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.

Control Freak ≠ Dominant

I’ve been following a discussion online which made me question some folks’ sanity.

A new domme was asking if other people thought it rude to message an owned sub.  She didn’t want other dommes messaging him at all, for any reason, without going through her first.  Though of course there was nothing stated on either of their profiles about this requirement.

My initial thought is that there appears to be a severe lack of trust in that relationship.  If she feels the need to monitor all of his communication, she doesn’t trust him. And how can you be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust?  Do his actions really require constant supervision?  Or is the domme worried that some other domme will message her sub and hypnotize him into leaving that relationship?  Does she demand he get permission before speaking to the cashier at the store?  Adults should not need micromanaged.  If he does require someone to make these decisions for him, that’s a problem.  And if she wants to micromanage, that says a lot about her as well.

A sub should be able to handle any requests for play, sex, or anything else that comes up.  By the same token, people in vanilla relationships should be able to effectively handle people hitting on them.  It’s going to happen, so if someone doesn’t know how to say no, it’s going to create problems.  Thinking of repercussions, acting in your partner’s best interest, and being responsible are all part of being an adult.  If you can’t do that, do you really deserve that relationship?

Then there’s the issue of expecting other people to adhere to your rules and protocol.  Many will simply pass if they see the “message my domme before communicating with me” thing.  Not only is it an extra hoop to jump through, it also reeks of psycho.  Reasonably, many people want to avoid that drama, so they just won’t message that person then.

Subs and slaves are not children.  We can make our own decisions.  If you don’t trust someone to handle his own life, how can you trust him with your heart?

Look at Me, I Have a Title!

Titles are everywhere in the bdsm community.  Sir this, Mistress that, slave so-and-so, etc.  I see the value in using titles where there is an established relationship, but what of people who expect everyone to use a title when referring to them or introducing them to someone?  Used in this sense, titles come across as nothing more than pompous self-aggrandizement.

When someone demands to be called by a title by everybody in the bdsm scene, I see insecurity.  I see someone who is seeking attention, approval, and status.  Some view a title as a quick route to these things, a much easier alternative than taking the time to earn them.

Expecting everyone to use a title waters down the meaning.  When you’re being called by a certain title by one person close to you, that title carries much more meaning than if everyone were made to feel obligated to use it.  (This doesn’t hold true when there are verifiable standards that come along with a title, such as Dr., Sergeant, or certified electrician.)  Titles in our community are often self-imposed; this is next to meaningless.  When that title comes from someone you’re in a relationship with, it carries much more meaning than expecting strangers to call you by this title.  That stranger doesn’t know a thing about you, so using that title is nothing more than empty lip service.

If a couple wants to have certain protocols in their relationship, that’s their choice.  But to expect others to follow their protocols is absurd.

 

Titles and Meaning

Some people place a lot of importance on titles in the bdsm community.  And why not?  Titles can carry a lot of power.  But too often, titles are abused, misused, or rendered weak through overuse.

There are people who use titles when introducing themselves to others, expecting other people to use that title when referring to them.  Let’s be clear on this, Your Highness Sir Master DragonLionWolf: Just because you bestow a title on yourself, that doesn’t obligate me to use it.

Titles are often a form of power exchange. When you use a title in referring to someone, you are acknowledging their role (or potential role) in relation to you.  I’m not going to call you Mistress unless we’re in a committed d/s relationship and you require that of me.  Once your collar is on me, then we’ll talk.  Until then, I’m referring to you by your name.  And I’m treating you as an equal.

When I use titles, I mean them.  Every time.  Titles carry a lot of significance with me, which is why I can’t just throw them around casually.  Using a title is an acknowledgment of a power exchange between us, and every time I use a title, I’m reaffirming that power exchange.  If I were to use titles with every dominant person I know, it would severely devalue those titles.  It would feel really watered down and weak.  The titles would lose their power.  When you give something to one person only, it carries much more meaning than when you give it to a group of people.

Sheeple

I’m all for learning lessons from the past. If I (or others) can benefit from someone else’s experience and mistakes, that’s definitely a good thing. But I fail to see the sense in clinging to tradition. Why should I structure my relationships a certain way or restrict myself in some way just because others have done it in the past? How exactly does this benefit anyone? I see no sense in playing follow-the-leader, especially when the “leaders” aren’t living their relationships in a way that I’d like to.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing of value to be learned from others’ experiences. There is. Still, learning from what they’ve done is a lot different than trying to mimic their attitudes, beliefs, ways, and values. You can learn from the past without getting rid of your individuality. But when you try to replicate others’ experiences and adopt their beliefs rather than doing things your own way, you do so at the expense of your own identity.

I (and many others) broke away from the “normal” or vanilla way of doing things in order to be involved with bdsm. I decided that I have no reason to be restricted by their arbitrary rules. So why should I adopt another set of rules that I don’t agree with? Isn’t that just trading one inconvenience for another? I’d much rather be true to who I am without having to worry about whether I’m acting and thinking in a way that will be approved of by the bdsm tribunal.

The founders of the bdsm community should be lauded for what they’ve done in building an in-the-flesh community of individuals with similar interests. Commended, but not revered as deities. Yes, they accomplished something great. But we don’t need to parrot their actions and attitudes. We can keep the foundations of the community they started without sacrificing ourselves in the process.

The demographics of the community were different then. At first, it was all gay veteran bikers. Now, the scene is made up of various sexualities and genders with a wide range of interests and styles. Lots of hetero and bi people saw the gay leather community and wanted one for themselves, so they started with that framework that the leathermen had built and tweaked it to fit them. The two communities are still very different, so it’s absurd to think that we should all adhere to the old guard way of doing things.

More Heresy

I’m all for learning lessons from the past. If I (or others) can benefit from someone else’s experience and mistakes, that’s definitely a good thing. But I fail to see the sense in clinging to tradition. Why should I structure my relationships a certain way or restrict myself in some way just because others have done it in the past? How exactly does this benefit anyone? I see no sense in playing follow-the-leader, especially when the “leaders” aren’t living their relationships in a way that I’d like to.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing of value to be learned from others’ experiences. There is. Still, learning from what they’ve done is a lot different than trying to mimic their attitudes, beliefs, ways, and values. You can learn from the past without getting rid of your individuality. But when you try to replicate others’ experiences and adopt their beliefs rather than doing things your own way, you do so at the expense of your own identity.

I (and many others) broke away from the “normal” or vanilla way of doing things in order to be involved with bdsm. I decided that I have no reason to be restricted by their arbitrary rules. So why should I adopt another set of rules that I don’t agree with? Isn’t that just trading one inconvenience for another? I’d much rather be true to who I am without having to worry about whether I’m acting and thinking in a way that will be approved of by the bdsm tribunal.

Bland BDSM

C’mon, people, why so serious and dull?

What happened to bdsm being fun, sexy, and cathartic? Instead, so many turn it into something bland. A struggle. Mundane.

They talk of tasks, housework, protocol, and structure, and then they wonder why their sex drives are nil. Restricting yourself with these things is no different than restricting yourself to missionary-only sex. Remember the spark you had when you first started exploring bdsm? And all the things that turned you on? What happened? They’ve been replaced by some staid script, a rule book.

If you remove the sexiness from your relationship, is it really any wonder that things tend to get dull? Even though you still talk about living “the lifestyle”? You’ve got a big toy bag full of toys, yet you only use them to enforce the scripted nature of the relationship rather than using them for bonding, fun, or love. Do you need a reason to play? Really? Does it always have to drive some point home, to be a punishment or reward? What happened to doing something because you enjoy it? If you’re both into it, do it. You don’t need an excuse. You don’t have to wait for a reason.

Bring back the things that brought you into bdsm, and the flame will return. Life is better when you eliminate the extraneous.