The intersection of performative masculinity/femininity and dominance/submission

A few posts back I discussed performative masculinity, and how to move beyond it. Today I want to discuss the difficulties posed by the intersection of expectations for males and females combined with expectations for dominants and submissives. I’ve hinted at this in previous posts, but here I want to address it head on. It’s difficult as a female dom or a male sub to figure out your own identity and your place in ‘the scene’ because your prescribed roles are in conflict. To be performatively feminine is to be submissive, and to be performatively masculine is to be dominant. By choosing or feeling yourself led to a place of feminine dominance or masculine submission, you are entering a no-man’s land where expectations are unclear and by your mere existence you are subversive. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Before we go any further, let’s define some terms. These are taken from Informed Consent‘s BDSM Dictionary.

Bottom: A bottom may be male or female. Within BDSM, the bottom is the partner who is the recipient of such acts as bondage, discipline (e.g. flogging) or humiliation. A top performs acts such as these upon the bottom. In the context of human sexual behaviour, especially anal sex among gay men, the bottom is the receiving partner, or a person who prefers the receiving role. However, the activities between a top and bottom need not include the sex act.Top: A top may be male or female. Within BDSM, the top is the giver of such acts as bondage, discipline (e.g. flogging) or humiliation upon their partner, usually a bottom. In the context of human sexual behaviour, especially anal sex among gay men, the top is the giving partner, or a person who prefers the giving/active role. However, the activities between a top and bottom need not include the sex act.

Dominant: As an adjective, “being” dominant is about exercising influence or control. Governing matters; being in charge. Predisposed to taking over and wanting to maintain power.

Submissive: As an adjective, “being” submissive is wanting to or being willing to submit to orders or wishes of another.

Switch: In BDSM, a switch is someone who participates in BDSM activities as both a top and a bottom, or possibly both a Dom and a sub. A switch will be the top on some occasions and the bottom on other occasions. Switches are very common; partners may switch roles based on mood, desire, or being with a different partner.

Let’s look at the ‘act like man box’, the ‘act like a woman box’, the ‘act like a dominant box’ and the ‘act like a sub box’. The first is mostly taken from Charlie Glickman’s ‘act like a man box‘, which was created through workshops wherein people were asked to describe a ‘real man’. I created the subsequent boxes based on what I think people are often saying when they tell someone to act more feminine, dominant, or submissive, respectively.

The BDSM Hierarchy

As you can see, how to act like a man neatly maps onto how to act like a dom, and how to act like a woman neatly maps onto how to act like a sub. In this way, heterosexual M/f couples (male dominant, female submissive) wherein the man is a sadist (enjoys giving pain), and the female a masochist (enjoys receiving pain) can easily perform their two roles flawlessly at the same time. This is exemplified by the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey. This book is able to be so easily consumed because it doesn’t trample on anyone’s preconceived notions of what it means to be male or female, dominant or submissive. The M/f couple then, can be at the top of the BDSM hierarchy, with the male dominant on top of course because he’s dominant (and dominants are supposed to be superior).

Where do female dominants and male submissives land in this hierarchy? Female dominants get a higher place in the BDSM hierarchy than male submissives because even though they are stepping outside of the ‘act like a woman box’ 1) they too are dominants, which are intrinsically better than submissives according to our boxes, and 2) they are taking on masculine traits, which lifts their status rather than lowers it. Therefore, the hierarchy is topped by male dominants, then female dominants, then female submissives, and then male submissives. The latter group find themselves at the bottom of the heap because, like female dominants, they cannot reconcile their two roles, but unlike femdoms their new role takes them down a peg rather than boosting them up the ladder. The fact that their desires and behavior go outside of the ‘act like a man box’ threatens all men who are concerned with performing masculinity, but particularly dominant ones. It makes them more aware of the man box, and more dedicated to staying inside of it. In fact, most people who are not dominant women (or dominant gay men) are disconcerted by them because they are willingly forsaking their privileged role. In this way, submissive men are devalued. This is why male submissives end up as the ultimate joke, as we see in Pulp Fiction: they make everyone who is performing their gender uncomfortable.

It seems the F/m couple get the short end of the stick, but this doesn’t have to be the case. While an M/f couple might easily fall into their roles since the prescriptions for both their sex and their power dynamic are in line, an F/m couple is forced to more carefully pick and choose what they want. As an analogy, the M/f couple are able to pick out a suit from a rack at a store. It might not fit them perfectly, but it fits well enough that they don’t really notice the imperfections, or they make a few minor adjustments. The F/m couple on the other hand, is an entirely unconventional shape. They have to go to a bespoke tailor because nothing on the rack fits. Going bespoke costs more emotionally and psychologically. However, in the end, they come out with a suit that fits perfectly. An M/f couple is able to lead an unexamined life, for the F/m couple, that is nearly impossible.

Throwing out the bad

Trying to ‘act like a female’ and ‘act like a dominant’ at the same time can lead to some strange combinations that can be dissatisfying to those involved. I’ve mentioned before the frigid ice queen archetype who maintains her lack of sexual desire, but combines it with sadism and controlling her partner’s orgasm (often giving him none). This is fine if it’s what a woman actually wants, but all too often it is construed as how a dominant woman is supposed to behave. Even in non-kinky contexts women are told that in order to maintain control over their man, they need to withhold sex. I find this idea repugnant, and in my experience it is simply false. I have sex with my submissives early and often, and yet somehow they still do exactly what I tell them to. It’s almost as if their desire for sex isn’t the only thing that dictates their behavior! I have explained before that I would never put my submissive in permanent chastity because I enjoy riding his cock too much, and I know I’m not the only female dominant who has penetrative sex with her partner for fun. A woman only loses power when she has sex if her partner is a douchebag who thinks that sex is the only thing a woman has to offer and/or that a woman is spoiled goods once she’s been fucked. Why would a woman want to control a man who thinks either of those things? Many of the attributes in the ‘act like a woman box’ are ridiculous and should be (and fortunately are slowly being) discarded. This isn’t to say that a woman should want sex all the time, but rather, she shouldn’t feel like less of a woman if she does.

Similarly, trying to ‘act like a man’ and ‘act like a submissive’ can lead to some strange results too. For example, some men overcompensate by being an asshole (violent, competitive, and angry) to everyone but their dominant. This doesn’t solve any problems. Other men forsake the ‘act like a man box’ altogether and portray themselves as useless worms ripe for humiliation. As I’ve said before, and I’m sure I’ll say again, what fun is it bringing a man to his knees if he was never standing tall to begin with? Confidence and a comfort in one’s own skin are attractive traits in anyone, male or female, dom or sub. While we shouldn’t try to stay inside of our boxes, we also shouldn’t try to stay entirely outside of them because that can be equally limiting.

Keeping what works

Just like with the ‘act like a man box’, the best way to conquer all of these boxes is not by rejecting them flat-out, becoming the reciprocal of what the box indicates, but rather by picking and choosing what works for you. Rejecting the box can make one feel just as trapped as trying to conform to it. As Glickman describes,

They had to do everything that was inside the [Act Like a Man] Box. I couldn’t do anything that was inside the Box. They couldn’t show sadness or fear. I couldn’t show anger. They had to be aggressive. I became really passive. They had to make their needs come before other peoples’. I wouldn’t state my needs or desires, and I never let myself come first.

A woman doesn’t have to reject everything in the ‘act like a woman box’ in order to be dominant, and a man doesn’t have to reject everything in the ‘act like a man box’ in order to be submissive. Neither do they have to conform to everything in the ‘act like a dominant’ or ‘act like a submissive’ boxes. This applies to M/f, F/f, and M/m couples too, but I will be focusing on what this looks like in the context of an F/m relationship.

Many women enjoy conforming to the ‘act like a woman box’ to some extent, and want to maintain that femininity while being dominant. Similarly, many submissive men like being masculine in some respects. For example, a female dominant might enjoy being nurturing, romantic and wearing make-up most days. None of these things are actually in conflict with being dominant, so have at it! Some submissive men might like being muscular, assertive, and decisive.  This doesn’t actually prevent them from obeying their dominant, so there’s no conflict. The same goes for deciding how to be dominant and submissive. You say you like tying men up and jumping their bones, but don’t want to fuck them in the ass? Not a problem. You like both biting and being bitten? You’re both going to have some bruises to hide. The only thing that should dictate what happens within any D/s relationship is the interests and consent of the two (or three, or four, or more) people involved. Don’t let yourself get boxed in or boxed out.

Guidelines for making your own bespoke D/s relationship

Here are some guidelines for creating a D/s relationship that uniquely suits your own and your partner’s needs and desires. They are not necessarily meant to be followed in order. Many people, for example, only figure out what kind of D/s they are interested in after finding that someone else is interested in it. This list is not exhaustive, but can be applied to any relationship regardless of sex or orientation.

1) Identify what interests you about D/s. Is it the service aspect? Do you love suffering for someone else’s enjoyment? Does it make you hot when you tell someone what to do and they comply? Is your greatest fantasy having someone dictate what you wear and how you behave in order to please them (slave training)? Whatever the crucial part of your desires are, make sure these are being met by your partner, regardless of your role.

2) Find someone with interests that are similar or reciprocal to your own. Whether it’s online (Fetlife, CollarMe, Informed Consent, OK Cupid), at a munch, through a friend, or through your local polyamoury group, kinky people tend to be more comfortable with their whole selves when they can be with someone who accepts and appreciates all of them.

3) Don’t be afraid to experiment. Fascinated by bondage, but don’t know whether you want to tie or be tied? Try both! Your girlfriend says she’ll let you fuck her in the ass if you let her fuck you in the ass? Go for it!

4) Don’t let fear dictate your actions. As an example, if a man doesn’t want a plug in his ass because he’s afraid it will hurt or tear, that’s one thing. However, if he’s afraid that it will make him less of a man, that’s another. Being afraid of being less manly is equivalent to saying that being female is inferior to being male. Being afraid that it will make you gay is similar.There’s nothing wrong with being gay, so why should you be afraid that something would make you appear gay? Furthermore, liking things in your ass doesn’t make you gay. Avoiding things because you fear they will make you seem feminine, gay, or submissive reinforces sexism, homophobia, and domism.

5) Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have an ongoing conversation about your kinky likes and dislikes. They may evolve and change – in fact, they probably will.

6) Explore novel ways to have sex. No sex act is inherently dominant or submissive. Experiment with ways to keep the power dynamic even when doing something that ‘doms don’t do’. For example, giving a blow job might not seem very dominant at first, but when you add in a man begging you to lick them and begging you to come, you’d be amazed at how it’s magically transformed into a dominant act.

Parting thoughts

As Cat Stevens would say,

You can do what you want

The opportunity’s on

And if you find a new way

You can do it today

You can make it all true

And you can make it undo

Whether you’re male, female, trans, genderqueer, intersex, gay, straight, or pansexual, the way that you do D/s is up to you and those you play with. Don’t let boxes get in the way of your bedroom fun. Try to find your authentic desires, and don’t let your fears get in the way of realizing them. To do so is letting down not just yourself, but also others who would benefit from playing in a world without performative boxes.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to PWN, Edward, and my roomate for helping me edit this.

Posted on September 15, 2012, in Advice, D/s Relationships, discussion, Sex and Gender, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. Thank you a million times. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. This post has me near tears. I’m not exaggerating. Thank you.

    Just the other day, I published the following “PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT for submissive men….” I think it’s important to repost the heart of that post here in your comments because I’m about to link this piece every which way I can. I think your post is brilliant, necessary, an personally moving (to me and I suspect thousands of others), but I don’t want to give the false impression that my support of this post is also support of the BDSM Scene and its community. While I strongly agree with everything you’ve written (which almost never happens!), I’d strongly caution AGAINST using FetLife, a local BDSM or polyamory munch, or other social community-of-interest functions to find people. Those are the very places where these boxes are most strictly and viciously enforced!

    Therefore, a public service announcement for submissive men (and others):

    The BDSM Scene is an abusive social institution that provides structural cover for rapists, has economic incentives to silence survivors of sexual assault, and contains numerous for-profit businesses actively invested in the exploitation of its own members. Unfortunately, many assailants hold positions of power within the community, which makes it extremely difficult to talk about without being ostracized from the community.

    No matter what they say, the BDSM community does NOT hold a monopoly on your sex life nor on your ability to play safely, or to find partners who you love and who will love you. The BDSM community is by and large only supportive of people who are white, heterosexual, class-privileged, cisgendered, conformant to hegemonic societal ideals of beauty, able-bodied, and so on.

    Read the full public service announcement for more information and links that provide details about each assertion made.

    Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this. I’m going to go link to this post everywhere I can, now.

    • Thanks maymay! I hesitated to put fetlife on there, but at the same time, it’s difficult to find ways to meet people outside of the scene. I was thinking of writing a follow-up post on that. What would you recommend?

      • Are you asking what I’d recommend for meeting people outside of The Scene? Sadly, I can’t advise you knowledgeably on that. I suggest speaking to the author of Kink In Exile instead, as she is currently doing a lot of writing about that topic. An excerpt:

        Fetlife is a tool, we should use it as such rather than imbuing it with the power to hold us captive, which is precisely what we do when we use one website, owned by one man, to hold most of the event information for an entire community. The BDSM community is also a tool, it is a community of interest, a social group; The BDSM community is not the regulating authority for your sex life. Community leaders are leaders by virtue of showing up and being loud. Community mores are, by definition, communally defined and you have as much as say in defining them as the next person over.

      • Yes, I would agree, and it’s why I still use it, and why it made it on this list. While I don’t let it tell me how I should be, I still use it to find potential mates. Although actually I’ve had a lot more success with OKCupid, which is a vanilla dating site that has plenty of kinksters on it.

  2. Thank you for writing this.

    Like Maymay, I stumble over Item #2 in your list. I wouldn’t recommend FetLife as a resource to any non-switching submissive man (I left the Scene with considerably more baggage than when I entered), but at the same time, I have no constructive suggestions to offer.

    My kink, so far as I have figured out from limited experience, is non-normative not only in terms of gender roles, but within the stereotypical F/m script. I don’t want to be humiliated or insulted, and if I wore feminine clothes I would want to be seen as beautiful, not a ‘sissy’.

    I wrote a journal entry that described how poorly I fit into any of my gender-linked roles a few months ago, making lists of words much like the ones you put here. That’s part of why I was as happy as I was to see your post, echoing and expanding upon thoughts I had too.

    I really appreciate the increasing visibility of gender essentialism in the Scene. These rules do no favors for most kinky people.

    • Hi there, and welcome! I wrote an entry awhile back called Genderfucked that I think discusses those issues. I like dressing men in feminine clothing that make them more beautiful. 🙂 Do you blog or were you writing in a real paper-type journal?

      • Reading your entry, thank you!

        My gender entry was written on a friendslocked livejournal, though there’s no reason that I couldn’t make a public version of it on my alternate journal. Hang on …

        Ok, there. It’s now posted on oddlilpup.livejournal.com, which is also where the public version of my Dear Scene letter lives.

  3. Love this.

    I almost reacted to Maymay’s comment about Fetlife with annoyance. Come on, is Maymay intentionally ignoring the fact that Fetlife is where all of the kinksters are, and being around people like oneself is important? Then I stepped back and noticed what I’d thought, and it made me sick. I’ve never met any kinky-identifying friends through Fetlife. For crying out loud, I met my first submissive partner in middle school! Am I really so egotistical that I think my experiences in finding partners who like to be tied up, who like to be hurt, who like to kneel… finding them in the real world, i.e. anywhere that isn’t the Scene (it is reported that some people live there)… are such fantastical outliers that no other lonely person can possibly do it?

    The only thing that has ever hurt me worse than feeling alone, feeling like there are no people like me, was hearing people say they were like me but then experiencing cognitive dissonance around that. People saying they were like me, and then punishing or ostracizing people who showed off traits I had inside. The Scene has insistently yelled that I’m too young my whole life, and in a few years it’s probably going to yell that I’m too old. It’s taught me that I’m female and therefore a submissive, and if I’m a dominant I’m a caricature, and if I’m not then I’m not a True Dominant. The worst part is that I’m not a True Dominant. But if you’re a female ”switch” then you’re a submissive, and when it would be more silencing to be seen as submissive than as dominant, I had only the other option. There was no space for me to relax, stand tall and say ”This is what I am.”

    For years the Scene has horrified me. Every munch or meetup I’ve ever been to are stuck in permanent fantasyland, where the purpose of any daily action is fucking (or being prevented from fucking, or liking to get hit.) Nothing is allowed to intersect that dreamstate, because it’s their kink and it’s okay. ”Their kink” is preventing my kink from existing, and I’m supposed to say that’s okay. Seriously?

    I guess what I’m getting at is that this bias I carry in myself, which says that all of the Truly Kinky people are only accessible through Fetlife and that the relationship I had when I was sixteen didn’t count as Kinky because of this, scares me. An institution has already been built, and people notice that it is the only institution which has been built, so they’re afraid of abandoning it. They are caused to ignore the existence of kinky people outside of the Scene, because those disparate people aren’t a tribe, a community, they don’t have dungeons or mentors or St Andrew’s crosses. So they can’t be kinky. How fucking disingenuous is that? But if I reply with something like ”Hey, if you really want a St. Andrew’s cross you can build one, or ask a friend to,” I get shut down with ”But some people don’t have that financial privilege!” ”But some people don’t have the spoons to get friends!” Yes, this is the case, but come on, is the Scene itself really so fucking friendly to poor and neurodivergent people? The evil we know is not better than the evil we don’t know, and we can do better.

    As long as the Scene is a monolith whose sole primary hub is Fetlife, kinky people don’t feel like they have options. It’s like the classic abuse technique where someone’s partner convinces them that nobody else will have them, this is the best relationship they’re going to get. And it’s bullshit. It’s insidious bullshit that gets inside my brain and makes me believe it sometimes, and that’s terrifying. I’d love to say something like ”I intend to change it,” but right now, I’ve got no idea how to change it except by doing what I’m doing right now.

  4. Reblogged this on FISTFELT and commented:
    While I may be the “f” in my M/f, the relationship I have with my husband is still unique to us, and it’s always good to be reminded that we don’t have to fit into boxes.

  5. I’ve never been interested in “the Scene” – which I take to mean clubs or public (perhaps semi-private) parties where the entire reason for getting together is BDSM. Even before I met Mistress Delila, I had no interest in such things. My sex life is exactly that – it’s mine. Before I knew I was kinky, I didn’t go to clubs or parties for the sole purpose of discussing or having sex. Why should I start now?

    I’ve resisted intense pressure to conform. The message seems to be that: if I am actually submissive; then I will go to fetish clubs or munches or kinky events. Several people have told me, quite flatly, that I would not have any chance at a relationship with them if I did not. I always wondered why they thought that would make me want to be their friend. Honestly, I like my friends to accept me as I am…not to tell me that I’m wrong and I have to conform to their ideas (this isn’t junior high, after all).

    With respect to Fetlife…well, I agree with pretty much every point of contention raised. It is cliquish. It caters to the privileged. It is permeated with a culture that can be outright oppressive. But…this is just a microcosm of our larger culture. For me, Fetlife was a place to begin understanding who I am and what I need. It continues to be a place where I meet people who are interested in F/m. Some of them I like, most of them I don’t care for one way or the other, and some I really dislike intensely. Like any website, a person has to engage critical thinking skills (if someone sounds too good to be true; then they are).

    Fetlife was a place where Mistress Delila and I met, and that would never have happened if it didn’t exist. It has a lot of faults, but I think the world is better for having it.

  6. Reblogged this on Precious terrible thoughts and commented:
    This is really helpful right now in so many ways

  7. Thank you. Thank you again. I have never before read a better post, article or entry on this subject. I particularly cherish the points you make about withholding sex, every single one of them. There is nothing that reinforces the sexual stereotypes of a female/male behaviour than these. I sometimes think that these are often peddled by the producers of commercial chastity devices, but that is maybe just my anti-commercial paranoia.

    Another theme that rings a bell is the one about wearing female clothes/or even the whole process that goes under the horrid label of ”sissification”. I have always been uncomfortable with how that was construed as a HUMILIATING act, as if being more feminine was inherently a worse state of being. I even dug out what I said to my sub-of-sorts about it once “ find the idea of humiliating anybody by turning them into a female – even a pseudo female – rather suspicious. I know it’s supposed to work because it’s a kind of metaphorical castration but it still automatically assumes that a state of being female, especially a ravenously horny one is a lower one. Which kind of turns the whole point of fem dom on its head, no?”

    I do understand the ”Domestic Discipline” pretence of ”forced” feminisation that allows the man to express something that otherwise carries too much guilt/shame, but I am personally not into it at all – although I may play it out occasionally in a fantasy narrative, but always leading to the moment when the pretence is not needed anymore – just like you, I’d rather choose stuff that would make him more beautiful rather than less. A lot of discomfort with xD, I think, has to do with the fact that many a man in drag looks like a mockery of what the traditional feminine stereotype proposes is a correct way for a woman to look like and behave.

    I was only able to start enjoying – immensely, I have to say – the feminisation games (and I now delight in buying ”girly” stuff for my sub-of-sorts; but only stuff that I like and would be happy to wear myself) when I realised that the need or desire to dress is not ”aimed” at women at all. A male who wants to express his fem side in a way HAS TO use those often caricature props of femininity because, well, wearing jeans and a lumberjack shirt (my frequent attire) will simply not work for the desired purpose.

    I disagree though in what you say about fem doms not being allowed conventionally to look or even act ”fem”. They often ARE pictured as extremely feminine (unless the definition of feminine encompasses just ”silly girly” and excludes all the other female archetypes from a goddess to a whore), beautiful, certainly made up and attired in very sexists lingerie and high heels 😉 There is also a species that goes as a ”sensual dominant” that combines all that with a nurturing, caring aspect.

    Now, I will sign off saying that I am not ”Scene” at all, my s/D exchanges are conducted at a distance of 3577 miles (yes, I bloody looked it up, the sad case I am) and although I have a fetlife account and managed to strike a very valuable connection through that (not a play partner but a sort of mentor) I am a little put out by the amount of extremely stereotypical stuff that is seen around the site (as well as by the lack of control over who sees what of what I post within the so-called community).

  8. Thank you. Thank you again. I have never before read a better post, article or entry on this subject. I particularly cherish the points you make about withholding sex, every single one of them. There is nothing that reinforces the sexual stereotypes of a female/male behaviour than these. I sometimes think that these are often peddled by the producers of commercial chastity devices, but that is maybe just my anti-commercial paranoia.

    Another theme that rings a bell is the one about wearing female clothes/or even the whole process that goes under the horrid label of ”sissification”. I have always been uncomfortable with how that was construed as a HUMILIATING act, as if being more feminine was inherently a worse state of being. I even dug out what I said to my sub-of-sorts about it once “ find the idea of humiliating anybody by turning them into a female – even a pseudo female – rather suspicious. I know it’s supposed to work because it’s a kind of metaphorical castration but it still automatically assumes that a state of being female, especially a ravenously slutty one is a lower one. Which kind of turns the whole point of fem dom on its head, no? And besides, I spent too many of my best years as just such a slut to really be able to convincingly persuade myself that there is anything very wrong with that.”

    I do understand the ”Domestic Discipline” pretence of ”forced” feminisation that allows the man to express something that otherwise carries too much guilt/shame, but I am personally not into it at all – although I may play it out occasionally in a fantasy narrative, but always leading to the moment of acceptance – just like you, I’d rather choose stuff that would make him more beautiful rather than less. A lot of discomfort with xD, I think, has to do with the fact that many a man in drag looks like a mockery of what the traditional feminine stereotype proposes is a correct way for a woman to look like and behave.

    I was only able to start enjoying – immensely, I have to say – the feminisation games (and I now delight in buying ”girly” stuff for my sub-of-sorts; but only stuff that I like and would be happy to wear myself) when I realised that the need or desire to dress is not ”aimed” at women at all. A male who wants to express his fem side in a way HAS TO use those often caricature props of femininity because, well, wearing jeans and a lumberjack shirt (my frequent attire) will simply not work for the desired purpose.

    I disagree though in what you say about fem doms not being allowed conventionally to look or even act ”fem”. They often ARE pictured as extremely feminine (unless the definition of feminine encompasses just ”silly girly” and excludes all the other female archetypes from a goddess to a whore), beautiful, certainly made up and attired in very sexists lingerie and high heels 😉 There is also a sub-species that goes as a ”sensual dominant” that combines all that with a nurturing, caring aspect.

    Now, I will sign off saying that I am not ”Scene” at all, my s/D exchanges are conducted at a distance of 3577 miles (yes, I bloody looked it up, the sad case I am) and although I have a fetlife account and managed to strike a very valuable connection through that (not a play partner but a sort of mentor) I am a little put out by the amount of extremely stereotypical stuff that is seen around the site (as well as by the lack of control over who sees what of what I post within the so-called community).

    • Thanks for reading. I’m glad it resonated. My slave and I are 1,596 miles from each other evidently, so I do know about long distance. However, it’s short enough that we are able to get reasonable flights to see each other about once a month. The ‘scene’ and Fetlife have their uses, but yes, there are also downsides involved. :/ Keep finding your own ways to explore, and never stop questioning what other people tell you is correct.

  9. This is a really good read to me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I at any time saw. Thanks for posting this useful information. This was just what I was upon looking for. I am going to come back to this site for sure!

  10. Reblogged this on In a velveteen glove and commented:
    Interesting essay on how gender-based hierarchies present in kink-land, becoming sexually self aware and forming a “bespoke D/s relationship” (which is how I’m going to refer to my relationship from now on!)

  11. Oh the boxes, we meet again. As a female-bodied person who looks borderline butch (and plans on going more in that direction once I get out of my tiny town where defying gender norms seems to be an invitation for harassment), is bi, prefers subbing, and has both a sadistic and masochistic streak, I am all for getting away from the whole “If you’re X, you must also be Y and Z” idea.

    As for the Scene and everything, I’m not particularly involved at the moment. On the one hand, I’ve actually had a fairly hard time meeting people without it, probably due to the tiny town issue. On the other hand, the strict attitudes towards hierarchies and “true subs” makes me wonder if it’ll be any better if I do join up.

    • Yeah, the scene is a good tool for finding people sometimes – I met my slave/husband at a munch! But people’s assumptions and expectations can be exhausting sometimes. I live in a pretty conservative city, so for me it’s either online or munches if I want to meet kinky people. Honestly I’ve mostly enjoyed my experiences on the scene, but there have been a few events or people who leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think you just have to try to avoid people who try to perpetuate strict hierarchies and twu anything. If that’s impossible at your munches, etc., then yes, you’re probably better off avoiding them. :/

  1. Pingback: The BDSM Scene is an abusive social institution; let their world burn (they’re doing it already) « Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed

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