Are you a kinkster? Are you a part of the SM community? Do you identify as a leather person? If you’ve answered yes so far, do you know why are you a member of this community? Has it fed your needs? Has it made you happier? Has it brought you more peace within yourself? Have you found intimacy and harmonious connections with people that you did not otherwise?
If so, I congratulate you — You have found a corner of the complex social network of humanity that’s right for you.
If you’ve not found these things, perhaps, just perhaps, you might be seeking to quench your thirst in the wrong watering hole. You may be seeking your bliss on the wrong pilgrimage.
Recently I’ve encountered a few situations where I’ve wondered if a person’s need to belong to the kink community was positive or healthy. I’m not talking about the rare egregious nut case murderers who prey on on-line BDSM players and stuff them into 55-gallon drums. I’m talking about everyday people who find themselves in search of something within the leather world and constantly feel unhappy or unfulfilled. I have met such people in casual conversations at leather events, as submissive applicants, as tutorial students and even in my circles of friends.
there’s a person who thought that being a house boy/servant/sex slave would be a great way to get laid and have a comfortable place to live. There’s another who uses the premise of TPE (Total Power Exchange) to deprive his sub from having contact with her friends and family. I know of a person who doesn’t like any SM play but wanted the seeming tenderness of after-care, so would put up with acts that were uncomfortable to them. There are bottoms who, with artful passive aggressiveness, guilt-trip their tops into serving their needs. There are those who believe that D/s justifies their broken self-image, who feel themselves worthless in the absence of another, and who have deep self esteem issues tops and bottoms both. I know of dominants who force their boys and girls into high-risk sex in the name of obedience.
Why so much of this lately?
During the past several years there’s been a great effort to give positive PR to the SM life. That’s fine. I’m all for reducing the stigma against alternative sexual practices between consenting adults. But in the rush to show the joy of kink, perhaps We’ve done too good of a job. Perhaps We’ve made the leather life seem an Eden of sexual adventurousness and a panacea for personal and erotic problems. We’ve also put stock in our reputation as a community that welcomes all adults with open arms, regardless of their proclivities, perversions or dysfunctions. We talk about the joys, the physical highs, the spiritual paths, the honored commitments, the deep bonds, the tenderness, the primal joys, the enlightened communication,.. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? The spin job by the enthusiastic disciples of perviness has done its work — in some quarters. (Although not anywhere near enough in the realms of legal defense, employment protection, and mental health diagnoses.) Understandably, this is what enthusiasts do. I’m guilty as charged. We are thrilled and delighted and only wish to be understood. With such wonderful earnest cheerleading, especially in the world of the Internet where no one can be held accountable for their words, people have been coming out of the woodwork to find SM munches, clubs, play parties and play mates.
What we, the believers haven’t mentioned are the mundane details, the downsides, and the realities.
- If you are broken, SM will not fix you.
- Your dominant may play your mommy or daddy, but you’re still an independent adult with adult responsibilities to the world.
- Poor social skills cannot be disguised as dominance.
- Poor social skills cannot be disguised as submission.
- You can’t get a date just because you bought a whip or a collar.
- Only you can make yourself worthless.
- Only you can choose to be powerful.
- Consensual slavery or D/s is not a meal ticket and a free room.
- Total Power Exchange isn’t.
- Total Power Exchange can’t protect you from a restraining order.
- Empty rituals will not lead to love.
- Controlling another’s life doesn’t mean that you have control over yours.
- Consent is a moment-to-moment experience and does not stand permanently.
Our community ideology states that SM isn’t abuse and there’s no place for abuse in good SM, but here’s the reality: Abuse in our community happens and we don’t always talk about it. It may be the abuse of others or the abuse of the self. I have no idea of what the incidence of abuse in the SM community might be. I have no idea as to whether it’s greater, lesser or at par with the general population. But it’s there.
Sometimes we aren’t certain if an interaction between members of a couple is abusive or consensual behavior. When the dominant silences the sub, is that abuse or is it protocol acceptable in their household? We can’t always tell from the outside of the relationship, whether the sub maintains agency of their life and consent or if a sense of powerlessness is pervasive to a point of Stockholm syndrome like helplessness and subjugation. We aren’t always certain from the outside whether the domme is enjoying newfound sexual confidence or is actually a reluctant and domineered Wanda to another selfish Severin straight out of “Venus in Furs”.
Yes, many people start out in SM feeling uncertain — even insecure and lacking confidence. This is to be expected in any new adventure. I’m not talking about the uncertainly of entering a new world. I’m concerned about people who are broken and enter SM to put a leather outfit on and hide their cracks. Some people may believe that this is their only option or the only place they belong. Maybe the broken people mistake simple acceptance for true happiness and deep belonging.
You can’t always know who the very broken people are. Sometimes we don’t even recognize them when they’re looking at us in the mirror. Many of the broken have fully internalized the wording of the dogma, catchphrase and slogans of the SM community. They sound great on paper — or in their Internet profile. They sound great during the interview or negotiation process.
Here’s one thing to look for; does the SM or D/s they do really turn them on? Does it make them hard or wet? Do they have erotic fantasies about kink? Are they truly happier for being a part of the community?
Along with genuine arousal, are they able to empathize with other people? Do they have friends of quality? Do they have a sense of self worth and self esteem balanced with a healthy sense of humility and integrity? Are they able to interact properly within and outside of the SM community? Has it fed their needs? Has it made them happier? Has SM brought them more peace within the self? Have they found intimacy and harmonious connections with people by way of SM explorations?
In the end, there is no one that’s accountable for us and our own desires but ourselves. Have you looked into your own reason for your life of kink and leather? Do you have agendas beyond that of honest pleasure? Are there hidden hungers or needs that you substitute with your kink enthusiasm? We ought to take a good look into our own hearts from time to time, to examine and monitor our own health and make sure that We’re choosing SM for the right reasons. Nobody’s going to do it for us, at least nobody with out their own agenda.
(“Wrong Reasons to do S/M” was originally written for and published in “Babylon Bound” for Spectator 11/2002, Currently reprinted in Wild Side Sex The Book of Kink by Midori, 2005 Daedalus Publishing)
© 2005 Midori. All rights reserved.