BDSM folks talk about their "play" as their "kinky" world, as opposed to the "vanilla" or conventional world they normally inhabit. A few might give the two worlds equal importance, but for most, the "real world" is the real world, and their "kinky" side is just a fantasy realm within the real world used to temporarily, mentally escape the real world. Many will admit that they would never want to truly live out these fantasies for real.

But what about those of us who do want to make these fantasies reality? They are not just fantasies, but deep urges at our core. As much as possible, we want to leave behind the conventions of the "real world" and participate in activities that they would call unsafe. We want to exist in a way that would be labeled mentally ill in the conventional world. The conventional world seems unreal to us, its measures of success and happiness are fantasies to us. We don’t belong in the "real world", yet we are trapped there, and we are trying to find a permanent escape from that unreality. We want to create our own space where we can live as we see fit, beyond the judgment of others. We want to be our own standard by which our integrity is measured.

We are like fish living on land, gasping for air every second, just trying to survive. But when we slip below the surface of the water, where others immediately drown, we fly! We can live there, we can thrive there, and maybe, we never have to return to the surface.

I have spent years among those in BDSM, trying to participate in that community. I have met self described "dominant" women (not one of whom was truly dominant) who, when I describe my struggle, will say "why do you torture yourself, its just a fantasy." But of course, its not just a fantasy, and it became very clear that this is a chasm that cannot be bridged.

From my perspective, there really is no difference between the BDSM community and the "vanilla" world, they both exist within the same strict limits of convention. And you can see why BDSM participants would be angry with this; they are very proud of being different, special, because of their play time. But to me, they just look like everyone else. BDSM is in fact, very deeply embedded within normal social conventions.

I talk of "us" because I know there must be others out there like me. I have seen them on FetLife, trying to exist on the edges of that community, or even wrongly believing they are part of that community. But anyone participating in activities with labels like total power exchange, female led relationships, cuckolding, enforced chastity and others are living something that is only "played" in BDSM. In fact, I can see where online, those involved with female led relationships, or its rough counterpart, "taken in hand" have started very small, loosely organized spaces of their own. There are those who describe what they do as "consensual non-consent" or "edge play" who are probably beyond consent, and beyond the edges of BDSM, but pretending not to be because they don’t want to step outside that community. And I have seen "femdom" porn, probably overwhelmingly created by submissive men, that depict violent acts far outside BDSM. Is there any doubt that some, perhaps many people, willingly enter and remain in "abusive" relationships, and that for those people, the conventional model of victim-hood does not fit?

A BDSM person could say "but some of these activities are illegal" and I would say "so what?" These activities are obviously within the scope of normal human experience, and are in fact, quite common. You can say that because they are illegal, you won’t participate in them (which assumes you have a choice in the matter, which you clearly don’t, or laws would be unnecessary), but what you can’t do is say that because these activities are illegal, they don’t exist. Yet this is the exact proposition at the core of BDSM values. Its so fundamental that most within the BDSM community do not even see anything outside these narrow bounds, they live as though "abuse" does not even exist as a possibility, because "abuse is not BDSM" and they believe consent cannot be violated.

I don’t know if all of us have enough in common to create our own overall support community like BDSM, but it would at least be nice to know that we are not alone, there are others out there like us.

Leave a Reply