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March 22, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

In the interest of improving the quality of discourse in BDSM/kink-related threads on the Blue, may we talk about some common misconceptions about BDSM? Perhaps if some MeFite kinksters/allies are willing, we can do some Q&A about BDSM, kink, and "the scene".

There are a lot of kinksters on MeFi. And sometimes there are threads about BDSM on MeFi. And since these threads about sex and taboo and gender politics and community dynamics and power and trust and all that really interesting stuff, they tend to attract a fair bit of attention from both kinksters and non-kinksters, which is clearly a Good Thing as it makes for interesting discussion and gets people talking about stuff that they (kinky people included) generally can't/don't talk about all that much in their daily lives.

But sometimes these conversations get a little hung up because there are a lot of misconceptions about BDSM out there (many of which are honestly quite understandable) and the folks who happen to be past them and are talking about the main subject of the post have to kind of stop every once in a while and bring someone up to speed who wants to engage with the discussion but who is taking a position that is predicated on some false or incomplete ideas about BDSM. (This is a pattern that crops up in other threads that deal with topics that have parallels to BDSM, as well.) This is usually not the end of the world -- it's great if somebody can learn a little, and generally the thread can take it and continue onward, but it isn't necessarily always dealt with 100% gracefully and occasionally it can set off a complete derail of the thread.

Now, I know that there's really not a great way to ensure that this never happens. However, I think maybe we can mitigate it a little bit (and have a fun time in the process) by getting together here and hashing out some of the common misconceptions about BDSM, doing a little Q&A with anybody who has a question and anybody who's willing to take a stab at answering questions, and generally just trying to improve the level of community understanding on the topic of BDSM and kink. Maybe if we can get more of the community to the point where they're over some of the basic hurdles that make it difficult to talk coherently about BDSM, we can have even better and more interesting conversations about it in the future!

So: I hereby declare this thread to be a free forum for BDSM education. Bring your questions, your pet peeves, your examples (no callouts please) of the types of things that you wish people would know better than to say. Let's have it out in a friendly manner, and walk away more knowledgeable than we came. I'll throw the floor open with a few questions to provoke discussion, just to get the ball rolling:
  • What does BDSM stand for, anyway? What does that mean?
  • What does a submissive get out of BDSM? Why would somebody let someone else beat them and tie them up and call them names and all that?
  • Isn't BDSM dangerous? Surely there's risk involved when you're playing with fire, or needles, or tying somebody up?
Those are just some possible topics to get things going. If you want to take a stab at answering those questions then that'd be cool, and if you'd rather ask questions of your own, or answer questions that you wish people would ask, that'd be great too. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that participation in this thread is entirely voluntary and nobody is being singled out as ignorant nor is anybody required to come in and teach Kink 101 unless they feel like it.

Now, let's get this going!
posted by Scientist to MetaFilter-Related at 2:22 PM (216 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Belgian Dogs Shed Massively.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Now, let's get this going!

Is that an order or do you literally want me to take the reigns?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. Your statement that there "isn't a straight BDSM scene" in that thread seemed to me to be way off inaccurate to my experience. Two women having a scene for the benefit of a man doesn't make the scene less straight, and that was typically the only w/w action I ever encountered at BDSM play parties that weren't explicitly gay or pan.

Now, admittedly, it has been years since I was part of any scene (my husband doesn't swing that way), but I would be shocked if it had changed so much universally in that time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:32 PM on March 22, 2012


I will bite. What does it look like to establish a sub/dom relationship between two willing partners, and how do you go about setting guidelines for safety, fun, etc?

Also, what's the history of BDSM and what's the difference (if any) between a fetish and a kink?

And finally, how do you ensure that you're not doing major damage to soft body parts when participating in the pain aspect of BDSM?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:33 PM on March 22, 2012


You should create a greasemonkey script that marks kinksters' contributions so we know we're hearing from an expert.
posted by gman at 2:36 PM on March 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't know much about BDSM, but it didn't seem that the thread in question was actually talking about BDSM or "community", but instead people who participated in BDSM-like behaviour with complete strangers in unsafe settings.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:37 PM on March 22, 2012


Would you mind linking to the thread that sparked this?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2012


Here, I'll kink to it.
posted by gman at 2:39 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu, Tracy Clark-Flory's post talked about people who took advantage of their position in "the scene" (for instance, the person who used a position as a "kink educator" to behave abusively and irresponsibly to one of the college students who invited them to present on campus) to behave badly.

There is a ton of this shit going on. People use their bona fides in the kink community as a way to build unwarranted trust, and then when the people who experienced abuse try to talk about it, there's a strong "oh, it's a shame for the neighbors, if we talk about abuse in the kink community it will give ammunition to the people who want to shut us down" backlash.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This post by Chaos Fox talks about the scope of the problem and offers some self-care tips and checklists.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:44 PM on March 22, 2012


All I know is that it hurts every time I go back to MetaFilter but I just can't keep away.

I love it so much
posted by Curious Artificer at 2:46 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you want to take a stab

OW OW SAFEWORD
posted by shakespeherian at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Flag me baby, flag me hard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have A Lot of Thoughts about the BDSM community, and about the straight/heteronormative BDSM scene, and about the way male doms marginalize female dommes within same, and sometimes actively violate their boundaries in what is supposed to be safe space, but I also don't want to just blah blah blah about my experiences here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:51 PM on March 22, 2012


I'll share my experience, because this seems like a useful place and it might be cathartic. I'm apparently a naturally dominant guy, but my discovery of a "scene" for BDSM turned me off massively, because it felt that it was actually more about boundary-pushing or taboo-breaking than the actual BDSM. I forget what forum it was (probably blocked it out) but there was this guy talking about how not respecting safewords every time made the whole experience more fun, getting a bunch of support, and it was frightening enough to put me off the whole idea. I later found other interests, and I would probably be open to experimenting with a partner, but the whole idea of "hardcore BDSM" still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:52 PM on March 22, 2012


this guy talking about how not respecting safewords every time made the whole experience more fun

That's a bully, not a dom. Dom(me)s should not be bullies, and bullies should not be dom(me)s.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pumpernickel! Pumpernickel!
posted by cmoj at 2:59 PM on March 22, 2012


may we talk about some common misconceptions about BDSM? --- Is there an audience here that's actually interested to listen? Based on the responses to this thread so far, I'd suggest the answer is "no."
posted by crunchland at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I know this is sort of lulzy fun for folks but it might also be good if people could address the topic of the thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


OK, seriously. I think I understand the answers to the questions you pose, but the whole thing about a misconception is that people don't realize they have them. What misconceptions are you seeing?
posted by cmoj at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2012


What cmoj said.But harder.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2012


What about someone like Rihanna? She is someone who seems to enjoy the submissive parts of BDSM and sings about it often. Then she is physically abused by one of her partners but seems to still be with/behind/fond of him. She sings about that, too, in the song with Eminem. I wonder about how BDSM relates to those kind of "passionate" yet ultimately abusive relationships.

I mean, obviously it's unhealthy relationships that are bad, not BDSM, but still. I think a lot about Rihanna, because I'm a fan of her music and because I often work with little girls who love Chris Brown.
posted by that's how you get ants at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, someone brought up the idea that domination is about control and doing things to someone else whether they want it or not, and that therefore these sorts of abuses were only to be expected. That's kind of what sparked this for me.

It was addressed well in today's thread, but the idea that doms want to control people and do things to them against their will is a common one. What it boils down to is that doms do not necessarily want this. They may or may not want some degree of simulation of this. I certainly enjoy some roleplay in this area myself, but if I ever found that I was *actually* forcing someone to do something that they were unwilling to do, I would be viscerally, genuinely horrified and ashamed of myself. I know it sounds a little paradoxical, but my position on that matter is one that I've encountered again and again with doms who I've spoken to and it's something that a lot of doms struggle with. Kinky people tend to have thought more than most about power and gender relations in society, and are often all-too-aware that the things they are doing look a lot like the kind of oppression that they see being played out in society at large. For many this is part of the attraction of course, but for others it's a sort of weird internal paradox that has to be resolved in some way before the dom can be at peace with his or her nature.

A lot of doms don't even want to roleplay nonconsensual activity, of course. I've witnessed and participated in many scenes ("scene" here being an instance of BDSM play) where the submissive was quite obviously enjoying it the entire time and making no pretensions about being "forced" to do anything. The power exchance was still there, but the consent was overt.

Domination and submission are simply about power exchange. It is not about doing things against someone's consent, or having things done to one without one's consent, but simply about taking or relinquishing control (and responsibility). The dom accepts control and responsibility for the situation, and the sub relinquishes control and responsibility. To what degree this happens varies and is either negotiated beforehand or established within the context of an ongoing relationship, but it is never (should never be, anyway) a total exchange. At a minimum, there is always safeword in place so that the sub can stop the scene. There may be other measures as well -- perhaps the sub is not physically restrained, or perhaps the sub is given additional codewords (like "yellow") to let the dom know that he or she is approaching a boundary but has not crossed it yet. Total Power Exchange, TPE, is playing without safewords. The allure is obvious, but the danger is too much. It is The Dark Side of the Kink, where simply expressing a desire for a TPE relationship more or less marks someone as being an unsuitable playmate.

Basically, it boils down to: wanting to dominate someone is about wanting to control them, not about wanting to force them. The control is given freely, and may be rescinded at any time. If the control is taken without consent, or if consent is withdrawn and the control is not returned, then what is happening is no longer BDSM. It then becomes rape.
posted by Scientist at 3:24 PM on March 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


that's how you get ants: enjoying BDSM does not mean that one enjoys being abused. It does not even mean that one enjoys being hit!

It is perfectly possible to enjoy the relaxing state that comes from relinquishing control and responsibility of oneself without wanting to experience pain at someone else's hands. Perhaps one simply enjoys having sex while being tied up. Perhaps one is naturally "service-oriented", so to speak, and enjoys being ordered around, told what to do, and given tasks to complete in exchange for praise and protective behavior. There are a lot of points on the spectrum here. You can definitely be submissive without being masochistic.
posted by Scientist at 3:27 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mean, I can't speak to Rhianna's specific experience but in general: enjoying BDSM != enjoying abuse. Abuse is about fear, coercion, and breaking someone down. BDSM is about tickling the parts of the psyche that get off on certain power relationships. BDSM is fundamentally about power exchange, every specific kink within it can be seen as an expression of that.
posted by Scientist at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2012


Scientist, you forgot one: Aren't dominants really just controlling (misogynistic) assholes?
posted by desjardins at 3:32 PM on March 22, 2012


If anyone wants specific questions answered anonymously* from a femdom perspective feel free to email or memail me.

*I mean you're anonymous, not me.
posted by desjardins at 3:33 PM on March 22, 2012


I'll have you know that I'm a controlling feminist sweetheart, and I'm only controlling if my partner wants me to be. ;-) Seriously though, yeah, that is totally not the case. I mean, it's sometimes the case as you get misogynistic assholes everywhere you go, but it's really no more the case than most anywhere else.

I don't feel like I'm super-qualified to explain why it's not the case that doms are always assholes, though. As a non-asshole (at least, I try not to be one) all I can say is that I do my best to be respectful of all people, male and female, dominant and submissive, and all points between. And I've never played with somebody who I didn't at least like very much on a personal level, and for me it's certainly at least as much about giving my partner a good time as about having a good time myself, which I think is more or less the norm among good tops.

I think it's sort of a key thing that when you have a bad top, you know because they don't care about whether their partner is having fun -- they're only in it for their own pleasure.
posted by Scientist at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Abuse is about fear, coercion, and breaking someone down. BDSM is about tickling the parts of the psyche that get off on certain power relationships.

There's no bright line there, despite what people would like to portray.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:42 PM on March 22, 2012


I had found the thread particularly timely what with the larger media discussion about the self-pubbed (now sold) twilight-fanfic-to-bdsm-triology 50 Shades of Gray which features a dom that has engendered a great deal of discussion about the very concerns in Blasdelb's FPP.

What's interesting about that larger discussion is the book's huge mainstream appeal coupled with a huge amount of divisiveness in the feedback and analysis from the romance/erotica writing community (as well as a sidebar conversation about fanfic publication and bdsm themes in the Twilight series). The romance/erotica community have been exploring bdsm relationships for some time, along a huge continuum--today, even, there is a review of one at Dear Author, which I found very smartly written by Sarah Franz, who is a literary critic and college professor at Fayetteville State University at also contributes at Teach Me Tonight.

So, as someone who isn't a part of this scene, but has read about it and become very absorbed by it in fiction, my outsider ideas about it, what I've "learned" about it run along the lines of what Scientist has said above--it's about power exchange, the powerful release of relinquishing control, the space and deeply felt dynamic between people when the exchange is absolutely balanced. As a observer from that perspective, reading about it, likely highly idealized, in fiction it wouldn't be emotional or erotic unless the power was totally shared. Certainly it would interesting to know if those who explore this dynamic in relationships and also read fiction with these themes think about its portrayal--I suspect that the fiction's appeal to much wider audiences than those who play in this scene mean that it's often idealized or that at least the fiction is more exploring the emotional aspects of what it means to submit and control versus the reality of the play (and if that play is truly a part of one's makeup).
posted by rumposinc at 3:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the things that used to thrill me when I was in (a healthy consensual) scene was the paradoxical nature of the whole thing. Doms 'control' but not really, Subs 'submit' but are actually in control of their submission, control is negotiated, social taboos are broken but personal boundaries respected... it takes some mind twisting to understand all the subtelties of these distinctions and I enjoyed the intellectual process of understanding these paradoxes almost as much as the physical / emotional enactment. Almost.
posted by Kerasia at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would argue that there is in fact a bright line, and that it is this: Can the submissive partner stop what is happening? Do they know this, do they believe that they have the power to take back control? Do they feel that they are free to do so, and that they will not face negative repercussions or be punished for doing so? If the answer to all of these questions is an unequivocal "yes", then the scene is consentual. If not, then it is abusive.
posted by Scientist at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think there's a bit of a question as to how one can manage to have fun in a power-exchange situation is the exchange of power isn't complete, if it can all be restored to balance at a word. The answer is simple: suspension of disbelief. Part of you knows that it's all a game, but part of you is willing to suspend that disbelief to enjoy the fantastic rush of emotion and sensation that one gets from doing so. It's like watching a movie. You believe in it, but you don't let yourself be totally taken over by it.
posted by Scientist at 3:49 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> they feel that they are free to do so, and that they will not face negative repercussions or be punished for doing so?

Well, and this is me talking as a "normal", but that seems to negate the whole thing if there's a means of control.

And on preview, the idea of a movie was exactly what I was thinking. I don't get the appeal of simulating scenarios like that, and only find simple pleasure in sex without any playacting, but to each their own.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:52 PM on March 22, 2012


I will bite. What does it look like to establish a sub/dom relationship between two willing partners, and how do you go about setting guidelines for safety, fun, etc?

There is a lot of talking. Like a lot. There are checklists that some people like to fill out and compare (because if you had to come up with a list of every food you like and don't like, you'd forget some, right?). Followed by more talking. And then maybe formulating some recipes. And then talking. Now, this is fun talking, not laborious omg we're talking about this again talking, and talking usually leads to sexytimes.

Safety - Where are we going to do this? Is the area safe (for example: no objects one can trip over, no glasses that could fall and break, no wires to short out)? Where are the keys?* Do you have safety scissors? Scissors that can cut through leather? Bolt cutters?

What equipment are we going to use? Has the equipment been cleaned or disinfected? Does the top know how to use it? Is s/he sure? Do you know which knots will jam or slip? How much weight a given thing will support?

Have you been tested for STDs and other saliva/blood borne pathogens? Are we going to use condoms? If so, do we have condoms? Lube? Gloves? Are you on birth control?

Do you have any illnesses or injuries? Asthma? Seizures? Mobility impairments? Hemophilia? If I whisper can you still hear me? Can you see without your glasses? Do you use medication? Are you diabetic? Have you ever had a head injury?

Are you claustrophobic? Do you have any phobias? Have you had panic attacks? PTSD? What are your emotional triggers?

Have you been drinking or taking drugs? Including prescriptions? Have you eaten lately?

What happens if you yell really loud, will the neighbors hear? Will they call the cops? What happens if your mom calls 4 times and you don't answer? Will she come over? Can anyone see in the windows? Did you let the dogs out? (This is a serious thing, ours will start barking and eventually someone would bang on our door.)

Do you have a cell phone handy just in case? Is it charged?

Do you (the sub) remember your safeword? Do you (the top) remember theirs? (We use "red" for stop everything this instant and let me out and "yellow" for this particular thing you're doing sucks but let's keep going with the rest of it. Not hard to remember.)

This is an incomplete list and will seem neurotic to some, but if you're tied up, your life is literally in the other person's hands. There is not a goddamn thing my husband could do to fend me off if he wanted to, and he's twice my size (of course, he likes it that way). On the other side of things, it's a HUGE responsibility to know that there are certain things I cannot fuck up. If I have a couple glasses of wine, and I'm tipsy, and I fall and hit my head while he's tied up, he's FUCKED until I come to.

* My single worst experience in ten years of topping was misplacing the keys when my bottom needed to get out (not for something life threatening, but still urgent). I did find them within 10 minutes but I was starting to panic that I'd have to get the bolt cutters. Today we keep them on a lanyard which goes around my neck for the entire scene.
posted by desjardins at 4:15 PM on March 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


Well, and this is me talking as a "normal", but that seems to negate the whole thing if there's a means of control.

How could you have it any other way? The people involved know it's pretending, but there's a suspension of disbelief. Did you enjoy The Matrix any less because we're not literally human batteries in a post-apocalyptic world (one hopes)?
posted by desjardins at 4:19 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bit of information about the history of the BDSM scene!

First off, anyone who talks about 'ancient european Houses of dominance and submission' that have remained active yet secret for hundreds of years is either sadly deluded or intentionally lying to you. This trope comes up occasionally - generally online - and I have no idea what the heck is up with that.

Certainly, there's a whole lot of historical domination and submission that's gone on. But secret conspiracies of BDSM practitioners in cabals going back to whenever? Uh... not so much.

Things like Bettie Page photo spreads and 'naughty' stuff has been part of straight culture and porn forever, but a big part of the 'established' BDSM culture (certainly in the US if not in general) comes out of the gay male leather subculture that started after WWII. There were gay motorcycle clubs who did a lot of boozing and drinking and casual kinky sex. I haven't read Larry Townsend's book "The Leatherman's Handbook", which talks about gay leather culture in the late 60's, but apparently that's where a lot of that behavior was described and codified for folks outside of the immediate culture.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I was having a party on the weekend and had just set the music to play a power pop genius playlist. Late in the evening the conversation turned to BDSM and a couple of guys were really getting into it. One of them excitedly says to the other "Can our safe word be Princess Di??!?" and without missing a beat the Magnetic Fields chime in with "How fucking romantic..."
posted by yellowbinder at 4:25 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you're tied up, your life is literally in the other person's hands

So, so true. It's weird to me how casual a lot of people are about this. A safeword sounds, well, safe, but it doesn't automatically unlock handcuffs or phone the police.
posted by Forktine at 4:34 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you enjoy The Matrix any less because we're not literally human batteries in a post-apocalyptic world

REALITY SPOILER
posted by shakespeherian at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Questions are OK then? Yes?

How do you comfortably tie a length of cloth (a scarf, necktie, etc) into a blindfold in a way that is easy to untie/won't get tighter (IE is safe) but is also comfortable to lie on? I mean I could just buy a blindfold but I like being able to use articles of clothing for it.

Also: rope how-tos? Anyone have an intro to recommend? I know there's lots out there but if anyone has experience with that, that would be nice.
posted by Harry Potter and the Puppet of Sock at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2012


If the control is taken without consent, or if consent is withdrawn and the control is not returned, then what is happening is no longer BDSM. It then becomes rape.
posted by Scientist


I find this a very reasonable formulation.

However, such a rape is extremely unlikely to be prosecuted, and any circumstance in which rapists have immunity is certain to attract more than its fair share of rapists.
posted by jamjam at 4:51 PM on March 22, 2012


You know, I know this is sort of lulzy fun for folks but it might also be good if people could address the topic of the thread.

It occurs to me that we really just don't need this thread at all. Seems like attention seeking, and it isn't really what MetaTalk is for..
posted by Chuckles at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


So: I hereby declare this thread to be a free forum for BDSM education.

My, my, my. How dominant of you. Psst. Memail me.

I'm kidding.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:53 PM on March 22, 2012


However, such a rape is extremely unlikely to be prosecuted, and any circumstance in which rapists have immunity is certain to attract more than its fair share of rapists.

Do you have any evidence for this hyper-inflammatory statement whatsoever beyond your gut feelings? Lots of people still believe the gay community shelters pedophiles, too.
posted by desjardins at 4:56 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that we really just don't need this thread at all. Seems like attention seeking, and it isn't really what MetaTalk is for.

It's fine for people to try and talk now and then about how to approach or what folks in general's understanding is about topics that recur (and sometimes recur in sort of bumpy or derail-prone ways) on the site. As far as that goes, Scientist went ahead and approached us ahead of time about whether it was an okay idea, and as far as we're concerned it is.

As much as anything I'm thankful that as much as it was prompted in part by an existing thread this is not a case of an argument getting so out of hand that the metatalk thread we have here is, rather than the cool-headed and inclusive "let's talk about how we talk about x" thing here, more the sort of off-to-a-rocky-start "METAFILTER IS SUCKING AT X / CODDLING X" thing that can happen in those circumstances.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:57 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Point of clarification: I actually took the step of running this by the mods before sticking it up here. I realize that's not obvious, but perhaps people will feel better knowing that I put some thought into this and checked with someone else (five someones, actually) to see if they thought this would be good for the community. I hope that those who don't see this thread as valuable, useful, important, or fun to them could just please go do something else. I know better, but I can hope.
posted by Scientist at 5:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you have any evidence for this hyper-inflammatory statement whatsoever beyond your gut feelings? Lots of people still believe the gay community shelters pedophiles, too.

Most disabled girls are molested or raped, and rape is absolutely endemic in mental institutions-- and in war.
posted by jamjam at 5:02 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most disabled girls are molested or raped, and rape is absolutely endemic in mental institutions-- and in war.

What on Earth does that have to do with consensual BDSM play between adults?

I think it's accurate that many law enforcement personnel's lack of information/active misinformation about BDSM might well hamper them in the investigation of rape and other assault and abuse that occurred within a BDSM context, but it's not like law enforcement personnel are all that great about investigating rape and other sexual assault and abuse in the non-BDSM context in the first place.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


And since I've answered your question, perhaps you won't object to telling us whether you think situations in which rapists have immunity do or do not attract rapists?
posted by jamjam at 5:05 PM on March 22, 2012


There certainly haven't been any studies that I know of, but my anecdata suggests that rape, assault, and intimate partner abuse occurs about as often in BDSM relationships as in non-BDSM relationships--that is, way too often.

Given the crap rate of prosecution and conviction in intimate partner violence outside of a BDSM context, I don't see the point in singling that subset of humanity out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2012


And since I've answered your question, perhaps you won't object to telling us whether you think situations in which rapists have immunity do or do not attract rapists?

Why do you think rapists have any more "immunity" within the BDSM community than they do within the public at large? The problem isn't BDSM, the problem is that our society as a whole does a terrible job of investigating, prosecuting, and convicting rapists.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:08 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, seriously, what the fuck? There's a terrible rate of investigation/prosecution/conviction for acquaintance rape/"date rape" and it would seem beyond bizarre to blame "dating culture" or "the dating community" for that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:09 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


the problem is that our society as a whole does a terrible job of investigating, prosecuting, and convicting rapists.

All too true, yet there are places, such as prison, where the immunity of rapists is stronger than in others.

I think it's reasonable to believe that rapists enjoy relatively strong immunity from prosecution in the BDSM community, simply because no prosecutor I've ever heard of would bring such a case to court.
posted by jamjam at 5:18 PM on March 22, 2012


jamjam: " I think it's reasonable to believe that rapists enjoy relatively strong immunity from prosecution in the BDSM community, simply because no prosecutor I've ever heard of would bring such a case to court."

What? Why wouldn't they? Rape is not BDSM, and it isn't hard to prove that. The latter is consensual, the former non-consensual.

No offense, but I get the feeling you're basing this opinion on an episode of Law and Order SVU. It doesn't mesh with my understanding of reality.
posted by zarq at 5:22 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Frankly, rape is severely underreported, underprosecuted, and underenforced in society at large. And it's important to realize that while unbalanced power dynamics between rapists and victims contribute to this problem, those dynamics exist just as much in vanilla sex as in kinky sex. The difference is that BDSM makes the power dynamics an explicit part of the game and tries to implement procedures to make the power exchange safe. Sure, vanilla partners may not think of themselves as subs or doms, but the basic interplay is still there. Kinky people have at least thought about this stuff and hopefully have taken some measures to secure and protect their right to consent or not consent. I do not see why this makes BDSM especially prone to rape, though it is obviously a huge problem in kink as it is in mainstream society. Why exactly do you think otherwise? What about BDSM encourages rape or conveys immunity to rape prosecution more than vanilla sex?
posted by Scientist at 5:23 PM on March 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Okay, now I understand the impetus for this thread.
posted by heyho at 5:28 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's reasonable to believe

I think it's unreasonable for you to believe that your belief is reasonable. You're telling people who know about something that you admittedly know nothing about that you're right and we're wrong. Agreed, we have no third-party data to support what we're saying, but you don't even have anecdata--you just have speculation.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:30 PM on March 22, 2012


It would be great to not have this sidelined hard into an argument about speculative rape prosecution etc. You've made your position clear, jamjam, now please let it drop.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:35 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> So, so true. It's weird to me how casual a lot of people are about this. A safeword sounds, well, safe, but it doesn't automatically unlock handcuffs or phone the police

Most people casually put their lives in other people's hands all the time without even discussing trust, though, let alone negotiating it explicitly.

Consider how vulnerable you are by getting into a car driven by someone else. Those safety features aren't going to keep you safe if the driver suddenly decides to drive off a bridge or slam the car into oncoming traffic. And even if the driver isn't bent on malicious harm, the only thing within your control for preventing an accident is your own behavior.
posted by desuetude at 5:36 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


heyho, I'm not totally sure what you mean but I hope that you don't think that I was trying to downplay the seriousness of the problem with abuse, rape, silencing of victims, protecting of rapists, and all that which goes on within the kink community. I think these problems are serious and extremely important and should be addressed. I even think that there are some aspects to the situation -- the tight-knit community, the secretive nature of kink -- that give dealing with rape in BDSM its own set of challenges. I do not however have reason to believe that the problem overall is worse. I think it would be hard to get good statistics on that, frankly, so we're just down to speculation.

I really wanted to help address misconceptions and ignorance about BDSM in general. There definitely are plenty of them, and I think it's good to talk about this stuff. Better understanding can only lead to a healthier community after all, for MetaFilter, kink, and society as a whole.
posted by Scientist at 5:38 PM on March 22, 2012


I find the whole thing fascinating, especially the prosaic parts (I know enough theater rigging to know that it's actually pretty difficult to suspend someone by rope safely), but I'll admit that I'm a total tourist. I just don't get off on group kink, and I find a lot of both the BDSM community and the larger sex community (poly, porn star, whatevs) to be more interesting as people who are really dedicated to an obscure hobby than as sexy sex sex. I'm always curious about investigating and documenting, but really not very much into participating.

But I understand that there's enough stranger-danger that I doubt I'll ever get an invite to just come and shoot pictures and interview people.
posted by klangklangston at 5:42 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, so true. It's weird to me how casual a lot of people are about this. A safeword sounds, well, safe, but it doesn't automatically unlock handcuffs or phone the police

Well, part of learning about BDSM is that a safeword isn't magic. It's an essential practice, but it's definitely not everything. One of the key things to keep in mind is that one shouldn't be super casual about kinky sex. It can be dangerous, even if your partner has your best interests in mind! It definitely requires more forethought and care than vanilla sex, at all stages.
posted by Scientist at 5:43 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah klang, suspension play is not for the novice. It's something that you should be taught by someone else who knows what they're doing (and I wouldn't be surprised if the original knowledge came from theater, there are a lot of kinky theater types, though there's been some innovation along the way) and it should be done in a very deliberate and careful manner every time. In the best kinky porn (kink.com I'm looking at you) you can tell that the equipment is well cared-for and sturdy and that the rigging was done by people who know what they're doing and are taking care of the sub. I kinda wish that they'd show more of the safety procedures in a more explicit way, but then maybe I'm just a nerd at heart.
posted by Scientist at 5:45 PM on March 22, 2012


Also, as far as curiosity, for the group I used to go to all you'd have to do is show up at a munch (a SFW social gathering) and attend orientation. Then you'd be eligible to go to parties and I think people would be OK with you just being curious and wanting to learn as long as you were friendly and not creepy and didn't judge. I think if you expressed that you wanted to learn about kink and help foster understanding between the kink community and the vanilla community, then people would be sympathetic to that. Photography was only allowed with the explicit permission of all subjects being photographed, of course. And I can't speak for any other groups, obviously.
posted by Scientist at 5:49 PM on March 22, 2012


Scientist: " I really wanted to help address misconceptions and ignorance about BDSM in general. There definitely are plenty of them, and I think it's good to talk about this stuff. Better understanding can only lead to a healthier community after all, for MetaFilter, kink, and society as a whole."

I'm not heyho, but perhaps another perspective will be helpful? I come at this subject from a different direction. I associate BDSM play with childhood trauma, so I'm personally averse and don't normally participate in threads on those topics. But my first instinct (as a non-BDSM'er) may have been similar to heyho's in that I was wondering if this was a discussion that we really needed to have. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't, of course. But I wasn't all that sure there was a problem, or seeing any misconceptions that needed to be addressed. Yet I've already learned some things from this thread. The attention that's being paid in play to safety and various concerns in particular is fascinating.

And jamjam's comment makes clear that misconceptions do exist here.

So, as someone whom I guess you'd describe as "super vanilla," I'm glad you posted this. Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 5:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


a munch (a SFW social gathering)

Safe... for... Work?
posted by zarq at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> No, no. I get it, Scientist. I guess I (very) naively thought that most people just sort of implicitly understood that predator/prey stuff is not all that relative to BDSM. What I'm saying is: now I get why you felt compelled to bring this up and talk about it openly.

On preview: yes, it's true. zarq isn't me.
posted by heyho at 5:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I appreciate that. :-) I didn't think there was really a huge problem, to be honest -- most BDSM threads seem to go pretty well around here, the recent one was maybe a bit touchier than the normbecause it also dealt with rape which is itself a hot-button issue of course (and some of that may be carrying over to this thread) but even that is going pretty well in my opinion. Still though, I felt like there was room for improvement and it can be a fun thing to talk about and I just thought maybe it would be nice to talk about it and see if we couldn't facilitate some learning.
posted by Scientist at 5:53 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Safe for work, yup. Munches are just big dinner meeting where everyone sits down somewhere public (my group used to frequent a Chinese buffet) and chats and socializes with each other with their clothes on and everything nice and relatively family-friendly aside from some raunchy banter here and there. The group I used to hang out with would do one every week or so and you had to go to one and attend orientation (which was basically a presentation on BDSM Safety and Club Rules followed by a Q&A) before you were cleared to go to play parties, which is where the clothes come off and the whips come out.
posted by Scientist at 5:55 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scientist: ...understanding between the kink community and the vanilla community...

Dude, you keep using this word "vanilla", and I don't know if it's commonly used to describe sex that isn't BDSM, but it sounds derogatory to me. Why is all non-BDSM sex being lumped in one boring ice cream carton? Forgive me if I'm misinterpreting your meaning.
posted by gman at 5:55 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh goodness me, who posted this thread when I have WORK TO DO????????? :P
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:00 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry. Yeah, "vanilla" means "non-kinky". I'm sorry if you find it derogatory, I suppose I can see why you might think so what with its connotations of boringness which are definitely there but are usually meant more as gentle ribbing than as a condemnation of people who don't identify as kinky. It's just nice to have a word besides the somewhat awkward hypenation of "non-kinky" or "non-BDSM", and I'd rather not say "normal" or "regular" because that kind of implies that BDSM is abnormal and strange. But I guess I could stop saying it if it bothers you. I really hadn't thought about it too much.
posted by Scientist at 6:01 PM on March 22, 2012


Vanilla ice cream is fucking delicious though.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:04 PM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Not to derail, but vanilla has a very definite flavor. It's also delicious and is widely used to connote "normal/average/what most people will accept" sex.
posted by heyho at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah! OK. Munches sound pleasant enough. :)

Scientist: "...the recent one was maybe a bit touchier than the normbecause it also dealt with rape which is itself a hot-button issue of course (and some of that may be carrying over to this thread) but even that is going pretty well in my opinion...."

I just read through and agree with you. It's going reasonably well.

There have been several threads discussing sexual assault and rape lately, and (perhaps this is just me, I can't speak for everyone else) while I usually try to make some sort of contribution to them, I find doing so very emotionally wearing. More than is normal, probably. So when there are a lot of threads discussing child abuse or sexual assault or something similar, I know I tend to cut myself off from commenting when doing so becomes too much.

But I know that (as you say) it's a hot button issue for many other people here, too. And it wouldn't surprise me if at least some of them find themselves feeling defensive about the topic over time.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the thread in question could easily have gone in a different direction, especially since we've had some difficult threads about rape lately. So that's nice to see.
posted by zarq at 6:07 PM on March 22, 2012


How do you comfortably tie a length of cloth (a scarf, necktie, etc) into a blindfold in a way that is easy to untie/won't get tighter (IE is safe) but is also comfortable to lie on? I mean I could just buy a blindfold but I like being able to use articles of clothing for it.

If you just don't want the knot behind their head, tie it off to one side, over their ear. Or use a long scarf, run it several times around their head, and tie the knot in front over the bridge of their nose.

If you don't want a big chunky knot at all, you've got a couple options. You can just put a pair of boxers over their head and call it a day, though that just sort of fuzzes up their vision and doesn't leave it really dark inside. Or you can have them shut their eyes, put two wadded-up socks or a folded-up T-shirt over their face, and then rig up something that'll hold it in place. If you've got string, you can tie it on with a piece or two of string and the knots will be small enough not to get hugely uncomfortable.

Safe for work, yup. Munches are just big dinner meeting where everyone sits down somewhere public (my group used to frequent a Chinese buffet) and chats and socializes with each other with their clothes on and everything nice and relatively family-friendly aside from some raunchy banter here and there.

In my experience, mainly you end up talking about science fiction. This tends to be true at play parties too, just with less clothing and more spanking noises in the background.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:09 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


rope how tos

a lot of these are on youtube

Hi! I am Grace. I am a BDSM person and am happy to answer your questions! I can answer questions about my experience, which is being sub most of my adult life and having had several full time d/s relationships and lots of play. I have a lot of resources and links on this topic. I can also talk about safety, negotiation, polyamory, getting into the scene, impact play, humiliation play, sub space, and lots more.

I can also talk about switching, which is somewhat of a fad here in the southwest of England, and I've been doing quite a lot of it. I actually did a new year's resolution entitled 'year of the switch' and it's the very first new year's resolution I have ever kept. So a lot of this learning how to stuff I can talk about.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:11 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, one of my secondary motives for posting this was to kind of create a preemptive outlet for potential derails in that thread since I thought it was going exceptionally well for such a difficult topic.
posted by Scientist at 6:12 PM on March 22, 2012


I have a question.

Can you be a sub if you have a crazy low tolerance for pain and -- particularly -- being tickled?
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:14 PM on March 22, 2012


Scientist, YOU ARE AWESOME for making this thread.

Has nobody linked the fetlife group for mefites yet? We highlight relevant grey/blue/green threads there, and also use it as a bit of a kinksters' AskMe at times.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:14 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yay! So nice to have people chiming in. Much more experienced people than myself as well, by the looks of it! I honestly still consider myself something of a novice, and I was really hoping that we would get some more seasoned kinksters in here who would be willing to help out with the questions and answers. Hooray!
posted by Scientist at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2012


larry, yes! Subbing is about whatever the two of you think it's about. It could be about, for example, service, or you doing certain stuff... What are you thinking of when you daydream about it?
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2012


You know, I don't really "do" FetLife anymore. It's kind of too much of a time sink, and in general I just don't really consider myself part of the community. My relationship these days is super monogamous, which I am totally OK with, but it doesn't leave a lot of room for hanging out with other people on places like FetLife. And there's the aforementioned time sink problem. I'm totally aware of it, though! If things change in my life to where I think having a FetLife account again would be a positive thing, I will definitely sign back up and join the MeFites group.
posted by Scientist at 6:17 PM on March 22, 2012


cortex: It's fine for people to try and talk now and then about how to approach or what folks in general's understanding is about topics that recur (and sometimes recur in sort of bumpy or derail-prone ways) on the site. As far as that goes, Scientist went ahead and approached us ahead of time about whether it was an okay idea, and as far as we're concerned it is.

Well.. In some aspect this seems like the whole Redit "I am a ..., ask me anything" deal. I'm almost sure that kind of post has been closed in the past.

Is it just that it is "Ask us anything" instead of "me"? I'm pretty sure I can pull together a little club of fundamentalist-due-purely-to-pragmatism Windows XP (to pick a current topic) users who could stir up a shit storm hereabouts... We could talk about how you affluent Mac users misinterpret, misrepresent, and misunderstand our enlightened state of being.


but are usually meant more as gentle ribbing than as a condemnation of people who don't identify as kinky.

Gentle ribbing? You made gman use his safe word, there was nothing gentle about that shit.

Meanwhile, along with poking fun and denigrating, I suspect there is a bit of self congratulation. You've found your own personal "enlightened state of being", and you are letting the world know it is better where you are. I use "driver", "homeowner" and "Mac user" in exactly the same way.

Hmm, on second thought I think it is an entirely different thing--the greatest sin of the modern age--"othering."

Anyway, whatever it is, it is pretty out of place in this context.. Insensitive even..
posted by Chuckles at 6:20 PM on March 22, 2012


You can *totally* be a submissive without wanting pain or tickling to be a part of your experience, or even if you do want it but just have a really low tolerance and so require a dom who is able to inflict pain/tickling gently. There is a huge world of kink out there that does not include pain. Perhaps this is a good time to break down BDSM, because it's a neat acronym where the two middle letters are used redundantly:

BDSM = Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. Each of these are sort of two sides of the same coin (well, Bondage and Domination is a little forced there) but overall it expresses some of the breadth of BDSM. (Kink is even broader and basically encompasses *all* paraphilias or fetishes, even ones which don't have an element of power exchange.)

Bondage and Discipline is about restraining people, putting them in uncomfortable situations/positions, taking away physical control.

Domination and Submission is about psychological control, the heart of power exchange, where people either take command or relinquish their role in the decision-making process to someone else. It's often expressed as D/s, where the "s" is intentionally lowercase.

Sadism and Masochism is about inflicting and receiving pain or other uncomfortable sensations, extending more broadly into sensation play in general. It is often expressed as S&M.

So even if you are totally not into S&M, that still leaves roughly two thirds of BDSM open to you. And honestly the BDSM acronym only hints at the breadth of kinks that are engaged in by practitioners. A lot of people who are active in BDSM really like exploring new kinks, especially if they tie into another, broader kink that the practitioner already has. For instance, if you are into D/s you might enjoy french maid roleplay. If you are into B&D, you might enjoy suspension. If you are into S&M you might like fire play. Or maybe not. There's a ton of variety out there, and people often do like to expand their horizons and push their boundaries, although of course anything new or more extreme than what one has previously experienced needs to be approached with an extra measure of caution and care.
posted by Scientist at 6:27 PM on March 22, 2012


Scientist, thank you for posting this in MeTa. I'll hope with all I have that discussions change for the better because of it.

dontjumplarry, BDSM isn't mostly about pain for many participants. Or tickling (hate that!). It is about a power exchange between two or possibly more people by consent.

As well as this seems to be going, it's still not comfortable for me to discuss this here. Anyone who wants to may feel free to MeMail me.
posted by vers at 6:30 PM on March 22, 2012


this guy talking about how not respecting safewords every time made the whole experience more fun

That's a bully, not a dom. Dom(me)s should not be bullies, and bullies should not be dom(me)s.


Neither a dom nor a bullie, that is a motherfucking rapist.
posted by karathrace at 6:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, really it's possible to be a dom, a bully, and a rapist simultaneously.
posted by Scientist at 6:58 PM on March 22, 2012


heyho: Not to derail, but vanilla has a very definite flavor.

Oh, I get that, and to be honest, much like any word, it doesn't offend me. I mean, white bread has a flavour, but it's also used to describe the boring tastes of WASPs. I was just curious if "vanilla" was being used as a way to contrast the exciting sex going on in the BDSM community.
posted by gman at 7:02 PM on March 22, 2012


Right, no, if you want to insult someone, you call them boring. Or ugly, or dull, or bad in bed, or whatever. I've seriously never heard "vanilla" used as a slur or an insult against someone. At worst you hear it used in frustration — "Oh for fuck's sake, So-and-so is totally hot and totally into me and it'll never work out because we're not sexually compatible. Sucks to be both of us."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:10 PM on March 22, 2012


Kind of like "breeder?"
posted by crunchland at 7:12 PM on March 22, 2012


As far as tying someone up goes, it doesn't have to be rope. I have had wonderful sessions with partners where I tied them with a single strand of thread from each wrist and ankle. The point was that they couldn't break the thread.

There are layers, folks. It ain't all silk ropes and leather masks.
posted by Splunge at 7:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I honestly am not sure why this post is here, even after reading the comments. In fact, the thread reads like Scientist wants to talk/preach about their particular vision of BDSM, based on the number of comments he/she has made. Is there really a problem, is the BDSM community somehow marginalized on Metafilter?

Seriously, it just sounds like people want to talk about their sex lives/practices. Ok, but on Metatalk?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2012


I'll admit I don't really understand why this is a MeTa -- I mean, we could have open topic threads on any number of topics that a good chunk of MeFites are interested in. And the way this thread is going so far, I have a hard time imaging ending up as a useful "free forum for BDSM education", as advertised. And that's hardly surprising -- we all know that MeTa are supposed to be more freewheeling than the rest of the site, and the fact that mods have already jumped in several times to try and redirect the conversation (which wouldn't normally happen in a MeTa thread) suggests to me that this just isn't going to be a good fit.

There's an active community here that numbers in the thousands. I question the wisdom of allowing random open threads on 'topics of interest' -- the blowback down the road when someone says "I'd like to have an open thread in MeTa about knitting/cars/the election/interior decorating/what it's like being a man/woman/teenager/racialized group so that we can all better understand one another" and gets shot down is easy to envisage.
posted by modernnomad at 7:16 PM on March 22, 2012


Splurge made my point for me. Being instructed to keep your eyes shut can be a most effective blindfold.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:16 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hear a lot about the idealized bdsm community where you can trust basic strangers not to violate your trust ... But the fpp would appear to belie that notion of safety. Wouldn't it be safer, especially for vulnerable young women, to practice bdsm in the context of an established relationship already founded on trust, instead of counting on less connected people to respect you just because the communitu says they should?
posted by yarly at 7:22 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, but on Metatalk? -- I can't think of any other thread before like this one on Metatalk, and it probably would have made more sense to have this whole conversation in the post on the front page, but I definitely got the impression from one particular comment there that it was going to be impossible to contribute to that conversation with any credibility unless you were a card-carrying member of the subculture. So if it means a bifurcated conversation, so be it.
posted by crunchland at 7:30 PM on March 22, 2012


Wouldn't it be safer, especially for vulnerable young women, to practice bdsm in the context of an established relationship already founded on trust, instead of counting on less connected people to respect you just because the communitu says they should?

Well, yes - that's true for any kind of sex. It's one of the reasons that I, personally, do not engage in BDSM play casually. But the community can also be a place for people to meet those partners (so I hear). Also, people will engage in more casual BDSM play for the same reasons they'll have casual sex - experimentation seems to be a big one.

dontjumplarry: Oh god, I hate being tickled too! Argh. Hard limit. Anyway, as others have said, you absolutely do not have to be into pain to be a sub. In fact, I (as a submissive masochist-ish person) have noticed that a lot of doms/tops are not actually so much into pain for pain's sake. For instance, I had a partner who got off on my masochism and would deal out some very nice sadistic play. But he got off on it not so much for the pain, but for the effect it had on me (well, and we both sorta got off on the "wrongness" of it as well).

However, if you do play with someone more casually and you are not into pain, you should definitely make that clear up-front.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 7:32 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any sexual relationship has its possible dangers. But the BDSM community, at least the one that I was affiliated with, was very careful about who it allowed in. Can you say that for a club scene or a one night stand? We sometimes had people who tried power trips. There were cliques. It was generally, though, safer than any of the club scenes or pickup joints. It was self-monitored. And dangerous types were blackballed.
posted by Splunge at 7:37 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seriously never heard "vanilla" used as a slur or an insult against someone.

I have, which is why I don't use it. Now, admittedly, the people who used it as an insult were assholes, but they were One True Way-ist assholes who used that word as a slur because they got off on feeling superior to people who didn't enjoy the kind of sex and sexual play they enjoyed.

Although there is no higher a concentration of douchecanoes in the BDSM scene than in the public at large, there is certainly no lower a concentration of douchecanoes.

Do we want to talk about the male doms who don't believe that female dommes are really dommes, because "all women are submissive"? The Gorean crap patrol? Because now I don't know if I should talk about it, or if it will be a shame for the neighbors.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:38 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, is there a link to the this thread in the current BDSM thread on the blue?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on March 22, 2012


Goreans are a blight.
posted by Splunge at 7:40 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


What about someone like Rihanna? She is someone who seems to enjoy the submissive parts of BDSM and sings about it often. Then she is physically abused by one of her partners but seems to still be with/behind/fond of him. She sings about that, too, in the song with Eminem. I wonder about how BDSM relates to those kind of "passionate" yet ultimately abusive relationships.

I've thought about that a lot as well. Her behavior is, sadly, fairly typical for someone who is or has been in an abusive relationship. And I tend to think it's more a coincidence than anything else that she is also submissive. I mean, there are a LOT of abusive relationships without BDSM, you know? And these patterns are often present in these relationships as well.

There also seems to be this tendency for people to want to create "just-so" stories for people's kinks. For instance, many people still believe that kinks like masochism are caused by childhood abuse, even though there's never been a link made in the research. That's not to say that it isn't the case for anyone, but I think it's a classic confirmation bias case.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 7:43 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


TIL douchecanoes. And put it in the damn dictionary as well.
posted by Splunge at 7:49 PM on March 22, 2012


I for one am very glad for this thread. Most people see any kink, and BDSM specifically, as something that's crazy or sick. The fact is that there is a huge group out there that considers this a perfectly reasonable part of life. There are rules. There are people who will teach you, if you want. There are also people who are into it that don't even realize what their urges are. And we want to help them. It's not sick. And if you need advice or some kind of guidance, it's there.

I leave it to the reader to make the obvious parallels. That's not my job.

But I think this is a good start. And I want to thank everyone here that contributed in a positive way. I love you all.
posted by Splunge at 8:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brandon: I didn't make a link on account of this thread not really being directly related to that one, albeit being somewhat inspired by it. I'm trying to take a break from both threads as I feel like I've been over-participating in my enthusiasm for the subject, but if someone else wants to make a link then I for one am cool with that.
posted by Scientist at 8:14 PM on March 22, 2012


Also, is there a link to the this thread in the current BDSM thread on the blue?

If only there was some way to find out.
posted by mlis at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2012


but if someone else wants to make a link then I for one am cool with that.

If the goal is education, then throwing a link to this MeTa in a recent thread about the subject might be good.

If only there was some way to find out.

A search in the thread for "meta" didn't find a link, nor did a quick scan, hence the question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 PM on March 22, 2012


Wouldn't it be safer, especially for vulnerable young women, to practice bdsm in the context of an established relationship already founded on trust, instead of counting on less connected people to respect you just because the communitu says they should?

It's not always easy to find a partner that's into BDSM.
My husband will indulge me if I want to be submissive, but he's not really wired for kink. Same goes for a close friend of mine. (Though I'm platonic with the close friend because my husband's only ok with non-monogamy in very specific circumstances. But that's another story.)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 8:32 PM on March 22, 2012


Splunge: "As far as tying someone up goes, it doesn't have to be rope. I have had wonderful sessions with partners where I tied them with a single strand of thread from each wrist and ankle. The point was that they couldn't break the thread.

There are layers, folks. It ain't all silk ropes and leather masks.
"

Yup. I used to have some fun with a sub that involved only self-control as bondage. She was not allowed to move, breathe heavily, make a noise or change her facial expression during sex, barring of course, safe words.

(I even established safe symbols for those times when a word might not be easily heard. This particular sub would wave two fingers in a "V" shape. or tap them against me.)
posted by Samizdata at 8:50 PM on March 22, 2012


A quick story before I go.

When I was working at a club in the Village I met a young lady. I thought that she was attractive, but I was in a relationship at the time. This relationship was at the screaming fight part, so i spent a lot of time working my job as a bouncer at said club.

One day the young lady (we were friends by then) told me that he pantyhose had a huge rip in them. And since it was a Sunday night, she had nowhere to buy new ones. I swear this is true. She indeed had a huge hole in one of the legs. Since she was a musician in a club nearby she didn't want to go onstage with a giant tear, I suggested:

"Here's my Swiss Army Knife. It has a very sharp scissor. Go into the bathroom here and cut the legs off of your pantyhose. You'll still have the panty part and all will be good."

And this she did.

When she returned with the knife she thanked me. I told her, joking, that I'd never wash this Swiss Army Knife again. We had a good laugh and off she went to sing and play.

Long story short, later that week we ended up in her car, kissing. At one point I cupped her chin in my hand. She took this as a dominant gripping her neck.

She almost passed out.

And a relationship was created there that lasted for a very long time. By then my previous relationship was ended already. She later told me that she was so frightened that she almost fainted.

We started out by defining the rules. She was sub when we were alone. It would never spill over into "the real world".

It turned out that we had some of the same friends and acquaintances in the scene. And that people had vetted me in the club that I worked at. If one person thought I was some kind of nut or asshole, we would have never been more than friends at a bar.
posted by Splunge at 8:51 PM on March 22, 2012


Oh, I sometimes like to sub, but I don't so much do pain as pain. I will take some pain if it is "against my will" but that's it. I just want to reaffirm that just because someone enjoys being a sub does NOT mean they like being hurt.
posted by Samizdata at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


GYOFBDSMB.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:25 PM on March 22, 2012


Goreans are a blight.
Never heard of Goreans before. My web searching history is getting a bit spicy.
posted by unliteral at 9:55 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I acronymize because I care, or: IABIC.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:01 PM on March 22, 2012


That said, the mod-authorized and thus continued existence of this thread pre-legitimizes all kinds of sketchy hypothetical future MeTa posts. I have no particular horse in the metaphorical race of "kinky" sexual practice(s), but this reeks of special pleading and/or narcissism on the part of the OP.

Or, you know: GYOFBDSMB.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:06 PM on March 22, 2012


I have no particular horse in the metaphorical race of "kinky" sexual practice(s), but this reeks of special pleading and/or narcissism on the part of the OP.

Wait, what? If you have a problem with the post and want to say so, that's one thing, but calling the OP a narcissist seems really out of line.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 10:47 PM on March 22, 2012


This is a bit weird. If the Metafilter people want to cop Reddit's IAMA page they should just go ahead and do it. Is there a demand for that around here?
posted by furiousthought at 10:48 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm not totally sure what dangerous precedent I have set with this post. Are people worried that now we might start talking about all sorts of things and leveraging our diverse userbase to educate ourselves abot all sorts of complex topics? Are people concerned that we might start talking about touchy sbjects *before* they spark big fighty derails on the Blue? Because to me these both sound like they would be good things.

Is the concern that people might run potentially touchy postings past the mods first instead of just dumping them on the front page to be dealt with after the fact? Because I'd be OK with people doing that, too. The mods are spooky good at predicting what sorts of things are likely to start fights here, and a fight is the last thing I wanted. I really and truly just wanted to open a space where people could talk about something that I was sensing people might want to talk about, without derailing a perfectly good thread over it, and maybe become a more educated community in the process.

I do apologise for the threadsitting. It's a bad habit I have when I get excited about something, and I'm working on curbing it. On the other hand though, I feel like I have as much right to comment in a thread as anyone, whether I'm the poster or not, and naturally it's something I have things to say about.

If it's not something you're interested in contributing positively to, well, there are hundreds of other open threads and I'm not sure how this one is hurting anybody, so maybe just go make a more productive contribution somewhere else? For that matter, there is an infinite number of other things you might do elsewhere. I'm sorry that you feel I'm narcissistic, but that's not something that I really know how to respond to. If I just wanted attention, there are lots of other more satisfying ways I could have gone about getting it, ways which have nothing to do with this site.

I have only love for you, joe. As a fellow human and a fellow MeFite, I have nothing to offer you but love. Out of concern for your happiness and general life-satisfaction, I would like to gently suggest that maybe you could find somewhere to spend your energies that would be more positive for all. I mean that in a genuine and totally uncondescending way -- we all lose perspective from time to time, and need to be reminded to seek out things that make us happy and ignore the things that make us grouchy. This is me gently and lovingly reminding you to consider whether or not you are making yourself and those around you happy.
posted by Scientist at 10:49 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I didn't mean to say that you should leave MetaFilter, jst that maybe you could find a thread you like better and comment in that one.
posted by Scientist at 10:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, is there a link to the this thread in the current BDSM thread on the blue?

I linked it. It should have been done at the beginning, in my opinion, because the two threads were clearly linked even if this wasn't some GRAR thread complaining about the blue.

One of the key things to keep in mind is that one shouldn't be super casual about kinky sex. It can be dangerous, even if your partner has your best interests in mind! It definitely requires more forethought and care than vanilla sex, at all stages.

I mostly disagree. There are specific safety issues with specific bdsm practices, like hanging people from hooks or whatever. But the dismissive vocabulary of "vanilla" ignores the crazy stuff that those same "vanilla" people get up to sexually (like oral sex on the freeway) that are as or more dangerous as anything described on Fetlife.

And that's why I dislike the term "vanilla" so much. Pretty much no one I know would identify as "kinky," but most anyone I've talked to has played around with handcuffs, ropes, butt-plugs, and/or whips. Failing to identify as part of the "scene" doesn't tell you anything about what people are getting up to in the bedroom. And even if you are a only in the dark, only missionary, and only with your spouse kind of person, you can do some ridiculously dangerous and nasty stuff. Calling all of that "vanilla" fails descriptively, except as a signal of inside and outside of the Community.
posted by Forktine at 10:53 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is me gently and lovingly reminding you to consider whether or not you are making yourself and those around you happy.

This is me gently and lovingly reminding you to consider whether or not you are making MetaTalk all about you.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:58 PM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I do apologise for the threadsitting.

Then sit on your damn hands, seriously.
posted by Forktine at 11:02 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is me gently and lovingly reminding you to consider whether or not you are making yourself and those around you happy.

If you cannot even begin to fathom how gobsmackingly condescending this is, then may I gently and lovingly suggest you consider whether or not you are making yourself and those around you happy?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:03 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do apologise for the threadsitting. It's a bad habit I have when I get excited about something,

You might even say he is dominating the thread. I don't know what that apology is doing there though. That's a real turn off.
posted by Chuckles at 11:15 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Life doesn't have to be a simulation.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 AM on March 23, 2012


The "people on metafilter on fetlife" group is a pretty great one; it's pretty much my only stop on fetlife these days, but back when I had my druthers I also did some connecting with other locals because people don't use their scene names on facebook (or they do, in a few cases, which is awesome).
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:16 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Life doesn't have to be a simulation

I couldn't agree more. It needs to be real, like the stage under an actor's feet needs to be real.
posted by Kerasia at 2:40 AM on March 23, 2012


If it's not something you're interested in contributing positively to, well, there are hundreds of other open threads and I'm not sure how this one is hurting anybody, so maybe just go make a more productive contribution somewhere else?

A person can be productive by noting problems with this post.

Just because you're super excited about the subject and created a mod approved MeTa does not mean you get to define what is and is not productive or useful.

Look, I love posts about space and manned spaceflight, could probably talk about the subject all day. Posts about this usually involve, or devolve into, discussions about whether there should even be a manned spaceflight program. Can I make a MeTa wanting to educate people about the benefits of manned spaceflight? If the answer is no, then why not, wouldn't doing so help improve the quality of discourse in space related threads?

Everyone has a favorite subject they're passionate about. I'm not sure what talking about them in Metatalk will do in terms of generating interesting links about those subjects.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've had ample meta threads to date about people repeatedly voicing the same misconceptions on various topics. From cycling to medical or legal issues. Posts like this cut down on noise and misinformation being inadvertently perpetuated on Metafilter.

The last two of three threads about catcalling featured Mefites engaging in victim-blaming, and a complete misunderstanding of what harassment even is. Or consent.

Teaching people from one's personal experience helps threads go more smoothly over time. Explanations in-thread are fine, but if something is happening over and over again, a meta post might reach a broader audience all at once, compared to a single thread or two.

Assume good faith and intent on the part of the OP. Assume this is not an egotistical exercise. We're left with a heartfelt attempt to help people understand something they may have unconscious biases about. Or misunderstandings. Clearing them up could be helpful.

And since this wasn't presented as an angry callout/, it would seem the OP is trying their best to be helpful and not start a fight. Isn't that a good thing?
posted by zarq at 4:40 AM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


We've had ample meta threads to date about people repeatedly voicing the same misconceptions on various topics. From cycling to medical or legal issues.

Weee they framed as educational symposiums, designed to educate people about misconceptions?

Besides, there's nothing in the FAQ about using Metatalk for educational posts. Don't you think this sot of thing should be explicitly outlined as function of the subsite?

Posts like this cut down on noise and misinformation being inadvertently perpetuated on Metafilter.

Cite please.

And since this wasn't presented as an angry callout/, it would seem the OP is trying their best to be helpful and not start a fight. Isn't that a good thing?

No, it's not a good thing when the OP decides to threadsit and act like a condescending ass when people stray from how he thinks the subject should be handled. It's all vague, where there is supposedly a problem, but the OP explicitly refused to cite any problems and just do a Reedit style AMA. Are we to continue this practice for other subjects and if so, is Metatalk the place for it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:03 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Posts like this cut down on noise and misinformation being inadvertently perpetuated on Metafilter. -- Have we actually had other posts like this on Metatalk?
posted by crunchland at 5:07 AM on March 23, 2012


It's not always easy to find a partner that's into BDSM.

Understatement of the year.
posted by newpotato at 5:13 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I appreciate people trying to teach and learn about the more basic aspects of BDSM. I don't really have the time/patience for it or for the random static I get for it (more of a real life thing than a metafilter thing).

I think the tone here has gotten better since 2009-10ish, which is great, and I appreciate the moderators being open-minded and helpful in this regard.

The only well-meaning misconception that bothers me is that submissive = woman and dominant = man. It's a problem with other BDSMers, too.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:10 AM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Have we actually had other posts like this on Metatalk?

These tend to come up more for Ask Metafilter, but there have a been a number of "can we please not continue to repeat misinformation/misapprehensions" sorts of posts... most recently about automotive troubles, but also about internet diagnoses, specific disorders, sex/reproduction info... even one about ramps and accessibility (those are just some that occur to me, I haven't done a search).
posted by taz (staff) at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2012


There are rules.

I've seen this several times in the thread - people spelling out how exactly one does BDSM correctly, and so on. I don't want to seem mean or snarky, but where have these rules come from? How have they been established? Is there the degree of consensus that a lot of comments certainly imply? If so, where is the rulebook, and who writes it?

I've nothing against kink, and while I'm reasonably vanilla myself, have a lot a friends in various scenes, but it does strike me like a lot of people in this thread are treating it like it's some discreet, well-defined thing. I'm not sure that it, so much as a blanket term to describe a range of proclivities and practices that fall outside the socially defined 'norm'. The 'right' and 'wrong' way to do things is purely a matter of opinion, surely? It strikes me as a lot more complex, less cut-and-dry than what I take away from a lot of comments here.

Please, if I'm wrong, do correct me...
posted by Dysk at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2012


This was an interesting and good-humored thread until the Junior MeFi Sheriff "Why is this here?" posse showed up. Odd that the fact that this was preapproved by the mods doesn't stop them. Couldn't have anything to do with discomfort with the topic, could it?
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on March 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


but there have a been a number of "can we please not continue to repeat misinformation/misapprehensions" sorts of posts... -- But those weren't structured like "ask us anything you want about this topic. we're here to answer all your questions," were they?
posted by crunchland at 6:46 AM on March 23, 2012


Flag me baby, flag me hard.

OK, but you know I flag brown -- and to the left, right?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:55 AM on March 23, 2012


This was an interesting and good-humored thread until the Junior MeFi Sheriff "Why is this here?" posse showed up. Odd that the fact that this was preapproved by the mods doesn't stop them. Couldn't have anything to do with discomfort with the topic, could it?

Deciding that anyone who disagrees with the post or the mod's pre-approval of it has issues, while resorting to name calling, is an interesting angle to take in a thread created to educate people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 AM on March 23, 2012


This was an interesting and good-humored thread until the Junior MeFi Sheriff "Why is this here?" posse showed up.

If you're trying to make Scientist look less condescending by being even more so, you succeeded.
posted by aught at 7:03 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, this is my final comment in this thread. I have clearly used up my allotment.

I am sorry for the tone of my previous comment. It was genuinely not intended to be condescending, but I see now that it can easily read that way. The reaction was the opposite of what I wanted -- more grar, not less grar. I will recalibrate my actions in the future, and lean more heavily toward disengagement.

I do not think there is a big problem with how BDSM threads go on MetaFilter. I did think that there might be some room for improvement and some community interest in the topic, so I made this -- after a quick check with the mods to see if they thought it would start a fight. Perhaps it wouldn't have if I'd simply made it and walked away. Lesson learned.

I understand that my overparticipation in a thread that I created is annoying to some. I had hoped that people would forgive it as simple enthusiasm and not as an attempt to shut out other perspectives. In fact, I really wanted lots of other people from all sides to participate to maximize the breadth of perspective and to get at as many issues and questions as people had.

I only wanted to do something nice, albeit a little bit different from the norm. I am sorry that some people did not see it that way, though I am gratified that some other people do and I hope that the thread can continue to be about asking and answering questions about BDSM and helping people in this community get a stronger and more nuanced understanding of the topic.

I am done here now. Peace.
posted by Scientist at 7:06 AM on March 23, 2012


Well, guess I missed the window to have my comments addressed, then...
posted by Dysk at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2012


"I leave it to the readers to make the obvious parallels"

Okay. I am assuming the "obvious parallel" is with the continuing struggle of LGBTQ people for acceptance, social justice, and equal rights.

I find this thread really interesting and I am 100% in favour of people doing whatever they like, sexually. I don't think anyone should be shamed or made to feel bad about their sexual desires. I am, however, extremely uncomfortable with the comparison of what seems to me to be a fondness for certain kinds of sexual games with the struggle for gay rights. I am happy to be edified if my discomfort is wrong or misplaced.
posted by cilantro at 7:15 AM on March 23, 2012


Can I make a MeTa wanting to educate people about the benefits of manned spaceflight?

Huh. Seems to me we have these conversations all the time, and BDSM has clearly been a hot button here in the past. I think you're being just a bit foolish here, Brandon. Dismissing the mod's approval of the basic idea of this post while repeatedly attacking the basic idea of this post is...well, it's sure something.

Scientist, I love that you made this post; my initial reaction was "Damn, that was thoughtfully done and will probably do some good." So, thanks.
posted by mediareport at 7:32 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen this several times in the thread - people spelling out how exactly one does BDSM correctly, and so on. I don't want to seem mean or snarky, but where have these rules come from? How have they been established? Is there the degree of consensus that a lot of comments certainly imply? If so, where is the rulebook, and who writes it?

Rather than answer your question directly, let me make an analogy. Have you heard of amateur radio (a.k.a. "ham radio")? It's very similar, really. Just about any way that you can find into the hobby will bring you in contact with publications, organizations (national, e.g., the ARRL in the US, or local), local clubs (where you can find a mentor, a.k.a. an "elmer"). Good operating practices are codified in various publications, and bad operators (a.k.a. "lids") are looked down upon. There are web sites, newsgroups, etc. There's pretty broad consensus on operating practices and frequency allocation (even at a more detailed level than that mandated by international treaties and the FCC, in the US). I'm sure people here can point you to the analogous structures for BDSM.

While I'm breaking my self-imposed silence, I'll also say that some of the concerns raised here can be answered by observing that having a kink (paraphilia) is not the same thing as having a personality disorder. People with kinks are mainly interested in getting their rocks off in a pleasant, friendly, and/or loving way. People with serious personality disorders may be interesting in injuring others to propitiate their inner demons.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:33 AM on March 23, 2012


interesting -> interested
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:34 AM on March 23, 2012


Well, with HAM radio there are pretty strictly-defined guidelines, and widespread consensus - a lot of which is based on inherited radio protocol, and the fairly strict laws surrounding the activity. I'm not sure this is entirely analogous to the BSDM or kink community - where is the official organisation that grants you your pass, equivalent to a HAM license, for example? There's no matter of opinion there, there's the defined content of the course/test, and the legal requirement to be certified in order to operate a HAM a radio...
posted by Dysk at 7:39 AM on March 23, 2012


Dysk, if you've got real questions about kink/BDSM, I'll answer them. There are plenty of other kinky Mefites besides Scientist, but I think he/she/they/it/ze've been dominating (heh) the thread because they are clearly so articulate and educated about the subject that they've been covering all the highlights.

That being said, this thread has been vetted by the mods, and probably numerous times. Even if we disagree with its overall purpose, can we please accept that it's here to stay for now and put it back to its intended use, rather than a fight about what is/is not acceptable on MeTa? (I would say, "Take it to MetaTalk," but, uh....)

cilantro, I think that's a really interested parallel and question. I'm a kinkster and I wouldn't go so far as to compare our struggle for general acceptance with anywhere near the level of what LGBTQI people go through. For one thing, it's much easier to keep your kink secret-- you can bring your sub to a family Christmas dinner, for instance, you just have to make sure that the 'collar' is switched to a nice heart locket and introduce them as your significant other and remember not to order them to lick something off the floor if you accidentally drop a cookie or something. The transition is, I think, a lot easier.

That being said, there are really interesting parallels. There can indeed be serious backlash against people who are, either purposefully or through the maliciousness of others, 'outed' as kinksters against their will (I know several people who have lost their jobs and a lot more who aren't in the local scene because their positions with the military mean that if anyone ever found out about their sexual proclivities they would be instantly dismissed). There's also a certain amount of questioning and worry you're going to have to deal with, even from close friends, if you choose to share your kinkiness with them, because there really isn't any widely-disseminated information about kink as either a practice or a sexual identiy. Hell, growing up, I didn't know about it-- I thought there was something wrong with me for wanting what I wanted, because (like same-sex preferences until recently) almost all the mainstream media depictions of kink are extremely negative and shaming. In some cases, it also restricts our dating life: at this time in my personal sexual growth, for example, I wouldn't consider dating someone who isn't at least open to BDSM play, because I've found that it's something that's important for my psychological health. But it's a tricky issue to dance around-- because it sure as shit isn't socially acceptable to be like, "Look, there's a very real possibility that if this goes well, I want to hang you from the ceiling in my basement and beat you raw while I order you to try and recite Fermat's Last Theorem, and I want you to love every second of it." So more hearts get broken, I think, when there's kink involved, because of the inability to articulate from the very beginning what you need to be happy. Marriages fail, even, if one partner suddenly discovers what they've been longing for exists and that they really need it on some level.

I could go on... I've had to explain to several gynos that I asked for the marks on my thighs and that they were consensual. Parents may think you're being abused. You can pretty much rule out any ability to get relationship counseling unless you're in a really big city. So in short, no, I don't think we kinksters have it as bad as LGBTQI persons. But there is certainly privilege and social power attached to being vanilla and there are unique and unpleasant struggles one has to deal with if one identifies as kinky.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:40 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


WidgetAlley, I would love to hear from you (or anyone else!) I realise I may have seemed a bit dismissive, but I was trying to bemoan the utter derailing of the thread. I should've probably been a bit clearer...
posted by Dysk at 7:42 AM on March 23, 2012


Dysk, hit me with your best shot! (Heh.) I also have a little bit of familiarity with the very small portion of academic research that's been done on BDSM, which is totally fascinating, so I can try to answer from that angle too.

For instance, did you know in one study, male dominants scored lower on standard indices of sexism than average (i.e., they were less sexist in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors)? And male submissives were exactly in line with the average population. I think that's really interesting; and I think all the conscious negotiation of power that takes place within scenes maybe makes kinksters a little more aware of their power-attitudes at other times...
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:45 AM on March 23, 2012


(My original question was intended to be a real one - what I've heard from kinky friends suggest that it is a lot messier and less straight-forward in terms of The One True Way than what I'm reading in this thread suggests... Am I wrong in this?)

On preview: For instance, did you know in one study, male dominants scored lower on standard indices of sexism than average (i.e., they were less sexist in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors)? And male submissives were exactly in line with the average population.

This really doesn't surprise me, given the high incidence of kink in the lefty-activisty-feminist circles I'm familiar with, though I'd not seen any research to indicate it.
posted by Dysk at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: "Weee they framed as educational symposiums, designed to educate people about misconceptions?

Yes. They're not the same posts, obviously. But educating the userbase and having people weigh in with their perspectives and opinions was part of it.

Besides, there's nothing in the FAQ about using Metatalk for educational posts.

So? I was not questioning whether this post was or was not appropriate to Metatalk. I was commenting about its utility.

Don't you think this sot of thing should be explicitly outlined as function of the subsite?

Why?

cortex: "As far as that goes, Scientist went ahead and approached us ahead of time about whether it was an okay idea, and as far as we're concerned it is. "

This post was pre-approved by the mods. If you don't like Metatalk being used this way, you're entitled to hold that opinion, of course. But I suspect that since the mods gave their blessing prior to the post going up, they might disagree.

Cite please.

Sure.:
Dumsnill: “Are these people you tend to see changing their minds?”

Well, for one thing: when I started here, I was a supporter of George W Bush, pro-Iraq war, and all round a pretty rabid conservative. I don't know if I can say that I'm liberal now; but I have a feeling I've changed some on that front. I'm a hell of a lot more sensitive to sexism, racism, and homophobia; I'd even say this place has pretty much been an education in recognizing those things for what they are. I really, really value how much thought this community has put into those things. It's a very rare thing.

I also have gotten a lot more conflicted about how much I insult people. For instance, the shit I said to orthogonality upthread is actually starting to bother me, whereas two years ago I could have said it and not minded a bit.

I don't think this stuff counts as very good examples of what you're talking about, though. I mean, it's just standard life-change stuff. Considering that it's been almost seven years that I've been here, I think a person's bound to change a bit over time, and that has nothing to do with how open their mind is.
posted by koeselitz at 11:36 PM on June 21, 2011 [6 favorites +] [!]



No, it's not a good thing when the OP decides to threadsit and act like a condescending ass when people stray from how he thinks the subject should be handled.

I disagree with your assessment of his or her behavior. But yes, if that's what were happening here, then that would be problematic.

It's all vague, where there is supposedly a problem, but the OP explicitly refused to cite any problems and just do a Reedit style AMA.

All true. However, Scientist is not the only person participating and weighing in. So in that sense, it's not exactly like an AMA.

Would the post be better with specific examples of problematic behavior? Possibly. It could also turn this discussion into a callout, which might be counter-productive. I can see why Scientist might be interested in avoiding such a situation.

Are we to continue this practice for other subjects and if so, is Metatalk the place for i

Of a Reddit-style AMA? I'm honestly not sure.

However, at this point I'm not really seeing much difference between this thread and multiple precedents that have had people weighing in with real life experiences on various topics, including racism, boyzone antisemitism and others.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There should be a comma between 'boyzone' and 'antisemitism' in my last comment.
posted by zarq at 7:50 AM on March 23, 2012


Oh! The whole HAM-radio thing. The weird thing is, everyone I've run into really does seem to subscribe to something very similar to the One True Way put forth by most of the popular how-to books (I'm speaking particularly about BDSM here, as other kinks have other rules that I'm not familiar with.) But I'm also in a fairly small city in the South, and I think there's a very simple way to explain this: there's not a huge amount of support/literature/mentoring out there for BDSM, so we've all subscribed to the same school of kink thought because it's the only thing we've all had access to over our formative periods. It's enforced a.) because it's a social norm validated by published materials, and b.) because most of it makes a lot of sense and serves the community well. There are subtle differences though: even in my little town there are SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) folks, who tend to stick to things that they're very very sure pose minimal bodily risk, and RACK folks (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink), who tend to see everything as risky and like to push it to whatever their acceptable limits are.

But I can certainly understand how, in a larger city with a wider array of experiences and outlets for education, that could quickly fragment into many schools of thought, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Still, I think everyone starts out with maybe the same 10 -15 how-to and 101 books, so it's a base of knowledge that we all share and can refer to. It's purely utilitarian.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq: "There should be a comma between 'boyzone' and 'antisemitism' in my last comment."

I figured you meant goyzone antisemitism.
posted by Drastic at 7:55 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, excellent, thanks WidgetAlley :)

Out of interest, what are these basic, introductory texts? I'd quite like to read a couple, and see how the content compares to the attitudes and opinions of the kinksters I know.
posted by Dysk at 7:57 AM on March 23, 2012


A better analogy than ham radio might be the way that "best practices" in web design or software engineering spread. Principles like "use a safeword" or "make sure a friend knows who you're playing with" are so obviously useful if you're trying to get your rocks off safely that a lot of people adopt them as soon as they become aware of them. I started using a safeword with my then-girlfriend long before either of us had joined any sort of kink organization; nobody made us do it, nobody even pressured us to. It's just that we'd already been worried about the question of how to end a scene that's gone badly, and as soon as we discovered that the problem had been independently solved, we jumped on that solution.

That said, there's definitely dispute over what the "rules" ought to be. See for instance the SSC vs. RACK debate. There were two different sets of "best practice" guidelines going around on the question of how much risk is acceptable: some people held that nobody should be playing in ways that were potentially dangerous, and other people held that it was okay to play in potentially dangerous ways as long as everyone involved was aware of the danger and had given free consent. Which approach you take to safety is a very important question — if nothing else because there are certain kinks that are inherently risky. For instance, there's no way to choke someone without running a small but real risk that you'll injure or kill them, and the kink community is very deeply divided on whether choking and breath play are okay-if-you-know-the-risks or totally unacceptable.

There's debate over social norms too. A lot of it concerns the question of how much people should let their BDSM roles "bleed through" into basically vanilla interactions with other members of the kink community. If you're at a play party, but you're just hanging out by the onion dip talking about Dr. Who, should you still address Mr. Big Bad Dominant as "Sir"? Should you ask his permission before addressing his submissive partner? Should you behave submissively towards him yourself? Is it fair game for him to behave dominantly towards you? This stuff matters less, because the worst-case scenario involves a couple grumpy perverts with wounded dignity rather than, say, a dead body, so there's more room for debate, and people will quibble about it endlessly.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:01 AM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Drastic: " I figured you meant goyzone antisemitism."

HA!

And so, this comes full circle to one of my first posts to Mefi. :D
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For instance, there's no way to choke someone without running a small but real risk that you'll injure or kill them, and the kink community is very deeply divided on whether choking and breath play are okay-if-you-know-the-risks or totally unacceptable.

This, specifically, is a debate I've overheard many times, and seen lots of reference to. I know a few people who are into breath play, and I really get the impression they have a much harder time (even socially - not just in terms of finding play partners) in the kink community than others.
posted by Dysk at 8:06 AM on March 23, 2012


Actually, asking for introductory texts is a great way to uncover divisions within the community! So for instance, Jay Wiseman's SM 101 is technique-heavy, slightly pedantic, and cautious to a fault. (The author used to be a full-time paramedic, and he's sort of infamous for going on and on in his books about all the long-shot ways that you could possibly injure yourself by doing something fairly straightforward.) The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book, by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton, are less pedantic and cautious, and spend more time on the emotional aspects of BDSM, but they slide sometimes into some mild hippie woo and they can be kind of utopian about the idea that all our problems would go away if we'd just communicate clearly. I usually recommend one or the other set of books, depending on my mood, but some people are totally convinced that Jay Wiseman is an awful boring no-fun scold or that Hardy and Easton are dangerously flaky.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:07 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Er, "dangerously flaky" is probably an exaggeration. I do know people who go "That's too woo-woo, I won't recommend it to anyone." I'm sure there are safety nuts out there somewhere who think they're too lax. But I've never actually heard someone say "Their books are dangerous.")
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:10 AM on March 23, 2012


Seconding nebulawindphone's assessment of what most people in the US scene see as the core books. Wiseman's book really is the 101.

And seconding WidgetAlley's take on how people connect around the "canon" of publications.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:22 AM on March 23, 2012


I am sorry for the tone of my previous comment. It was genuinely not intended to be condescending, but I see now that it can easily read that way.

You took pains not to be. Whether or not you succeeded, it was apparent that you were trying and at that point I think some onus shifts to the reader to ascribe good faith. Your comment was more charitable than I would have been. I'd have just linked an old MetaTalk thread from 2010.

I agree with some of the criticisms of this post, but I appreciate what you were trying to accomplish. And from my perspective, you weren't thread-sitting inappropriately. It was set up as kind of an AMA—which is to say, the flaw might have been in the setup, not how you participated after the fact. For what it's worth, I had noticed your comments in the thread on the blue and I found them interesting. It's not a subject I know a lot about, so it's helpful to read thoughtful commentary.

One tip I'd have, generally (i.e., not specifically to you, Scientist). If you're aiming to elevate the discussion of any niche interest, avoid jargon. The thread over on the blue included an early minor derail when somebody used a term of art, and there were a few terms used that I wasn't familiar with. Simple, common language can help discussion happen at a higher level. Someone in that thread commented that it was a 212-level discussion instead of a 101-level, and I think those are great. That's what I'd like to come to MetaFilter for.
posted by cribcage at 8:37 AM on March 23, 2012


Yes. They're not the same posts, obviously. But educating the userbase and having people weigh in with their perspectives and opinions was part of it.

Hey, if you're going to equate a post that notes a change in the user interface in response to complaints and that other changes are being considered with Scientist's "may we talk about some common misconceptions about this niche culture" post then we're not even talking a similar language.

Note, I'm not questioning the educating the userbase, but I'm also not seeing a problem here that necessitates the need for discussion about BDSM issues. The FPP post that sort of inspired this doesn't seem to be problematic in the sense that there's massive ignorance that needs to be combated due to accounts closing, threadshitting, flame wars and fighting.

Misconceptions were mentioned, kinksters corrected them. Sounds like things were working ok. So again, not sure why a MeTa post was needed. Clearly we're going to disagree on that. Enjoy your day?


This post was pre-approved by the mods.

Yes, that's been established, not sure what your point is here, other than to repeat information. If you're point is that since it was pre-approved that people can't or shouldn'tdisagree with the post or that issues it brought, that's not gonna happen.

Sure.:

That's a single comment from one user. That doesn't prove a whole lot, which was my point, that "posts like this cut down on noise and misinformation being inadvertently perpetuated on Metafilter" can't really be proved. It sounds nice, but it doesn't seemt to have any sort of factual base, becaue there's never been a post like this one.

Why?

You've seemed interested in having site matters explicitly spelled out, figured you also want it in situations you agree with.

However, at this point I'm not really seeing much difference between this thread and multiple precedents that have had people weighing in with real life experiences on various topics, including racism, boyzone antisemitism and others

There doesn't seem to have been an issue or problem on the scale of those you mentioned, as Scientist himself noted, so the comparision doesn't fit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2012


The comparison fits fine, just on a smaller scale. Seriously, Brandon, why are you pushing so hard on this?
posted by mediareport at 8:54 AM on March 23, 2012


cilantro: I think WidgetAlley nicely summed up what I wanted to say in answer to your question. If you're still interested in the topic, Clarisse Thorn has a really good post/essay on it.

I also wanted to add that for lots of people who are into BDSM, it's about a little bit more than "fondness for certain sexual games." I mean, yeah, that's a huge part of it, and that's pretty much the function BDSM plays in my life at this point. But it also goes back to urges I experienced before I even knew what sex was (around age 3 or 4) and, like Widget Alley, I would not, at this point, be happy in a relationship that didn't have some aspect of my preferred kind of BDSM.

I do actually feel as if my BDSM "orientation" is, indeed, an orientation, since it's been with me from such an early age and is such an important part of how I relate to people sexually and romantically. So, on a personal level. But not really on a political level.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:58 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The comparison fits fine, just on a smaller scale. Seriously, Brandon, why are you pushing so hard on this?

I was unaware that asking questions was pushing hard, but evidently it is.

So why are you pushing so hard on me pushing hard and should we get a room?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:02 AM on March 23, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: " You've seemed interested in having site matters explicitly spelled out, figured you also want it in situations you agree with. "

Yesterday you claimed a post was deleted for violating the guidelines, when as far as I could tell, no such guideline existed. Hence my comment to you in the other thread. If that's what you're trying to refer to, then the situations are not equivalent.

I assumed you were more interested in engaging in good faith than playing immature "gotcha" games. My mistake.
posted by zarq at 9:03 AM on March 23, 2012


and should we get a room?

At this point maybe, yes. Maybe worry about a disturbing trend of new-style Metatalk posts when that trend actually manifests itself, and until then concern noted but maybe let it drop?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:06 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rather than ham radio (which has the overlay of laws and regulations), maybe an ok comparison would be dogs. You have the Kennel Club people, with rules and memberships and organizations and competing philosophies. In a lot of ways they are the public face of it, but numerically they are relatively small, compared to the gazillions and gazillions of people who have a dog or two around the house.

With bdsm, you have the clubs and blogs and books that describe a very formulaic and structured practice, as has been well-described here. And then you have the millions and millions of people who are engaging in kinky practices at home, alone or with their partner, in a totally unstructured and uncontrolled way, absolutely disconnected from the formal bdsm stuff except when the two touch through books like 50 Shades of Gray or scenes in movies.

Both are bdsm, just as a big dog show and some dude petting his mutt are both dog ownership, and it's important to keep in mind the distinction between the formalized version (which plays out huge on the internet) and the informal version.
posted by Forktine at 9:18 AM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yesterday you claimed a post was deleted for violating the guidelines, when as far as I could tell, no such guideline existed.

You are over exaggerating.

I assumed you were more interested in engaging in good faith than playing immature "gotcha" games. My mistake.

There were several other points mentioned in that post, you're welcome to respond to those.

Maybe worry about a disturbing trend of new-style Metatalk posts when that trend actually manifests itself, and until then concern noted but maybe let it drop?

Saw an issue, brought it up. If your position is that there is no issue, that's fine, but we disagree and I saw no problem with bringing up potential problems of this post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on March 23, 2012


There's no problem with bringing it up. Bringing it up and then hammering on it repeatedly gets to be more into kind of obnoxious "no, let's talk about my feelings about the post instead" territory.

And that's not entirely on you; to some extent there's an aggregate of folks doing that in here that's more annoying than any single person's part of it. But at a certain point looking around and realizing that it's kind of been covered and opting not to return to that well a few times yourself would be a considerate move in terms of not perpetuating a sort of sideline derail of the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " There were several other points mentioned in that post, you're welcome to respond to those. "

At least twice over the last year, you've acted like enough of an ass towards me in MeTa that the mods have privately asked you to knock it off. Now that you're apparently reverting back to form, excuse me if I don't feel inclined to discuss this with you further.
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on March 23, 2012


Jeez, break out the whips, chains and lube already and get it over with, you two.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2012


Forktine, I find that analogy intensely satisfying :) I'd posit that there's probably not quite so neat a divide, though - I get the impression that locally, there are a lot of semi-organised, semi-rules-based (generally not officially codified) groups that arise out of cliques or social scenes, which I guess would be like more informal dog owner's clubs or groups of people who meet with their dogs unofficially every weekend.
posted by Dysk at 9:49 AM on March 23, 2012


Regarding rules:

In my experience, every group and public or private playspace has its own set of rules. There is no overarching governing body of BDSM. Many of these groups' rules are similar to each other because memberships overlap and because people build on what has gone before them.

Examples:
None of the dungeons I've been to allow alcohol or drugs. The last one I went to required a form to be filled out saying I'm not on a sex offender list. All of them have a liability waiver.

Some dungeons allow sexual activity, but only with protection. Some of them don't allow any penetration, and some of them don't allow sexual activity at all. (Sexual activity here meaning oral, vaginal and anal sex.)

Most are common sense, though - don't interrupt someone's scene, don't touch people without permission, clean up after yourselves, don't talk loudly in the play area, don't run with scissors, etc

Many of the groups that meet in public places (bars or restaurants) prohibit fetish wear and gear (no handcuffs on your belt, no collar with a leash). In most of these types of groups, strict protocol (you must call dominants sir or ma'am) is not observed. It's just a gathering of people with a common interest.

Some more private gatherings DO observe strict protocols. This can range from calling dominants sir and ma'am and asking permission to speak to requiring that submissives be naked and must kneel in the presence of a dominant.

But these things are made clear when you join a group or enter a dungeon, and if the rules are not to your liking, you're free to leave.
posted by desjardins at 9:52 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least twice over the last year, you've acted like enough of an ass towards me in MeTa that the mods have privately asked you to knock it off.

I'm sorry, how exactly do you know what conversations the mods and I have privately had?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 AM on March 23, 2012


You guys are being seriously annoying by continuing to pursue this.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


desjardins: "You guys are being seriously annoying by continuing to pursue this."

Oh, no worries. I'm done here.
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on March 23, 2012


Right, so you're going to hurl accusations, say you have knowledge of private conversations and then leave. Nice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:30 AM on March 23, 2012


Brandon: you need to leave this alone. If you need to follow up with us via the contact form, please do, but we've politely asked you to wind this down and it's getting out of hand.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:56 AM on March 23, 2012


Is there the degree of consensus that a lot of comments certainly imply? If so, where is the rulebook, and who writes it?

BDSM-3 is considered the first complete guide, and BDSM-4 was a full revision completed in the late 70s. DSM-5 is not without controversy and some places are still using BDSM-4 despite its classification of latex and rubber use as pathological.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:00 AM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Brandon: you need to leave this alone. If you need to follow up with us via the contact form, please do, but we've politely asked you to wind this down and it's getting out of hand.

Zarq publicly brought up knowledge of private conversations, so if anyone would care to detail what the story is there, that's great. If not, we'll just leave it hanging in the air.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on March 23, 2012


What the hell: Scientist, et al., I retract my criticisms. If you feel this is something the community needs to address, there are worse ways than to do so in a thoughtful MeTa post. Last night, I took this to be an act of something like grandstanding or personal axe-grinding, but I'm going to opt for the more charitable reading. It's a beautiful day outside and the world needs less, not more, GRAR.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:21 AM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Forktine: That is brilliant and makes so much sense. To extend the analogy even further - a lot of people own dogs irresponsibly, but you don't need to be part of a kennel club or take your dog to the best obedience school to be a good dog-owner. There's a big middle-ground. Most dog-owners probably just read up a bit, some of the nerdier ones may read some blogs about dog-ownership when they first get a dog. But it's mostly common sense and being responsible.

Of course, the big difference is that there's nothing taboo about having a dog, so you can just ask your coworker or family members who have dogs for advice, which isn't really socially acceptable or advisable with BDSM.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 11:29 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if you breed pet spiders? I bet a lot of people would be squicked out by that.
posted by desjardins at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zarq publicly brought up knowledge of private conversations

When someone contacts us about problems with another user we usually say some variant of "We'll talk to them about it" if we think what they're talking about needs addressing byy us. We do not discuss details. We will also say "That is a thing we have talked to them about" and it's the same thing. You and zarq need to leave each other alone, basically, because this is a weird thing the two of you get into. You can contact us via the contact form if you need to discuss this further. We're not going to discuss it further in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:01 PM on March 23, 2012


I find it a little disconcerting that the bdsmers in this thread are not really addressing the issues raised by the fpp - that abuse is frequent in the community. It's almost like you are trying to whitewash it.
posted by yarly at 1:19 PM on March 23, 2012


Yarly, I don't really think this thread is intended to be directly related to that thread. It's still open and there are BDSMers of people talking about abuse there.

Is there something in particular that you would like to see addressed and which isn't really being talked about on the FPP? Honestly, I think the FPP would be a better place for that discussion, but if there's something you'd like to ask BDSMers about abuse in the community, why not just ask?
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


TIL...a lot.
posted by radioamy at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, we can address it if you want. My own experience suggests that creeps are definitely drawn to the BDSM community, although they're still a minority and there are plenty more non-creepy people drawn to it. There are corners of the community that do pretty well at self-policing and driving out the creeps, and there are other corners of the community that do a lousy job at self-policing and end up full of creeps and abusers. "The BDSM Scene" isn't a monolithic thing.

Unfortunately, when you find a corner of the scene that is giving abusers a comfortable place to hang out, there isn't always much you can do about it other than walk away and loudly warn your friends. The trouble is that there's no law against being a shitty, badly organized, badly self-policed BDSM organization. Clubs can admit whoever they want, and "You guys suck ad deciding who should be a member" isn't an enforceable complaint. Actual abuse is totally illegal of course. But being an organization that tends to attract abusers is still perfectly legal. As tempting as it is to say, "God damn, that one club has had like five scandals in a row with new members who turned out to be rapists! Let's just declare the whole organization to be skeezy and incompetent and shut them down!", you can't actually do something like that.

I hope I don't sound like I'm making excuses for the shitty corners of the scene that are full of creeps. I actually find the whole situation really upsetting and I wish there was an easy solution. But there isn't one. The best we can do is work for gradual improvement: stay away from the shitty corners, warn our friends about them, educate new folks so they know how to recognize a bad situation when they wander into it, and give our support to the corners of the scene that do do an okay job of protecting people against abuse.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think abuse in the BDSM community is structured just like abuse in any voluntary affiliation community--a university, a church, the military. Predators rely on the "circle the wagons" nature of the community for protection. Cf. Jerry Sandusky.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:22 PM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would like to know how two people who are into BDSM recognise this in one another when they meet (in a bar, or wherever). Or do you have to enter The Scene to find a willing partner?
posted by Omnomnom at 4:26 PM on March 23, 2012


Chatting, jokes, innuendo, drunken confessions, talking about movies they like (I haven't seen "Secretary", but apparently it's a good marker), discussing music videos, all manner of things. Plenty of kink-liking folks find each other without showing up at Munches. Certainly, these days, modest levels of kink are more mainstream than they used to be, so it's easier to find ways to talk about it, I think. "Like that outfit in that video for $SONG - quite a dominatrix outfit. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Kind of appealing if the circumstances are right." "I'm so looking forward to the new season of Mad Men. I love all that vintage styling -- all it needs are those ads where the husband is spanking his wife. ... Um. Ahem."
posted by rmd1023 at 5:08 PM on March 23, 2012


You know this askme, Omnomnom? Often it's a bit like that. A lot depends on exactly what kinks are involved. Some are more common than others. Generally, the less common yours are, the more likely it is that The Scene (or at least the internets) will be the easiest route to people whose interests are relevant to your interests.
posted by clavicle at 5:12 PM on March 23, 2012


I would like to know how two people who are into BDSM recognise this in one another when they meet (in a bar, or wherever). Or do you have to enter The Scene to find a willing partner?

This comes up every so often as a question in AskMe. Personally I think it is partly phermonal, or body language maybe, something below the level of active thinking, as well as all the innuendo and discussion that rmd1023 mentions, at least for the basic sorting into categories like submissive/dominant. I've never hit the bedroom and had myself or the other person be hugely surprised in a "woah, you want to be on top?" kind of way, and I can't remember ever discussing it explicitly before hooking up.

But that's for basic submissive/dominant sorting (or for the kind of relationship that the person in the question clavicle links to is looking for); I suspect that it is different for people with really specific things they are looking for and for desires that are further out of the mainstream. And of course there are online personals, just like for everyone else, where you can be as specific about your interests as you want to be.
posted by Forktine at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2012


I think abuse in the BDSM community is structured just like abuse in any voluntary affiliation community--a university, a church, the military. Predators rely on the "circle the wagons" nature of the community for protection. Cf. Jerry Sandusky.

There's more than just "circle the wagons" to protect abusers under these circumstances. There's also the fact that whether something is abuse or just part of usual practice is not obvious to a third party observer. Jerry Sandusky, really? Is that the kind of line-crossing some of us outsiders are suggesting can get blurry, where in order to determine what's really going on there we have to know everyone's preferences and boundaries?

The more the physical manifestations of a healthy relationship mimic the physical manifestations of an unhealthy relationship, the harder it is to discern between the two. Yes, intimate partner violence is under-prosecuted, partly because we accept a lot of practices that we shouldn't. But you can't just hand-wave away the increased difficulty of discerning where BDSM shades into abuse, by saying, oh, plenty of rape isn't prosecuted anyway. How much more so, if bruises are not necessarily evidence of abuse; if signs that you were being choked aren't evidence of rape?

Personally I dread the notion that increasing awareness and acceptance of BDSM would mean that "she said she was into rough sex" might become a viable defense on a rape charge, rather than something near-universally recognized as rank bullshit. I'd prefer a world where if you leave bruises on someone, that's evidence of abuse/rape, period, and if they decide to turn on you, you're going to jail. I'd rather BDSM enthusiasts put themselves at voluntarily greater risk of prosecution than the vast majority of potential rape victims put ourselves at involuntarily greater risk of not being protected against violence.
posted by palliser at 7:27 PM on March 23, 2012


The more the physical manifestations of a healthy relationship mimic the physical manifestations of an unhealthy relationship, the harder it is to discern between the two.

Not for the people involved.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:58 PM on March 23, 2012


palliser: Personally I dread the notion that increasing awareness and acceptance of BDSM would mean that "she said she was into rough sex" might become a viable defense on a rape charge, rather than something near-universally recognized as rank bullshit.

And this is why I'm glad we have this Meta!

palliser, not everyone under the BDSM umbrella, which is HUGE umbrella, are into leaving marks on their partners! People often focus on the Sadomasochism subset and assume that it is much more prevalent than it is, or that those who are into this subset are actually rapists/abusers in disguise. That's just not the case.

But I'm not going to deny that rapist, abusers and potential victims could be in "the scene", because they exist everywhere in the world.

I think that more education and acceptance of BDSM would make the abusers or rapists LESS likely to use that "rough sex" defense and get away with it, though.

If you really understand that there is supposed to be agreement between partners about consent and boundaries and built-in safeguards, like safe words or "red" and "yellow" to protect you before anything physical happens, then you know you shouldn't engage with someone who ignores those practices.

And if someone was raped, and went into court, and the judge and the jury and the lawyers all understood that those safeguards are supposed to be there, then a rapist arguing that "she liked it rough" would not be any more acceptable a defense than it is now. The victim consenting to bruises does not in any way mean that she consented to sex and vice versa.

Abuses do occur under that BDSM umbrella, of course. I think Creepy Dom(me) syndrome is a thing that happens. I believe it also has a counterpart, Low Self Esteem Sub.

But I also see these two roles played out outside the community, too. I see this especially in teenagers who desperately want to partner up with someone and put up with jealousy, drama, possessiveness and cheating instead of choosing to be alone. That's not a BDSM thing, that's a universal thing.

So I think, if anything, more education is better. I'm a big believer that consensual sex means INFORMED consent. Seeing these teens makes me appreciate how important it is to be both physically and mentally healthy when it comes to sexual relationships, and by that I mean feeling confident to exercise your right to consent OR NOT to anything based on your own comfort level, and have that right respected.

I think that's good for every sexual situation, BDSM or not.
posted by misha at 9:32 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally I dread the notion that increasing awareness and acceptance of BDSM would mean that "she said she was into rough sex" might become a viable defense on a rape charge, rather than something near-universally recognized as rank bullshit.

I would actually argue that the lack of understanding about BDSM now leads to this very future you dread. Look at Rihanna. Some people who know nothing about BDSM say that she obviously was ok with Chris Brown beating her up because whips and chains excite her. Maybe if people understood more about consensual BDSM, they would understand that it's actually a completely different thing from partner violence.

And honestly, as a submissive woman, it kind of freaks me out to think that if I were sexually assaulted, my attacker might try to use a jury's ignorance and my well-established interest in rough sex as a defense, or that the DA might decide that I'm not a "clean enough" victim.

But you can't just hand-wave away the increased difficulty of discerning where BDSM shades into abuse, by saying, oh, plenty of rape isn't prosecuted anyway.

I've heard a crapton of rape minimization and justification in my day, but I have never heard anyone say anything like that. That's horrific.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 11:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a friend whose job it is to prosecute sex offenders. She seems to think there's a pretty clear difference - both functionally and legally - between rape and consensual kinky sex.

And, again, there's a huge amount of stuff that falls under the label "bdsm". This ranges from "I like to get tied up and hit and end up with welts on my back" to "I like to pretend to be a dog and crawl around on all 4s playing fetch" to "I like to use hypnosis to help enhance fantasies" to "I like to wear lots of rubber and a gas mask while having otherwise-vanilla sex" to "I like to set people on fire (and put them out very shortly after)" to "well, we generally have sex whenever he wants but I say 'no' and stop stuff I don't want to do" to stuff that, honestly, I can't even imagine offhand. It's not all "let's leave bruises."
posted by rmd1023 at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2012


The "rough sex" defense has been in use for a long, long time (see the Preppy Murder trial).

It gets to the point where you end up partially blaming women who like being bruised for the police/DA not taking spousal abuse or rape of women seriously, and I am not okay with that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:36 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Makes sense, thanks!
posted by Omnomnom at 6:09 AM on March 24, 2012


I've heard a crapton of rape minimization and justification in my day, but I have never heard anyone say anything like that. That's horrific.

You're referring to my statement that "you can't just hand-wave away the increased difficulty of discerning where BDSM shades into abuse, by saying, oh, plenty of rape isn't prosecuted anyway." Well, that is how I interpret a statement that was made right here in this thread, as minimizing the difficulties in prosecuting BDSM-shading-into-abuse/rape by saying that all rapes are under-prosecuted:

I think it's accurate that many law enforcement personnel's lack of information/active misinformation about BDSM might well hamper them in the investigation of rape and other assault and abuse that occurred within a BDSM context, but it's not like law enforcement personnel are all that great about investigating rape and other sexual assault and abuse in the non-BDSM context in the first place.

That is pretty dismissive of a legitimate concern.

The "rough sex" defense has been in use for a long, long time (see the Preppy Murder trial).

Yes, that's what I was thinking of as the case where all right-thinking people considered it to be rank bullshit. He pled guilty.

And if someone was raped, and went into court, and the judge and the jury and the lawyers all understood that those safeguards are supposed to be there, then a rapist arguing that "she liked it rough" would not be any more acceptable a defense than it is now. The victim consenting to bruises does not in any way mean that she consented to sex and vice versa.

You say this like it's possible to discern exactly what happened in a court of law. It's not. That's why I prefer the bright line of "injuries = rape, if that's what she says it was," and the risk of that assumption being wrong falls on the people who did the injuring. I don't want to introduce a whole second line of inquiry, after the medical exam shows injury, as to whether the injuries were themselves consensual. Any extra line of inquiry is an extra chance to plant doubt.

I think I'm repeating the same thought, but just in more direct response to others, so at this point I'm going to go do something else.
posted by palliser at 6:55 AM on March 24, 2012


palliser: You say this like it's possible to discern exactly what happened in a court of law. It's not. That's why I prefer the bright line of "injuries = rape, if that's what she says it was," and the risk of that assumption being wrong falls on the people who did the injuring.

I'm not convinced that checking for injuries is a particularly good metric - lots of rape doesn't necessarily involve physical injury...
posted by Dysk at 7:10 AM on March 24, 2012


Like Dysk says, injuries are not the key metric in many acquaintance/date/partner rapes, for example. Stranger/violent rapes are a minority of actual rapes, for all that they dominate our conceptions of what is rape.
posted by Forktine at 7:56 AM on March 24, 2012


I don't want to introduce a whole second line of inquiry, after the medical exam shows injury, as to whether the injuries were themselves consensual.

I guess my confusion is your assumption that this doesn't already happen or that this hasn't already occurred to attorneys and policemen because I can assure you, it has, and it is an injustice.

I don't know if I'm reading you wrong, but your comments seem to be assuming that people who practice BDSM have some sort of lobbying power or ability to change the way that rape and domestic violence are seen in the US, and that's just not something I've seen, at all. If I sound dismissive it is because there are just so many other problems with the justice system, with the way that rape and domestic violence are treated in our society, and it sounds a bit like "well if it weren't for these people having kinky sex, the patriarchy would take women seriously" and to me that just doesn't seem to be true.

In the course of introducing a few people to techniques and practices that tend to leave marks I have been very careful about letting them know that they are taking a legal risk in doing so and to choose their partners wisely--both for their benefit and the benefit of their partner. I specifically mentioned active consent in the Fetlife group for people who are on Metafilter because it's really important to me.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the young rope-rider pretty much speaks my mind on this.

I do see why this is a concern. If I were accused of rape, I would have the option of using "No, see, she just likes it rough" as part of my defense. And that sucks. I honestly don't like the idea of having that option. I wish I lived in a world where I wouldn't have that option — where the lawyers and the judge and jury and the media all just took it as common sense that of course the victim's sexual history was irrelevant in a rape trial.

And if the goal of palliser's posts here is just to call male tops' attention to this aspect of male privilege, then I'm all for that.

But I get the sense we're being told that we as kinky people — and we alone — need to do something about this, to make this aspect of male privilege go away. And it's not really that simple. If we eliminate this aspect of male privilege within the kink community, it won't be by making local changes within the kink community. It will be by attacking male privilege more generally, in mainstream and non-mainstream culture, and by changing cultural attitudes about sex and gender across the board. That's a really important project for everyone to be working on. But it's not something it makes sense to throw in the kink community's lap and say "you fix this."

I hope I'm not misunderstanding, and I hope someone will correct me if I am. These are important issues, and it's rare in my experience for kinky people to get a chance to discuss them in a non-"fuck you! no, fuck you!" way with people outside the community.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:36 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that is how I interpret a statement that was made right here in this thread, as minimizing the difficulties in prosecuting BDSM-shading-into-abuse/rape by saying that all rapes are under-prosecuted:

I'd say that's a pretty uncharitable interpretation of sidhedevil's comment. Yes, it's absolutely true that rape is under-prosecuted, but I don't see the hand-waving.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 11:14 AM on March 24, 2012


I hereby declare this thread to be a free forum for BDSM education.

Since when is this a commonly accepted practice?

I am not a fan.
posted by kinetic at 2:37 PM on March 24, 2012


Are female doms and male subs marginalized in the BDSM community? I used to read Bitchy Jones blog before she stopped posting and she talked a lot about that - about how female desire is often removed from the portrayal of the female doms, about the common argument that it's not "natural" for a woman to be attracted to a submissive male, how pro domes are the primary representation of female domination and that's kind of messed up, and how male submissives are usually portrayed (and often portray themselves) as pathetic, weak, etc instead of hot and female doms are portrayed as just being into it to be cruel to and humiliate guys. Also, the blog Maybemaimed touched on some of the same themes about "entrenched prejudice" against male submissives from the male submissive pov.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:57 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that male submissives benefit from male privilege in a lot of ways so I'm a bit reluctant to buy into some of the narratives about prejudice against them, but yeah, they are often marginalized and they tend to suffer the same discrimination that any male who largely steps outside of gender norms suffers.

Female dominants? I don't know. It's tough to say. There is the assumption that female = submissive and that's irritating. There is a lot of harassment of female dominants from submissive-oriented males as well in terms of inappropriate come-ons.

In terms of pro-doms being the face of female domination, I have mixed feelings--I know a few and a lot of them got into it the same way that someone who is really good at, say, knitting and gets lots of requests starts a successful shop on etsy. They genuinely enjoy it but it's also their job.

I hesitate to generalize too much, because scenes vary quite a bit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:57 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


In most parts of the het kink scene, yeah, the most common pattern is that men are dominant and women are submissive. Some places it gets looked on as the "normal" pattern and not just the most common one, and male-submissive female-dominant couples are seen as weird or undesirable. Other places it's more like "Oh, well, most people do X but some people do Y and that's cool too."

There also tends to be a "surplus" of single straight male subs. Most places have more male subs than there are female doms to play with them. (Why this happens is a complicated question, but it happens almost everywhere.) And in some parts of the scene, this turns into a situation where straight male subs are sort of seen as a nuisance — they show up in droves; they crowd around the handful of dominant women; a few of them get desperate and start trying to badger submissive women into switching for them; a small but especially obnoxious subset of them end up falling into an extreme version of the "nice guy" behavioral trap where, you know, they just want to worship you and cater to your whims and keep you on a huge fucking pedestal all the damn time and how could you possibly not want that?; and upshot is that everyone starts feeling like the whole "male submissive" thing is a colossal pain in the ass. Once that starts happening, it can be a self-perpetuating problem, since dominant women will tend to stop showing up at events where there are likely to be a whole slew of submissive men chasing after them, so the imbalance and resulting frustration just get worse and worse.

A "surplus" of straight dominant men can get just as weird, but I've seen that happen a lot less often. I've really never seen a corner of the het scene where there's a "surplus" of women. Draw your own conclusions from that.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:00 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I used to read Bitchy Jones blog before she stopped posting and she talked a lot about that - about how female desire is often removed from the portrayal of the female doms, about the common argument that it's not "natural" for a woman to be attracted to a submissive male, how pro domes are the primary representation of female domination and that's kind of messed up, and how male submissives are usually portrayed (and often portray themselves) as pathetic, weak, etc instead of hot and female doms are portrayed as just being into it to be cruel to and humiliate guys.

Yeah, femdom porn is all about the male gaze and many guys (I'm monogamous with my husband now) were surprised/disappointed that I didn't scene in thigh highs with 6" heels and a corset. I think femdom porn screws up sub guys more than "regular" porn screws up "regular" guys. Not that all sub guys are screwed up, but so many of them have a skewed perspective on what they're supposed to be and what they imagine I will be. I'm just a regular person that enjoys beating the shit out of men (consenting, obvs.). I like to be bossy and bitchy, I like to be served, but at the end of the day I'm hanging out in my pajamas watching Star Trek.

I think the ratio of female dominants to eligible submissive males is about even, honestly. As anywhere else, the confident-but-not-arrogant guy is in high demand. As anywhere else, the "hi how r u here's a pic of my cock wanna fuck" guy makes up the majority. Weed those out and you're left with largely the same dating pool as the regular world, they just want different things.

People make the mistake of associating submission with low self esteem and that's where the "pathetic" comes in. There's also the trope of the male executive that's powerful by day and likes to be chained up at night. The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle. I've met C-level execs and truck drivers, arrogant dicks and desperate clingy guys. Most are nice, normal guys you see every day. You'd never know my husband was into this stuff (or me) from interacting with us outside of that context.
posted by desjardins at 8:06 AM on March 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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