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BDSM 101

Found this excellent and concise public education video on BDSM 101 on Race Bannon’s blog  the other day. While the video itself moves very fast, it’s got a lot of great information in it that accurately explains BDSM including the euphoric feeling that many get after playing. What’s even better is that it was produced in conjunction with Planned Parenthood, which certainly improves its track record for being kink-friendly. Most of all, it does a wonderful job of distinguishing kink from abuse.

Enjoy and share!

Denver is a mad, mad world…for all

The Denver community is in a tizzy this week.  The founder and “un-organizer” of KinkforAll made some pretty divisive statements (as summarized in the Silence is Golden presentation from the “unconference”) about the BDSM community which ended in discouraging the locals involved in the community from attending the event.  Much has been made of his statements, including by me on FetLife and elsewhere all over the internet such as Twitter, Google Groups, the Denver Westword not to mention the site of the un-organizer himself, MayMay (please for the love of god, please do  not click on the link or else you will be subjected to a load of mostly irrelevant links with 47+ linking back to his own blog or spaces that he has some primary control of most of the content).

While I take issue with the un-organizer’s uncanny ability to stay just as un-organized in his writing, making it virtually impossible to discern what he actually believes from the gratuitous, self-serving nature of making links back to his own blog, thus driving up traffic and feeding a narcissistic tendency that is wholly evident from a simple reading on its face…I only briefly visit that issue in this post. That is my personal opinion of him based on my read of him.  Granted I have never met him in person and despite his “invitation” for someone to meet him for coffee before he leaves the Denver area on Tuesday, I just can’t after going through being triggered by another outing scare.

See, what I find utterly offensive and reprehensible about this man is how this self-proclaimed, sex-positive advocate and sexual freedom fighter has the gall to link someone’s legal name to their FetLife profile, thus effectively outing them.  Involuntarily outing someone doesn’t seem like the work of a sex-positive advocate.  In fact, it seems much like what happened to me when conservative bloggers decided to do something similar.

Even mentioning this incident today to my husband put him through a visible state of panic and fear.  We both remember what happened when I was outed.  It’s taken us over 5 years to fully recover and still haven’t financially.  In the grand scheme of things I’m not sure which was worse…my rape or my outing.  Both had a profound effect on my sexuality, inevitably inhibiting my freedom and the safety I feel in expressing my ideas even in such a general way here.  And yet, for as much work as I have done to recover and heal, today I still had the knot at the pit of my stomach, afraid I’d be MayMay’s next non-consensual victim.  Afraid I’d have to face difficult questions about ruining my kids by being kinky, queer and poly.  Sex-positivity goes hand in hand with self-determination.  All of us should be allowed to control the time, place and manner we choose to become open about our sexuality.  It should never, ever be decided for us by someone playing blog-politics with our lives. And what’s sad…I have more forgiveness for the conservative bloggers who outed me than I do for MayMay at this point. Why?  Because MayMay should know better.

At what point did sex-positivity become about outing people?  I don’t care if it’s one person or a hundred.  His selfish need to be -right- on such a small and insignificant event (which by the way the majority of the kink, gay and lesbian communities knew nothing about) blew away any credibility he had left as a sex-positive advocate in my book.  And I have no problem warning other communities that he visits fall-out they can expect.  For he fails to recognize the true human cost of his relentless pursuit of righteousness and justifies his disrespectful behavior with a taunting recitation of his own website where he calls FetLife unsafe.  And yet, none of that excuses the shameless disregard for the human cost in his obvious pursuit of his spiteful agenda.

Denver will recover, it always does.  Like I have said in the past I feel Denver has a strong community base.  The Denver BDSM community has been having conversations about racial, gender and class privilege for the whole time I have been involved.  We’ve been more active in calling each other out when there is a sex-negative agenda.  We’ve been educating about queer leather, trans inclusion and a whole host of topics in between. Which is why so many in Denver were eager to be a part of KinkForAll.

The people who have been offended by the words and actions of the past few months are not Denver’s “elite”.  These are the ones who have been in the trenches making “traditionalist leaders” re-evaluate their terminology, practices and even identifications.  These are the people changing the face of kink everyday and doing so without recognition or thanks.  And yet, despite all of this, these extraordinary men and women were brave advocates for those same traditionalists to be included and be welcome to contribute side-by-side with them.  We may not like what they have to say, but they are part of the “all” in the title and we won’t leave them behind.

We could debate all day about the meaning of the word “kink”.  I can say that back home it’s defined as someone who “lets you in the backdoor”;  whereas in other communities I’ve been a part of it means you do more than just piss in someone’s mouth.  But while kink isn’t always synonymous with BDSM, at the very least they are closely related and certainly never mutually exclusive.  Excluding members of the kink community -or- specifically targeting them -or- outing them -or- exploiting them really betrays a weaker-minded agenda than the stated intent of providing an open forum for discussions about sexuality.

Sex is a difficult topic for many and must be approached with care and dignity for all present.   BDSMers for the most part are able to talk about sex much more easily and openly than most people i have met and have a lot of value to add to any discussion about kink while still respecting the boundaries of those new to the topic. In fact, my topics were these: Conflict Resolution for Multiple Methods of Loving, the politics of slut-shaming culture, the impact of the Sexual Freedom Movement on racial and ethnic minority communities (and vice versa), Healing through the Sacred Whore/Prostitute Archetype, creating culture, responding sufficiently to sex offenders within our environment, the experience of recovery after being outed. None of these were exclusively BDSM-oriented and could have benefited the discussion.

Yet, I chose not to attend after finding out that a) the media had been invited, b) they would be livestreaming/videotaping the sessions and c) that as a BDSMer/queer leather femme I might be targeted by this man’s personal bias.  What’s worse is that mine is not the only voice that was silenced by MayMay’s personal prejudices and agenda. Many more valuable voices were likewise left out as a response to not wanting to promote this problematic agenda even further.

I will always be supportive of the idea of a conference, a gathering, a teach-in or any other model that promotes open, safe and constructive (rather than “uncomfortable”) discussions of sexuality. I will fully support efforts to confront privilege whether it be in the BDSM community or beyond in an equally constructive way.  But when it is executed poorly because of the directed and unchecked prejudices of one person, then the community must take up the responsibility to create a forum of its own where the stated intent of “all” is respected and openly welcomed.

This fall-out has shown me we still have so much further to go.  In a world like this where Rush Limbaugh calls a Georgetown student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for wanting to testify about reasonable access to birth control  (which can have health benefits unrelated to preventing conception) do we really need to nitpick over what the meaning of kink is?  After all, none of that matters when examples like the Limbaugh one above exist every single day and members of his own party won’t even denounce him publicly for such egregious and unwarranted attacks on something as simple and easy to understand as birth control.  The nuances of kink, BDSM, and fetish pale in comparison to the work we have to do in the rest of our world about basic sexuality.  And if we ignore these opportunities and decide instead to exploit the precious freedom we’ve been able to create we do a disservice to our own selves and the vision we have for greater acceptance.

Liberate from the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where you haven’t been

It’s rare that I am inspired these days to write about my sexual experiences. It’s not that I don’t love talking about them, it’s that often I don’t believe I have anything new to say about them. That and I don’t really want to have to wrestle with the dilemma of whether I have the consent of my partners to reveal such personal information about them.

But early this week I was struck by a picture of my former Master on someone’s feed on FetLife. My friend was complimenting the woman who posted the picture but there was my Master’s thoughtful non-smile. (He was always careful not to smile in photographs…except one I had spontaneously snapped of him and my poly husband in 2006.)

We haven’t spoken since we broke up in early 2007. Even though the break-up itself was intended to be amicable, he wasn’t used to staying friends with exes. Despite his intentions to the contrary he couldn’t manage to make that happen for us. He defriended me, defrocked me as an administrator on a group we had all formed together (that one hurt the most) and started blocking me on social networking sites. I know I kept pushing my presence on him and I think it was enough for him to want nothing more of me.

But what that relationship did was solidify some growing feelings I was having about my compatibility with D/s relationships. As our relationship inched closer to the end I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the expectations of our relationship. I wasn’t playing as often as I needed or wanted, but he was showing off his new slave rather regularly. I was going through all matter of personal turmoil and heartache over my job and it was difficult for him because he never felt like he was doing the right thing for me. But when I discovered that he was systematically excluding from areas of his life yet demanding full access to mine, I had enough. The neglect became not just obvious but intolerable.

I wondered this week what I might say to him now…how I might fill him in about where he hasn’t been for the past several years. How might I describe my submission, my feelings as a switch. And how might that story only reinforce his attitudes toward me? Might the story I tell today just prove all his suspicions right?

But it’s not about where he hasn’t been. No, this is about where I haven’t been. I still tried to find submission after our relationship. I was still able to with my two husbands back then. But I started losing faith in myself…and trust in my own abilities as a submissive and as a desirable partner. And even though my partners made mistakes I was using that to mask the fear and hurt I was walking into every scene with.

I used to tell people that I make my biggest mistakes when choosing to play out of desperation. No. That wasn’t it. Yes, I was desperate. But I was also choosing to play without ever assessing whether I trusted my own self anymore. I walked into scenes expecting to hear how “unpleasant” or “disappointing” I was. And I found ways to confirm that impression of myself. Never really opening up to partners because I expected to be told how utterly displeasing I am. Having a whole 3 page narrative about my limits, because I could no longer trust my own abilities or my own judgment about activities and partners.

Whatever happened to rolling with the punches?

It wasn’t because of my former Master, but because I put my full vulnerability out there to him and others and it didn’t work out. To anyone else I would have advised to trust and put yourself out there again. But I didn’t. No, I stayed locked up, haunted by indecision and caution, not even playing with my husbands.

I am learning how to trust myself again. To put my heart and submission on the line. Not because my partners are worthy (they are) but because I am worthy of that level of release and fulfillment. And I will never achieve it if I stayed locked up, stalled, walled off. I have each day I can live in fullness and as an adventure.

So, at the end of the week I am grateful to this man whose unexpectedly handsome face reminded me that my submission, my abilities as a switch, my body and especially my spirit are worth the fulfillment he wasn’t able to provide to me. I am worth trusting…

So tomorrow night Warrior and I will do our push-pull dance of ours. This will be how we talk…and how I will let go and go back to the place where I haven’t been in so very long.

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