Over the past two decades I have seen a number of BDSM organizations, clubs, parties implode due to politics in the kink community. I’ve also seen personal politics force people out of the community. I have to remind myself of a concept a former partner and I shared that said, “We (the BDSM ‘community’) are just a microcosm of the greater social community.” In other words, what you find in the BDSM community is only a representative of what you will find outside of it.
When I was a young girl I was very active in current events and I believed we, as individuals and as groups, could make a difference. Maybe parts of me have become hardened from life experiences or maybe it is indifference? Either way, a long time ago I began distancing myself from what I viewed as the negative forces in the world. First it was in small ways and then steps became larger and larger. One of the first steps I took at distancing myself from the negative energy that involves political things was to stop viewing television. It’s interesting to me to watch the reaction of people when I tell them I haven’t watched television in 15 years. Then I decided to stop voting. That was hard. It was particularly hard for me, because for many years I had a motto, “If you don’t vote, then you have no voice, and your opinion doesn’t count.” Holding myself to that standard was a hard pill to swallow. I have come to believe my views are not in alignment to that of my country. At times I have thought about leaving the United States and giving up my citizenship. I find myself at times isolated and unable to participate in some conversation due to my intentional detachment from all that is political. My detachment is because of my strong opinions. I feel too often that I cannot align with the majority and worse I cannot be understood by the majority. The way I have dealt with this loss of voice is to choose to not participate consciously in the conversation.
It seems apparent that I cannot escape politics even in my leather. Politics is alive and well in the kink world. There are times that I see a group struggle, a kink/fetish/leather person struggle, or our subculture struggle and it hard to stay quiet. I want my little world to be calm, peaceful, and structured! These politics cause chaos and thus… woe is unto me. I have to laugh at my silliness to think I can escape politics. I do try though, oh yes, I do try.
Last week I went to the New York Female sub/slave Forum Group that meets monthly at Purple Passion. When I moved to New York I looked specifically for an all woman’s group to fill what I had enjoyed in Florida at WOLF (Women of Leather Florida) and this was the one I found. Unfortunately I had missed the past two month’s meetings. I was extra happy to be attending, since I had finally gotten my little sister jade to come along for her first time at this group. I was disappointed to see the lowest attendance I can recall. Regardless of the numbers we had a good time and a great discussion. Frankly the discussion might not have been as good if it had been a large group. The size of the group made us all feel comfortable to speak very personally about serious issues specific to BDSM relationships. It was definitely not novice level topic and conversation. I left this meeting though thinking about how personal politics has possibly affected the attendance of this group. I like this discussion group and I realize that if I want this group to continue then I need to show up more consistently. So, this is how I vote now. I vote with my attendance. And the great thing is that I don’t have to choose sides. I can attend both this old group and a newer one that seems to be taking the place of the old one. It left me a bit sad that the attendance was so low and wondering if the women who used to attend really no longer see the value of this discussion and support group?
I attended my favorite group, MAsT Metro NY this past year with fervor. It seems that now this group is also in a growth or implode impasse. I love this group and it has been my home since the first month I moved to NYC two years ago. I literally joined as a member the first meeting I attended. I just knew, the way a mother knows a good apple when she see it. This group has been around for 13 years. A new group is forming, but its purpose is not take the place of the other existing group. People forming the new group as far as I know still planned to attend the older group and support it. Not that I participated heavily in the discussion, but at this point I have given up reading the online political conversations period. It smells too much of political jockeying for position. Instead swimming around the murky politically charged waters, last night I decided to shut down my outside voice and I will speak with my vote. I do not like this mixing of politics with my kink. I am starting to again remember why I prefer the quiet and look with disdain at politics.
The mixing of politics and kink would seem to be unescapable. I remember a BDSM pansexual social/educational organization called S.P.I.C.E. in south Florida. I stepped away from my leather community for a few years and when I came back it had imploded. I had the good sense to not ask questions. I was sad it was gone, but the fact was that the people I knew from that group were still around and after that implosion they chose to start something new without a board, without a membership, without by-laws, and instead with more of a dictatorship. I’ve got to be honest, I really do love my structure and dictatorship is something I can work with. I just need to know the rules and then I can make an informed choice to stay or leave. I am simple like that. So far, the new group without all the political hoopla is growing and flourishing. Interesting?
I have to accept that politics of one sort or another is going to seep into my world. I continue to believe that if you don’t vote then your opinion doesn’t count. I find myself having to vote, sometimes with my attendance and sometimes with a ballot. Very grudgingly I am using my voice. I am exploring and deciding again how much I want to accept and what I may have to leave behind. I can do without a lot of things in my life, but my leather community is not one of those things.