When you’re new to BDSM, you may have all sorts of hopes about meeting other kinky people. Especially if you’ve never really had a chance to do the things you like, it can be downright titillating to think about the sort of fun you’ll have a fetish party, or what sort of people you’ll find.
BDSM societies are such a staple of pornography and erotica they’re a fetish in their own right. From the Chalet of O, to movies like Eyes Wide Shut, the idea that there’s a collective of attractive, wealthy and cultured people who share your turn ons holds a powerful draw.
Discreet, enlightened and racy. Sometimes on the cusp of legality. It can be daunting as well, especially if you are not sure what sort of mischief the scene-sters get up to.
Unfortunately, just as fiction gives us bucket-load ejaculations and back pain free G cups, the scenes that exist are simply a collection of individuals. And being kinky doesn’t make a human inherently better. On top of that, as a sexy idea, it also causes even people within the scene to get a little ah… imaginative, and you get enduring folk myths like the importance of the Old Guard.
A digression: allegedly, at the end of the Second World War, among certain motorcycle clubs, dudes got up to gay leather S&M. The aesthetic is the kind found in illustrations by Tom of Finland. To this day, lots of people claim to be connected to this. In practice, the best they can claim is that they are inspired.
Actually, the member base is by and large more likely to share company with a sci-fi convention than society’s elite. which is not to say the elite can’t be kinky, just that there’s a lot of solidly middle class types because kink isn’t that expensive. And of course kink is not something only athletes and models get up to. You’re going to find every body type represented.
Another common assumption about the kink scene is that it’s more open minded. It is…to a point. You have to make space for people whose kinks are to shit on each, other or pretend to have incest and violent beating, alongside marrieds who just want to have an “old fashioned” relationship and trangendered people who like silk ties and feathers. On the other hand, everyone brings their own personal prejudices and everyone (even me!) would like to believe their way of doing kink is natural and everyone different is Doing It Wrong. Expect to snort your drink out your nose as people earnestly tell you that women are inherently submissive or that black people are naturally superior, and so forth. There will be the evo-psych brigade who try to justify themselves with fuzzy science, and twits who have relationships better suited to daytime television talk shows.
The accepting attitude of the scene also means that you have lots of marginalized people who were at the back of the line when the social skills were being handed out. After all, (almost) everyone feels creepy and awkward discussing their sexuality, so the people who are always creepy and awkward tend to slip through people’s regular radar.
And it’s a smaller group, which tends to discourage ostracizing people, even the ones who we should. This means Mr. Grabby hands, or the lady to whom honest fidelity happens to other people, and so on. The result is a world somewhere between high school and Jane Austen level “We must be nice to the neighbours, now let’s viciously gossip!” This is because it’s generally a closed loop and few people explicitly want to make a big stink, so there’s far too much reliance on whisper campaigns. Further more, the scene is just large enough, and also commercial enough, that getting someone blacklisted from everything is really, really hard.
Neither is anyone all that wise, I mean at least compared to the regular world. There’s plenty of mentor types and people who know of what they talk about, but one of the “secrets” of kink is that it’s not that hard to do kinky stuff if you take it to the places that most people do.
It’s kinda like regular sex. You want to know some basic safety rules before you go running around, but it’s also something you can generally figure out from there. The scene actually works in the opposite direction, if things are going properly, for giving you a frame of reference for questions like “I feel poopy after play what’s causing that?”
Still, it can be disillusioning. You come to be transported, and instead you meet nothing that takes you outside of your life, and discover that good advice, rather than holding you on the cusp of your limits, is things like “use lube”, “go slow” and “talk about it”.
The scene is not going to take you away to a land of hot, wealthy sophisticated people. Instead it is a testament to the possibility you can enjoy even if you’re not some sort of high society bon vivant.