Critical Thinking & BDSM: Undeserved Authority?

Can we please acknowledge some things?

1) Event organizers have privilege in the kinkoverse.  So do presentors and titleholders (both active and former).

That privilege comes in the form of  granted/perceived authority.  People trust us.  New people come into our world and look to us to see how things are going to be done.  They assume know what we’re talking about; after all these (organizers, educators, presenters &  titleholders) are seen as leadership positions in the kinkoverse.   Personally, I think that gives us an extra burden to do things right – and by right I mean consensually and with respect for others.  Once you’re doing those things, the rest of  how you practice your BDSM is your own business.  If I can share something that you find useful, awesome, but I don’t expect you to do things my way.  Hell, most of the time I advise against it.  I’m a long hard road kinda gal.  Unfortunately, not everyone feels the way I feel.

2) We (presentors, organizers, titleholders etc) do not always deserve this privilege.

Some of us do; we work hard, and organize well.  We educated ourselves before we started teaching.  We admit to the things we don’t know and we treat others with compassion and respect.  We’ve done ‘the work’ for years now and have shown ourselves to be worthy of the respect and authority people give to us.

But others?  No.  They’ll use the authority granted to pick up quick relationships with newbies (without obeying the campsite rule).  Other’s want to to be able to flag silver lame on the right for a change and view organizing, teaching, or competitions as the quickest route to notoriety.

Running a munch is actually super easy; all it takes is the drive to book a venue and promote it.  Running a munch well, and growing your munch is another story.  But setting up a munch?  Anyone can do it.  Which is both incredibly awesome and empowering…. and incredibly frustrating watching people who have been driven out of local events for poor behaviour start their own munches.

And FetLife Groups?

As much as I’m a big fan of everything web 2.0 has given to kink; anyone who has an internet connection can sign up for FetLife and make a group.  Really.  Anyone.  The most ssc-rack-prick-iest mofo out there could be the mod of a 3 person group on ancient kinks of mesoptamia, and meanwhile Kinksters in Toronto has almost 4,000 people in it, yet the leaders have been banned from most local events due to harassment of fellow attendees.

My point?  You can’t be sure someone is worthy of authority based on titles, especially ones you’re able to give to yourself.

3) To separate the good from the bad, you’re going to need to make decisions based on the information you know or can easily find out.

Don’t be afraid to ask around, ask a variety of people what they think of Sally or Munch Q.   Look to see if Educators and presentors admit that there are things they don’t know.  Ask for sources and from whom or where they learned what they teach.    Ask organizers if they’ve ever been banned from any events.  Look at the events people you know attend, and which ones they don’t.

If you ask questions and people choose to respond by saying they don’t want to get sucked into the drama (which is a whole ‘nother rant)- consider that a red flag.  There is some kinda issue surround the person or event you’re asking about.  Feel free to proceed, but do so with the awareness that  something is up, and you don’t know exactly what that is yet.

4) Critical thinking:  it won’t make things perfect, but that is not a reason to give up on it.

Bad things happen.  Following best practicies for safety and taking precaution cannot garuntee a phyisically and emotionally perfect BDSM experience – it can’t in life and this is one of those times where the kinkoverse and the world-at-large are no different. But do we live with no regard for our personal safety in our daily lives because we could be hit by a bus tomorrow?  Not often.  So why do it in BDSM?

Decide what level of risk you’re willing to take while you explore the kinkoverse – not just when you’re in scene.  Think critically about where you get your information and education from.  Think critically about who you trust with your privacy, with those dirty photos of you.  Think critically at whose advice you take.  Think critically about the events you attend.  And most importantly, think critically about who you’re giving authority to.  By no means am I saying don’t  do these things…. just take a moment to think.

I truly believe that the skills and education needed to make  informed choice is the best armour we can give people while they explore the scene.

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6 thoughts on “Critical Thinking & BDSM: Undeserved Authority?

  1. BH says:

    As a fellow Toronto organizer, whether that privilege is deserved or not on my part, I agree with you big time. – in fact I make a point of not playing at the majority of my play party events because i want to spend my time making sure the attendees are getting everything out of the event.

    I think there are certainly organizers who run parties and munches with the exclusive goal of finding playmates (with varying levels of consent and assent), rather than the broader goals of giving the community a desirable and attractive event. Sometimes I’m shocked at how long these organizers last in the community – some of them for upwards of a decade, and in the face of all of their actions, their events are magically still well attended.

    if nothing else, this proves that Laissez-faire capitalist theory is deeply flawed – the invisible hand is an idiot.

  2. submissiveself says:

    Good gods, Heather, I think I love you more every single time I read your stuff. Not because I think you’re perfect; because, specifically, how willing you are to share your IMperfections. This, to me, is what safety’s about. This is what I find safe, inspiring, alluring in others. 🙂 Thank you.

    And to the actual topic, it’s so wonderful that this is out here, and I hope that many many many newbies read this and actually take the time to consider not only their own actions, but others, and events, from this perspective. Doing the leg work of actually investigating something before showing up is such an enriching experience specifically beCAUSE it puts you into the practice of thinking critically, and engaging the thoughts, opinions, and intuitions of others as well. And oftentimes, amidst all the passion, and the hotness, and the sheer excitement and confusion, those are the anchors that keep us sane, and safe.

  3. Larkie says:

    One of my favorite quotes ever is one that I try to apply to everything in my life:

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

    -Buddha

    That goes double for BDSM, events, organizers, and everything else.

  4. sookiegirl says:

    Thank you for this slice of reality. I’m new on FL and looking to begin exploring. But I’m trying to do my research first. I know that I’ll truly enjoy myself ONLY when I feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
    If it’s true that power can corrupt, then corrupt people must also be looking for power. On the other hand, leadership that inspires great actions in their followers is a good indicator of healthy dynamics. Maybe…
    My Latin teacher always drilled into us that before we made passionate decisions to remember the Latin for sane: sanus; it might stop one making an ass of oneself.

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