by Clio the Whore
A Tourist’s Guide to the BDSM World
Status is a funny thing and not always what you think it is. Service to others comes in surprising forms. What looks like sheer selfishness can in fact be a pure act of love. Where there is pain, there can be pleasure, in equal measure.
I have had the merest toe hold in the BDSM community and if you know more than I do, feel free to face palm, groan and correct me. You cannot survive in that world without developing self awareness and reflective capacity. The fiercest of them hold themselves to the highest ethical standards. I am observing only. I have no particular status in that world, but once at an event I picked up a book. Its owner took it from me and smiled, and said, that’s not for beginners. So of course I downloaded it as soon as I got home. And actually I was not a beginner. When it came to pain I was raised feral, like a child by wolves, and dealing with the BDSM community was for me like finding myself in a Jane Austen novel.
Among BDSM practitioners, possibly those with the highest status are young attractive female submissives. Why be a sub? For a start, you get a lot of care and attention. You get your emotional needs met in some interesting ways that can leave lasting marks. You can play out past trauma or just explore your edges. A good scene will transport you into a transcendent state, called ‘sub space’, where you are ecstatic, blissed out, way beyond orgasmic. At that point you are vulnerable and soft, and it is up to your dom/domme/master/mistress/sir to care for you, hold a safe space for you and bring you gently back to ordinary reality. You are loved, understood, nurtured, and in transcendental agony. What’s not to like? In fact, it is more common to ask, why would anyone bother being a dom? What does the dom get out of it?
Older male doms also have high status. It is interesting to watch a man with two or three young subs, who may sit near them, flick open his knife and casually run it down the back of one of them, or quietly but publicly half garrotte one, just playfully, mind, and all with complete happy consent. Doms have enormous responsibility as befits their power. When you dom, especially when you inflict pain, you need to read the cues of your sub really carefully, way more intuitively than any safe word (although you use those too), and in fact you need to serve your sub by articulating through your actions their deepest needs. Which are sometimes identical with their deepest fears. You are in charge of your sub’s physical, mental and spiritual welfare in a scene. I believe you can’t dom someone you don’t like. I have met people I simply don’t like enough to want to hurt. Pain is as intimate as pleasure, and more particular to the individual. If I can’t identify with you I can’t read you, and then I can’t serve you safely. So what does the dom get out of it? Not just control. Knowing you are caring for someone, the power of hurting to heal, or hurting and then healing. Being able to send someone into that space, and bring them back down safely. Finding your own edges, you need to be clear headed and wise and authentic.
Very high status are the riggers, who are usually experienced males. Riggers are the rope masters. Good rope work takes hours and is very beautiful. Riggers are very busy during any event. It is strange seeing them afterwards in mufti – they suddenly look quite ordinary, as they are when they are at the office. These guys shine in darkness, like Labradorite.
For most everyone else, it depends what you do as to where you stand in the community. This is a place where people will ask what you do and expect you to do it. At the back of the queue are the middle aged men. There are usually too many of them, and they are suspected of trawling for dates. They have to prove themselves by either doing something very impressive, or paradoxically, by showing that they are safe enough to be around the women. It is a hard road.
Of course these are observer’s notes from the periphery. It is a complicated world and if asked I will deny everything. But if you have anything to do with it, you will meet thoughtful and interesting people and you will maybe experience some true inspiration. Oh, and the book? No, it’s not for beginners.