What is a community? We talk about it incessantly in Lifestyle blogs and posts on Fetlife. Yet I do not think many have an appreciation for what a community really is, or can be. For some of you the following paragraphs are going to sound like a rant, for others high fives will be in order. To both groups, I say this, that in and of itself is a problem.
A group of people living in the same space or having particular characteristics in common. Sounds simple. Yet in the past several years I have seen a devolution away from similar characteristics into a pool of all inclusive hodgepodge which leaves kink, BDSM, and the Lifestyle all but unidentifiable. So, I ask, “Do we have a community?”
If we have a community, we have to be able to identify what those common characteristics are. Can we? Other than we are all interested in Kink, can we name one thing which makes us united?
The Result of Making Everyone “In” Rather Than Shepherding Them In
In the effort to make kink and BDSM, as a whole, a place where anybody can belong, I think we have lost some of our identity. It has become so watered down that nothing really means anything anymore. For example, a Master used to mean the lead, head of the dynamic or household in a M/s relationship and (in general) a person who had attained mastery in the eyes of their peers. Now, all it means is someone decided to adopt the title in accordance with their self-view.
Yet we are ok with this. With the allowance of the self-appointed. Why? Now it holds no weight, no meaning, and therefore has no identity. A lost commonality among hundreds.
Similarly, to be a slave was earned. It took effort and commitment. To me slaves, the ones who really dedicated themselves, were the Special Forces of the kink world. An uncommon character with no quit in them. Men and women who could focus a sole devotion so strong it was near unbelievable. Now, I have dozens in my inbox claiming to be slaves, wanting to call me “Master” without even having had a decent conversation, let alone meeting in person.
A dominant used to imply a dedication to a submissive with responsibility. Now to hear people talk, if they slapped an ass and gave somebody a rough fuck, they are a Dom/me. To me, that is barely being a Top. Barely.
Where is the commonality in something where nothing means anything? Yet this is what we have strived for! A bowl of clear jello, tasteless, lacking fruit, which can be named whatever the observer desires. We, as a society asked for this.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
I see value in inclusion. I see value in having a widely diverse population participating in kink. What I struggle with is the near complete lack of identity. Someone title stacking in an effort to provide someone else a better idea of who they are, does the exact opposite of the intention. A princess little dragonslayer Mistress tells me nothing other than they are potentially confused. Maybe a switch? Based on the titles they provided, how am I to interact with this person in a high protocol event? In general? It leaves me absolutely baffled at times. I am happy they are interested in kink, and came to the club, but I would not even know where to begin regarding introducing them to others.
Some of You May Think I am Just Whining
And maybe I am to a certain extent. However, I do believe that to make headway regarding our sexual rights within the US and other countries we have to be able to define who and what we are so a layman can have a tacit understanding. In this we are failing miserably.
How I am to sit across from a lawmaker and explain basic tenets and structures and why kink is a good thing, when there are a thousand articles alluding to the Burger King attitude of having it your own way combined with a lawless wild west ethic. All I am left with at that point is personal experience, which is not even going to move the needle.
It is frustrating and why we lose so badly in courts consistently. We cannot begin to define ourselves, let alone provide adequate explanation to anyone else.
A Return to Core Values
Again, my opinion. If we are ever going to turn a corner and begin gaining wider acceptance of what it is that we do, we need to be pushing, mentoring, teaching, and reinforcing core values. All else set aside, these are what are going to bind our community together. Give us a united voice, and the ability to lobby on our own behalf.
Honesty and Truth
Trust and Empathy
Loyalty and Commitment
Consent and Safety
Power Exchange balanced by Personal Responsibility/Accountability
How many of you reading this had a mentor sit you down and walk through these values with you? I would venture a guess the number is low. You can be a Vampire Master of Okra middle Sploshist which would confuse many. But if I knew you had these core values at the heart of it, I could go to bat for you, because I know at the core, where you are coming from.
If nothing else means anything, let’s make these the center of it all. Then, we may be able to gain traction, encourage others, and reach the minds of our detractors in a way where we are less demonized for simply being ourselves.
Just an Old Guy with Old Notions
So what if I am? Core values are meant to stand the test of time, not be subject to popular opinion. To be a foundation on which we can all stand and use to catapult ourselves to greater heights. Why wouldn’t we want this? Why would we place the importance of, “inclusion,” above the strength of unity. We can be both, absolutely. To get there, we all have to subscribe to something common.
A core, for our community.
TAC is a lifestyle writer, dominant, and mentor who contributes to several online educational groups such as the BDSM Alternative Lifestyle Discussion and Education; Information Exchange for Dom/mes, Masters, and Mistresses; and the Virtual Munch. His writing includes information on self-improvement, growth, dominance, trauma, power dynamics and power exchange, and safety. His goal is to continue giving back to a community of friends who have supported him for nearly three decades. He can be found on Fetlife at TAC_1.