Thursday, June 14, 2012

BDSM and Exhibitionism are not the same thing...

I've been noticing something lately...a creeping assumption that if you are truly "in the lifestyle" then you are out in the community, at play parties, at dungeons, at munches, sharing your dynamic with others.

I really don't think this is true.

BDSM communities can be a great thing. They can be forces for education, for friendship, and of course a place to find a like-minded partner or partners. They can offer protection when things feel uncomfortable or confusing, and solace when things go wrong. But being an active part of your local community is not a prerequisite to being a top, bottom, or switch. Your dynamic doesn't have to be public to be valid. Let me repeat that:

Your dynamic doesn't have to be public to be valid.

I've been kind of bothered by something I've seen more and more in BDSM circles, this kind of unspoken expectation that public play is somehow required. Worse, that you must somehow always be playing harder, edgier, kinkier to impress those who watch. That "bedroom-only" is somehow less, and public play is what the really serious people do. This saddens me, because some of the most intense BDSM scenes certainly take place in the privacy of people's own homes. When we belittle "bedroom-only" players, BDSM becomes about exhibitionism and voyeurism, about measuring up to outside observers.

If exhibitionism and voyeurism is your thing, by all means, put it all out there, loud and proud. But don't be afraid to say, "You know, I am not comfortable getting my perv on in a group, in front of an audience." Plenty of people are happy to share and be open. However, if people do not feel comfortable being an open book, putting their dynamic "out there" for the perusal of others, I believe this should be respected too.

I have a touch of the exhibitionist in me, I admit it. My husband does not. He is, in fact, an intensely private person. Many times I've fantasized about being played with in public. I would be a little scared, but I think I'd enjoy being watched, and making that connection with the watchers. However, I couldn't ask my husband to do something that would make him so uncomfortable and frankly, turned off. It wouldn't be enjoyable to me if he wasn't enjoying it. Public play, even connection with the community, is not for everyone.

Sometimes I think we've lost so much privacy through Facebook, Fetlife, Twitter, online blogging, Google Plus, LinkedIn, all those social network connections we juggle, that we've forgotten that discretion and mystery is also okay. Just because you don't want to get out there in the community to network and show your stuff in front of others doesn't mean you have to surrender your kinkster card.

Most of all, you should never, ever feel compelled to play publicly in order to measure up to others, or to somehow prove your kinkiness. The only one you have to prove anything to is yourself and those you play with, either in public or behind firmly closed doors.

Exhibitionism is hot, but not when it's non-consensual. Always be true to yourself.



6 comments:

  1. I really like this post. For two reasons. Because I am in the same situation as you. I have an exhibitionist inside me, and my husband doesn't like to share any inch of me to anyone and does not want to be watched. We are members of a club, and we do go, we play in the private rooms if my husband (Sir) decides to. But we have our own dungeon at home, and our play takes place in there. Any exhibitionist fantasy that I have takes place usually in the books that I write. It is a great way to explore when you use your characters as inspiration.

    And I just want to say, Annabel. I have read your whole Club Mephisto Series and you are officially one of my writing icons and I look up to you so much! Fantastic story that moved me and tugged at every emotion possible. THANK YOU SO MUCH for that series!

    -Bonnie

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  2. You are so welcome, Bonnie. I'm glad you liked them! And I don't think couples like us are unusual at all. With all the new folks coming into the BDSM world, I don't want them to think playing publicly is the only way to do it "right." What's right is whatever feels right to the involved players, IMO...

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    1. I know that a lot of female readers of this genre respect you, and your writing. I am glad that you have such a great voice to tell people that things are 'ok' when others might say 'nope club only'. Even I know that's silly. But I also have a husband that just can't quiet get there with my exhibitionist kink ;-P

      Which is ok, he built me a playroom so it all works out :-)

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  3. Thank you, Annabel! That really needed to be said. BDSM comprises so much more than just scening in clubs. I consider Mr Robin and myself part of the BDSM world, but it's a very private thing for us, and we enjoy knowing our friends and family would be gobsmacked to find out what goes on in the privacy of our bedroom. It's fun knowing we have defined roles in our relationship that would leave most of the couples we know scratching their heads. If we ever had the chance to go to a club together (and in rural Nebraska, the chances of that are slim to none), we'd only do so to indulge our voyeuristic impulses.

    Now, as far as books... When I read a BDSM story where the scening all takes place in clubs, it leaves me feeling dissatisfied -- like I just dined at a world-class restaurant but was only served dessert. I much prefer books where the BDSM is completely, or at least mostly, private, where the characters have only each other to think about and be acountable to. That's one reason why I love your books so much--the BDSM is about the characters, not the club scene. Yes, Mephisto ran a club but it was just one tool among many (and certainly not the most important one) he used on Molly. So keep up the good work!

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  4. I am in complete agreement here. I think it's one of the things, especially in writing, that turns me off of club books. I don't think public play is any more real than private play and sometimes I think public is not about the Dom/sub as much as it is about the exhibitionism and voyeurism. I like to watch as much as the next person, but I like to play in private. I have found the same kind of train of thought though that if one doesn't play in public, one isn't really real. It's sad when we start placing such expectations on one another in a lifestyle I was drawn to because of its acceptances of so many different needs and expressions. Excellent post...

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  5. Noo! The problem of the slightly exhibitionist/no verbal filter wife and the husband who will have none of it. It's taken me awhile to move past the idea that I won't be able to play out many of my exhibitionist fantasies, but you're right. If my husband isn't enjoying it, I would not either.

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