I’ve thought a lot about what it is that I don’t like about the BDSM community. On some level, it has always felt connected to something I dislike in a kind of Venn-diagram of communities I call the Geekosphere: that overlapping universe of Neo-Pagans, BDSMers, Burners, Comicon, RenFaire, sci-fi cons, cosplay and the like. Basically anything where a Utilikilt is considered appropriate attire.
So what is it that connects all these communities? What I finally came to was that these groups all share a devotion to fantasy worlds. Often people in these communities go by made-up names that they don’t use in the real world. They split their identities, and they believe in or engage with their fantasy worlds more passionately than with the real world.
I find that devotion sad and distressing. I love the world and find it fascinating, and I want to explore it and engage with it. I want to make it clear that I’m not bothered by art or fantasy, but rather by the creation of worlds and fantasies as places to dwell.
Understanding my distaste this way has helped me to understand why I’m somewhat more comfortable with some communities Burners and members of religions of historical pedigree than I am with more outright fantasists: Burners deserve credit for creating in reality the fantasy world they want to live in, at least for moments in time; and members of traditional religions, while believing in fantasies, are at least believing in fantasies that have been around long enough to have become the basis of cultures in the real world.
So where is the BDSM community in all of this? It’s a culture of fantasy, in the sense that people create identities and situations that are out of touch with their own realities. That’s not the BDSM I want. I want BDSM that’s an organic part of a true and intimate relationship, or at least an organic creation between two (or more) people getting off. That can and does happen in the BDSM community, but it’s not really what the community is about.