Friday, June 24, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: Culture Clash

Now is a very unique time to be in the BDSM, leather, kink, and fetish community. For the first time ever the pre-internet community is interacting fully with the post internet community. Talk about two groups with completely different sets of expectations.

Think of the pre-internet community as having came together through the back door, conduct was coded, extremely private, and/or done through magazines. It’s true that over time we started meeting publicly but it was still by invitation only. You got to come because you knew someone and they could vouch for you, and if you misbehaved, you were not allowed back. Because the access to social venues and information was so limited and people had to earn their way into social groups, the entire way that community was viewed was very different than today’s post internet crowd. Back then everyone was acutely aware that everyone’s behaviors affected everyone else.

People who have had internet their whole lives, or rather people who have had internet throughout their entire BDSM, leather, kink, and fetish lives come with a very different point of view. The internet makes information so effortlessly available and because of that, people don’t have to prove themselves in a social setting anymore resulting in some big misconceptions. If a person is looking to find support or a place to indulge their interests visually or in written forms, they will find it in droves. In some cases, this easy access creates an unrealistic expectation in some people that their interests and opinions, so easily indulged in an on-line community, would be just as indulged in the real time community. Since the internet is now used to post events, many are posted publicly and people can just show up without having anyone vouch for them, and therefore no one with a vested interest in seeing that they are behaving well, as well as in a safe space.

When people who live their fantasy lives online enter this community and possess no reference for real time interaction, real conflict happens. This can manifest itself primarily in two ways, you have the Dominants who rule the online chat room and feel that everyone should bow to them in real time and then become aggressive and inappropriate, (or sometimes just confused) when that doesn’t happen. The second way is when the online players come into real space and are treated inappropriately because they are unprepared on how to defend themselves. Both can be tricky to handle.

And finally, internet players have no real consequences on line. What I mean is if they become inappropriate in a chat room, or a virtual play space, that at worst the room moderator bans them. And even then, that doesn’t stop them from creating another personality and coming back again within seconds. If they want to, they can change their gender, age, identity, and body description. Because of this, individuals who started on-line and are transitioning to real time run the risk of believing there is no need to think about how their behavior translates into real consequences for themselves or others.

This may seem like an anti-online, glory be to the good old day’s philosophy, but really it is not. The “good old days” had just as many problems as the current days, they were just different problems.

I absolutely love the fact that information is just a click away, because it isn’t just about information, it is about validation, safety and the real time sense of not being alone. I also love the accessibility to the community. It is no longer about knowing the right person, and it is no longer about being liked by the right person. It is about being able to find where you fit, and where your talents do the most good.

The interesting and challenging part is the intersection where the people whose path required they earn and maintain their place in the community and the people whose path allows them to simply show up.

The clash is between the people who had to have spent years as a submissive in order to work their way up to Master and the people who just decided that the title of Master suited them or just sounded cool, but they have no real time experience to back it up.

The community seems polarized, as one segment is thought to be stuffy, prudish, and exclusive, while the other is thought to be ungrateful, disrespectful, and unbalanced (you decide which is which). I would like to say that there are some answers to end this clashing, but seriously, where this ends, another begins. We will always have conflict. When the pre-internet people are dead and buried, the post internet people will have their fair share to complain about too.

If you are interested in power munches, safe play parties, or hands on workshops in the Albuquerque area please contact the 20 year organization of AEL at:

Of you are interested in an active online community please find:

Group name New Mexico Fetlifers

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