This is the first in a series of posts that I intend to write about BDSM questions that are common but that people seem afraid to ask.
Firstly – you’ve all heard the old adage, “there are no stupid questions,” and that is true. One thing that I demand in my subs, and even in my friends, both in the vanilla and BDSM worlds, is curiosity. I find that people who never ask questions and I tend to not get along.
I’m a curious person myself, and I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent following hyperlinks in wikipedia pages.
But this is about BDSM scenes.
One of the first things that a newbie to BDSM will take note of is the lexicon of new terms, of words that have shifted meaning, and of acronyms.
One of these overloaded words in the BDSM lexicon is ‘scene’.
It’s a particularly tough one, because it has two different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. Possibly more – I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything.
The first, but less frequently misunderstood meaning is from when it is used to describe “the BDSM scene” in a general sense. In this context, most people understand it to mean the shared construct that we, as BDSM … enthusiasts? practitioners? … subscribe to. “The BDSM scene” is just whatever the people who are into BDSM in your vicinity do – this often means events and clubs, and by extension, the people who partake in such things, but it could also mean websites, chat rooms, or munches.
Munch is another odd BDSM term, but it has only one meaning that I’m aware of, and that is a gathering of kinky fuckers in a vanilla place for a vanilla reason – like meeting up with a bunch of kinksters in street clothes at IHOP for breakfast.
However, “a BDSM scene” is a very different thing. Articles are important – “the BDSM scene” means something very different from “a BDSM scene.” But “a BDSM scene” is a much more confusing thing.
I would like to blame popular culture references for making this such a confusing thing, but in reality, it was a confusing thing 15 years ago before BDSM was as mainstream as it is today. The description that I am about to give is based on my understanding and is not sacrosanct. That’s one of the beautiful things about the BDSM scene, it’s a very personal thing, and tolerance is generally very high for beginners. It’s not likely that people will judge you if your definitions differ from theirs.
At the most basic level, a BDSM scene is any time you are doing something that you think of as BDSM. It’s a very subjective thing. If you feel like what you are doing is a BDSM scene, then it is.
This is something that newbies often struggle with.. BDSM is a very rules-focused culture by necessity. Some of the things that we do are dangerous. Many of the people that we play with come from a background of physical, emotional, or sexual trauma. For them, BDSM can be a release – a way to _safely_ give up control or a way to exert control in what otherwise feels to them like an uncontrollable situation. Because BDSM is so rules-focused, practitioners, especially newbies, often feel like there must be some minimum set of criteria that must be satisfied before you can properly apply the label of ‘a BDSM scene.’ This is true of other labels that we put on things in the BDSM world as well. Often I’ve been asked, “What do you have to do to become a Master?” but I’ll save that discussion for another day…
There is some merit in extending this definition just a tad though… while I fully endorse the opinion above (it is _my_ opinion, after all) I can see where expanding upon it makes sense. That expansion would be to define it something like this: “A BDSM scene is any negotiated transaction where the participants take on different power roles.”
This rather succinctly, in my not-so-humble opinion, states the basic tenets of what we believe. Power roles, be they Top/bottom, Dom/sub, Master/slave or some other label to convey who has the authority for the scene are important. Without them, things become squishy and might be viewed as ‘vanilla sex’ (which is still fantastic, in my opinion), but these roles can be somewhat fluid… switching _during_ a scene is rare, but it can happen.
The more important bit though is the bit about ‘negotiation.’
Everything in BDSM is a negotiation.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Everything in BDSM is a negotiation.
Whether you write out a contract or not, whether you believe in safe words or not (rant coming on this topic soon), whether you give up all of your power or just a portion of it.. these things are all negotiated, and they MUST be understood by all participants. Failure to understand these things is dangerous and opens the doors for abuse or neglect.
A BDSM scene is where you are free to be who you want, where you are free to get what you need, but it only works if everyone involved is free to do the same.
This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.
This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.