What is your motivation for entering the BDSM community? I think for most people it’s a discovery of their inner kinkster – whether that’s a love for fetish, sadism and/or masochism, and/or power exchange. Those of us who seek like-minded people, education, and exploration into this world. For most of us this means venturing out to events in order to meet people and make new friends. Heading to classes about anything and everything we can find in order to absorb this new community full of new information.
Perhaps once we have made a few friends and found a handful of other people who may have a bit more experience in the scene, we venture out into the sea of parties that we have here in Southern California (or hopefully you have parties to attend where you live) to watch people play or try all the exciting shiny things. We learn, we grow, and we begin to discover more about ourselves.
Well. This article isn’t for all those people.
This article is to speak to all the people that breeze into our community with very different motivations. No, I’m not referring to those that come in, take a look around, and then decide it’s not really for them. The ones that think it looks exciting but realize quickly that they are content in their more vanilla lifestyle. That is understandable and ok – this community and way of life aren’t for everyone. At least they were willing to dip their toe in the water without (hopefully) passing judgement. Nope, this article is for the ones who come in with ridiculous expectations and/or sublime sensitivities.
I have witnessed and heard about two prominent examples of these things. Let’s start with the ridiculous expectations. The example of this that I see most often is a new person showing up to a party. They haven’t taken any classes and maybe gone to a munch or two. They hang out at the party – off on the sidelines – looking for their Cindy Crawford or Pierce Brosnan (insert hot model/ sexy/ cool actor type of your choice here) to waltz up to them and kneel before them or take them by the hair. This, of course, will be followed up by the most amazing scene ever and they will live happily-ever-after in BDSM paradise. When this doesn’t happen they get on Fetlife ranting about the party attendees and how none of them were “their idea of hotness” or if they were they were already taken. Well, guess what – that’s not how this works. Ultimately something these people would find out if they stayed in the scene long enough to discover it, is that we look beyond the external to the depths and connection we have with other people. Sadly (or not?) many of these folks disengage with the scene and reengage on vanilla hook up sites to do what they really came for and thought they could find here.
The other example is when people come in who are highly and easily offended. I have a recent example of this. A person, new to the scene, attended one of my Kinky Karaoke play parties. The party was high energy and full of fun! People were singing all night long – everything from Disney to heavy metal and from country to classic rock and everything in between. There was dancing, the Singing Masochist performances, and the rap battle. It was a really great night overall. The next day I received a message on Fetlife from someone who had attended the party who was highly offended because someone sang a song with offensive language and the singer wasn’t the right color to be singing those lyrics. (Yes I am admittedly paraphrasing.) This person was so offended by this that they felt unsafe in the scene and wouldn’t be attending any more of my events, etc. Really? The singer obviously wasn’t directing the lyrics at you and didn’t mean any offense by it. They were simply enjoying a karaoke party and singing the lyrics of a rap song. Guess what? This could be the same in any karaoke bar in any city anywhere. So basically this person was saying, “I’m not gonna explore any more of this community because my feelings were hurt.” What this says to me is that they weren’t interested in the bigger picture of what this community has to offer.
So please, if you are thinking about starting your exploration into the BDSM community – no matter where you live, take the time to attend classes and munches. Spend some time investing in real people and forming real connections before you pass judgement and leave. This scene is what you make of it.
Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.