The prompt for Wicked Wednesday this week is BDSM. As my blog is filled to the brim with all sorts of posts related to this I felt writing another would only end up in me repeating a lot of subject matter but then I read John D Stories post on the subject and it got me to thinking about the whole idea of BDSM labels and whether people are doing it correctly. Is my kink better or more worthy of a BDSM label or title then anyone else’s?
I have written about labels before, and how they are a necessarily evil that are the result of our use of language and a need to communicate with one another. They are essentially descriptive terms that help us explain to people who and what we are. The key to using them effectively, in my mind, is defining the label to suit you as opposed to defining yourself by the label. I clearly identify as being submissive but to really understand what that means to me you have to enquire further. Being submissive is a catch-all term that gives you an idea of our relationship and my role within it but does not tell you how that exactly it manifests itself. By using that label I am lumped in with all the other people who use it too. Are we the same? No. Is my submission better or more ‘true’ than anyone else’s? No.
We are in a 24/7 D/s relationship. Our roles within that are fairly tightly defined in that I am always the Sub and he is always the Dom. Neither of us has any desire to switch and so that makes it easier for us to identify our ‘labels’ in that regard. Our D/s relationship is also 24/7 in that it is always there, it not exclusive to the bedroom, or to our sexual relationship, it filters into every part of our day and life together and so we have another label we can adopt. We indulge in a large variety of kinks together. Some more extreme or edgy than others but does that make me a better Sub, or him a more ‘natural’ Dom? No
My submission is no better, more submissive or true (a word I hate) then anyone else’s just as his dominance is no better or more dominant than anyone else’s. I don’t own these words, I identify with them and anyone else who identifies with them, and even if it is only every other Saturday between 2 – 4pm, has just as much right to use them, explore and understand them as I do. BDSM is not an exclusive club. There are no entry requirements, no certificates of membership or certain levels you have to achieve to be entitled to use the label. In John D Stories case he talks about feeling like a fraud when it comes to adopting any BDSM terminology but I think this comes from a common misconception that there is a right or wrong way to practise these things and that by not doing it all the time or just dabbling in it somehow belittles the use of those words and I call bull shit on that. The only right or wrong way (as long as it is consensual and risk aware) is defined by you and what feels right for and your relationships. Don’t be afraid to explore what BDSM or submission, dominance, masochism or sadism means to you just because you see or hear other people’s experiences and think that you don’t fit into what they like or enjoy. Often times those people will have been exploring for years and their self-knowledge and understanding of their kink will reflect in how they talk about it and describe it but that doesn’t mean that your lack of knowledge is a reason to not find out for yourself what those words mean to you. Your kink might not be my kink but that doesn’t make mine or yours or anyone else’s more worthy or important.
Being submissive is clearly a strong part of my identity within my relationship with Sir and my desire for edgy play that explores my physical boundaries is strong and thus takes us into areas that other people would not feel comfortable with. Does that mean I have more of a right to use that term when describing myself than anyone else? Absolutely not! It might mean I know more about what it means to me and how it fits into my life, my sexual identity, desires and my relationship but that doesn’t mean I am doing it better than anyone else. It just means I am further on down my journey of discovery or understanding than others and by that standard also way behind some people too. None of us have more of a right to use those labels than anyone else. BDSM, and your place within that vast spectrum, is what you make it. What makes you happy, wet, horny, fulfilled and satisfied is what is important. At the end of the day they are just 4 letters that we have decided to use to help us in our constant quest to communicate as humans. Don’t ever let anyone tell you your kink is not ‘good enough’ or that you are not really kinky, or Dom or Sub because you are not doing it the right way or as often enough or as extreme as them. Don’t define your kink by other people’s standards or pleasures, make them all your own. You are what you are and your BDSM is yours to own and define in any way you damn well please. It is fine to use other people’s experiences, ideas and views to inform your own. We have lots to learn from one another that’s for sure but at the end of the day all that really matters is how it looks and feels for you. My kink is not your kink but that doesn’t make my kink any more or less important than the next persons it simply makes it mine!
From reading some of the comments that have been left I just wanted to add a postscript here.
I am not advocating the use of labels as compulsory AT ALL. All I am trying to say is if you want to adopt a label, don’t let other people’s comments put you off doing so. Likewise if you don’t want to use them then that is also just fine. I am certainly not saying everyone has to be Kinky or D/s or into BDSM what I am saying is, be what YOU want to be and use the labels (or not) you feel comfortable with and likewise accept the labels and meanings that other people attribute to themselves.
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I’m somewhat honoured that my thoughts prompted you to write this post; it’s an interesting read!
For me, I think it stems from me not wanting to show any disrespect; my relationship has low-levels of kink and like sausages, that must have 30% meat within them to be “meat sausages”, I just don’t feel comfortable saying that we have a relationship with BDSM play. It’s just not meaty enough, in my mind.
I know that for some, like yourself, you have a 24/7 relationship and it is a big part of your identity. It’s not for me, so for me to say that I have comparable kinks is disingenuous, at least to me. I am trying not to see this in the league-table mentality that is so prevalent in modern society,but I see the point of modern language and communication, is that words have a meaning that is widely understood. I just don’t feel that our play, as it stands at the moment, is quite there and I simply do not want to offend or denigrate the choices other people have made, by using those terms for what we do. Our games aren’t wild at all and the paddlings I get are very light, for example.
I know it sounds illogical, and perhaps I am being over-cautious. No-one should care if our play isn’t “as kinky” as them, but I’ve always seen the world as very binary and black-and-white, and in my own mind – and I appreciate that it may be self-delusion – our play is not worthy of the BDSM world. I would like to explore further, but it has to be at a pace that both my wife and I feel happy with. I am happy with what we do, and that’s the main thing. I suppose, it doesn’t matter what we call it, it suits us.
I guess I am very comfortable with what we do, but not what to call it!
I guess the other point to make is that we shouldn’t get hung up on labels or worry about them too much. If we like them and feel they fit, then YAY and if not then don’t bother with them. The key is not let the labels define you or stop you being happy with what you do because you don’t think you ‘fit’ them. I guess the key is to worry about the labels less and concentrate in being happy and having fun.
As for your meat…. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Great post! I wish more people thought like you. It’s sad that in a community that is supposed to be accepting, a lot of people are debating things such as whether someone is a “true” submissive or really into BDSM.
Posts like this give me hope 🙂
Great discussion here! I continue to be amazed as I journey along my path of exploration what hidden bits I keep finding about the D/s dynamic and my response to various elements of BDSM. Definitely keeps it interesting!!
We’ve heard (and hate) words like ‘TrueSub’. We also take issue with those people who think that their personal kink is the OneTrueWay of doing things and all others are invalid. *shudders*
This is such an interesting post – and discussion. I’m particularly taken with this line:
‘Don’t define your kink by other people’s standards or pleasures, make them all your own.’
I think that’s the crux of it. Doing what works for you, regardless of the label. Communicating ‘what’ I am is sometimes that’s easier said than done, though. (I can totally relate to John’s comment about disrespect and sausages!) I remember trying to figure out which boxes to tick when I joined Fetlife and really struggling because even I’m not sure how to categorise myself in a wider group …
Am I kinky? Or do I just have kinks? I don’t know …
Again I think the key is, is doesn’t really matter as long as you are happy. Labels are purely a form of communication and for better or worse the human race rather likes them but that doesn’t mean you have to use them. As I said, the key is defining what they mean for you as opposed to be defined by them. Oh and have LOTS of fun exploring all the possibles!
🙂 Fun and happy I can definitely do!
Excellent, thought provoking post, as always.
I’ve always defined myself as pretty vanilla, but judging by joking conversations I have had with friends, I know I’m probably quite a bit “less vanilla” than some. I can therefore identify very much with John’s dilemma.
As you say, there is definitely a human need to label things, but what strikes me as a bit of an outsider to the world of kink is that this is definitely more prevalent in the online community – for very obvious reasons. I very rarely discuss the details of my sex life with “real life” friends, for example, but can see how being part of a community can draw you towards like-minded people, so labels are needed. (Sorry, I’m struggling a little to express myself on that point, but hope you get the gist).
At the end of the day, we are all shades of grey, (if you’ll pardon the term!) and as long as we are happy, that’s all that matters.
“At the end of the day, we are all shades of grey” I completely agree with this, human sexuality is so very diverse and complicated and labels don’t really help us know about ourselves at all. The best way of finding that stuff out is to explore and learn and above all have fun doing so.
This is such a great piece. I kind of want to write about my own kinks as an example to your piece of how labels both help and hinder… perhaps. But for the record, I think you are right on the money.
As always you know exactly how to say things, exactly how to make it clear. I have learned so much from you and continue to learn, and I, just like you, see so many similarities between the ways we do things and the ways we think.
I think having a common understanding of labels or meaning of words helps us to understand other people. If I am talking to someone who identifies himself as submissive I have a completely different conversation than when I am talking to someone who identifies as a dominant. Of course everybody is different. But not *that* different. There are patterns in humans and human behavior, hence sciences like psychology and sociology. BDSM is like that to me: a set of patterns. Of course there is no ‘right’ way of doing that. But it helps me make sense of the world. But, meaning and labels change and after a while are more a hindrance than a help: I guess in another decade we coin a different term. When I was growing up and becoming aware of my ‘inclinations’ it was still called S&M… 😉
nice post, thanks for sharing.
That is a brilliant and thought provoking piece. I identify myself as utterly vanilla in terms of my experience and practice but I am and have always been fascinated by many of the things you describe. I am intrigued and not a little jealous of the intimacy described by those who do describe themselves as being in a Dom/Sub relationship. I would love to understand and appreciate all aspects of the life and comments such as yours make the whole scene far less intimidating. I will continue to absorb as much as I can, if only to quell my curiosity and improve my writing.
Thank you for writing this.
Labels can be useful – but only if you choose to identify with them. Having them applied to you is no fun at all!
Great post (and awesome pic) Molly 🙂
All sex should be about exploration and play in various measures. Yes, as you say labels are a necessary evil in today’s society and possibly the label of BDSM can put people off, which is a shame because I always view people on a spectrum of kinky…where we are all on it somewhere.
Awesome post, and it makes me less intimidated to tackle this particular for myself. Thank you!
I fully agree with the PS. I despise labels. Thank you for sharing
Well said…as usual. I agree that labels are a somewhat necessary evil given the constraints and demands of language and communication. It’s all fine and dandy to say, “I cannot be defined or labeled”, but that can make initial connection with others more difficult.
I’m okay with labeling myself, with the footnote that those labels are not fixed and are mainly defined by my own knowledge and definitions. I expect the same of others and assume that the labels are simply there to make finding others with similar interests and hobbies easier.
For example, if I am sorting through a list of possible play partners, I will focus in on those with labels that speak to me. If they have no labels…well, I’m a busy lady, and I don’t feel like investigating unless I am already invested. If we are involved, we can talk all day about what it means to be us, dissect it, analyze it, name and rename it. That’s what communicating is all about…self-discovery and connection with others.
True, very true. I hate the bigotry that some BDSM practitioners have against people. I suppose I am a “fake” because I don’t go to dungeons, I am not part of the scene, I do not even have an easy outlet for my submissive or kinky side. But then I am into scat and a whole range of things hardcore BDSM practitioners have on their Hard Limits list. It frustrates me that just because I have Hard Limits on who I will play with, and therefore how much I can practice my needs/desires, I am not considered part of the community.
It makes me less inclined to want to be part of “their” community – because that is not my definition of community. The sex blogging sphere of Wicked Wednesday/Sinful Sunday et al is far more inclusive and that is what community means to me. It is a community that does not care about labels.
VERY well said.
I love this post!! As always, you know just what to say. And really awesome pic at the end there. It’s so yummy!
I loved this read. It made me think about my own ‘labels’ or things I ‘come under’ in terms of BDSM. And actually, I realised that though I identify with quite a few well versed ‘labels’, but actually, I very rarely say them outloud or even write them down. I’m pretty sure that most don’t even know the depths of how far I take BDSM. I pondered why for a moment. The only thing I can say is, it is because those ‘labels’ matter to me & the person I am most intimate with. To others, it matters not what I am. If you like me, you like me, for me. Simple. Sure, when I’m with a bunch of kink~minded people, it may arise, but then you’re choosing to talk about it with non~judgemental people.
I love the idea of defining the label to suit you, rather than defining yourself by the label.
The BDSM labels are something I’ve struggled with too. Sometimes their use makes me cranky because I don’t seem to neatly fit anywhere.
But it doesn’t matter. Thank you for sharing and helping me remember that.