Wednesday, September 23, 2009


There's being deaf, and then there's being Deaf. Some people can't hear; some people can't hear and are part of a well-defined and somewhat insular community of capital-D Deaf folk. The Deaf people have all kinds of social conventions and institutions that the merely deaf don't.

So Wednesday's strained analogy is to kinkiness versus the kink community. Some people just like to play dominance and/or pain games with their partners; some people are part of The Kink Community. I'm somewhere in the middle; I know about the community and I've had many contacts with it but I don't think I'm really a part of it. I don't have a ton of kinky friends, I don't always get all the fiddly details of kink etiquette right, and I often do "bedroom play" rather than formal "scenes."

I suspect that there's a huuuuge number of non-community kinksters out there; after all, the urge to get hit during sex and the urge to talk about it in a Denny's full of black-t-shirted geeks are rather separate things. Also I've noticed that when you get a totally vanilla-identified person's pants off, roughly a third of the time they'll turn out to be into dominance and/or pain, whether they believe it's "that weird BDSM shit" or not.

This is unfortunate in some ways--information about safe and effective techniques doesn't get disseminated to unaffiliated kinksters, nor does the "you are not crazy, you do not need to repress this" message. (The Internet helps some, but it also spreads a shitload of misinformation.) A kinky person who doesn't know about the community is going to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. But it's inevitable and understandable that most people who like weird shit in the bedroom would have no desire to identify themselves with it anywhere else.

The kink community is cool in many ways, but they are not kink. For each person at a leather party or convention, there are ten at home alone or with their partner, just doing their thing. For good and ill, "how things are in Kinkland" concepts only apply in Kinkland, not everywhere bruises are traded.


  1. *lmao @great truth*

    Yow. You said a mouthful. Personally, I find the mainstream KINK COMMUNITY to be mostly ridiculous and fairly obnoxious. And I do realize that a lot of it is growing pains, stemming from the fact that it's a fairly new phenomenon (yes, yes, Marquis deSade, blah blah) that's still developing, given that it's still illegal in some of the States of the Union.

    Ugh, damnit, I was going to say something profound here, and then insomnia brain lost the thread.

    Anyway, I think a lot of the wheat will sort itself from the chaff on the internet, and the exploiters will get more roundly tossed out, and hopefully the lifestyle folks will learn how to chill the fuck out a bit.

  2. Having no part of or experience with THE COMMUNITY, I wonder what effect greater mainstream acceptance would have. If people just shrug, as seems to be the trend with homosexuality, there's less need for secret societies and self-segregation. You'd still have them, of course -- we all know someone who needs to reject or repel others in order to maintain his sense of self -- but once Cosmo runs a column on knots, would anyone show up at Denny's?

  3. Bruno - Yes, for the same reason people show up at anime clubs or knitting circles--it's a social group regardless of the pretext.

    I suspect new membership would drop off sharply, however.

  4. The problem with communities of almost every stripe is that they tend to take themselves too seriously. Then, the minute that you aren't into every aspect of what the fanatics who identify as part of said community are into, you're not a /real/ member of the community. They all become music snobs--if you haven't heard of Artemis Flagg and the Corndog Farmers, you can't be a true fan of jazz-pop scream-o music, or whatever.

    Personally, I just want to identify as me (or as Brock when I'm here, because I like some degree of anonymity) and like what I like, you know? Of course this is easy to preach and a total bitch to actually practice.

  5. My partner and I had been bedroom kinky for years before we went out to the kink community - and when we did, we realized that it's exactly like going to synagogue.

    There are all these different interest groups, and charity fundraisers. Different cities vary a lot on whether the community is big enough to have its own lovely dedicated space or two, or just borrows someone else's every Friday night. And there are always more people who have some vague affiliation than would ever actually show up to events.

    So yeah, even if there were 100% mainstream acceptance, there would still be a community. It's where you learn hands-on skills, meet new partners, raise money for AIDS patients and gay runaways, etc. Not every has to want to do that, but it wouldn't wither away.

    And Bruno, you're right that sometimes there's a defensive, cooler-than-thou attitude. It can be annoying. But it can also serve a purpose - if you don't know certain things, you signal that you're not safe to play with yet, or that you might not be trustworthy or discreet with people's identities. (I used to live in a city with lots of active-duty military; dishonorable discharge was a live threat.) So there's snobbery, but there's also an idiot filter, and while people can strike the wrong balance, it's not pointless.

    I don't think who likes pain play has to be involved; I'm just defending it on its own terms. I do wish that more people who didn't want to get involved in the community got decent information. (The sitcom _How I Met Your Mother_ this week did demonstrate excellent use of a safe word this week, so that's cool. :) )

  6. Holly, this is timely for me -- it's something I've been thinking about a lot.

    My partner and I discovered a few months ago that I like to be hit in the face sometimes while we have sex, and that he likes to hit me, and that we like to wrestle around with claws bared while we fuck. No scenes or anything like that; just...intense physical, and sometimes painful, play.

    So we've been messing around with that, and I -- even sexually experienced me -- have had a bunch of questions about how "normal" this is, whether we're fucking ourselves up somehow by doing this, etc. But I'm not even remotely ready to join the kink community, because I don't identify with it. It's just something we like to do to get off.

    You're right about having to reinvent the wheel -- we've had to do a lot of negotiating about what's OK/what's not OK, and I'm sure that being in contact with others would have straightened out the somewhat circuitous path we've been on.