The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I want to talk about sources and research about BDSM and D/s relationships. With the development of the Internet, it has become very easy to find information about BDSM nd connect with different communities. You no longer have to look at ads in the back pages of your local alternative paper, call a number, get a password and address, and show up to some clandestine group to meet kinksters. Kink is no longer in the shadows.

However, not all information on the web about kink and BDSM is GOOD, ACCURATE or USEFUL. Some is downright wrong and dangerous.

So, how can you dear reader, know what is good information and what is bad? I have a few tips. Finding and evaluating information is probably my foremost skill. It is something I have trained for years in and do professionally. Below are some basic do’s and don’t for finding and evaluating information about kink on the Web.

The Don’t

I am starting with the don’t’s because people don’t always read a whole post and avoiding these few things is at least a step in the right direction.

1. Just because it is on the first page of a GOOGLE search does not mean it is good information!

Google is great for many things! However, their search algorithm does not take accuracy and reliability of the information in a post into consideration. Just because a post has been viewed by millions of people does not mean the information is accurate or even safe. You have to look at the source of the information, how recent it is, and where it is posted to begin to determine if it is a safe and trustworthy resource.

2. Reading it in a popular book or magazine does not mean it is good information!

Popularity does not mean something is good. Yelp and Zagat’s are perfect examples of this. When something is rated based on the number of people who like it, things that appeal to the masses tend to rise to the top. In terms of restaurants, food that is accessible to the average untrained palette in an ambiance that taps into collective ideas of “upscale” tend to get the 5-star reviews. Most people can’t tell fenugreek from coriander or know what the proper consistency of a good creme on an espresso drink is suppose to feel and look like. These details can make an enormous difference to a sophisticated foodie but your average diner can’t determine if the chef did something wonderful or just average.

Books and magazines appeal to the masses. Just because it is a best seller does not mean what is contained within is good information. Just because it appears in your favorite magazine does not mean the person writing the piece has any real idea of what they are talking about. Popularity does not equal quality.

3. Porn

I love porn. I write porn, I have shot porn and I watch porn. I do not use porn as an instructional tool. Porn is there to stimulate you. Professional porn has professional actors. These are not “how-to” films. Its fine to get inspired by porn. Its fine to get turned on by porn. But please, don’t use it as an instructional guide to your next bedroom adventure.

4. Website and “Experts”

There is a huge number of BDSM websites with self-proclaimed experts. Pretty much anyone who has put on a blindfold during sex and likes to write will offer information on a blog as an “expert.”

A good site will have the bio of the authors on that site. It will say what their level of experience is, will provide information on any credentials they have, and will provide you links to other sites verifying their work. If these things are missing you probably should question the source.

5. Local classes and munches

This is a harder group to figure out if the information is good. Most cities in the United States have kink groups. Most cities have some space (public or private) that offer classes, support groups, and social gatherings.

Sometimes the people you meet in these groups are real experts. Sometimes they individuals with inflated egos who like to hear themselves talk and want to create a personal following.

Ask around. Talk to people. Look them up on Google, Fetlife and other kink sites. See if they have published anything or have taught outside your area. If they have not, take caution in following their advice.

You can also talk to them. Ask questions about who and where they trained. A person who is a good resource will have taken a number of classes at kink conventions or studied with an established expert. If they are really good, they may have taught classes at kink conventions themselves. Figure out their reputation in your community before you decide to trust their advice.

The Do’s

So, how do you tell if something is “good” information?

1. It will be cited by other people as a good resource.

There are millions of kink writers and experts. We study this stuff. We read stuff from other experts. We take classes. We attend seminars. We have relationships with other experts. If someone has produced quality work, we will cite one another. If you see the same resource over and over, it can probably be trusted.

2. Look at the source notation.

Where is this stuff published or residing on the Web? There are some established sites that tend to have consistently good information. I like SubmissiveGuide.com and DominantGuide.com as starting points. These sites are vetted by long-time practitioners and experts. The resources listed go through a gate keeper to make sure the information is safe and accurate.

Sorry, Fetlife is not a trusted resource. Fet is a social media site and anyone can post anything. There are a few threads on Fetlife that do have good readings listed. I like the BDSM Theory thread and WizeWords threads. Most threads however, are a clatter of voices from people with all levels of experience writing in anonymity from a keyboard.

You can also see who endorses your source. Are well-known and reputable practitioners citing the source, endorsing their publications, and commenting positively on their work? If so, it is probably a good source. If not… well, it may not be trustworthy.

3. Does it make sense?

In statistics, we call this face validity. When you look at something, does it appear to make sense on the face of it? Do you read or watch something and think, “Yeah… that doesn’t seem too far off the mark.” Your gut can tell you a lot. If the information seems to resonate with other stuff you know, it is a good first indicator it might be reliable.

4. Is the information frequently repeated?

This is not a safeguard against all bad information. However, basic good information tends to get repeated a lot. If you do anal, use a lot of lube! If you tie someone up, have safety scissors at the ready. Use a safe word. These basics are repeated all the time and are pretty good advice.

5. Does it resonate with you?

Kink and BDSM is a pretty individual experience. You need to be comfortable with what you are doing. If you read something (or watch, or hear) that seems totally wrong to you, you may want to seriously evaluate the information.

Again, your gut is a good guide. If you are being told something and it just feels wrong, don’t listen to it. It may be right for that individual, but it may be wrong for you. Trust your feelings if you think something sounds really off don’t follow it.

CONCLUSION

Kink and BDSM is a continual learning experience. To be a decent practitioner you need to continually seek out information beyond a few friends and a website or two. Be thoughtful about what you read. Look at who is writing this stuff. Be careful in what sources you choose to trust.

This page provides a resource list. Its is simple and short and continues to grow. The sources I list have been vetted by me or other submissives I trust. It can serve as a starting point.

Research on!!

 

 

8 comments

  1. “A person who is a good resource will have taken a number of classes at kink conventions or studied with an established expert. If they are really good, they may have taught classes at kink conventions themselves. Figure out their reputation in your community before you decide to trust their advice.”

    There’s some problems with this. The first is just endorsing the idea of appeal to authority (have you seen this parody of bad tops?) and the second is… sometimes the “experts” with good reputations in the community aren’t trustworthy either.

    “I like SubmissiveGuide.com and DominantGuide.com as starting points.”

    Wow. Really? Didn’t get a good impression from them.

    “Use a safe word.”

    You don’t need a safeword if you’re not roleplaying (and/or haven’t decided that “no” and “stop” should be ignored/treated as part of the scene). Sennkestra talked about this some in this comment (fourth paragraph). So I think advising people use a safeword, every time, every scene, regardless of what kind of scene it is, can actually be counterproductive to good communication.

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    • I agree with much of your comment. Yes, there are some shitty experts who still teach a lot. However, looking at their history and where they teach can be one barometer of someone’s basic skill. If it is a choice between just reading the links on the first page of Google or looking at the advice of an established teacher, generally the second will be a bit better. That said, we have a couple of self proclaimed expert doms in the Sac community who teach and do it horribly. I have no problem warning others that I have no respect for them and won’t support the dungeon they are a part of.

      As for safe words, it’s a guideline. I have two Doms that I have relinquished the right to use a safe word with and the play is much better. In general, I would advise some form of a word. With newbies, simply stop and don’t can help guide a scene without the finality and impact of a specific safe word.

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      • “I have two Doms that I have relinquished the right to use a safe word with”

        What?

        “With newbies, simply stop and don’t can help guide a scene without the finality and impact of a specific safe word.”

        Why wouldn’t stop and don’t have finality and impact?

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      • For the two Doms I play with, the safe word is a guide. In a negotiated cathartic scene they may push past for a minute to acheive full catharsis. They are people I have played with for years before getting to that point. It works for us but I generally don’t recommend it.

        Stop and don’t can be used as redirection in a scene. For newbies especially sometimes they want one activity to stop but are completely ok continuing with something else. Using a safe word can end a scene before either party is ready.

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      • “It works for us but I generally don’t recommend it.”

        Sure were comfortable bringing it up out of the blue, though. I’ve seen several people mention adhering to this practice. Always puts me in a weird place, because it’s not like I know them personally or could assess how well that works in their relationship, and they’re just asking me, a stranger, to trust that this pretty risky idea (that they say themselves they wouldn’t recommend to others) is being handled appropriately. I wish people just wouldn’t put me in that position in the first place.

        “Stop and don’t can be used as redirection in a scene.”

        Well that all just depends on what the rest of the sentence is, what else they communicate, and what’s been prenegotiated. Nothing has to be set in stone where a safeword necessarily ranks higher than regular communication. In the stoplight system, there are even safewords that deliberately don’t end the scene (any color other than red).

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      • I have actually discussed not having a safe word with my two Dom’s in other posts as well as writings on Fetlife. It is not uncommon for long-time kinksters with long-term partners to at least discuss the change of the use of a safe word. I find that with the Dom’s I have years of experience with and trust deeply, changing the use of a safe word to an “advisory” role rather than a hard stop is useful for cathartic scenes. These men know me very well, pay very close attention to my body and mind, prioritize my safety during a scene, and have proven over and over that they will keep me safe. When I relinquished the right to a safe word, I went deeper into my submission. It is a complete power transfer. The agreement we have is that I can use my safe word, but they can make the final judgement call about when to stop.

        It is also a bit safer for me. In deep sub space I cannot use a safe word. I don’t have the mental capacity to do anything but serve. So, with a Dom where I go into deep sub space, shifting the responsibility to monitor for “too much” is actually safer for me. Both of these men can recognize my sub space before I can verbalize it. Both are familiar with what happens to me physically and mentally and will adjust their behavior accordingly to the situation. Letting them have the power to make the final call is safe for me because in deep sub space I can ask for more than I can actually take if I think it will please my Dom. They can recognize this shift and correct for my head space.

        As for finality of a safe word, safe words are supposed to stop all action. For newbies, this often means the termination of a scene. For those of us with more experience, you can call “red” and address the issue, then, if desired, resume activity. Allowing newbies to use “don’t” and “stop” as directives during a scene can be a way to gauge needs and desires and guide a scene without ending it like calling “red” might.

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      • “They can recognize this shift and correct for my head space.”

        They can do that anyway.

        “Allowing newbies to use ‘don’t’ and ‘stop’ as directives during a scene can be a way to gauge needs and desires”

        Why are you insisting on imposing arbitrary rules here? There’s a difference between “here’s what I’ve generally seen happen” and “Safewords and normal communication are Different and mean Different Things for different (arbitrary) levels of experience.” Sheesh, just let people talk how they talk.

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      • I am not imposing anything. Just speaking about my experience. If you have an issue with the way I approach safe words and play, don’t use it in your own life. We aren’t playing so I am not sure why you have so much animosity.

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