Mano a Mano

Over the past few years, I’ve been seeing a change in the local BDSM community that makes me smile.  It used to be that women would hug each other, and men and women would hug each other.  But men would only shake hands with other men.  That double standard felt very chest-poundy and was a clear reminder of the uber-masculine locker room culture that always rubbed me the wrong way.  After all, you can’t hug another man- You might catch the gay!

Gradually, more men have started hugging each other. If you dig around online, you’ll see more recent studies regarding the importance of touch.  Touch is something that, thanks to the wonderful culture we live in, has mostly been off-limits to men.  Yet it’s increasingly becoming more evident that touch is helpful in regards to mental health.

There’s also been a more open embrace of male bisexuality.  Female bisexuality has always been very out in the open in our community, and often widely encouraged since for many men that is also prime wank-bank material.  But male bisexuality was generally looked down on.  It only happened behind closed doors.  Not anymore.  We’re seeing more men being open about it, and this gives me big chunks of happy.

This is progress.  Change like this is not so much rapid demolition of the old ways; rather, it’s more like gradual erosion.  Not only are we changing our BDSM community, but these changes also slowly leak out into the world through our efforts.

(I’ve deliberately left trans people out of this post since we only have a handful of trans people in our community, and I think that’s far too small of a sample size from which to draw any kind of real conclusion.)

Is Community Service Submission?

A discussion on the internet machine got me thinking.  It was on expectations and protocol, essentially asking if some level of service or obeying small requests should be expected at events.  The focus of this conversation was not on couples or people otherwise involved with each other.  Rather, the question was more on whether subs should do things that are asked by other dominants, as well as whether to submit in this situation while single.

My response was a flat “no.”  Service is not owed.  It is to be negotiated.  Consent cannot be assumed.

Someone from the local community brought up an excellent point though- High protocol and/or service-oriented events can sometimes be exceptions to this.  I agree.  If it’s in the rules, and you agree to those rules and show up, that’s on you.  Those aren’t events I typically go to though, so I never even considered that in my reply.

Then someone else brought up service to the community as a whole.  That’s what fermented in my brain all day.

I volunteer a fair amount in my local community by facilitating groups and events, teaching demos, setup/tear-down, DMing, or helping out at other groups in various ways.  There’s also a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that most people don’t see.  (When I travel to other cities for events, I look at that as a vacation and don’t usually volunteer there.)  My efforts in helping out don’t come from my submission.  For me they aren’t related at all.  I make the effort to help keep the community well-lubed because it’s necessary.  Without volunteers, events don’t happen.  The creepers and consent violators continue unchallenged.  Volunteers help keep this community healthy.  I gain a lot from being part of this community, and helping out is a way of giving back.  Yes, it’s service, but not in the d/s sense.  It’s not service to individuals, and it’s not service based on d/s orientation or personal chemistry.  It’s service to something bigger than the individuals.  It’s service to the community as a whole.  For me, that is not d/s.  A leader does not lead by barking orders from high above.  A leader leads by being the first to jump in the trench and get their hands dirty.  That’s what this is for me- doing work in order to help keep a good thing going and maybe improve it here and there.

One final thought: If service to the community is a form of submission, why are there so many doms engaging in this type of service themselves?