Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

What hurt looks like

I described the scene as “gross” today to a friend who described kink and poly as “my life.”

I feel like I am in a hostage situation: I want a sexually submissive partner who will give me agency over his orgasms, and let me beat him. The BDSM scene reports to have such people as members in ready supply. I want nothing to do with the BDSM scene. So I’m stuck between not getting the type of loving relationship that feels best for me and getting it through a mechanism I don’t want to be part of.

So, why gross? Why can’t I take the advice I’ve been given time and time again by people who “just don’t go to munches” or “just go fishing” find what I want and leave with it in tow?

I could, but fundamentally, the above is a threat – do it our way or live alone.

So I say gross for a number of reasons, I say gross because the insular nature of the scene is based on scare tactics “the sex you want is weird, it is wrong and strange therefore you can only get it here.” And I say gross because this sense of fear creates some pretty fucked up power dynamics, it causes people to cover up abuse because of what the outside world might think AND because they feel like they have nowhere else to go and it causes people to feel ashamed of the sex they want.  It makes something as wonderful and precious as love feel like a scares resource.  Maybe it is.

But you know, the real reason I think the scene is gross is far less political.  I just don’t want to spend time with people I have nothing in common with except that we all like non-normative sex. I’m angry because intentionally or not exposure to the kink scene from, literally, my 18th birthday made me think for years that this was the only access to partners I’d ever get, and that sitting through one munch after another where some dude  older than my father told me I was doing it wrong was the cost of entry.

I think it’s gross because presenting the public BDSM scene (munches, classes, events) as the only way to find sexually like minded partners sort of shovels 18 year olds through the doors…for what?  By the way, would someone care to share the history of TNG groups as well as the resistance from within organizations such as TES and Black Rose to “allowing” younger members their own space?

I’m grossed out because the old dude who walks up to every 18 year old woman to enter the room and warn her about “dangers” is so ubiquitous in pretty much every kink community that just about anyone steeped in the scene knows exactly the dude I just described.  If you agree that dude is gross why does he still exist?  More importantly, what are the circumstances that made him that dude?  He was jailbait too once.

And if the kink scene really is that dangerous, why would I want to join?

If the private party you go to every year is an amazing experience for you, go, by all means go!

I don’t want to take away your party, I just want us all to stop pretending that BDSM is a secret cabal because as long as we do that it will have a monopoly on the sex I want and as long as it has that monopoly I can’t come and go as a free agent.

Here is what I want: I want to have the sex I enjoy with the people I love without going to meetings, munches, and state-wide fairs about it.  My lifestyle is going to work, and making bread, and traveling. Kink is not my life, but it’s a huge part of what I want in my intimate relationships.  And you know, I would love to go to that party and enjoy it, but right now I’m too raw with all the shit I watched for years because I thought it was the only way.

Someday, when that party is just a party to me again I can meet you there.  But right now this is what hurt looks like. I want to breakup with the scene, and I’ve internalized the message that if I break up with the scene no one will ever love me again, and that’s why I’m fighting so very hard.

Maybe that’s what healing looks like.

Written by kinkinexile

October 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

13 Responses

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  1. This! So much of this. The scene, the munches, fetlife – all of it is broken. And it’s not that no-one will ever love me again, it’s that five years on I don’t know where or how to find them if I don’t do broken-kink-scene. So I read other people’s kink blogs and remember.


    November 1, 2012 at 12:49 am

  2. It can be done — I’ve done it. I didn’t meet either of my partners through any kind of BDSM organization/party/munch/whatever. I met my husband in a coffeeshop, and my girlfriend found me on OKCupid. I love them to distraction and we have amazing kinky sex.

    I think the creepy dude is actually the scene’s representative from the wider culture — the same misogynist culture that tells women not to show too much skin or walk around alone at night instead of, you know, telling rapists not to rape. He’s the guy who tells you the Very Scary Story of the Boner Werewolf…and then, instead of trying to slay the werewolf, he tries to make some mileage on it himself, by being one of my least favorite kind of creeps: the creep who says, “Hey, there are creeps out there, but I’m the creep who will protect you from all those OTHER creeps.”

    Lily Lloyd

    November 1, 2012 at 4:11 am

    • the creep who says, “Hey, there are creeps out there, but I’m the creep who will protect you from all those OTHER creeps.”

      One of those creeps is named Bo Blaze. Listen to his opinions.


      November 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      • I was in a very abusive relationships with a creep from the Scene. I have been thinking about ways that that type of person/relationship could have been prevented via myself and the community.


        November 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm

  3. Why can’t I take the advice I’ve been given time and time again by people who “just don’t go to munches” or “just go fishing” find what I want and leave with it in tow?

    I could, but fundamentally, the above is a threat – do it our way or live alone.

    Somehow, I feel one of us is very confused here. When I read the above statements, they tell me you have options in regard to this community. You can do it your way, by choosing the events in which you want to participate and the individuals with whom you want to interact, or even just by using the community as a one time dating pool. The community is offering itself as a resource to you, but not as a pill you have to swallow whole. You don’t have to join every organization and attend every event to have access to our benefits – that wouldn’t be a community anyway, it would be a cult.

    The BDSM scene reports to have such people as members in ready supply. I want nothing to do with the BDSM scene. So I’m stuck between not getting the type of loving relationship that feels best for me and getting it through a mechanism I don’t want to be part of.

    In the first place, do we really claim to have these people in ready supply? Who claims that, and on what authority? This community is a conglomeration of individuals, not a hierarchy pumping out lovers of your “type” to meet market demand like a seminary of priests and bishops and archbishops. There’s no pope here promising you eternal sexual satisfaction if you’ll just do what you’re told by the ancient texts. At least – I haven’t met him. Sure, I was handed Wiseman at some point, but I was also handed Eastman and Hardy.

    I’m not trying to say your experience isn’t legitimate, or that you don’t have any right to “break up with the scene” and go your own way. I’m trying to understand how you came from feeling “the scene” was a participatory community in which you could throw your own private parties (with your own rules and your own invite lists) and even start your own public munches (with your own parameters around who was welcome and what was allowable behavior) to feeling it’s an institution holding your partners hostage.


    November 2, 2012 at 3:41 am

    • I know you two know each other, but wow, Zeph’s comment really pissed me the fuck off. What disgusting neo-libertarian bullshit that comment is. I’d love to talk with you in person about this Zeph, because you’re seriously ignorant.

      See also


      November 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

      • Frankly, I find this comment to be unacceptably rude and insulting.


        November 10, 2012 at 8:12 am

    • Zeph, you can start tracking the moment I realized something was fucked here: though I think my earlier attempts at creating my own events came out of not finding what I wanted in the scene I (we?) had access to and I wasn’t oblivious to the clashes in the scene in 2007 either (

      As for the claim that my partner preference (sexually submissive men) is readily available, here are a couple of ladies who address and respond to that sentiment:

      And as Maymay already mentioned, the Submissive Man’s Breakup Letter was a gloriously funny response to the way these men are treated by the scene (

      The community isn’t offering itself to me as anything. It is a subculture, subcultures are defined by their shared history, values, and also by their walls and boundaries. There are levels of participation – you get more status by participating at a greater level and there is typically a minimum level of participation required to get any benefit.

      “There’s no pope here promising you eternal sexual satisfaction” no, there is Wiseman telling me I’m doing it wrong, Eastman and Hardy suggesting more ways to do it (right), Califia making it hot as hell, Danny whose parties are one of the perks of participation at a higher level, Warren again explaining how wrong I’m doing it and of course the hosts of numerous invite only parties who plan events promising sexual satisfaction to their approved guest lists. Oh, and John Baku connecting us all 🙂

      Mind, there is nothing wrong with private parties kinky or otherwise, but this subculture – like any other – has its cool kids. What is the system by which those cool kids are identified and promoted to their influencer role? In what ways do they benefit from the scene? What do they give to the scene? How do they impact others in the scene?

      Basically two things happened between the time I threw those parties and organized those munches and this post:
      1) I began valuing free flow of information, peer-to-peer education (over expert models), flat organizations, and transparency far far more than I did at 18 or 21 and also a little more than I value convenience.
      2) I shifted in the sex I wanted from what was most easily attainable and promoted (submissive female/dominant male pairing) to what I didn’t know at the time was among the most unwelcomed pairings, which put a spotlight on every crack in the wall.

      I hope that makes my emotional process more clear, and maybe we can talk knitting next time I’m in town?


      November 8, 2012 at 12:25 am

  4. I feel like I’ve been able to re-unite with “the scene” only after spending two years away from it and finding a partner outside of it who happened to be kinky. Our sexual compatability is a giant happy coincidence, not the primary criterion I had for searching for a partner. I think about BDSM a lot of the time. I still don’t go to munches, but I enjoy kink-related events and workshops when I have the time. I have kinky friends in various “lifestyles.” I also have a lot of friends who consider themselves vanilla, but are kinky in one way or another. The key for me was basically to give up the concept of a single BDSM “community.” I actually don’t want it to be a community. I want kink to be widely accepted as it is, which is a part of life for people from all different kinds of communities.


    November 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

  5. I think there are several different parts to this:

    1. I want to breakup with the scene, and I’ve internalized the message that if I break up with the scene no one will ever love me again, and that’s why I’m fighting so very hard.

    Yes, exactly… Those of the rest of us who did not buy into the scene like you did are sitting on the sidelines wondering where the anger is coming from. Yes, there *are* people in the scene who will tell you that the only way to find true love is through the scene. And sure, it’s a problem that this is part of the scene mythos. A lot of the rest of us know that it’s bullshit, and we’ve already moved on with our lives and “broken up” with the scene. Or really, we never started dating the scene to begin with.

    I think the real reason you are still having trouble breaking up with the scene is that you still value all the community norms and history that the scene can bring to a relationship. Because when you go talk to someone who is in the scene, you know they have a lot of the same shared understanding about how to look at things. That is valuable, to be sure, but the fact that they have the same shared understanding also means that they have the same shared problems too. If you want one, yes, you do have to put up with the other, and so you are “held hostage”.

    So what can you do? You can try to change the community and do activism towards that. It takes a lot of effort and energy and maybe you’ll eventually see some change. There are other minor ways around this – no community is completely monolithic, so you can find parts of it that you feel you can tolerate. Or you can decide that the stuff you value about the scene isn’t worth it for the stuff that sucks about it, and you can leave.

    1.5 Let me add that yes, it is completely a myth that the only the scene has kinky people. I have more friends who are kinky who aren’t in the scene than friends who are kinky who are. It’s just that you never meet my kinky friends outside the scene as “kinky friends” – you meet them as “my friend who’s into SF” or “my friend who likes horror movies”, or etc. Also, keep in mind just how popular 50 Shades of Grey was…there is a LOT of interest and desire for kink out there. According to scene norms and values, those people who’ve never heard of SSC or RACK are doing HORRIBLY DANGEROUS things and we should never talk to them. Right.

    The things that make great kinky sex are the same things that make great sex: communication, being good at reading your partners’ non-verbal cues, a strong dose of common sense, and a willingness to try new things. And a sense of fun. The scene does NOT have a monopoly on good kinky sex.

    2. The other part of this is that I feel like you’re angry at the scene for having problems that derive from problems in the mainstream culture. Misogyny, covering up abuse, and all sorts of horrible, terrible things happen in the scene. They also happen everywhere else. This sucks, and this is the *real* hostage situation. You can leave the scene, but you’ll never leave sexism or racism or abuse of power where there is power to be had.

    What can you do? Be an activist and try to change things. Devote some portion of your life to that – whether it is the small person-by-person arguments you have with each friend who says or does something inappropriate, or the larger national or international-level movements that you become part of. But while you’re doing that, you still have to live you life. And while you’re living your life, you will encounter these terrible things, in yourself and in everyone else you talk to. Trust me, curling up in a little ball under your covers isn’t the right answer – I’ve tried that and while you get to sleep a lot, it doesn’t really do anything. So you do what everyone does – you accommodate. I don’t wear short skirts to work because I want my promotion. I laugh at sexist jokes because I don’t want to be “That Woman”. (When things cross a line I do speak up and get the issues addressed…but that line is a personal choice based on what risk I am willing to incur.) There are a million and one ways in which I accommodate terrible things on a regular basis, because I need to find what happiness I can in a flawed world.

    There’s a book out there called “The Revolution Starts At Home”. It talks about abuse *within* activism communities. It started out as a zine, put together by various victims of abuse. If you think you feel angry now about how the scene lied to you, told you it was a perfect world and everything was going to be wonderful now that you found your home community…imagine how it feels when the very activism communities that were supposed to Fix The World turn out to be also have particular reasons for abusers to be able to flourish? No community is going to be able to escape these problems, because our general society is fucked up.

    Just to be clear, I’m not saying that you should “sit down and shut up”. I’m saying, yes, you can and you probably should break up with the scene. Do the work to root out the remnants of scene brainwashing in your head, and you’ll probably be a much happier person for it. BUT, the things that you are angry about and feeling betrayed about are going to be there in EVERY community you join – they may take different forms, or be a little better or a little worse in different corners. But they are there everywhere, and we are all hostages, and we all try to find ways to find our happiness anyway. And you can do that. You can be happy despite all these problems, because we are all just trying to cope, and because the “a little better” can often be just better by enough to make it tolerable.

    Also, I think you should start with science fiction / fantasy communities if you are looking for a new home. Not because they have fewer problems, but because it can be really easy to subtly figure out who’s kinky and who’s not and in what way in a seemingly-innocuous discussion of favorite authors. *grin* I can give you some pointers….!


    November 10, 2012 at 8:01 am

  6. Reblogged this on FISTFELT and commented:
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    November 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  7. […] What hurt looks like « Kink in exile November 2, 2012 Leave a reply […]

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    May 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm

  8. […] true (very, deeply, personally true). That chatter, things like this give voice and context to the changes I’ve forced. And the stuff attributed to T, yep, that’s why blaming rape in BDSM on over culture is a cop […]

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