A Reader Question

At least, I think it’s a reader, if not, I don’t know how he’d have found me.  Even if he’s not, it’s a sort of universal question.

He said that he’d been in contact lately with a slave, and now he was interested in being more involved in the community.  I am paraphrasing, since I don’t have permission to quote him, but that’s the gist of it.

First, I think that it’s a good and genuinely important thing to have some contact with the community.  I know that the life I live is not for everyone, or even for many, but you can have some involvement without being totally immersed.

I want to say, too, that I think that online communities do count, even if they’re different than face-to-face.

I think that communities do a couple of things for us.

I think it matters enormously to have people with whom you can be yourself.  People around whom you can, as aisha mentioned in one of her posts, sit at her Sir’s feet and no one thought anything of it.

There is something intrinsically and incredibly valuable about people who see you for what you are, and take you to their heart knowing it.

Another thing that I think is hard to overvalue is the role that communities play in grounding us.

If you live as a slave, with that part of you hidden, when something feels wrong, there’s no one with whom you can gauge your situation.

If you go to your sister and try to explain that your husband beats you, and he controls your money, and your choices, he tells you what you can and can’t do, but none of THAT is the problem, you’re worried that his interest in a new slave means he’s not going to want YOU anymore…

Well, I would guess that once you get out that part about beating you, your sister is going to be calling in the troops to get you out of this awful situation.  She’s not going to hear that no, no, no, THAT you like, it’s this other thing…

If, on the other hand, you were to tell me that, I would ask you why you felt that, if he’d given you reason to be concerned, and maybe make some suggestions on how to deal with that topic.

It’s also important in a community wherein members can pride themselves on being controlling assholes that you can tell the good kind of asshole from the bad kind, and that’s where community comes in.

So, that’s why I think community is important.

How do you find it?

Finding it online is often the easiest place to start.

There is much I despise about Fetlife.  Much.

The search function is ridiculous, unworkable and useless, and I see much that makes me believe it will, in time, become the same useless sort of cesspool that bondage.com and alt.com and collarme.com have all become, but for the moment, it’s what we have.

If you don’t have an account, you should.  It’s free, and easy, and has rendered much of what we used in the past, including those sites I just mentioned, outdated.

Create your account and give a little information about yourself, because people will look.

For the love of all that’s holy, please don’t whine about how you hate to write about yourself, tell us how unfathomably complicated you are, or how totally bad ass you are.

Do not claim to have been a Master or a slave for 15 years when your age is under 40.

Do not put up a picture of your cock or your pussy as your profile picture.

Trust me.  We will just laugh at you if you do these things.

Then you should put your city name in the search box and that will give you a very good idea of what I mean by useless.  However, it’s what we have.

Then look at groups.  Look at groups in your area, and read about some of them.  Join a few that seem active and of general interest.

Observe at first.  It’s fine to introduce yourself, but it’s usually better to see what the lay of the land is before claiming your own little half acre of it.

Notice the events that are near you, too.  See who is organizing them.  See who’s going.

Then send a a note, a brief and polite one, asking if they mind if you send them a friend request.

Once you’ve acquired a few friends, you’ll get an idea for what’s going on around your area.

When you’ve done that, then the next step is to actually go out.

Munches are usually a good place to start.  They might be called Meet and Greets, or Sloshes, too.

If you worry that you won’t know anyone, you might be surprised.  You’ll likely recognize some of the people from your area.  Make sure you introduce yourself to a couple of them.

Pay attention to how people behave, because every group is different.  Watch how people behave.  Emulate their behavior.  Chat with people.  Everyone was new once, and most of us remember that.

And then keep coming back.  You’ll begin to recognize people, and more importantly, they’ll begin to recognize you.

It won’t happen over night, and you may discover it’s not really your thing.

Even if you do, it’s nice to keep a hand in, to at least be someone that is known, and known of.

If you decide then that it’s really not for you, it will be an informed choice.

And really, seriously, honestly, Fetlife, could you NOT make a search function that actually works?

When I want to find someone by name, don’t you think it might be most helpful if first you showed me results in my friends list, then results that are geographically close to me, then results with whom I share group memberships, and THEN start on the people in Queensland?

And would it REALLY be that hard to let me search through my friends by letters of the alphabet, not by page numbers, many of which I can’t bypass without putting a number in the url?

Couldn’t I just pick everyone whose user name starts with P?

It would be nice, too, to be able to personalize your feed in the way that Facebook allows because, you know, I may not mind you in my friend list, but if you’re going to “love” every single dirty picture, and post dozens of “great pic,” “LOL,” and “me too” posts, can’t I just opt out of their feed?

Oh, wait, I’m writing another post, aren’t I?

About MsConstanceExplains

Ms Constance has been actively involved in the BDSM/Leather community since the mid-1990’s. She is the Founder of the Louisville Munch as well as its hostess for ten years, from 1997 to 2007, and was christened as “Louisville’s First Lady” by her community. As a member of various BDSM/Leather organizations, she has been nominated for Pantheon Woman of the Year as well as regional awards, and has been nominated with her slave, drew, for Pantheon Couple of the Year. She serves as Special Events Director for the Great Lakes Leather Alliance. She produces the Bluegrass Leather Pride Contest, sending contestants to Great Lakes Leather Weekend, and was Presenters Committee Chair for Leather Leadership Conference 2010 Great Lakes/Ontario. She has produced and judged Leather events and contests, been instrumental in the organization and creation of various groups and clubs, advised and encouraged other communities and endeavors, and produced a performance by a BDSM comedian. Groups around the country use her writings in information and introductory packets, and she is an occasional columnist as well. She and slave drew hold the titles of Great Lakes Master and slave 2003.

Posted on November 28, 2012, in Kink and BDSM, Kink Community and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. LOL! Wolf and I had a similar rant about a dating site a few years ago. We were beta testing it for the owner. The pattern matching kept sending him Christians. 20-something sweeties. As a 40 something Pagan, this was just the tip of the annoying iceberg.

    People also need to understand that there are those out there that have only the Internet for community because they must stay under the radar due to their mundane lives. It keeps many people from participating more openly.

    • And I absolutely agree, some people have a lot of constraints about how active they can be. The only thing I always ask in those situations is, is the fear real? I mean, certainly, there are situations in which it would be impossible to be involved. I see someone occasionally who often has his photo in the local newspaper because of his job. He is absolutely recognizable, and I understand that concern. On the other hand, too, I know people who use the issue that, “Someone would KNOW!” as their reason.

      I think all of us owe it to ourselves to genuinely assess exactly what WOULD happen if someone knew. I know that I am luckier than most, but I think, too, all of us have come a lot farther in terms of our acceptance. I understand real issues around custody and high-profile jobs and morality clauses, but I do think, too, that we all of us owe it to ourselves to examine the reasons. Valid reasons are valid, but I think the benefit of having that community have to be considered, too.

      But then, as noted, I’m pretty out, too. 🙂

      • You do have the “right” of it. Worried because someone will “see” is far different from risking your job because of your kink.

        Funny bit is that as a pagan, I’m as Out of that broom closet as I can get. However, my “kink” life has to be so buried because of work related things, that I have totally different blogs and emails to keep the two separate. Plus, living in a small town full of relatives does not help.

        It is a balancing act.

  2. This seems like very good advice. And I might even take it. I’ve always found fetlife to be waay too complicated, so I never get past the sign in process. But maybe I’ll try again.

    -sin

  3. It is complicated and a pain in the way that almost any new kind of software, etc., is, and I truly do despise the functionality. I think they were trying SO hard to not be a meat market that they forgot that I might just be looking for my friend who goes by the name of cat1558 or maybe it’s 1558cat, or maybe it’s cat57 or was it cat98? And then I have to go through the literally 34 PAGES of friends and let’s say her name isn’t cat, let’s say it’s panther.

    I just tested. It take me, literally, because I just counted, EIGHT clicks to get to the first of the P names on my friends list because you can’t get there directly by clicking a letter of the alphabet. You can’t search JUST your friends. When you’re advancing, my option is to begin with page 9, then page 13, then page 17, then page 21, then page 25 and THEN page 27 because in addition to not being able to go to the P’s, you also aren’t offered a menu with ALL the pages on it, so it shows you the page you’re on and four ahead.

    I cannot believe, in many many ways that such a shitty fucking job of programming has gotten SO popular.

    If anyone out there knows a way to make this unwieldy behemoth behave, please, please, please let me know. I spend little time on there now because of that, but it is the place for events.

  4. Excellent tips and advice about using FetLife. I had to laugh at the one about NOT using a picture of one’s cock or pussy for the profile pic. Great advice.

    I have not been to a munch in spite of tremendous curiosity, more out of introversion than any worry about confidentiality or morals clause. Your post is very encouraging. Thank you.

    night owl

    • Honestly, I think that one of the things I have done of which I am the most proud is the creation of a community here in Kentucky, and the work I have done that helped create communities in other places. Once in a while, someone comes in and finds that the community ISN’T what they were looking for, but honestly, most of the time, either their expectations were unreasonable or too specific – they expected to find a play partner or the love of their kink lives within the first ten minutes – or they didn’t really give it a fair chance, which is, in some ways, the very same thing.

      I suppose some people are better at compartmentalizing their lives, or maybe it’s worse, I”m not sure. I found it very difficult to have to remember to watch what I said about things and relationships and what I did and what I wanted and what my plans were. I didn’t like it.

      I think that I am perhaps unusual in that I am both pretty open about what I do and genuinely see nothing wrong with it – if I did, I wouldn’t do it – and, at the same time, I like the concept of being a bit of an outlaw. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what I do, but I recognize others might disagree and I am way better than ok with that. For me, the community has always been a way to indulge both of those preferences, to have a group in which I am the norm, while still being able to be seen as an outlaw to others.

      In other words, I want to have my cake and eat it too.

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