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?

How to Event

This weekend I presented a class I’d never taught before.  Most classes in the BDSM community revolve around either play skills or relationship dynamics.  This one was a bit different, though with just as much utility- It covered techniques on how to thrive at weekend BDSM events, get the most out of them, and walk away not feeling like crap. I’d put the class together after realizing that some newer people were running into things which could be easily avoided, things I’d learned long ago the hard way and now take for granted.  And while I did initially aim these tips at newer people, some more experienced perverts have said they’ve found quite a few useful ideas here.
I broke this class up into things that can be done before, during, and after the event.  Also, since I mention a few supplements, I need to add that my advice is not intended to cure, treat, or prevent any illness.  Consult your doctor before doing anything at all.  Ever.
Before the Event
  • Make sure you’ve requested off work.  Nothing ruins your weekend faster than your boss calling you Saturday morning asking where you are.
  • Buy your ticket early to save money.  Many events raise their prices over time.  This is a form of “pain in the ass tax”- it’s easier to plan the event when you have a solid idea of how many people will be there, and buying a last-minute ticket changes that number.  Getting your ticket early also increases your chances of snagging a room in the host hotel.
  • If possible, take an extra day off work before the event to pre-charge yourself.
  • Make sure your car works.  Kind of a basic thing, but if your check-engine light went on last week, you should take care of that before you get out on the highway and your car decides, “You know what, fuck you.  We’re not going to this event.”
  • Make a packing list and keep it in your suitcase/bag.  If you keep the list, you only have to make it once.  Doing this lessens that nagging feeling of forgetting something as you’re leaving.  It also saves you time since it makes the packing process more efficient.
  • Bring your ID- Most events require it when you check in.  No ID, no event.
  • A multi-tool is handy to have and doesn’t take up much space.  There are a few different brands and dozens of models available.   This little gadget can make you somebody’s hero.  Most contain tools like pliers, a knife, scissors, screwdrivers, or an awl.
  • Pack extra clothes.  Zippers break, stains happen, and the venue may be hotter or colder than you were expecting.  Also, make sure you bring some street clothes for going out for meals.  I’ve seen some people get excited and pack nothing but fetish wear.
  • Extra cash is always handy.  Unforeseen expenses are unforeseen.  If you don’t trust the hotel staff, hide it well- Stash it in your underwear, put it in a sandwich bag and stuff it in the middle of your dirty laundry, or even lock your suitcase/bag when you’re not in the room.
  • Allow yourself extra travel time if possible.  Being rushed can increase your stress levels before you even get to the venue.  Don’t forget to consider rush hour traffic.
  • Check construction on your route and figure out an alternate route if necessary.
  • Update your GPS.  New roads are constantly being built, old ones removed.
  • Scout out what’s in the area- restaurants, attractions, shopping, etc.  If you’re able, you may find it rewarding to do non-BDSM-event things while you’re in the area.  Hit the zoo, stop in at a high-end chocolate shop, go pet a baby goat, or jump into a mosh pit.  I would, however, recommend against taking a goat of any age into a mosh pit.
  • If you’re going without a partner, consider sharing a room vs. rooming alone.  Both have benefits and drawbacks.  Are you a light sleeper?  Do you mind paying for an entire room yourself, or would you rather split the cost?  Are you ok sharing a bed if necessary?  How long do you and your potential roommate spend in the bathroom?  Do they snore?
  • Carpooling is another way to save money.  However, carpooling can sometimes prove problematic if the playspace is not in the hotel you’re staying in.  One person may want to leave for the night, but someone else isn’t ready.  You may be dragging and ready for bed, meanwhile, the driver has just started a long scene.
  • Check the event rules ahead of time.  Some venues don’t allow things like fire play, penetration, or blood play.  No sense in lugging all that equipment there if you can’t use it.  Also be sure to check their policies on cell phones and alcohol.  Some events are strict about these things and will throw you out without a refund.
  • Join the fet group for the event-
  • Many groups will have “looking for play” threads.  These can be a solid way to find play dates.  Make sure you hit “follow” for any threads you may be interested in so they keep showing up in your groups feed every time someone posts.
  • People sometimes post construction alerts in the group that you might not otherwise know about.
  • People also post if they’re looking for ride/room shares.  Hooray for money!  Trust your gut though- If someone strikes you as creepy, has no friends on fet, or sends off any other potential uncomfortable-making signs, it may be best to pass on that person.
  • Any last-minute changes to the schedule or venue will likely be posted there.
  • Ask any questions you may have in that group.  Talking with people who’ve been there can prove helpful.  Alternately, message the event organizer(s) but make sure you give them plenty of time to answer as they’re usually quite busy.
  • Pre-charge- The day before and day of the event, make sure you’ve gotten enough sleep, and try to de-stress as much as possible.  Otherwise, you’re starting the weekend off from a deficit.

 

During the Event

  • Go to orientation.  They’ll give you a run-down on the venue layout, rules, fill you in on any non-official happenings, and maybe even have some drawings/giveaways.
  • Hit the vendors early.  Since they’re traveling, they usually bring only limited stock of each item.  The good stuff goes quickly.
  • Bring cash.  Many vendors have credit card payment options now, but some don’t.  Also, if you visit a bootblack while you’re there, you’ll need to be able to tip in cash.  (If you’ve never had a bootblack work on your leather, just ask them how it works and they’ll be happy to fill you in.  Or ask the internet machine- it contains much knowledge.)
  • Your name badge holder is a handy place to store that cash.  It also serves as storage for your hotel key and raffle tickets.  This proves useful if you’re running around naked all weekend.
  • If you’re going the naked route, bring a towel to sit on.  Do you really want to sit in a chair that had dozens of naked asses on it before?  Then don’t contribute to the problem; cover the chair first and avoid spreading your ass-plague all over the land.
  • Volunteer-
    • You’ll save money since you’ll get a full or partial comp.
    • It’s a terrific way to meet people.
    • Volunteers are the lube that make events run smoothly.  You’ll be contributing to making a fun event.
    • Just remember that it is a responsibility.  Show up on time and focus on your job.
  • Go to classes even if the topic isn’t your thing.  Some presenters are so entertaining that you’ll have a blast even if you’re not interested in experiencing what they’re talking about.  Two I’d recommend checking out are Laura Antoniou and Midori.  I’d listen to them talk about tax law.
  • Take notes in classes.  Most presenters are going green.  They used to give away 2-4 page handouts to every attendee for every class.  Hundreds of pages per event per presenter.  This is because all presenters secretly hate trees.  Take that, rainforest!  Lazy leafy bastards with your fancy “oxygen”.  Personally I’ve never seen oxygen, so I think its existence is a myth.
  • Ask questions during/after the class rather than leave wondering, or ask the presenter privately afterward.
  • If you want a hard copy of the material presented, message the presenter for info/outline or just ask them after the class.
  • If you stayed up late the night before, feel free to skip the first class to sleep in.  Sleep is important.  Likewise, if none of the classes in a certain time slot interest you, skip out and do something else- nap, go grab food, explore the city, etc.
  • Most events don’t allow phones and the staff will kick you out if they see you with one.  But lots of events also don’t put up clocks in the play space, so there’s no way to know what time it is.  A possible solution to this is to go the Flavor Flav route and wear a clock around your neck.  But if only they made a small version of a clock that you could strap to your wrist.  Should you come across such a wondrous invention, put it to good use.  Just make sure it works before you leave for the event.  I’ve taken a watch to an event only to realize the battery was dead once I got there.  Wearing a watch can also be a good conversation starter since a lot of other people might not be wearing one.  If you don’t feel like wearing it, just strap it to the handle of your toy case.
  • On the subject of toy cases, mark yours.  There are so many black bags and silver cases at these events, it’s easy to get yours mixed up with someone else’s.  Especially in a dimly-lit dungeon.
  • Since many play spaces are so dimly lit, hook a flashlight to your toy case.  Digging around inside a dark bag in a dark room when 90% of your toys are black isn’t the most efficient process.
  • Take a break from people, especially if you’re an introvert.  Escape to your room, go sit on a couch somewhere, go for a swim if the hotel has a pool, or go for a walk outside.
  • Consider whether you’ll spend your meal breaks with others or alone.  Keep in mind that if you’re trying to get a semi-large group together, it can be like trying to herd cats.  The more people you add, the more difficult and time-consuming it is.
  • Talk to people you normally wouldn’t.  It’s easy to be comfortable & over-rely on the “anchor people” you already know.  You’ll make new friends, have fantastic play, and open up new doors.
  • Don’t sit in a corner with your head down.  You get out of these events whatever you put in.
  • Business cards are becoming much more common in the BDSM community.  Consider picking some up.  They provide a way of keeping track of any new people you might meet.  Trying to remember all those screen names is hard, so when it comes time to send out some friend request after the event, you’re screwed if you didn’t write them down.
    • You can go the traditional paper/cardboard route for very cheap.  Many printing companies will send you a few hundred cards for under $10, and they have tons of templates to choose from.  If you want to spend some more and go a more memorable route, they also make them out of clear or translucent acrylic, metal, and wood.  Some info worth including on your cards are fet name, any groups you may run, your city, or email.  You could also add a title such as, “Domliest Domly-Dom that ever did Dom.”  Mine say, “Pervert Extraordinaire.”
    • At munch, it’s not uncommon to see people pull out their phones and send out friend requests with whoever they’re talking to right then and there.  At phone-free events, this isn’t an option.  Cards provide an easy alternative.
    • Put some in your badge holder and you won’t have to carry them around.
  • Ask people to play.
    • Watch them play first if you’re able.  That way you’ll know their play style and get a better feel as to whether you’ll be a good match for a scene.
    • Offer instead of asking. That way, you won’t be putting the other person on the spot by pressuring them for a direct answer straight away.  The default answer is no if they don’t get back to you, and it’s much less awkward for both people.
    • Some events use an arm band system.  For example, a bottom looking for play might wear a blue armband.  This doesn’t signal consent; it simply states that you’re open to talking about the possibility of playing.  Wear one, and approach others who are wearing them as well.
  • There is a substance you can take that has a lot of benefits- dihydrogen monoxide.
    • It is cheap and widely available, at least in the US.
    • It has no side effects and does not interact with any medication.
    • It helps to flush waste from your body.
    • It helps to prevent fatigue.
    • It’s even good for your skin.
    • It assists in transporting nutrients to where they’re needed.
    • Let’s break this down a bit further.  Dihydrogen means “two hydrogen”.  Written in chemical form, it’s H2.  Monoxide means “one oxygen”, written as O.  So put together, it’s H2O.  Water.  Drink water.  It’s got a buttload of benefits.
  • Many events don’t allow drinking.  However, what you do once you’re in your hotel room for the night is up to you.  Just keep in mind that you’ll also need to drink more vaguely water-like substances if you’re drinking alcohol.  And don’t go back to the play space if you’re drinking.
  • Eat.  You need fuel for all the pervery you’ll get up to.  You can go out to eat, bring food with you, or have food delivered to the lobby.  Either way, keep nutrients and calories coming into your body.
  • Meal replacement bars come in handy if you’re in a pinch for time.  These are larger bars that contain protein, carbs, and vitamins.  While I wouldn’t recommend replacing all your meals with them, once or twice over a weekend won’t hurt.  There are lots of brands and flavors to choose from.  Some are better than others.
  • Have a stash in the room.  If you get hungry once you’re back in your room for the night, you may not want to go back out to grab something, whether it’s due to convenience, tiredness, or just lack of time.
  • Caffeine helps plenty of people make it through these events.
    • If you wake up 5 minutes before a class you want to catch, you may not have time to make coffee or tea.  Most grocery stores sell individual-serving drink mix that contains caffeine; it’s sold near the other flavored drink mixes.  Just open the little packet, dump it in a bit of water, and down it like a shot.  Then be on your way.  Just read the label to know how much caffeine you’re getting as they vary in content.  These don’t take up much room in your bag and they are very lightweight.
    • Avoid pure caffeine powder.  This stuff is putting people in hospitals.  Some of it is so potent that 1/32 of a teaspoon, a barely perceptible amount, is 100-300mg.  For reference, most sources recommend keeping your intake under 400mg per day.
    • Know the half-life of caffeine for you.  Everyone eliminates caffeine at a slightly different rate, and everyone has a different tolerance.  Some can drink a pot of coffee right before bed, while others will be up all night if they have any after 10am.  Know your body.
  • Sleep.  It’s important.  You may be tempted to not get enough; if you do so, you may run the risk of really dragging later that night.  Sleep also bolsters your immune system.
  • You may be oddly wired when you try to get to bed.  A new couple at a recent event told me, “We both had trouble getting to sleep last night since we were just so wound up, is that normal?”  Yes, yes it is.  Prepare for it.  Some options-
    • melatonin
    • valerian root
    • herbal teas
    • benadryl
    • sleeping pills.  Just be aware that some sleeping pills do cause a hangover.  Others may cause you to sleep until 2pm the next day.  If you have a history of addiction, it may be best to avoid these as they can prove addictive.
    • ZMA is a pill or powder marketed to those who do strength training.  It’s a combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6.  The intended purpose is to help the body recover after a brutal workout.  This lends itself well to events like this in which you’re wearing yourself thin, expending lots of energy and constantly being “on”.  That takes a lot out of your body.
    • Wind down before bed.  Don’t expect to walk into your room and immediately conk out.  Give yourself some time in that quiet environment.
    • Minimize light.  Pull the curtains shut, and try to avoid electronics, phones, TV, etc. since that light can trick your brain into thinking you should still be awake.  Put a towel at the bottom of the door to your room.  Otherwise, the hallway light can flood your room and keep you up.
    • Earplugs can really help you out here.  There may be people playing or fucking loudly in the next room.  There will also be noise coming from the hallways as people walk to their rooms, slam doors, and use the ice machine.  At one event, someone in the next room was making goat noises.  I’m still not real sure what that was about.
    • Another option is a white noise machine.  They’re widely available online or in stores for roughly $20.  There are also free white noise apps; just remember to keep your phone plugged in if you’re using one.  Both options provide more than just traditional hissing white noise- There are thunderstorms, purring cats, streams, the ocean, crickets, and a large sweaty man named Pete creepily breathing in your ear.  That usually costs extra though.
  •  Con crud is a real thing.  You’re in close quarters with hundreds of people all weekend, shaking hands, hugging, and touching dirty objects.
    • Hand sanitizer is a popular option.
    • Wash your hands, especially before eating.  This is one of the biggest things you can do to protect yourself and others.  Keep in mind that when you leave the bathroom, your clean hands now have to touch the door handle which was touched by dozens/hundreds of others who didn’t wash their hands.  Grab it with a paper towel.
    • Bring cold meds, immodium, pink bismuth, etc.  Sitting on the toilet all weekend can quickly derail your plans.
    • Some find that starting to take an immune-boosting supplement a week or so prior and continuing use until the week after the event is helpful.

After the Event

  • Your self-care is not done.  What you do after the event can make a huge difference.
  • Have a cover story for when your coworkers ask what you did this weekend.
  • Drop is a common occurrence.  There’s sub drop, top drop, and con drop, among others.  It typically manifests as a generally “down” feeling.  You may be more easily agitated than normal, you may be on the verge of tears for no reason, or you may be really tired all the time.  Once you realize that this is drop happening, it’s much easier to deal with. A few options for dealing with drop-
    • Chocolate
    • Caffeine
    • Introvert time.  Have some tea, take a bath, go for a walk, and just avoid people.
    • Others find that getting together with friends can help.
    • Chocolate
    • Keep up on your sleep.
    • Eat, even if you don’t feel like it.  Food helps you recover.
    • Vitamin D is produced by your body when you’re in the sun.  It can contribute to mental well-being and help combat depression, which is why vitamin D is so popular in places close to the poles where there is little sunlight much of the year.  If you start taking it well before the event and keep taking it afterward, that should help keep your levels up to where they need to be.
    • Chocolate
    • Follow up with friend requests and message those you played with.  Not only can this help with drop, it’s the non-asshole way to go.  It’s just good form to message, text, call, or get together with anyone you played with in the days after an event.
    • Take time off from work after event if you’re able.  Even one day off can give you a huge boost.
    • Chocolate

 

The Gluten-Intolerant Have No Place in the Motherland.

The other night, I engaged in what was probably the strangest scene I’ve ever participated in.  I beat a man using nothing but pasta.  While wearing a Soviet military uniform.

It stemmed from a conversation years ago.  A friend of mine was completely snockered and said to me, “I would let you top me using nothing but pasta.” He said this knowing that I don’t switch at all. But the idea intrigued me, and I saw it as an opportunity to spread the strange. It fermented in my head.

Eventually I realized a problem: His play style is typically very resistance-oriented. Spaghetti bondage won’t hold anybody. It wouldn’t work, and I told him as much. He gnawed on that for a while. His solution: “I won’t resist as long as you’re wearing a Soviet military uniform.”

I looked online, and all I saw were two categories of uniforms: authentic ones there were over a grand total, and cheap flimsy costumes that looked like crap. So this whole scene went on the back burner, and I nearly forgot about it. At one point I started looking again, and I finally found a uniform I could groove with. At a military surplus store in the Ukraine. But it was the real thing, and the price was far more reasonable. Shipping was $40. Thankfully it fit well the first time. Foreign sizes are, um, foreign.

At that point, it was time to walk down the pasta aisle and laugh maniacally at the possibilities. Got a few looks there.

Unfortunately, some things didn’t pan out. The linguine flogger, spaghetti bondage, and pasta collar were all too flimsy, regardless of type of pasta and cooking time used. Grrr. Cheap capitalist pasta. The quality is nowhere near what we had in the Old Country.

I emailed him a picture with the subject line “Soon.” just to taunt him a bit: soon

This scene was to happen at a public party.  When we were about to start, I got in uniform and headed over to the play area.  Plenty of friends knew something worth watching was going to happen, but they had no idea what.

In my fake Russian accent, I had him strip to his underwear and get on a spanking bench.  Walking around in front of him, I rubbed a cooked lasagna noodle on his arm just so he would see what I was about to use.  I walked around behind him and hit his ass with it a few times.  It gave a surprisingly loud whack and actually had some sting to it.  The noodle held up for about half a dozen hits.  Thankfully, I brought reinforcements.  I yelled, “FEEL THE WRATH OF MY SOVIET GLUTEN!”

At this point, people were making a mass entrance to the play area to see what the yelling was about.  Plenty of peoples’ brains got fried.  Knowing I don’t switch, they saw me topping someone.  Using pasta.  In a Soviet uniform.  “Wait, is that… Is he… What???”

After some more lasagna impact, I took another lasagna noodle and stood beside him, facing the same direction he was.  Bringing it down in front of his face with both hands, I went lower to his neck, pulled back, and started choking him with it.  (I barely cooked the lasagna until it was just flexible in order to maintain some level of strength.)  To my surprise, it held up, even when I was using a solid amount of pressure.

After the lasagna strangling, I took a handful of gnocchi and stood in front of him, holding my hand out so he could see what I had.  After a couple seconds, I hollered, “GNOCCHI!” and immediately threw them in his face.  Getting behind him, I started pelting his ass with them individually.  They were rather stingy, which made me happy; I was initially worried he wouldn’t feel much.  One of the gnocchi went squarely down his crack and into his underwear, and everyone cheered.  At that point, I realized the entire party (over 100 people) was there watching.  A barrage of gnocchi ensued.

I once again stood in front of him with another cooked lasagna noodle.  I said, “You are seeing this noodle?  Is not very sturdy.  Does not hold up well.  MUCH LIKE YOUR AMERICAN CAPITALISM!”  Then I backhand-slapped him in the face with the noodle.

Now it was time for some marks.  Going back around in front of him, I took a dry lasagna noodle and broke it into four pieces as he watched.  Making a fist, I put one piece between each finger, effectively making a lasagna claw.  “Freddy Kreuger was sexy bitch.” I said.  I then ran my makeshift knives all over his back.  He reacted pretty intensely at first, so I eased up and kept going.  After just a few minutes of this, he had all sorts of dark lines crossing his back.

Now it was time for the finale.  I told him to get off the spanking bench and kneel.  I then took a dry manicotti and stuck it out of the fly of my pants.  I got in front of him and bellowed, “SUCK MY MANICOTTI!” He looked like he was about to bust out laughing, but he did it.  I then yelled, “AM BRINGING SEXY BACK!  DA!”  Again, the crowd cheered.

Retrieving something from my bag, I had him stand.  No longer yelling, I said, “Glorious comrade, have survive many tribulation.  Motherland is very proud.  Presenting you now with great honor- membership in noble order.  Peoples’ Order Of Pasta (P.O.O.P.)”  With that, I put this around his neck:

Pasta Medal 3

Afterward, my newly re-indoctrinated comrade and I posed for a picture:

aftermath

And yes, that is a banana in my holster.  That way, I have instant aftercare at my hip.

I’m happy with how this all panned out.  While some of the things I had planned didn’t work out, there was still a lot I was able to do.  We had fun and got a ton of compliments afterward.  It was years in the making, but it was very worth it.  Well done, comrade.

Service, Sadists, Slut-Shaming, Subs, and Sasquatch (Okay, I’m Lying About That Last Part)

I’ve noticed a huge discrepancy when it comes to service and gender, at least among hetero couples.  (And once again, there is a divide between online and real life, which I’ll touch on later.)  Online, it’s common to see women looking for men to do their housework.  When they don’t find what they’re seeking, they rail against submissive men as being a bunch of wankers, not really submissive, etc.  Then when you look at the dominant men, they take the approach of, “I got this, I’ll take care of my stuff and you take care of yours.  Now suck my dick.”  And you don’t see many subs of any gender clamoring to do housework.  They exist, but they are far more rare.

One obvious part of the equation is that women in our society aren’t allowed to own their sexuality.  If you like sex, you’re a whore.  If you make the first move, you’re a skank.  Men on the other hand are encouraged to own their desire for sex, and being the aggressor is pretty much a requirement in dating.  All this gender-based baggage clearly carries over into how much a particular dominant person is pushing for sex to be part of it.

It’s important to break things down further.  There is a difference between sex, play, and service.  Sometimes the lines between them can get fuzzy, but most of the time they’re pretty clear-cut.  Some people enjoy casual play; others don’t.  Same goes for sex and service.  Out of those three categories, I know lots of people into casual play and sex, but not service.  Those types seem to be in far shorter supply.  We all have to get something out of what we do, whatever that “something” may be.  Those who get something out of doing someone’s housework aren’t exactly the most common people out there.   Dominant men seem to understand this; yet many dominant women will bash male subs who don’t fall into this category because they’re “selfish” and “thinking with their dicks.”

In that light, when a submissive woman offers casual play or casual sex, the dominant men don’t make fun of her and say she’s not a Real True sub™.  Yet this is the treatment submissive men get frequently.  Is it any wonder so many men have trouble coming to terms with their submission?  Not only do they have to overcome all the crap society shoves down their throats about being a “real man”, but then they get into this community and are told their desires are not valid, that sadists don’t exist, and that if they want anything kinky, they’ll have to pay for it either in housework or in cash.  And forget sex; real dominant women never have sex with submissive men.

All the behavior I mentioned so far in this post occurs almost exclusively online.  In the real world, service hardly ever enters into our community’s vocabulary.  You see it sometimes, but it’s a fringe interest.  Many people, like me, just aren’t wired as service-oriented.  (I’m prone to feeling taken advantage of and developing resentment if we’re not both pulling our weight.)  In our community, casual play and casual sex are all over the place.  Service, not so much.  Especially casual service.  Yet all the things that submissive men online are told don’t exist (casual play, casual sex) abound.

How do we correct this misrepresentation so common online?  Lots of people (including me when I was new) are discouraged from getting involved in the BDSM community because of the way it’s portrayed online.  Getting in arguments with random internet strangers is rarely productive.  From my experience, correcting misconceptions is more similar to erosion than demolition.  Live your life, lead by example, and slowly wear away at fallacies.  It’s not a quick or easy path, but it’s one of the most effective processes we have.

Armchair Subs

One commonly given piece of advice to those who are new to BDSM is to read.  Go online, browse writings, blogs, fetlife groups, etc.  Educate yourself.  There’s one problem with this: There are built-in assumptions that the reader will be able to discern between the solid advice they’re reading and the total crap.

I hit that trap head-on when I was new.  As I read so many things online I told myself, “I thought I was a sub, but I guess not.  After all, I’m not willing to give total control of my finances, I don’t submit to just anyone who capitalizes their pronouns, and I have limits.”  I questioned whether BDSM was for me since apparently I wasn’t doing it right.  I almost didn’t get involved in the local BDSM community because I was worried I didn’t fit the mold.  Luckily I ran into a few people who told me it wasn’t like that in real life, and that provided me the encouragement I needed.

I run into this in lots of new people as well.  Quite a few new people have very, um,  misguided ideas of what the BDSM community is about and how it operates.  Many of them have the same reservations I had about getting involved because of that.  So I try to blast those fallacies out and replace them with some general ideas of how this works in the real world.

People give total garbage advice online.  One gem I saw recently was in regard to cuckolding.  Someone who was new was trying to understand how anyone can get off on cheating.  I explained the whole consent thing and that it’s only cheating if the sub doesn’t consent to that.  Some Official Internet Expert chimed in with (paraphrasing here) “Dominant women can do as they want.  They know what’s best for us.  It’s not cheating because she can do whatever she wants with no regard to the sub or the relationship.”  This guy, as is the case with most Official Internet Experts, was single and not involved in any kind of in-person BDSM community.

These are the kinds of people pro-doms often cater to.  They generally have this big totalitarian fantasy that they want to live for a short time until they get their rocks off.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, there is something wrong with pushing that on other people and telling them they’re wrong for not doing things the same way.  BDSM is an incredibly individual experience.  Telling someone they’re not doing it right because they have limits is a dangerous approach.  The people receiving that advice may feel pressured to push themselves well past a level of activity they’re ok with.  While many people are able to take the advice they read with a grain of salt, some are more prone to sacrifice to some degree their desires over to the will of another.  This is why education is important.  This is why I find myself countering the online wanker armies at every turn.  And I encourage you to do the same.

The Headache That’s Totally Worth It

When friends or random internet people are on the fence about starting another group or event in their local community, I typically encourage them; the more options people have for things to do, the better.  Those who go are also more likely to find like-minded people at more specialized events.  Back in the olden days of yore, there were two munches locally per month, as well as one demo.  Now, there’s more than that in just one week.  We have roughly 20 active local groups.  There are so many events now that it’s impossible to go to everything that I want to.  It’s a fantastic problem to have.

But I also let these friends know about the most likely problems they’ll face so they can be better prepared:

  • Running a group immediately makes you a target.  There are those who will spread rumors about you.  Some will smile and call you friend, then talk trash about you as soon as you leave.  Filtering these people out of your life can prove more difficult than you’d think.
  • You will eventually have some form of consent violation take place at one of your events.  Whatever decision you make in dealing with this will be wrong.
  • You won’t make money on this.  In fact, you’re likely to lose money if you aren’t smart about it.
  • Armchair quarterbacks are everywhere.  Every decision you make will be loudly criticized.  People will complain about how you’re doing everything wrong while simultaneously refusing to lift a finger themselves.  Be ready to publicly defend every decision you make.
  • It will feel like a job at times.  An obligation.  You won’t feel like going, putting in the effort, or being social.  You’re exhausted, stressed, had a horrible day at work, and your dog pooped on the rug.  But you slap on a smile and get out there anyway.
  • Other times, it’s nearly effortless and a total blast.
  • There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into it.  Hours of planning, difficult conversations, private messages, and dirty work that people never see.  The larger the group/event, the more that goes into it.  You will have to deal with grumpy or unreliable venue owners, zoning laws, accessibility issues, people breaking their word, and other such pleasantries.
  • Avoiding a clique-ish environment can be trickier than it seems.  One thing that helps is to break away from your close friends and go talk to the new people.  Make them feel welcome, introduce them around.
  • You will have to arrive well before everyone else and leave long after they’re all in bed for the night.
  • You will have to remove people from events and deal with people who engage in creepy behavior.
  • You will always be “on” at events, whether you realize it or not.  You will scan the room for excessively dangerous play, consent issues, clueless behavior, creepers, etc. even if you’re not working a DM shift.  You will be called on to put out small fires all night.
  • People will look to you for guidance, good example, and education.  You will need to have your shit together.
  • There will eventually be a medical problem at one of your events.  Be ready.  When it happens, everyone will get the deer-in-the-headlights expression and look at you.  I recommend knowing CPR and defibrillator use, the heimlich, and basic first aid.  Learn the symptoms of various neurological (spinal cord and brain) injuries, as they can mess up your day quite a bit.

So why do it?  I can’t speak for others. Here are my reasons:

  • I have a soft spot for new people, as I had a tough time myself when I was first breaking into the community. I nearly gave up on it soon after joining; I don’t want others to do that.
  • I want to give back to the community that has benefited me.
  • I enjoy the fact that I’m helping to take a bite out of all the crotchwagons who try to vomit their venom all over the place.
  • There is also the basic realization I had when it comes to some special-interest groups: If I don’t do it, no one else will.  If you want to make it happen, you have to get off your ass and do it.
  • Running things serves as an ice-breaker.  I suck at small talk and meeting people.  Running events introduces me to more people than I’d meet normally.
  • I like educating, chipping away at stereotypes and misconceptions, and helping to break stigma.  All the mistakes I made (and continue to make) can be useful tools for teaching others to not make those same mistakes themselves.