Meant for the Shadows

Thanks, in part, to 50 Shades of Shitty Prose, BDSM is now being trotted out as ‘just another form’ of sexual expression, as something that’s acceptable, healthy, just misunderstood. It’s now an ‘alternative lifestyle’ ready to be mainlined by mainstream America right?

Fuck all that noise.
Some things were meant to remain in the shadows.

I’m quite sure many in the BDSM community will take issue with this point of view for a panoply of reasons  I won’t bother enumerating.

I’m equally sure I don’t care what the larger community thinks because it’s a farce, a co-opted, well-illuminated, middle-class joke, with deflated cocks and clown hats.

Not that any of this is surprising, new, or even ‘bad.’ But it is rather annoying.

Make no mistake, I know where we came from. I think an America more accepting of homosexuality, less hung up about sexuality in general, and just coming around to third-wave feminism, is not just a good thing. It’s awesome!

It’s the normalization and dilution of yet one more sub-culture that sucks. Yep – it sucks big, hairy, donkey balls.

None of this is new. It is déjà vu all over again when I think of two other subcultures I once loved: tattoos and punk rock.

When I go my first tattoo, it was almost exclusively outlaws and military men that got ink on their lower arm. I had no desire to express my creativity or be accepted by society. My tattoos were a rejection of cultural norms, a middle finger to society.

Of course, back then I was just a punk kid who wasn’t nearly half as tough as I thought I was, but that’s not the point.

The point is those of use who marked ourselves as outlaws or outsiders did so knowing full well there’d be personal and professional consequences as a result. The only acceptance we wanted was by a small group of people who were unacceptable to ‘the norm.’ Similarly, those in the service marked themselves as being a part of a group of professional warriors ready to kick ass or die trying.

And while were on the topic of kicking ass, let’s think about hardcore punk.

Been to a hardcore punk show recently? If so, were you even the slightest bit afraid someone might knife you for looking at them funny? Better question, did the cops beat you, harass you, or try to find a reason to lock you up as you went into the show? Did you go anyway? Did the band end up joining the crowd in turning on the roid-rage bouncers when they beat up some skinny kid?

Of course not.

This music and culture, which went out of its way to be violent, crass, and as self-destructive as it was introspective, is now so sugar-coated and normalized, it makes me nauseous.

Sha-na-na cryogenically frozen. Only, later revived as Blink 182.

Fuck. You.

Some readers might wish to inquire:

  • Am I aware that the human drive to mark and adorn our skin goes back as far as we can see?
  • Do I realize there’s no such thing as an ‘original’ youth subculture, and it’s all been done before?
  • Do I just want those damn kids off my lawn?

Yes, of course I know those things.
No, I think the kids are alright.

Things change, culture evolves, and sometimes it’s for the greater good: Where I once had to go into “some guy’s” garage or dingy shop to get a tattoo, I now have my choice of clean, regulated shops staffed by professional artists. That’s all well and good, but I’d argue punk rock is yet another co-opted art form that serves as a cautionary tale.

To paraphrase Lux Interior, you know the scene’s a bust when the squares are promoting the show.

Because peering beyond all the positive reasons kink is being normalized, there’s a vast landscape of what’s been lost and what’s being, dangerously, misunderstood. The rituals, bonds, and teaching of practical knowledge meant for those in the margins and shadows have rapidly shifted to the center where it is unappreciated and, mostly, ignored. Example: as one reader pointed out, these stupid books are being used as a manual to practice impact play and TPE. The political implications of this are scary enough when it comes to legislation sponsored by moral crusaders, but the co-option by political groups complicates things further. Suddenly, what was transgressive and a-political is now wrapped in shiny paper, slathered in one-line bumper stickers, just before a big, red bow is placed on top. Or a political bulls eye, depending on your perspective.

Look, as a social liberal, I think the gradual un-clenching of America’s Puritanical, patriarchal sphincter is a good thing.

As an unrepentant 21st-century libertine, I find the number of squares piling through the doors to be both amusing and irritating. Mostly irritating.

John Waters once made a comment about homosexuality he caught a ton of flack for. But I loved him for saying it. And it just so happens to make a succinct point relating to how I feel about BDSM. When discussing the gradual, cultural acceptance of homosexuality, Waters said he thought it was great more people are able to come out of the closet, but added:

“I wish some gay people would go back in. We have enough.”


2 thoughts on “Meant for the Shadows

  1. Thank you for the comment, and I think you raise some great points.

    That some idiot thought he had a ‘right’ to touch you, much less assault you, because he read a pulp novel is a separate discussion but certainly one that should occur. Frankly, I’m sorry the only fist he caught was yours. -Though, I’ll bet it hurt!

    Fools abound whether something is mainstream or not, but it becomes a numbers game when the attendance at ‘Insert new and nifty fetish event here’ rivals a Star Trek Convention.

    Another reason to stay away from them says me, but why should anyone even have to worry?

    Your point about folks engaging in acts and entering into agreements where they can do real damage is well taken. The state’s attempts at legislating morality are onerous enough (War on Drugs & Sodomy laws anyone?) without giving it ‘more ammo’ to do so.

    I think one of the main reasons I prefer the shadows, is I dread the looming ‘national conversation’ about D/s and BDSM. I don’t want this brought up on the Today Show, thank you very much.

    And then don’t forget to catch the new hit show, “kinksters” on right after “Doomsday Preppers.”

    All of this is ripe to become sensationalized, legislated, then tediously televised….and then lame. Just lame.

    Good luck to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can definitely understand your point of view, and I harbor a seething hatred for those God-awful books, but I think I lean more towards the other end of the spectrum.

    The normalization and mainstreaming of BDSM bothers me, but for different reasons. I don’t really mind that it’s not in the shadows anymore, that it’s not on the fringes of what is considered normal from a societal standpoint.

    What bothers me is the sudden influx of people who have flooded the community I belong to, and other communities all over the place. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve spoken to who want to be submissive because they got off on the books. They have no idea what the hell they’re doing, what a real D/s or BDSM relationship is, and haven’t taken the time to at least fucking Google some shit.

    And the men are even worse. One of the very few times in my adult life, where I lost my cool, was in an interaction with a man who heard about the books, thought it would be hot to have a woman be at his beck and call, and showed up at a munch, without so much as a Google search on his phone (seriously, what happened to the Google-is-your-friend shit?). He assumed that my gender dictates my orientation (because the chick is submissive in the books, so all chicks must be submissive, right?) and thought it was amusing when I rejected his advances. He grabbed me by my hair and called me a slut, telling me that he’d pull my dress up and spank me right there if I didn’t do as he says (because that’s what the guy did in the books, so that’s what all Dominants do, right?). Of course, I responded with a fist to the testicles, and quite a few very loud words.

    Luckily, one of the leaders of the group, a good friend of mine (and the man who married my husband and me, incidentally) had seen the entire thing and was able to separate us before I completely lost my shit and did something stupid to ruin the venue for the entire munch, and helped me calm down. But that man was not the first of his kind, nor the last. He was simply the dumbest. That’s just one example. And it’s not even the worst example I could relate. It’s merely the one that happened to me.

    People are reading those books like a BDSM manual, and infecting everyone and everything around them with their fucked-up perceptions. The mainstreaming of BDSM is leading to a whole lot of uneducated, ignorant assholes waking up one morning and deciding they want to spank someone, or they want to be spanked, and not bothering to figure out what that entails. I’m actually shocked that we haven’t yet seen headlines from someone getting hurt because of their ignorance. Beating a sub on their lower back can cause significant damage to the kidneys and spine, beating a sub on their lower abdomen can cause significant damage to the unprotected organs there. Single-tail whips (particularly the heavier rubber ones) can cut flesh from bone if not controlled. Things that are already inherently dangerous, like fire play and needle play, can be devastating if done by someone inexperienced and unaware of or unconcerned with learning proper precautionary measures. Controlling someone’s diet, as I believe whats-his-name did in the books, can cause health issues, particularly if a sub has a dietary issue such as Celiac, Diabetes, or anything like that. More than that, controlling a sub’s diet for the purposes of forced weight loss can cause all kinds of issues if not done properly, and if the weight loss isn’t monitored by a doctor.

    But none of these people seem to care, and eventually someone is going to get hurt. And once that happens, once it hits the headlines, BDSM won’t even be on the fringes of society. It’ll be outright attacked, and all kinds of new, fun state laws will be passed. The general public is already divided enough on the subject of BDSM. Once the anti-BDSM folks have ammo like that, they’ll double and triple their efforts to make it illegal. In some states (like Nevada, where I live) it already is illegal. Nevada Revised Statute 201.235 obscenity law states that sadism and masochism are illegal, and is considered assault even between two consenting adults practicing safely. I have no idea how many other states have similar laws. As of now, these aren’t really enforced. But all it’s going to take is one uneducated person making one stupid mistake, and it’ll fuck everything up for the rest of us. That’s what I have a problem with. And that’s why I hate that it’s becoming mainstream.

    And holy shit, I did not realize this comment was so long. I tend to ramble. My bad.

    Liked by 1 person

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