Category Archives: rant

Stealthing – just what the fuck is this nonsense?

I remember first reading about this on fetlife about a month ago and thinking – that can’t possibly be real, can it?

Just now, I saw an article about it on NBC’s website.

Seriously, what the holy fuck is this nonsense?

Stealthing, in case you haven’t heard about it yet, refers to the act of removing a condom from your dick before you have sex with someone who agreed to have sex with you – with the expectation that you’d be wearing one.

Not only is this completely asinine from a health perspective, deeply disrespectful, and an act of destructive violence against your partner, but since most of the victims of this tend to be women, it is yet another layer of misogynistic bullshit that is being built up by this disgusting culture of selfishness and brutality that is percolating up from the dark hearts of people who look like me and who have had it far too easy for far too long.

I don’t cuss a great deal in my normal life, and I do so even less in print, but seriously, people, what the holy flying fuck is this nonsense?

We finally have a culture – after the oppressive AIDS-scare years of my youth and the puritanical family-first bullshit that followed – we finally now have a culture where sex is beginning to become less a thing of shame and more a thing of connection and joy – like it always should have been – and you assholes are ruining it for everyone.

Cut it the fuck out.

Sex without a condom feels better, sure, but it’s a lot riskier than sex without one for men and it’s orders of magnitude riskier for women – whether they are using a secondary form of birth control or not.

Unwanted pregnancy is probably one of the most horrible things that can happen to a woman.  There are no good choices to get yourself out of that situation, and as a man – you can, and most do, simply walk away and forget about it.  Nevermind the lives that you are ruining – and it won’t just be the mother’s life that you ruin.  Her friends will share her pain, and if she decides to abort, she will have to live with that decision for the rest of her life – and while I have known a few women to get the procedure, I have never known anyone who felt like it was a good thing to have experienced.

The reasons that I have seen some of these pigs give for why they do this are just plain ignorant if not downright chilling.

“It feels better without one.”  Well, yeah, of course it does, but that is the most profoundly selfish thing that I have heard in a long time.

“It’s degrading for the woman, and I like to degrade her – she even likes being degraded.”  Okay.. I’m not really sure how you’re managing to get her to feel degraded for your poor choices and untrustworthiness, but even if that were a valid reason (hint: it’s not) – THAT is not the way to bring degradation into your sex life.  That’s a good way to cause serious harm to you both – and to the other people in your lives.

“It’s not illegal – she already consented to sex.”  Yes, she consented to sex, and yes, it may not yet be illegal, but it only takes one judge to decide that it is and it will be covered under other forms of sexual assault and then you’re going to end up in the national sex offender database… but even if that were not the case, what an idiotic reason to do something?!?  The law is there to protect people from others who would take advantage of them or would act recklessly with the lives and property of others.  There are lots of things that are not illegal but that are still pretty stupid, but this has got to be near the top of that list.  I do things that are both illegal and legal all of the time, but I draw the line at doing things which are immoral – and this is most definitely immoral.

Consent is one of the pillars of our community, but it’s also a foundation for trust, and trust is a required element of any relationship, kinky or not – long term, short term, even just a one-night-stand.

So, just cut this shit out.  It doesn’t make you a big man – it makes you a coward.  Shit.. even the term that people who are perpetrating this bullshit use to refer to it – ‘stealthing’ – is a cowardly term.  It already implies that you are being deceitful.

Don’t be a deceitful coward.  If you are fluid locked with your partner and using another method of birth control and talk about it together – then by all means, don’t use condoms.  But everyone else – you really should be, for your own sake, not just hers.

Don’t be a fucking moron.  Keep the condom on.

I should not have to be telling you this.

  • Rant

The Breaking of Samantha

In the vanilla world there is this developing mythology.. and the concerning thing is that I’m seeing it spilling over into the BDSM world too now, and that is that submissives and other s-types “need to be broken.”

People are not horses, and even those that feel that they are horses probably feel that horses – for whom the term was coined – don’t really need to be ‘broken’.

It’s a pervasive myth though, and I think I know why…

It encourages violence against women and other disenfranchised and dis-empowered peoples.

Oh, shit, I can feel the Domme-rage from here…

Maybe that’s also why it’s such a pervasive myth.

Let’s just be factual here – on a pure numbers basis, there are more female and LGBT people who identify as submissive than as Dominant.  That’s not saying that there aren’t women Dommes or LGBT Dominants, just that they tend to be under-represented when held against the background of cisgendered males in that role.

But just as bad, maybe worse even, is the whole mythology taking the place of that from the quasi-feminist perspective – that “my submission is a gift that should be cherished.”

Bullshit – and anyone who would submit or accept submission under such terms doesn’t really understand what the fuck is going on.

One of the oldest sex clubs in San Francisco is called The Power Exchange, and that terminology is used for a reason.

D/s is not about power transfer, it’s about power exchange.

But hell, even I forget that sometimes.

I don’t know anyone named Samantha – and I’m not trying to break anyone.   submission is something that is given, but it is also something that is taken… it is a shared power that when added together sums to more than the parts.

The spiritual side of D/s gets lost in the haze too often.  The sex appeal is turning it into a game and the ritual is getting lost.

But the spiritual side – that’s where the really terrifying stuff lives.

And the really, awe-inspiringly awesome things are there too.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve personally been able to confront it.

Don’t lose time to the bullshit posturing and misogynistic terminology.  You don’t have to break anyone – it’s a bad word, find something else.  Bond is a good one that comes to mind.

And from the other side – realize that sometimes a voice in support, even if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t look like you – might actually be a voice of support.

This was a rant.

Changing the lexicon – one jaw at a time…

  • Rant

Everything is new again

It’s a new year. I didn’t manage to post anything in January, and if I’m not quick, I’ll miss February too, so I guess I better post something.

It has been an interesting time, hasn’t it?

My personal politics are probably not a surprise to any of my readers, but this is not a political site, and I won’t harp on political issues here, but I am still a feminist and I still hold to my own core values, and when those are being threatened, I speak up.

I did not march in the women’s march in January, but I’d proudly wear a pussy hat any day.

The title of this post is “Everything is new again” and that is true.

We are in a new year, we have a new administration, I have a new job, and I’m about to begin re-engaging with the community in a way that I haven’t for years.

But in many ways, we’re taking a step back.

Scratch that, we’re taking several steps back.

People are people, and each and every one is different. You can’t put people into buckets – they don’t fit and they don’t like it.

I’ve seen the posts by people saying that they’re leaving the country, and while I can understand the sentiment, I think that is slightly cowardly… if you can afford to leave the country, you are not likely to be woefully impacted by the present administration – in fact, if you are someone who can afford to leave the country, you’ll probably benefit from staying right here.

I’ve seen the posts by people saying that they’re going to stand up and stay home and fight. That is what I plan to do.. but remember people, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve donated money to the Red Cross in the past, and while I still believe that they are a worthy charity to donate to, I think I am going to be a bit more focused with my money and time this year – and next year, and the next year, and the year after that.

And here’s to hoping that it won’t be (as) necessary after that.

  • Rant

Chemical Control

I am a Dom.  Sometimes I don’t act very Dom-like though, and for the past several months, I’ve been out of control and very rarely Dominant.

The essence of Dominance is Control – control of yourself, control of your environment, control of the scene, control of your submissive.  That is the order and hierarchy that the world should adhere to from the perspective of the Dom in me.  Rant’s rules, distilled to the control elements…

But lately, I have NOT been the one in control – the demons in my mind have been controlling me and therefore everything else in that chain – including my saint of a poor submissive girlfriend.  The fact that she stayed with me through all of this is something for which I shall always be grateful and never fully understand.

But let’s back up a bit…

I live in the United States.  California, to be exact, and the San Francisco Bay Area – which is more tolerant than other places in this country, but we still lag behind in a few areas and one of those is that there is still a stigma attached to mental disorder.  People still seem to think that if you are diagnosed as bipolar or depressed or with general anxiety disorder that there is something fundamentally wrong with you and, perhaps more insidiously, that there is something dangerous about you.

To a certain extent these fears have a basis in reality… as I have personally come to learn in the past several months. But more importantly, these sorts of preconceived notions can affect how one perceives such things, even when one has personal experience.

I have battled depression, and recently, anxiety as well.

I knew the demons of depression, and that was part of the problem with this most recent bout of anxiety.  Anxiety and depression look and feel very different, and yet they can cause a lot of the same sorts of symptoms and problems.

When I was controlled by depression, I wanted to kill myself.  I was overwhelmed with the world and I just couldn’t see any way past the horrible realization that everyone I loved would be better off without me dragging them down.  I was despondent and in pain and sometimes even just breathing seemed to be too much effort.  I wanted out and I could see no other way.

Fortunately for me, I was strong enough to recognize that suicide is ultimately an extremely selfish act, and I chose not to be so selfish and got help.  I pulled out of my depression and I thought that I was cured.

I’ve always been neurologically atypical, but it never even occurred to me that I was suffering from anxiety.  I was stressed out and I couldn’t sleep and I was irritable and short to anger and couldn’t concentrate and had all of the other hallmarks of severe general anxiety disorder, but I was sure that I was “just a little stressed” or that once the current crisis abated that things would get back to normal in short order.

But that was masking the problem.  The current crisis always gave way to the next.  And that’s just how life is.  Life is not easy, and if you let every issue balloon out to the point of crisis, you will be fire-fighting all of the time.  There is no shortage of crises to be found anywhere nowadays.

I started fighting with my girlfriend – daily.  We fought about everything and nothing at all.  We spiraled into the same patterns, over and over again.

But never did it even occur to me that I was the problem.

Even that statement isn’t really fair – the problem wasn’t me, the problem was that I was unable to cope with the level of anxiety that I had in my life.   Once again, I was overwhelmed, but this time instead of forcing that inward and causing myself to be depressed, I pushed it out into the world around me, and I lashed out at the people I loved.  I shut out all emotions and I pushed everything and everyone away.

My girlfriend tried to get me to get help.  And I even went along with it, but I didn’t try very hard.  I saw a doctor and I told him what was going on in the broadest of terms and when he told me that I just needed to deal with it, I took that in stride and just figured that I was facing daily stress like we all do and that better time management or organization would help me.

But no amount of organization or time management can fix a broken mind.

As the anxiety got worse, my symptoms did as well.

I got delusional.

I stopped sleeping almost entirely.

I lost the ability to concentrate, even for minutes at a time.  If not for the reputation that I have developed at work, I would have been fired several times over for being behind in my duties or just plain failing to get things done, and the more I failed to get done, or the more behind I would get, the more anxious I would become.

I felt like I was failing at everything.

I can recall many conversations with my therapist or my girlfriend where I said, “I’m failing at everything,” but it was never enough to clue me into the real problem.

My friends and even my family would tell me that I needed to get help, but I was sure that I knew better.

“I know what depression feels like, and this is not that.” – I would tell them.  And I was right, but I was completely missing the point, it wasn’t depression that was sidelining me, it was something else entirely.

Of course, it took things getting really horrible before I actually took the steps that ameliorated the problem.  My body started objecting in the most amazing ways…

My blood pressure went off the charts…  I’d started dropping a lot of weight.  I was sweating like crazy – so much that even the skin on my palms was beginning to peel…  but even that was not enough.  I didn’t go back to a psychiatrist until I had a panic attack.

I was driving on surface streets and had a panic attack and failed to move when the light changed.  People in cars around me honked and leaned out their windows to yell at me and flip me off and I still couldn’t move.

Eventually I was able to begin breathing again and moved my car.  I got home and resolved right away that I needed chemical help for my anxiety.

I found a new doctor (who is pretty amazing, actually) and started a new treatment program and now, three weeks in, I am in control of myself once again.

The difference is as stark as day and night.

Just a few weeks ago, I doubt very much that I could have managed even to sit still long enough to read a blog post of this length, much less actually write it.

The last time I was taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, I was worried that I was going to be stuck on them for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t.

I may be on the new meds that I am taking now for years to come, but I don’t care one whit…. I am in control again, and it feels good.

Back at the helm.

I am Rant.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Well, not really.  First of all, she’s not a witch and secondly, her health is fine, but I’m leaving my horrible job and my horrible boss and moving on to a different startup that is founded and run by people that I know and respect.  It’s a massively good thing and I feel like yelling something upbeat and, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” feels about right.

The past several months have been difficult for me.  The only time that I have made for my blog is to answer the direct questions of readers who email me directly.  I need to do better than that, and now that I feel like I have a little more mental and emotional capacity, I plan to do just that.

I’m skipping Nanowrimo this year, and because I’m starting a new job and there are other life changes in the works that require my attention, I’m probably not going to really make any major commitments to writing or anything else in the short term, but this is massively good news for me and everyone in my life.

I’m beginning yet another new chapter – and this one feels really good.   New places, new expectations, and a chance to start again where I’ve not been ‘outed’ and can be seen for the merit of what I know and do instead of what I do in my private life.

FinDommes

The nature of Dominance is not always an obvious thing – even to me.

Preface: This is a post that I started and didn’t finish from about two months ago.  The information is still valid, but the email that I reference is pretty old at this point.  Caveat lector.

I recently received an email from a very intelligent reader who did not specify his gender, so I apologize if my use of male pronouns is inappropriate, but I’m going to continue to refer to this reader as ‘him’ for expediency’s sake.

He asks me, “Is this FinDomme for real? I’m really thinking about this and I don’t know how to stop myself.  Is this for real?  What should I do?”

I’m not really sure how to respond to such a request.  I can’t claim that I didn’t know that financial Domination was a kink for some people, but I’m not sure that I can bring myself to endorse it.

I know that “your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay” is a huge part of the open philosophy that I love about the kink community so much, but this may be one case where I have to reserve my views.

I’m not sure that I think that financial Dominance – especially in the form being peddled by the young lady in the link that I won’t echo here – is okay.  I don’t judge her.  She is extremely honest about what she intends to do.  She explicitly states that she wants someone – very clearly intended to be a wealthy older male figure – to give her total financial control of his life, and that once she has this, she intends to completely ruin him.  There is a great deal of camouflaged language that follows which seems to indicate that this financial control would also entitle one to sexual favors, but even that is very clearly secondary to the stated and intended purpose of financial ruin and humiliation.

I have been involved at some level in the kink world for almost two decades and learned that there is quite literally a kink for everything and that there is always, always, someone who will subscribe enthusiastically to that kink, and yet, even after all of the things I have experienced or seen, I have a really hard time believing that there is someone out there who wants to be financially ruined like this person is advertising, and like one of my readers is considering.

My problem – and it may just be a personal problem for me – is that I can’t see how this is a good thing for the person being Dominated.

D/s relationships are, by their very nature, stilted.  They’re not equitable.  They’re not equal partnerships, and they’re not intended to be, but there is still some level of balance.

One can, and probably should, argue that every true TPE relationship is a financial Domination, and that might be true. but there is a huge difference between controlling something and destroying something.

My own personal philosophy, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that I always try to leave every interaction I have with people such that they are in some way better than they were when I first found them.  I’m human, and I don’t always succeed in this.  I’m sure some of my former friends and exes would probably start fuming if they were to read this, but I actually do try to do the best I can in this regard.  I value friendship highly, and I try to always help and support my friends, but D/s takes this even further.

I regret to say that I cannot, with absolute certainty, claim that every submissive that has been under my thumb left our interactions in a better state than she began them, but I do know that I’ve done more good than harm, and I’ve tried to ameliorate any issues of which I am aware and able.

I do have remain friends with some of my exes and some of my former subs, so I know that I’ve managed to keep things positive at least most of the time.

So – with that in mind – I cannot see how this could possibly be a good thing for at least one of the participants in this arrangement.

If you go over things with a fine enough resolution, you can probably find something that is being satisfied by such a relationship, and if you have an itch that needs scratching, you could say that finding someone to scratch it for you is a good thing, but again, I have to think about the relative magnitudes of these things.  While my reader may be getting some deep seated psychological need fulfilled – temporarily – by this sort of arrangement, the implied consequences are far from temporary.

Bankruptcy is a horrible thing.

Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to go through it, but I have been destitute at one time, and while I do not necessarily believe that it is required for us to have material possessions to be happy, I do believe that having our primary survival needs met is absolutely critical to our wellbeing, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.   In the society that I live in, not having access to any money at all would be a severe impediment to at least two of these needs – food and shelter.

I can see how a relationship where the Dominant partner controls all aspects of the submissive partner’s finances would be appealing.  In fact, I’ve been in such relationships myself, on both sides of that particular coin, and I don’t believe that the experience was damaging to any party involved, but this particular situation differs a bit.  The FinDomme in question is not offering to take ownership of this person and care for him – as I have done and had done for me in the past – but instead is explicitly stating that she will financially ruin and embarrass this person, leaving them completely on their own with no resources and no recourse.

I cannot recommend such a thing.

D/s is a journey.  I believe that more strongly now than ever.  It is, however, a journey that one must undertake with much forethought and preparedness.  It is not a thing to engage in lightly and there are no shortcuts.

Sure, you can do a short scene or incorporate elements of D/s into your kinky fuckery and leave off with a lot of the more profound considerations, but in so doing you are only scratching the surface of the possible.  To get the profound D/s experience that it seems most of my readers are seeking, you have to commit yourself, body and mind, time and energy, and give it real attention.

I suspect that the reader who wrote me is trying to shortcut some of these things – by signing over his assets, he is creating an instant and binding relationship that goes far beyond the ordinary.  Most vanilla marriages include at least some aspect of separate finances, or at least some kind of equitable scheme through which both partners are able to make purchases of necessary and everyday items.  Under the sort of scheme this young lady is trying to proffer, her finsub would not even have the ability to purchase food or pay rent.

And then again, maybe there is just a kink element to it that I can’t understand…

State of the blog

I’ve been maintaining this blog for a year now.  Sometimes it seems much longer, sometimes it seems less, but the reality is that it’s been a year since my first entry (even though I deleted my first entry..) and I’ve been able to manage at least a post or two a month since then.  Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it’s been one of the ways that I’ve kept writing, and I think that writing is a very important part of who I have become.

In that first month, I had only a few page visits per day, most of which were probably me.

In the months that followed, my readership has gone up dramatically, which I’m not entirely certain how to process.  I’m getting thousands of hits per week now, and hundreds per day at seemingly random intervals.  One might think that it’s tied to when I post new entries, but that seems to not be the case all of the time.  Yes, I get a bit of a spike each time I post something new – I guess I can thank rss feeds for that – but I get an even bigger spike whenever Autumn posts something new at servingmaster.com, which I still find amusing and heart-warming at the same time.  And yet, my best day ever seems to not correspond with either of those events, it was just a random Thursday where my site got several hundred hits for no reason that I can think of, but I’m certainly not upset about it.

One of my friends suggested that I should start putting up ads, but I have no desire whatsoever to do that.  I did not begin this as a money-making venture, and I have no need of the couple hundred dollars a month I could make from serving ads here.

Another friend suggested that I should write a book and promote it through the site.  That is something that might someday do – I’ve got several unpublished and unfinished books on my hard drive that could use some attention, but even that seems an unlikely goal when I barely manage to write new entries for the blog itself.

However, all of this aside, one thing I can say about the past year is that I’ve enjoyed the experience and that I have no plans of stopping any time soon.

This is a wordpress site (which should be obvious) and wordpress gives me a bunch of interesting statistics about the site, my visitors, etc.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that most of my page views in the past year have come from referer links on the servingmaster.com site.  However, in the past few months, the number of people coming to my site from Autumn’s has been eclipsed by those coming from google and I seem to also get quite a lot of folks from yahoo.

Even more interesting is the fact that wordpress collates the search terms that lead people to my site.

Back when I first started this site, I did a series of posts that I called ‘unasked questions’ because they were topics related to BDSM that I felt strongly about and that I know many if not most newbies struggle with, but I hadn’t really achieved the sort of penetration that led to people actually asking me questions in email the way that they do now.

It seems that most of the search terms that people use to find my site are about these pages, and oddly, some of them are questions that I have not yet answered, so this year I’m making a pledge to do so.

The top search terms that led people to my site:

  1. limmerent submissive

This is kind of interesting.  This term has led people to my blog more than any other word or phrase for which people can search.  It makes some sense… I mean, I put ‘One Dom’s views on life, love, and limerence’ as the ‘mission statement’ for my blog when I created it, and my third (or fourth, if you happened to be one of the three people that saw my very first entry before I deleted it) blog entry is, itself, a story of my own limerent behavior as a submissive, but look at the word there as I spelled it and then look at the search term.

The search term is a misspelling!

I’ve gone back through my own pages, and I don’t misspell it anywhere that I can see, but somehow, when someone is searching for the misspelled version as above, I must be near the top of the pages that come up – and yet, when I did the search myself, that is not what I found, so this may have to remain a bit of a mystery.

  1. sub drop

This, again, makes sense.  I mention subdrop many times in my entries, and there are quite a few other similar searches that also hit on the same idea: ‘subdrop definition,’ ‘can you have subdrop without a scene,’ ‘sub drop missing your dom,’ ‘when does subdrop happen,’ ‘how to tell your dom you have subdrop,’ ‘ways to avoid sub drop bdsm’ – just to quote a few…

I’ve experienced subdrop.  I’ve witnessed it many times.  I think I address many of these questions already, but just to reiterate:  yes, you can have subdrop without a scene; yes, you can feel subdrop just because you miss your Dom; yes, there are steps that you can take in aftercare and communications to try to stave off subdrop, but no, you probably can’t always completely avoid it altogether if it is something that happens to you; and no, not every sub feels subdrop and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t.

  1. dom rant

This one is kind of self evident, I think.  I’m kind of surprised that so many people are searching for me directly by name though.  It’s flattering, and also a little bit creepy.

  1. doms training submissive

Now this is also kind of interesting.  I have never written an article about training a new submissive.  I’ve been asked to a number of times.  I’ve started such an article a number of times.  I have several unfinished, unpublished entries that tackle this very topic, but I’ve never actually published one.  There are several variants on this one too: ‘is part of a doms training a submissive to ignore them,’ can i punish my sub with her hard limits,’ and ‘training a submissive before a scene’ just to name a few.

I’m not an expert in how to train a submissive, but one of the reasons why I’ve had such difficulty in writing the article that would satisfy this question is that I think it really depends on the submissive – and in situations where I am giving someone else advice on the Dom as well.  I think that each of these interactions is dependent directly on the people involved and the relationship that you want to have with each other.

If I am able to maintain cold objectivity, this is a much easier process for me, but if I become emotionally entangled, and even more so recently than in the past, the whole notion of submissive training becomes one giant clusterfuck for me.

Who then, am I to advise others on this topic?

I still intend to tackle it at some point, but I need to get my own ducks in a row on this concept before I can have any confidence in advising others.

However, there is one question up there that I absolutely want to tackle right here, and right now.

“Can I punish my sub with her hard limits?”

Absolutely not.

That, my friend, is what we call abuse, and I hope that you get the ostracization you deserve for trying such a thing, if not a full court press on the legal issues you expose yourself to with that.

Hard limits are hard limits for a reason.  Respect them or you disrespect the person and yourself and the entire BDSM community.

  1. subspace (or some variant thereof)

I added the ‘or some variant thereof’ bit myself in case that wasn’t apparent.  There are probably more distinct questions about subspace than anything else, but because each question is unique, the results don’t as easily correlate in the wordpress search terms page, I think.  Some examples:  ‘signs of subspace,’ ‘how do I get to subspace,’ ‘subspace bdsm’, ‘subspace mistress,’ ‘can I get to subspace without pain,’ ‘subspace sex,’ ‘how to get someone into subspace,’ ‘finding subspace,’ ‘subspace definition,’ ‘can your dom put you into subspace with a word,’ ‘ways out of subspace,’ ‘‘subspace commander’.

Obviously, that last one there is my favorite.

I talk a bit about subspace, and what it is, and how one might find oneself there, but it’s only really been the focus of one entry, so it’s a bit interesting that it seems to lead people to me so frequently.

Clearly though, it’s a topic of interest to people, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s something that I should probably be spending more time focusing on in my own personal relationship, so I promise to give this topic some more thought and attention in the coming weeks and months.

Is there something that you are interested in reading about that I didn’t discuss here?

Write to me in the comments, or send me an email.  I try very hard to make certain to answer every legitimate email that I get, though they can sometimes get lost in the spam filter, so if I don’t respond, please take that into consideration or use the Contact Me page – since most of those seem to get through.

Thank you for your attention over the past year, and I look forward to more to come.

I am still Rant, and I’m not going anywhere.

 

Things that made me hard

Get your mind out of the gutter – that’s not what I’m talking about here.

On second thought, don’t – I like your mind in the gutter.  This is a pretty sinful website, after all, isn’t it?

Anyway – that really isn’t what I’m wanting to talk about today.

There have been a number of events in my life that affected me and the way that I interact with the world.  These are things that have shaped who I am and how I interact with people, places, and things – but most importantly, people.  These are the things that made me a hard man, that gave me an edge, that continue to give me the gravitas and presence that caused one of my former subs to remark, “you read as DOMINANT from about 1000 paces… I kind of went o.O GAH the first time I saw your photo… and you do the Dom voice.”

The funny thing is, I’m kind of moving away from that nowadays, by choice.

For much of my adult life, I’ve been hard like a brick.  I was strong, with edges that were mostly sharp.  But the thing about a brick is that while it’s very strong, if you pound on it long enough or hard enough, it shatters.

I had a real brick-shattering event a few years back, and it left me broken for awhile, but I learned from it, and with some minor stumbles here and there, I’ve come back stronger than I was before.

It sounds a bit arrogant to my ears, but I’d prefer to think that I’m more like water now.  I seamlessly mold myself to my environment, I resist blunt force, and given time I even tear down mountains.

But it took me a long time to get here.

I grew up in a mostly boring home.  I’m caucasian and have lived in California for my entire life.  My father is an attorney and my mother was a stay-at-home housewife.  We lived in the country, on a horse ranch.  My family always seemed to have minor money troubles. My father had a very feast or famine income stream and he did none of the things that one should do to even out such things, so there were always lean times to contend with, but my biggest worries as a young child were never about the necessities of life.  I was fed, clothed, housed, and had adequate medical care.

And yet, I suffered a bit from the problems that are endemic to that sort of life.  My father was absent most of the time.  Even when he was physically present, the power imbalance and lack of communication between my parents made him emotionally distant and my mother lived with a siege mentality.  Her livelihood depended absolutely on this man who was extremely cold, mostly absent, and who derived more enjoyment from his relationships outside of the marriage than with my mother and it terrified her.  She lived in a constant state of fear that he would leave her, and assumed that every relationship that he had with any other woman was a sign of infidelity.  While I don’t know that was ever actually the case, he did eventually leave her, so I could go off on a tangent on the topic of whether or not that was causal or predictive, but I don’t have enough information to talk about it and don’t really care.

I have a sister, and while my strategy to deal with early life hazards and isolation was to take up the family banner and try to show the world that we were a successful family unit – she took the opposite approach, as one might expect.

To borrow from psychology, in the dysfunctional family archetypes, I was the Hero, and she was the Scapegoat.  I did my best to excel in everything, and I achieved most of my goals.  She refused to compete and drew all of the attention she could by acting out and getting into trouble.

And, as the popular adage goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” and she was certainly a great deal more squeaky than I was.  Despite my accomplishments, within the family I tried to stay mostly invisible, but one can never completely hide from family (or relationship) dysfunction.

On the eve of my first wedding, my father met with me one-on-one and told me that I was a mistake – my mother was not meant to become pregnant when she did, and I was responsible for the misery that followed my father for the rest of his life.  I forced him to abandon his dreams and to instead do the responsible thing and ‘settle down.’

As if this were not enough of a blow on its own, I further led the discussion into tones of denigration when I asked him why he gave so much more attention to my sister than he did to me, and his response was roughly, “You have such a bloated ego of your own, I figured you didn’t need any praise from me.”

Perhaps I can forgive him for failing to recognize how my outward appearance was compensating for a lack of true personal confidence, but to use diction like that with your own child seems to be pretty inexcusable to me.  When he told me, “…you didn’t need any praise from me,” what I heard was, “you don’t deserve any praise from me.”  This is a notion that I do still have trouble with even today, but being aware of it takes most of the strong away.

Parents out there – do not make this mistake, please.  I strive to be certain that I encourage my own children without turning them into narcissists, but I also try very hard to remember that even as young children, the face that they show to the world, the face that they sometimes show even to me, does not always represent their true emotional state.  Children are much better at developing and showing these false fronts than even adults can be.  Love is the currency that they trade in, not dollars.

My father told me that I was a mistake and an egotist and that I didn’t need him so he didn’t either want or need me.  This wasn’t exactly a revelation – after all, he’d been showing me this same behavior for my entire life, making me hard, but that act was the kiln that fired the brick that was my personality.

He repeatedly told me, throughout my youth, that I was doing things wrong, and he seemed to want to compete with me ex post facto for all of my academic and athletic achievements.  Everything that I did was compared to something that he did better.  Every time that I would show initiative or innovation, I was told that I was doing things wrong, if only because I didn’t do them his way.

My mother was only slightly better.  She was effusive with her praise of my accomplishments, but she used my success as a lever against the mothers of the children in my peer group.  For every success that one of my friends would have, something that their parents would show pride in, she would rattle off five things that I had done which were superior.  I knew that she loved me, but I felt that love was always conditional.  I had to continue to succeed or I would lose my vaunted place on the pedestal of achievement.

I was loved, as long as I remained ubermensch.

So I learned that love was dependent upon my supremacy.  I could depend on none but myself.  My place in the world was tenuous, apart, aloof, alone, dependent upon factors that I could not directly control, but oh, how I did try to control them anyway…

I was an arrogant prick in the extreme.  I simply refused to acknowledge any event that did not show my superiority.  I would not even try to do something that I didn’t know I would dominate.  I was hard, but brittle, and my need to dominate things was established, for only through controlling every aspect of every interaction could I be certain that I would not need to depend on anyone but myself, and while I was absolutely certain of my ability to handle a small subset of possible interactions, I was completely incapable of handling anything else at all.

Eventually I came to understand how this was affecting my relationships with others.  I had a few sycophant friends who would follow in my wake, lauding me for my superiority in the things that I chose to take part in, as my ego demanded, but I was completely incapable of forming lasting and meaningful relationships with anyone who refused to admit my rightful place at the top of the order.

Is this my version of 50 Shades of Fucked Up?

No, of course not.  That whole notion is a logical fallacy and merely a straw man argument put forward by a woman who does not even really understand the dynamic that she was trying to portray.  I do not share the bilious contempt for her work that many of my peers do, and while I have suffered events in my past that instilled coping mechanisms in me that are not always the most efficient or beneficial, I am also a reasonable and rational human being who can learn from his mistakes, and I do not think that to be a superhuman feat or that it requires finding a naive virginal personality to fix me.

I choose this lifestyle because it is something that works for me, not because I am trying to compensate for some lack of affection in my youth.  The affection may have been lacking, but I’m not trying to solve the problems of my past any longer.  I look to the future and I look to the things that make me happy.  I look to fulfilling my genuine desires, and while those may have been informed by my past, they are not defined by it.

Of course, I am also motivated by my fears or repeating patterns that did not work for me in the past, even when I am rationally assured that the current reality does not match that old situation, and so, life is a learning process.

I’m still building my circle of friends.  People who respect me for who I am and who I want to be, not people who pity me for who I once was or who want to exploit me to achieve their own goals.

And while I may be more malleable than I was in the past, I am stronger for it, and I can accept the adulation and love that I am worthy of receiving.

I’m still hard, but I’m hard in a way that lends strength rather than projects it.  I am secure in myself and I offer that understanding and security to those that I choose to admit into my life.  Together we are so much more than the sum of our parts.  I don’t need people to be complete, but I can offer much to those that wish to join me.

This world has become hard.  In many ways, the world at large is harder and more brick-like than I ever was.  Just the other day I was walking through a mall and I could not help but notice how people treated each other, how strangers reacted to each other.. each unintentional bump was met with extreme vitriol, each interaction between strangers was tense.  As the population increases, and the economic status of individuals continue to stratify, and the stresses on each person increase, the tension that I can feel emanating from people increases dramatically.

Those in this lifestyle who still react to stresses as I once did, those who feel the need to assert their Dominance in every situation… they are becoming more and more obsolete.

I do not think that this is a sea change, and I do not think that I have all of the perfect answers, but I do think that there is strength in malleability.  There is strength in knowing when to remain silent.  There is strength in seeking harmony.

Each generation says of the next that cynicism is encroaching on our values and making us hate more, that the great reckoning or the great race war or the great revolution is coming, and the fact that this motif repeats itself from generation to generation without great upheaval makes it easy to dismiss, but just because a thing is commonly misunderstood does not make it entirely false.

The songwriter Nick Lowe wrote a song in the 70’s that has come to encompass many of my feelings on this idea.  The song itself has been covered many, many times by many, many artists in different genres.  It’s a meme that holds true and that we can all agree with if we take a moment to lose the veneer of strength that we’re attempting to project.  ‘What’s so funny about peace and understanding?’

If you are aspiring Dominant and you are reading this, know that compassion is a show of strength and Dominance.  Know that you prove your worth by reasoned interactions and that while you may some day be required to hold the line, there is strength in knowing where that line needs to be drawn, and letting people in and holding compassion can be stronger than holding people at a distance.

I’m every bit as strong as I ever was – in many ways I’m much stronger – but I am nowhere near as hard as I once was, and I neither need nor want to be.

I usually think that quoting song lyrics in a blog makes for an uninteresting read, but I’m going to violate my own policy here.  Think of it as poetry.. courtesy of Nick Lowe:

 

As I walk on through this wicked world,
Searching for light in the darkness of insanity,
I ask myself, Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

And as I walked on through troubled times,
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes,
So where are the strong?,
And who are the trusted?,
And where is the harmony?,
Sweet harmony

‘Cause each time I feel it slipping away, just makes me wanna cry,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

Trust, But Verify

A friend of mine was recently interviewed by The Atlantic for an article about this thing that we do.

They used very little of what she actually said, which was somewhat disappointing to me,  but if you’d like to read the article, you can find it here and while most of my readers are already well aware of her blog, just in case you are not one of those, you can find it here.

The article was supposed to be about the impact of the 50 Shades movie on the BDSM community, or so I was led to believe, but it turned into a condemnation of Fetlife instead.

I don’t think that the author of The Atlantic piece did a poor job, but I think that perhaps his lack of personal experience in the arena may have made him somewhat blind to the nuance involved.

By way of disclaimer, I should point out that I’m a lifetime supporter and member of Fetlife – in fact, it is the only social networking site of which I am a member, and I have had many good experiences facilitated by that site, but I’m neither a predator nor a potential victim, so much of what they speak about in the article is outside of my experience.  However, there is still the core of the message, which I still support entirely.

BDSM is not a license to be stupid.

There are people who use BDSM as an excuse to commit abuse.  These are not all outliers of the community.  Some of the core people who make up my own local community have engaged in practices that I find somewhat questionable, and I’ve heard accusations about others that I have not personally witnessed.  A person’s standing in the community is not a blanket endorsement by the members of the community and cannot substitute for caution on the part of newbies.  Even if they are wonderful, it is still very possible that your experience with them might not be satisfactory, and if you are not careful, possibly even dangerous.

It’s possible that Autumn will condemn me for what I am about to write, but I doubt it – I know her to be a rational and intelligent woman, and while she may not agree with what I am about to say, I doubt that it will lessen her opinion of me.

I have no doubt whatsoever that abuse does occur within the auspices of BDSM.  However, I understand and actually commend the people at Fetlife for the way that they have handled things – primarily by staying out of the conflicts.

Fetlife is a corporate entity and therefore is legally obligated to be largely blind to anything that is not provable, so they maintain a practice that is not unlike my own faith – in the absence of the provable, I choose to believe nothing – but they differ on some very important points that I will get to after an illustrative example to follow.

Add to this the fact that personal preferences and even the individual desires of a single person can vary greatly for a given time span, and you run into the fact that some interactions between some people are simply always going to be bad and there is very little that can be done to avoid this other than to communicate and negotiate.

For instance, as a completely hypothetical exercise, let us evaluate the following scenario:

 

A Top in the local community is well known to a lot of people, has many friends, is known to be particularly skilled at flogging, is well known for being patient and kind, especially with newbies, and he has had strong D/s relationships with multiple partners over the years, including a few that are currently going on.

Less well known are the personal proclivities of this person – things not shared except in intimate settings: he has a deep desire for anal penetrative intercourse, he likes asphyxiation, he thinks of himself as being able to read emotional and physical cues well and so he doesn’t place a great deal of emphasis on safewords, and he always has sex as part of a scene.

Now we introduce two newbie female bottoms to the mix.

Newbie bottom A becomes involved with the community and learns that our Top might be a good play partner for her first scene.  She has never been flogged, but thinks she might like it, she loves sex, including anal sex.  She has a deep desire to submit and to be used as an instrument of pleasure for her partner, and this, coupled with a desire to experience the sensation-heightening aspects of light pain lead her to believe that she wants an encounter with our Top.

She seeks him out at an event, they talk briefly, and with very little negotiation, agree to a private scene.  She meets him at his home, he takes her to his playroom, they engage in some petting, he binds her and flogs her, getting her into subspace for the first time in her life.  She is euphoric and he decides to extend things by gagging and blindfolding her to which she does not object.  He continues to flog her and she fights against her bindings, moaning and crying as she does so.  He interprets this as a good sign and then proceeds to take things further, having anal and vaginal intercourse with her while she is bound and gagged, sending her into even higher and tighter spirals of ecstasy.  When her thrashing becomes particularly passionate, he chokes her with his hands until she starts to lose consciousness and she immediately calms down as she surrenders and floats in subspace and then he lets go and she lies limp, savoring the experience.

When he is done, he un-gags and unbinds her while she is still floating.  She is euphoric and so is he.  She can barely move with the intensity of the experience that she has just had.  They share some quiet time together after the scene without speaking and then she leaves, believing that she has just undergone a transformative experience and is ecstatic.

 

Newbie bottom B becomes involved with the community and learns that our Top might be a good play partner for her first scene.  She has never been flogged, but thinks she might like it, she loves sex, but has some very deep personal aversions to anal sex.  She has a deep desire to submit and to be used as an instrument of pleasure for her partner, and this, coupled with a desire to experience the sensation-heightening aspects of light pain lead her to believe that she wants an encounter with our Top.

She seeks him out at an event, they talk briefly, and with very little negotiation, agree to a private scene.  She meets him at his home, he takes her to his playroom, they engage in some petting, he binds her and flogs her, getting her into subspace for the first time in her life.  She is euphoric and he decides to extend things by gagging and blindfolding her.  He continues to flog her and she fights against her bindings, moaning and crying as she does so.  He interprets this as a good sign and then proceeds to take things further, having anal and vaginal intercourse with her while she is bound and gagged, causing her to panic and fight against him.  He mistakes this as more of the same sort of euphoric passion and continues to have sex with her.  When her thrashing becomes particularly violent, he chokes her with his hands and she, unable to take any more abuse, begins to withdraw as the violation completely overwhelms her.

When he is done, he un-gags and unbinds her while she is still floating.  She is in shock and nearly catatonic and he is deeply euphoric.  He lies back to savor the experience and she lies there, unable to respond for some time until finally she wordlessly leaves, believing that she has just been raped and abused, while he thinks that things went extremely well.

 

Now – in this scenario, who is right?

You probably have your own opinion, but in my opinion, they are all wrong.

I’m going to momentarily overlook the complete lack of aftercare in this scenario (which is all too common in my opinion) and just talk about the interpretations of the scene itself.

It is convenient to assign blame for the bad experiences to either our Top or even to bottom B here, but in my own personal opinion the issue is not that simple, and turning Fetlife into a yelp-like rating system for Tops (or bottoms) is not going to help because the problem comes down to one of communication and personal preferences.

If you take the prevailing wisdom of the common culture from a few decades ago and apply it to these scenarios, it would tell you that our Top had no ill intent in either case and that the ideal scenario as presented with bottom A is wonderful and that the worst case scenario as presented with bottom B is the bottom’s fault.  She should have understood what she was getting herself into better and the fact that she didn’t object at a time where she could have objected is her own fault.

If we instead take the prevailing wisdom of today’s post-Feminist-revolution society and apply it we see the polar opposite.  The Top is entirely at fault for not explicitly getting permission for his actions at every step with bottom B and is even guilty of abuse in the case of bottom A, because while she enjoyed the experience, he did not fulfill his duty and it was mere happenstance that she felt good about things instead of bad.

Personally, I believe something different.  They’re all at fault for failing to properly communicate and negotiate.

Our Top did not do his duty in communicating up front, and as the more experienced partner, he bears the majority of the burden here.  He should have known better, but he did not intend to hurt anyone and felt that he was in the right all along.  That does not make him right.  He screwed up, to the point of breaking the law and deserves whatever consequences befall him, but if our bottom had been better informed, this scenario would never have occurred.  Our Top is not a predator, he was just criminally negligent.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it until I can’t speak any longer.  The heart of what it is that we do is negotiation and unfortunately people just don’t do enough of it.

The reason that we have contracts and safewords (or other signals when gagged, etc.) is to help ameliorate situations like these.  If you are in scene with me and we didn’t negotiate something in advance, I’m unlikely to try it, but if I do and you don’t like it, I’m counting on you to use your safeword or other signal to cue me to stop.  If you fail to do that and I fail to stop, we are both at fault.  I misread your cues and you didn’t explicitly signal me.  Our lack of pre-negotiation creates a bad experience for us both.

I think I’m an anomaly though and that most people don’t see things the way I do.  People like black and white outcomes.  They like to feel that they are right, and sometimes that has to mean that the other person is wrong.

Fetlife does not have the resources to adjudicate these cases, and therefore they simply refuse to allow their platform to be the battleground, and I believe that is the only viable course of action they have.  That’s what we need to remember.  Yes, there are people at Fetlife.  Yes, there is the Fetlife community itself, and communities are often capable of policing themselves – as they should – but Fetlife is not a community itself, it is a platform that hosts many distinct communities, and unless we want that platform to fail (which I don’t think anyone is suggesting) we have to view it as a what it is.

Fetlife has not failed its users, because Fetlife has no stake in these arguments and they are right to try to remove them from the platform completely.

If you have been abused, you have every right to seek restitution, and you should do that through the channels available to you.  Your own local meatspace community is a good place to start.  Most real-world communities are generally self-policing, and word of mouth can get you ostracized.  You may be the Top in this scenario and may have an encounter turn bad on you despite your intentions, and if that’s the case, you screwed up by not negotiating properly and you deserve the consequences that you receive.  The police might be another good place to go.  Only you can determine whether or not what you experienced is actually abuse, and only you can determine what the proper course of action should be, but Fetlife is a platform for people to engage with each other and is not itself a policing force, nor should it be.

This is all, of course, very complicated, and I’m not a lawyer.

But if I can get one message through to my readers, it is this:  think before you act.

Have an exfiltration plan.

Have a check-in person.

Have a safeword

Negotiate in advance.  Contracts and limits lists are a great way to do this.  Check my earlier posts if you need some examples of these.

This thing that we do is extremely risky – for Tops as well.  Protect yourself.

Trust, but verify.

Distrust gets you nowhere, but misplaced trust can get you hurt, badly.

And the last thing I ever want is for anyone to get hurt.

Fetlife is a tool, and use it for what you will, but remember, no tool, no database of players, no word of mouth reputation, nothing whatsoever can take the place of mindfulness, caution, and good sense.  There is always a first person to be abused – make sure that it isn’t you.

 

Fifty Shades of Fucked Up

The movie adaptation of E L James’s book, 50 Shades of Grey starts tonight at midnight in most parts of this country.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you almost certainly already knew that.

For those that know me, it’s no big surprise that I’m not much of a fan of the series.  I don’t really know anyone who thinks that it an accurate representation of anything, but because it is meant to be entertainment, it does not have to be.

I would like to make it clear, however, that I respect and admire Ms. James despite my opinion on the accuracy or quality of her writing.

I’d like to think that I’m a good writer, but objectively, I’m forced to admit that Ms. James is light years ahead of me in terms of success.  She is a millionaire many times over and I’m, well, not.  She has millions of readers, many of whom are die-hard fans, and I have a few hundred people who read this blog.  She’s a woman with wealth and power.  For those things and others, I actually have a great deal of respect for her.  She has a feel for the pulse of the populace at large, and I’m afraid I’ve become rather specialized.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious problems with her books.  I don’t think she did much fact checking, and it’s pretty clear that her understanding of the BDSM world comes from the point of view of an outsider.  I doubt very much that she had any exposure to a real BDSM community before she wrote her first book.  I would hope that she has by now, but since I have seen no evidence of it, I cannot remark on that.

Ms. James – if you are reading this, get in touch, I’d be more than happy to give you a true introduction.

But – that aside.. there is really one thing about her books that bothers me more than the niggling factual problems, internal inconsistencies, or use of repetitive plot devices and word choices.. and that is the underlying premise that the reason Christian Grey is a Dominant is because he is compensating for some psychological trauma.  He actually describes himself as ‘fifty shades of fucked up’ which is clearly the basis for the name of the entire series and a recurring theme throughout.

The implications are broad and rather harsh.  BDSM is a proxy for the world of darkness, of course, and a crutch for those that are not yet able to let go of their sordid pasts and wake up to join the real world.  It could almost have been anything – she needed a hidden and secret world for the protagonist to get caught up in, and since the vampire genre was already saturated she made a rather brilliant leap to pull in something that actually does  exist and make use of that instead.  It was genius on her part, really, but it paints those of us who actually are part of that world in a bad light.

She implies that anyone who would willingly make that a part of his life is somehow damaged.  The anti-hero in Christian Grey is a foil to the perfect innocence of the protagonist Anastasia.  He is dark and mysterious and larger than life and pulls her perfect innocent virginal person into his life of darkness and self loathing.

Now.. I can be aloof and mysterious at times.  I can be brooding and difficult.  I am the victim of several terrible things that happened to me when I was younger, but my role in the BDSM world does not mask anything and is not a foil for some true image of a more mainstream me that is waiting to be released.  This is who I am and I am unashamed.  Self loathing is rarely a part of my expression.  I have issues with physical pain and they can be frustrating but the vast majority of the time I feel happy and well adjusted.

I will admit, there are things that I do like about some of the interactions that the characters have in her books.  If I were a billionaire with very few actual job responsibilities I think that I might do many of the things that Christian does and act in many ways like he does, but certainly not in every way.  Perhaps part of that is because I’m older and wiser than Christian is meant to be.

I like the protective and overbearing nature that Christian takes towards Ana.  This actually did mirror many of the D/s aspects that my ex and I had as part of our relationship.

One of my strongest kinks is exposing the people that I love to new things, and that is certainly something the Christian does with a flare that exceeds my resources, but if I were to become an overnight billionaire you can bet that I’d be doing a lot of very similar things.

But I am not 50 shades of fucked up and I somewhat resent the image that she has created for those like me.

I doubt she wrote the novels with the intention of inviting these types of comparisons, and she likely could not have predicted the impact that her portrayal of the lifestyle would have on those of us who are in it, so I do not hold her personally accountable, but the fact remains that these comparisons are being made, and for most of the mainstream community, this is their first inkling of what BDSM is and they’re getting the wrong ideas.

The fact that this has started a dialog is a wonderful thing, but the fact that she, armed with too little information, has created a meme to describe BDSM participants.  This has enflamed the passions of many, interested many more in learning and exploring BDSM, and given some few just enough information to be dangerous to those that don’t know better.

BDSM can be a very dangerous thing to become involved in, and I am concerned that by bringing this into the mainstream she has helped to create an imbalance in the state of affairs.  The vast majority of her readers are female, and the interest that she has sparked for things kinky has created whole new streams of products and expanded some that were there before.  The number of proto-submissives is on the rise and only likely to become more so with the release of the movie.

As a Dominant, I should regard this a good thing, and I do, but sexual predation has long been a part of the BDSM community, which largely polices itself for such things, and has been largely effective to date in so doing because our numbers are relatively small and within the community, people become known for their behavior.  If a person is a predator, the word tends to spread.

Now – we’re beginning to see a rise in those interested, and they tend to be turning to online resources to satiate their newly found tastes for kink.

There are a couple of problems with this.

The BDSM community has been able to rely on self policing largely due to the fact that meetings are most often done in meatspace and where there are more than few practitioners in one place.  Sketchy things are noticed and corrected.  This does not, and perhaps cannot, happen in virtual space.

There is no formal process for induction into the BDSM community.  While there are leather groups with formal practices and some of us maintain a higher level of protocol than others, in general, any person can step forward at any time and declare himself a Dominant and claim at any background that he wishes.  There is very little that one can do to validate or refute such claims.  Sure, there are a few of use with specialized skills that can track people online and through public records, and sometimes it’s possible to refute ridiculous claims without the need to really do any research, but sometimes you simply cannot tell.

If you meet someone online you cannot know how much of their projected persona is real and how much is a fabrication.

This is true of online dating in general and certainly not limited to BDSM endeavors, but whereas social dating is often limited in scope, there are those that, under the guise of BDSM, are actually meeting a complete stranger for the first time and allowing this person to blindfold them, tie them up, and hit them with things.

This can and will lead to tragedy, I’m sure of it.

So – for those of you who are reading this and new to the concepts of BDSM, I urge you, go to a much.  Meet people who are in the community in person – in a public place – several at a time.  Talk to them in person, learn from them, ask questions.  The BDSM community locally has proven to be one of the most inclusive communities that I have ever seen or heard about.  Everyone is extremely approachable, and while there are always personality conflicts and differences of opinion, people are rarely, if ever, mean.  Well, until you ask them to be. that is…

If you meet someone online and really are drawn to meet them rather than first exposing yourself to a munch or three, follow safe dating practices!

Meet somewhere public.  Have a contact person who knows where you are and have a check in time.  Have an extraction plan.  And most importantly, don’t do anything dangerous on your first meeting.

What is dangerous, you ask?

If you really have to ask that, I suspect that you’re not listening to any of this anyway.

Be safe.

Be bold, be strong, be alive, satisfy your curiosity, satisfy your cravings, but be safe.