Updated: Aug 23
I want to address the apparently growing trend of discovering and practicing kink without connecting to actual humans you are not having sex with.
I have recently come across a couple of articles [here and here] about the increased exposure of kink to the mainstream. I have also experienced a surge in people contacting me online. When I ask them what munches or groups they participate with, they say none- they do kink in private.
Please keep in mind, I write the following fully aware that I write about kink for a living:
You cannot become a well-rounded kinky person if you do it in private.
I am big proponent of Kink University videos, online tutorials, reading a lot of different kink blogs, books, and educational materials. There are a lot of great kink education resources out there for you to learn from. BUT… kink and BDSM is ultimately about connection and community. You MUST connect with other kinky folks (not just who you are sleeping with) to develop as a kinky person.
I have met at least a dozen men who think they are D-types. They have granted themselves the title of “Master” and “Dominant” after a couple of months of going down Google holes and reading threads on Fetlife. They take up playmates and talk a big game. I have had two tell me they have no need for a mentor because they have learned everything they need to know from reading. One even claimed he was “too smart” to need to connect with other D-types.
The biggest thing I have learned being part of different kinky communities for 30 years is that there is no substitute for the person-to-person connection. The kinky world has long been based on community. We connect to pass along information, skills and more importantly create connections. Virtual connections just don’t work the same as real world connections.
But I have good friends who I met online and never have met in person.
Sure, we all have people we have connected with virtually. I have a whole bank of people I can reach out too online with questions and to talk about stuff. However, I can’t read body language on line. A person’s energy is altered when you facilitate it through a screen. It is hard to have more than an one-to-one connection online in real time. A virtual *hug* is never as satisfying and connecting as an actual hug.
I am a visual learner. I don’t need classes or people.
The core of a good scene is about the power exchange and the personal connection. Lots of folks have decent techniques for impact, electric play, and other forms of play. A technically proficient scene can leave someone deeply lacking in satisfaction if you cannot create a meaningful connection- even if it is only for one night.
It takes time, practice and actual people to learn how to create a significant connection for kinky play. Sure, you can pick up some “trick” on line for creating a connection. However, without actually connecting with people in different settings and for different reasons, you will lack the skills to create the connections needed for really satisfying kink play.
I’m fed up with the “drama” in the community.
I understand this sentiment. I have been in a community where there is all sorts of drama- infighting, cliques, undermining of venues. And yes, over time dealing with all the newbies who cross boundaries simply because they are new gets old. That is all legitimate and people can need to take a break from their local scene.
The kink community is important to developing as a kinky person. We create connections, are exposed to new and different forms of BDSM and kink, we are forced to think about our personal approach to kink and power exchange, and we develop friendships. The virtual versions of these things are much more limited than actually having to interact with people in public.
We also pass along knowledge, codes of conduct, and safety information in person that we don’t online. Unless you are out with your community, you are missing a big chunk of what kink is.
I can’t do community events because of my job/my family/my dog/insert additional excuses here.
Mmmmm… I doubt it. Yes, being a public spokesperson for the kink community can negatively impact certain jobs. I was quiet about my kink while holding the position of Executive Director for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. My position was political, visible and I recognize America is not at a point where if pictures of me on a cross being whipped came out, I could reasonably go before the legislature and ask for another million dollars to support women who are escaping domestic violence. Our culture is too limited and simple to have a rational conversation about the difference between consensual kink and domestic violence. But that did not stop me from quietly participating in submissive discussion groups, going to munches, and connecting with my community.
The reality is, people at kinky events protect people at kinky events. We know if we are there, it is a “mutually assured destruction” situation if we say we ran into someone else there. You may not be able to go to large, open and public events (e.g., Folsom Street Fair), but there are plenty of smaller, quiet gatherings for local kinksters. Hell, I held kinky cocktail hours at my house where people engaged in full protocol, nudity and the like and had plenty of people attend who’s jobs were not amenable to being public about kink. With good vetting, I managed to keep everybody’s reputation safe for years.
Take some time to find out what groups feel right to you and connect.
I am not in the lifestyle. I just like to do some stuff in the bedroom.
You still benefit from connecting with your community. Even if all you ever do is a little light spanking and maybe some name calling for birthday sex, your sex life will improve if you connect with kinky people. We talk about making connections, techniques, and bonding. Trust me, a few munches, support group meetings or classes, and your love life will improve.
I am grateful people have more avenues for discovering and exploring the sex they want to try. Connecting with a community will make you safer. We can help vet partners, give you tools and techniques for safe play, and provide friendships for when something goes awry (and it eventually will) and you need to talk to someone.
Everyone benefits from having a community connection. It can be scary to go to your first munch, your first dungeon, your first kink party but it is worth it!
For a listing of events around the US, check out BDSMEvents.com.