source – http://www.evilmonk.org/a/oldguard.cfm)
Back in the 90’s, as “new age” kinksters, we emulated some of these traditions – and sort of giggled at others. The tradition of a submissive never “owning” a collar but instead accepting a collar “owned” by the Dominant is one we still see in most BDSM circles. But the idea that I HAVE to wear boots when in the community hasn’t really survived, has it? We see lots of different footwear at parties – as well as other things that were “unthinkable” in the “Old Guard” days.
And now it’s 2017. I’m an old guy. My public play heydays are behind me. But I still love discussing the lifestyle and all of its aspects with old friends and new people. I don’t know about you, but I love being asked by new people about various ideas, terms, and activities, and getting a chance to share my knowledge and experience. Don’t you?
Well, from what I’ve seen, there are far too many people online who claim, (like I do) to be broadly experienced in the leather arts – but seem to have no interest in actually teaching anybody anything. Instead, they are all too quick to criticize new (and even not-so-new) people for even getting online and asking anything.
And here’s their fallback – “That’s already been answered over here: (fill in URL of a prior conversation or a writing, or a “sticky”).
So, my question is this: If all of the answers to these “dumb” questions have already been answered and are “written” somewhere – does that mean that all discussion should cease? Shall we close the discussion groups with a re-direct link to the “archives” that says “It Is Written…”?
So I ask – if we older folks are unwilling to actually hold a dialogue with the younger folks (and newer folks regardless of age) – have we become the new “Old Guard?” Will we exclude all who do not do BDSM “our way?” (Whatever way that is…) What have we become if our answers to the newer generation are “Go look it up,” and “Why are you asking THAT question … HERE?”
To clarify, I don’t see the “Old Guard” as bad. But they did apparently have a sort of “Our way or the highway” mantra.
I’m not wanting or expecting to “fix” a whole community. Hopefully I’ll wake a few people up who, in their hearts don’t want to be “exclusive” to people who are trying to find their way in this lifestyle that is way too mis-characterized in popular culture.
I’m a thinker and a writer, and I’m simply writing what I’m thinking. I honestly don’t need to learn anything else myself – I pretty much know exactly what I like, and I have someone who loves me and also likes what I like. So, I’ve got my comfy little corner to enjoy the rest of my life in. I also don’t need to teach anyone anything. I really have nothing to gain from it.
But I remember what it was like to not “know” things. I remember how good it felt to have people around me who were LIKE ME, and happy to answer my “dumb” questions and talk to me for as long as I needed to understand – rather than point to where my questions were “already answered.” I guess, as long as I can remember those things, I can’t turn others away. I guess that’s why I don’t like seeing others turn them away either.
To Be Continued…
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