"I'm worried about you."
A vanilla friend recently told me that he was very concerned that I was still into BDSM. He thought it was a phase that I would eventually get over and he was concerned for my well-being. He even blamed it on one of my exes, but I reminded him that I had found BDSM way before that relationship, as far back as 2005.
I gave this man's words a lot of thought because I've known him a very long time and he's a good friend of mine.
The truth is, I'm not into BDSM because I like to get hit or because I purposely pursue difficult relationship dynamics. Nearly every kinkster I know has faced this question at one time or another.
My friend, therapist Kate Loree, debunked it very elegantly when I was talking to her about writing this blog piece. “The stereotype and myth that BDSM practitioners are recapitulating an abuse history comes from a place of ignorance," she said. "Many studies show that BDSM practitioners are not any more likely to have an abuse history or be emotionally damaged than the general populace. In fact, some studies show that BDSM practitioners are less neurotic, more open, more secure in their relationships and have better overall well-being.”*
Kate Loree, Steven Aleck & Hudsy speaking at CatalystCon
I’m still into BDSM after all this time because I love the emotional rewards and relationship tools it can provide. With a negotiated connection, I can create deep intimacy and trust with a partner, something I didn't really see as an example while growing up.
Whatever childhood experiences we want to attribute our interests in BDSM to, it doesn't truly matter. It's not my parents fault that I'm in touch with certain fetishes or kinks. The simple truth is I believe the principles of BDSM challenge all of us to be truly connected, to be clear and concise and consensual and to ask for the things that we really want from our partners. Even though some may choose to lead double lives, I am OUT because I want to help people see that kink can be the cure. If we have courage and stand up for what we want from one another and just be honest, we can heal ourselves with the very things that made us who we are in the first place. And we can celebrate them to our hearts' desire. We can Master our own inner demons and make them submit to a happier, healthier set of rules. Those "strange and unique" things about each of us are much too beautiful to deny or abandon.
All Tied Up in Jamaica at Kink in the Caribbean, photo courtesy Hudsy Hawn
Don't get me wrong: I'm not a brand new player living in a current state of “sub-frenzy.” I’ve been around long enough to have made the best of my worst mistakes and I’m still here. And while I love being open-minded and kinky and up for most adventures (within reason, of course) my desire is safe, sane and consensual planning with a committed partner. I could hang my heart on a person who respects my boundaries, enforcing and even, remembering them! A compatible co-star to share those fantasies with every day is something I believe in for all of us . To serve and be served. To learn and grow together, just as our community does with one another. This living, breathing, amazingly open community that exists all over the world, with people more free, more expressive, more courageous, more themselves than anyone else I've ever met. If only some of my vanilla friends had that kind of honest freedom in their relationships.
"Don't you get it?" my friend debated. "You’re never going to find the right relationship if you keep participating in this BDSM stuff." Now I start to hear his original concern as more of a judgemental discrimination. This from a friend who has occasionally asked if I know any women who will have a three-way with him and his (reluctant) girlfriend. And now suggests maybe I could be his newest secret lover. How does this have more integrity than my alternative practices?
Once again, Kate puts her finger on it for me: "These kind of statements sound laden in cultural shame. Shame often leads to a lack of honesty with the self and others. I would argue that such a partner is WAY more likely to cause real and lasting emotional pain then an honest partner that owns that they are kinky, non monogamous or more."
Some may practice dishonest BDSM dynamics or hidden poly while others live with complete uprightness in other various forms of vanilla or alternative relationships. Even with so many titles and practices out there, we can still lose the courage to clearly communicate our needs in the first place. I believe that ongoing communication in most alternative lifestyles also utilizes certain BDSM-like principles and protocols, which only helps to enforce extreme caution, courtesy, discussion and care before, during and afterward.
So I surprised my friend and admitted to him that amidst all the amazingly colorful people I choose to hang out with, I am as of right now, a romantic and loyal monogamist. But I don’t judge anyone else’s choices just because they're different than mine and I’m not naïve enough to say I won’t change my role again down the road, should I build a safe, sane, and consensual trust with a partner.
Kink is in the eye of the beholder. ;-)
Hudsy Hawn (photo by Tommy O)
My personal truth is this: BDSM, D/s, roleplay, alternative lifestyles, being a hedonist, all of those choices play right into the things I need as a very emotionally open and loving person. And yes, I want to keep trying new things and learning from it all.
So thank you, dear readers. Thank you for not giving up on your kinky selves or this place the newbie vanilla-curious labels “Fifty Shades Land.” Keep on drinking the Kool-Aid with me. Continue to inspire and desire your partner(s).
Every. Single. Day.
Thank you to Kate for her contributions to this piece. And to my community of Hedonistic Heroes: From monogamy, to poly, to BDSM and everything in between, you are my mentors and my muses. I thank each of you for the courage to be yourself.
YOU are the cure that is Kink.
* "Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners", by Wismeijer AA, et al., The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2013
About Kate Loree:
Kate Loree, LMFT, ATR, MBA is a recurring educator and speaker at Stockroom University. She is a sex-positive licensed marriage and family therapist with a specialty in kink, poly, swing/lifestyle, and sex worker communities. She has been featured on Playboy Radio as well as the popular Buzzfeed video "Ask a Polyamorous Person."
This entry was posted in Educational, Hudsy Hawn on May 25, 2017 by Hudsy Hawn.