Unasked Questions: What is a scene?

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.

Rant off.


Living the lifestyle

I’ve been around the block once or twice.

I’m not old, but I’m no spring chicken, that’s for sure.

BDSM today is a lot more complicated than it was when I was first putting my toes into the water, so to speak.

Firstly, there seems to be this conceptual gap that people can’t seem to see past that I don’t think was ever present before, at least not in the circles that I swam in.  “The lifestyle” is all there is to some people, and anyone who is not living in a 24/7 Total Power Exchange is not ‘real BDSM’.

One of the things that first attracted me to BDSM was the acceptance that followed with being with a group of like minded people who were unafraid to express who they were and what they liked.

What happened to that?

When did it become okay to order around someone else’s submissive without permission?  I saw that happen recently and I was shocked.  Never in a million years would I be so disrespectful.

I don’t recall so many alpha contests happening in my youth.  Perhaps I wasn’t interested in playing, but then, I’m not all that interested in it now.

My pack is not your pack is not the pack at large, and I don’t have to challenge every other Dom to know where I fit.   I can be respectful and even deferential to an equal, especially when I am in His house.   And I have a right to expect the same respect when you are in mine, and there is no violation of hierarchy or protocol involved.

There are no absolutes in BDSM, and that is its strength.

BDSM uses contracts, but more than that, BDSM is a contract.  No matter who you are or what your role is, your place in the shared construct is determined by everyone’s willingness to play.  If you don’t play fair, you can go home.

Just because I claim to be Master Rant, does that give me the right to assume that any submissive must bend to my will?  Where I was raised and inducted into this method of expression – because never forget, that is what BDSM is, it’s a shared fantasy, it’s a choice – where I was raised and brought into this way of life that would never fly.

Not every D/s pair likes to share.  And that is their right.

Not every unclaimed sub is looking for some random Master to come pull him off of his feet and drag him away to be beaten.

There seem to be a great many un-Dom-like Doms out there today, and I’m not sure where they came from or where they got their sense of entitlement and lack of morals.

If I saw a sub kneeling beside her Dom at a club or event, never in a million years would I approach her without first approaching him and seeking his permission and approval.

If I saw an apparently unclaimed sub, never would I just walk up and give her orders, or attempt to punish her for failing to refer to me as Sir.

Honor.  Respect.  These are concepts and ideals that are eternal, or at least they should be.  The strength of any society is in the willingness of its members to remain a part of it, the moment that we break the implicit social contract that comes with this lifestyle we place the whole edifice in danger of collapse.

Being a good Dom does not mean wearing arrogance like a badge and demanding that others see you as you want them to, because anyone with any experience sees right through that.

I am a Dom, and I have no difficulty at all in navigating the currents of this shared fantasy we live in because I know who I am and I do not need you to tell me.

That is the weakness that masquerades as strength.

When you insist that I call you Lord Thunderbottom or that my slave refers to you as Sir whenever you address her, you are showing me your fear.

If you would like to converse with my slave you will ask me and I may even consult her before I give you permission.  That makes me strong, because I understand the bond that we have, and if you call me weak for allowing her to have an opinion, you are showing me that you are afraid of your own shadow and I call you not-Dom.


This is my opinion. This is not a call to action. This is a rant…

Rant off.