There was a time, not long ago, when getting involved in the BDSM community meant learning a certain minimum amount of protocols – depending on the group you hung out with, and maintaining a certain level of secrecy. Being “let in” was something special. It was more than just “Yippee! I found a bunch of kinky people like me.” It was more than finally being accepted for who you are by a number of people. It was special because this group of people chose to trust you, and to embrace you as not only kinky, but trustworthy enough to join them in their secret places and their secret rituals. (Play and socializing was more ritualized back then.)
It’s not like that anymore. It’s pretty much a free-for-all now. All anyone needs in order to “join” now is a computer. Everyone gets in – whether they ever show up in person or not. Bondage, leather, sadomasochism are now splashed all over mainstream entertainment. More and more it’s viewed as just another way of having sex. “Kinky sex” it gets called. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s insulting. Sadomasochism and power exchange permeate far more of my existence than getting my rocks off. There were thoughts and images of bondage and sadism swirling around in my head long before I was old enough for my cock to get hard. There are others like me, for whom all of this is more than sex.
Some see this free-for-all as a positive thing. After all, now that basically anyone can celebrate being “kinky” purely by virtue of enjoying sex in some manner other than heterosexual, missionary position intercourse, there is no real investment in claiming to belong to a “kinky” community. And now, lots of hangers-on are doing so just because of they think it makes them cool, or “edgy.” But honestly, what discipline does it take to play dress-up?
Additionally, a lot of folks nowadays try more and more to display their “kink” in the public eye. There seem to be many more people who somehow think there is some benefit to “coming out” and showing off their sexual quirks to the rest of the world. However, what I see is simply a competition between a bunch of people to see who can look and act the most outrageous in front of vanillas. And as years go by, these displays degrade more and more to the point that they look like little more than drunken frat-party stunts designed only to shock people and get a bunch of laughs.
This is creating a backlash on multiple levels. Take, for instance, the recent rash of sexual assault complaints in which the accused men (quite often, politically powerful men) try to excuse their violent behavior by claiming that the incidents were consensual BDSM encounters. Some examples include a tech executive who choked and beat a woman, leaving her face and neck bruised . Then there is an Alaska state Representative who allegedly got drunk with a woman, brought her back to his hotel room, and slapped her so hard he ruptured her eardrum. Apparently, she consented to being slapped, but he didn’t stop when she told him he was being too rough. Then there is the sleaze-bag New York attorney general who is accused of assaulting FOUR women without their consent. He claims that he was “engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” within “the privacy of intimate relationships.” Suuurre!!
My God! It wasn’t all that long ago that no rich powerful man would dare to publicly claim to the world that they were “kinky.” They’d rather accept the “abuser” label. But now that everyone worships “50 Shades” and assumes that everyone else is into BDSM, you would think that it’s open season on women. But when a woman goes to the police – well then, claiming “BDSM” seems to be an easy out for these shitheads. If these had been consensual BDSM encounters, the police would not have become involved – simply because in a consensual BDSM encounter, they would have STOPPED once the woman indicated that things were getting out of hand.
One of the things that made BDSM special, many years ago, was the fact than once you got into the lifestyle and community, you then walked a continuing path of learning, honing skills, bettering yourself and making the community itself a better place for those who enter in the future. I don’t see that so much anymore. Especially online, it seems to be more of a popularity contest over who gets more “loves” on their photos. It also seems to be a contest of who knows the most about this or that, with an attitude that all these pesky new people asking stupid questions need to go away. Of course, there are still plenty of people, like me, trying to help people learn and find their place within this lifestyle. There always will be. But there are fewer of us now, I believe.
I don’t think “pride” movements help us much, either. I understand that the original “Gay Pride” movement from the 70’s helped end a lot of serious discrimination an violence toward homosexuals. But, the original goal has been reached. It is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and there are enhanced penalties for hate crimes now. However, nowadays, it seems everyone has a “pride” flag and demands that everyone else respect their “pride.”
I’m not “proud” to be kinky. I just AM kinky and I’m not ashamed of who I am. I don’t march in parades or attend rallies. What I do in my bedroom or dungeon is my business. The “pride” movements seem to have devolved into an excuse to run out into the streets and be “in the face” of vanillas. I can’t think of anything we are accomplishing by dressing up in our fetish clothes and dancing around in the streets. You can disagree with me, (and NO, I don’t hate anyone), but I don’t believe that we are changing any minds by coming out and acting like clowns for the cameras. I think it’s high time that WE show the vanillas some respect and not deliberately seek to shock and offend them. I’m perfectly content practicing my alternative lifestyle out of sight, in private, and amongst my own kind. If vanillas want to see what I do, they can come underground and find me.
The very popular and not-even-close to realistic “50 Shades of Grey” has done a lot to bring in people who not only don’t understand what BDSM is about, but worse, THINK they know everything about it. I knew our lifestyle was in trouble a few years ago when I started seeing more and more guys showing up in our clubs and events in business suits they had clearly cobbled together from the thrift store. This phenomenon is so prevalent, that “Twitter Dom” is and actual term. Look it up on Urban Dictionary. Some women tend to get a skewed idea that the perfect Dominant is rich and powerful and that when you find him, you just submit to what he wants and he takes care of the rest. It reminds me a lot of the “World of Gor” subculture that has permeated the lifestyle for years. That’s not real BDSM. Real BDSM is consent, and communication. It’s learning skills and practicing them. It’s caring for a sub deeply, not seeing them as simply an object to use for one’s shallow desires.
Unfortunately, bringing BDSM into the mainstream world results in a lot of people simply imitating their favorite books, or playing dress-up to the point that BDSM events become more like a “comic con.” Hell, I’ve even seen kids leading each other around in public on leashes. WTF?? Why actually show up to a munch and learn anything when you can just put on a “pleather” dress and a silly wig and walk around watching the freaks? Maybe I’m just being an old fuddy-duddy, but it seems like nobody has to take any risk to be “kinky” anymore. It used to be that walking into a munch was taking a big step in your life. By the time you actually showed up to a play party, you had already invested time and energy into exploring this lifestyle. It really meant something.
I’ve never felt cheated by being “in the closet” with my lifestyle. I don’t need the approval or the adoration of vanillas. And I don’t need to force them to see what I do. I guess I mainly wonder if we still honestly feel like we have something special. Or are we just one more sex position? I agree that we always need new people, and we should be a friendly and inviting place for them. But I’ve always felt that this thing is spiritual – magical even. And it’s not for everyone. I know there’s no putting this genie back in the bottle. But I believe we are at risk of becoming a fad – like disco – rather than the deep and rewarding path that I’ve known for all these years.
Without doubt, FetLife has become the virtual hub for all things kink. But, it does not stand alone. The Internet is absolutely chock full of information, images, thoughts, blogs, stories, and opinions of bondage, leather, fetish dominance, submission, etc., etc… Never before have so many variations of human behavior been crammed into one big tent. And, never before has so much “information” been readily available at one’s fingertips.
How did anyone do this stuff before there was an Internet to show us all how, where, and with whom??
When I came into the BDSM community, the Internet was still in its infancy. Interaction between kinksters was basically limited to emails, chat rooms, and private messages within IRC servers. Images were still too large, and connections still too slow to have profiles with a bunch of pictures on them. In fact, “social media” wasn’t even a thing yet.
Back then, two things were very different than they are now. Firstly, most groups involved in BDSM and its practice emphasized D/s, S/M, and accompanying practices as a lifestyle, rather than simply another form of sex. Secondly, I cannot remember seeing anyone scolded back then for asking a question – no matter how many times it may have been asked and answered.
A Lifestyle – not a sex-style.
If you click around FetLife for any period of time, it’s easy to find plenty of profiles that really have nothing to do with leather, bondage, BDSM – or even fetish!! But they have everything to do with sex, dick pics, fuck photos, and beaver shots. Now, I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination. Mistress Oasis and I have a very active, fun, and creative sex life. I love sex and orgasms. And, yes, even I have nude pics and dick pics on my profile, but all in the context of submission or CBT. The sex is a small part of who we are and what we do. That was the message promoted by kink-friendly groups of my day. Yes, we were all sexually active. But, sex was not what we were about.
I was born too late to have been involved in the “Old Guard” subset, with their rigid rules, protocols, and dress codes. However, the community, when I did enter it in the 90s, did have basic standards of behavior. We didn’t just run up to people we didn’t know, and request play or sexual favors. Nowadays, it’s nothing for people (mostly men) to message total strangers with declarations of what they want to do “for” them, or to them.
Back then, everyone kept their hands to themselves unless contact was agreed to – as safety, consent, and negotiation were the holy grails of the lifestyle. Today, I see WAY too much uninvited groping and boob/ass grabbing going on at play parties.
Some time ago, we went to a private party where a male Dom greeted Mistress Oasis and then promptly put his hand on one of her breasts, while commenting on how nice they looked. After a few choice words, we left and we haven’t ever gone back. Play parties used to be special events where special things were expected to be experienced. As such, we dressed the part. Leathers and evening attire were the norm. Now, you’re just as likely to see shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops at a play party. When I got my start, scenes were serene and artful, and emphasized the connection between the players. Sure, they could be sexy, sensual, or even brutal. But, they usually had an artistic or performance quality flare to them. Today, at just about any play party, at some point, we are almost certain to be treated to the old “forced orgasm” scene. It’s the lowest common denominator and anyone can do it. We overtly distinguished ourselves from swingers by not turning our play parties into sex shows. And, I’m not criticizing swingers – I was one for several years. They do their thing, which is much different than our thing.
Or, is it? It seems that – as more and more people are invited to come hang out in the kink realm (many of whom have ZERO interest in BDSM, D/s, kink OR fetish), the more it seems that BDSM is becoming just another way to fuck. There was a time when we were very enigmatic. There was a mystique about us leather-folk. Nowadays, if you click on someone’s profile who call themselves a “sub” or “slave” you’re just as likely to find a hundred photos of that one person posing naked or masturbating as you are to find somebody actually celebrating submission or slavery. Wanting everyone to see you naked and getting off makes you an exhibitionist – and that’s fine. We leather types have never judged. But, it does not make you “submissive” or a “slave.” However, I digress.
It just seems to me that those who practice a loving power exchange are being seen as no different than those who just want to fuck…or act like an animal and fuck…or act like a child and fuck…or dress up like the opposite gender and fuck. And again, I hold no judgment against anyone who wants to fuck in any one of 10,000 ways. But, those of us who practice protocols and power exchange are indeed different and unique. I would hate to see us lose our identity completely.
Stuck on “Stickies”
I like to check out posts in the various groups I belong to. I’m noticing a serious lack of patience toward anyone asking a question anymore. You almost cannot read through a discussion thread without someone blathering on about “Stickies” (basically tagged posts at the top of the page for easy reference).
“You should go look in the stickies. This topic has been addressed several times already.”
Oh yeah? No shit? Tell me when was the last time that someone posted a question in one of these threads that HASN’T been answered at some point in the past?
Question – how did you feel when you were a kid and you asked your parents something, and their answer was “look it up?” Or, today when you ask about something, and someone tells you “Google It.” Is that what the BDSM community is now here for – to tell everybody else to go look somewhere else for their answers?
Years ago, we, too, had a constant parade of new and inexperienced people logging into the chat rooms, and showing up at the BDSM discussion meetings. No, not the thousands every day like we have now on FetLife. But back then, just like today, there were things that simply got asked over and over. We had “stickies” back then, too. They were called “books.” Books like “BDSM 101,” “Screw the Roses – Send Me the Thorns,” “The Loving Dominant,” “The Topping Book,” and “The Bottoming Book,” as well as others. And, we recommended them to newcomers enthusiastically.
What we didn’t say was, “Hey! You need to go buy “BDSM 101” because the answer to your question is in there and you are simply annoying me with your question. And, we certainly didn’t tell people that their question was pointless, or without purpose, or dumb – which is something else I notice a lot of today.
Wasn’t the Internet supposed to make it easier for us to share information and knowledge? What’s happened? What’s the point of a discussion group if we don’t want to “discuss” anything, and instead keep pointing people to the virtual public library? And, how ridiculous is it that people, who have nothing else going on in their lives, sit on FetLife and take the time to post on a discussion thread to scold someone else for asking a question and wasting their time?? If you’re on FetLife, it’s a pretty good indicator that you’ve got some time to spare!
I see a lot of posts by younger people about how mean we “older” people are here on FL. Call them wimps and whiners if you like, but I can see their point. FetLife says “Come one! Come all! Come hang out here where all kinky people are safe and welcome!!” And then, the minute these new people ask a question, they are told how stupid they are.
What’s the future of BDSM? Who defines us?
The porn industry?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money and feelings into my D/s and S/M life. Mistress Oasis and I haven’t gone to a lifestyle event in a long time because of the direction things are going in. I wonder if, in 20 more years, BDSM will have any resemblance to its origins.
Or will it be recognized at all?
Dragos is a 24/7 owned and collared slave who has been in the BDSM lifestyle for 30 years. He began as a Dominant, later experimented with switching as a bottom. After some pivotal experiences in masochistic and service oriented submission, he finally became exclusively submissive. He now faithfully serves his beloved Domme, Mistress Oasis. He is the author of “Energy and BDSM – Exploration of a Deeper Experience” and is currently working on his second book – a dating guide for submissive single men.
Find my books at Amazon.com (Click on the images to go to the book page)
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…
Find my books at Amazon.com (Click on the images to go to the book page)
The BDSM world is unique, but not supernatural. Even on the cover of my book ENERGY and BDSM, I speak of the “dark and mysterious” world of BDSM. Well, what we do in the dungeon may be dark and mysterious. And some of the ways we interact with each other may have a level of “mystique” to them. But the reality is that kinksters are normal people with normal lives just like everyone else on the planet – no matter how much they may attempt to glorify their kinkiness on internet profiles.
This is something to keep in mind when you’re wandering through the “alternative reality” that is internet BDSM. And I’m not talking about porn or those “virtual ” games… no. I’m referring to the very real online charade that goes on day after day on BDSM dating sites and social sites – like FetLife.
If you are a submissive male seeking companionship or more with a Dominant female, understand that posting a profile on FetLife and calling yourself a Domme, does not mean someone has their shit together in real life. Think about it, with 3.6 MILLION users as of 2015, don’t you think that SOME pissed off, miserable, man-hating hags got through??
Some of you may like to hang out in the discussion groups for conversation, entertainment, learning, or even to up your chances to meet someone. Some of these women who apparently lead miserable lives have decided to set up FetLife profiles and pose as “Dominant” women rather than “pissed off at the world – especially men.” (Would make a great FetLife profile category, huh?) And lots of them LOVE to hang out in the discussion groups.
I’ve been on FetLife since about 2008. Dragos was not my first profile. I’ve been around the block a few times, but decided to become more anonymous since publishing ENERGY and BDSM. Submissive guys, there are GREAT, loving, caring, good-hearted women out there who appreciate what you are!! I know the search is tough and the pickings are slim. But don’t give up. And don’t let the man-haters of FetLife get you down. They like to get into the discussions and pick apart the topic, and/or individual’s responses to the topic. They’ll act like they are just joining the discussion, but then attack someone. They aren’t able to say “this is my opinion..XYZ” and then carry on with their lives. They are clearly the type of sad individual who must confront everybody for THEIR opinions and show that person their folly for thinking or speaking in such a way.
I recently had a couple if these biddies jump into a discussion that I started. I checked around into other discussions they had joined into, and they were doing the exact same thing – criticizing the OP, criticizing the topic, or how it was presented…criticizing other people (men) in the forum for their opinions and thoughts – basically trying to de-rail the discussion and send it crashing off a cliff. This makes them feel good, apparently. Like a vandal who paints graffiti on something is proud that he “left his mark” somewhere.
My advice to you, single sub-males, is to learn to recognize these life forms for what they are early on and not engage them. As a sub male, especially in a “sub male and Dominant women” type forum – it’s a losing proposition, because the other old cranks will come out of the woodwork and gang up. Just keep your polite conversation with the more civil folk, and let the male-haters fizzle out and seek other quarry. Remember, for every person that posts in a thread, about ten others read the thread without posting.
I do engage them – first because I’m in a dynamite committed relationship and I have nothing to lose. Second, I’m always marketing. Any publicity is good publicity. The other day, while a team of would-be Domme-Nazis picked and pecked at a topic I’d started, and demanded that the discussion was settled so I should shut up – I sat and watched visits to my personal blog going up and up. And I cleared several sales of my book in that 12 hour period.
Mistress Oasis finally stepped in and spoke her peace, which resulted in a couple of very nice PMs from submissives who had seen the post and thanked her for defending sub-males. Eventually the discussion died down and the man-haters moved on. They are still doing the exact same thing on other threads.
I’m not sure why these women are here, claiming to be Dominant women who love submissive men. But they are here. Don’t be fooled by the title. Watch their words and how they interact with men in those threads. Apparently, intelligent, outspoken, confident, and successful don’t count as “submissive” in their eyes.