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.