Kia Ora and welcome to both FetLife and BDSM
Recently we have been thinking about the difficulties faced by new comers as they arrive to Fetlife and BDSM. What prompted us to be thinking about that you might ask? – well… we have been receiving quite a few mails from new folks who were new kind of confused about what they should or should not be doing.
So what are these new folks like?
Perhaps they have been thinking about their darker fantasies for a long time and are finally seeking that moment of self justification, or maybe they are just newly curious – either way it is a big step and one that people deserve to be able to make safely and with dignity. Unfortunately it can be a little overwhelming at times, not only as here is a lot to learn, as there can be a circle of less scrupulous and perhaps even wolfish dominants prowling around new arrivals almost instantly with gleaming eyes seeking out their ‘fresh meat’. Consequently, over time we will be writing up and posting a series of help guides for people who are newly arriving to the community and not quite sure about what to do to take those first steps – just to try to help set them get onto a less bumpy path and find the joy of their kinks more easily.
What makes me a good person to welcome you/them like this? Nothing. I simply have enough confidence to assume that it may be something worth doing – and I do have a couple of decades experience as an active Sadist and Master (originally my M/s background was Gorean). 😉
In this episode…
I am going to talk about the getting started on Fetlife. It will cover the following topics in a basic way:
- Am I normal? Is it ok to be here?
- A basic definition for BDSM
- Profile Basics (BDSM Status, Relationship Status, Descriptive test)
- Picture Basics
- Helpful starter Groups to join
- First Contact and dealing with Mr/s Pushy
- Other online places to go: I want more!
The sections about BDSM status and Relationship status are lifted from a welcome that I wrote for newcomers associated with 50 Shades of Grey.
I would also like to acknowledge another Southland Dom (sleeveluver), who I discussed this project with after posting my welcome guide for ‘50 Shaders’, as he had a couple of good ideas about things I could add to this too.
Don’t forget to read the other parts in this series of guides. The currently available other parts are:
Give this some love 🙂
If you are reading this go on and press the Love button. It will give it wider circulation and therefore help it find the news feeds of more newly arrived kinksters. It is in all of our interests to help them integrate into our community as swiftly as possible by providing them with as much information as we can.
Can I share this?
I am happy for you to share this or repost it anywhere on the web that you choose – just do the right thing and attribute it to 2Jays on Fetlife.com. I would also prefer that it remained unedited, and included the entire post (such as this bit and the rest of the above introduction).
Document Version History
- Added WordWize (A collection of writings about BDSM) to the list of general groups.
- Added a Further Reading list with links to the other chapters in this series.
- Corrected information about Collarme.com to be current with recent developments – thank you to Malkinius for pointing out that it was out of date.
Am I normal? Is it ok to be here?
My first response to questions like this is usually: “Your asking me if you are normal for liking BDSM? You know I am a self-confessed Sadist?”
Seriously however… normal is a construct that has no place in reference to a person’s sexuality. In the 1950’s we falsely felt that homosexuals were abnormal and had mental issues. Thankfully that abhorrent diagnosis is now swept aside – and here in New Zealand we even have completely legal same sex marriages. While we are a long way from achieving such status for lovers of BDSM the slow process is taking place. Films such as The Secretary and 50 Shades of Grey are helping with that process. Novels are helping. Word of mouth is heping. Fetlife is helping. You simply need to understand that while you are ok, and your sexuality is something that is fine and good, society is sometimes a bit slow in catching up.
I strongly believe that it is fine to be here. I have been an active participant in legitimate real life BDSM since about 1988. (That said I do recall playing games that involved naked tied up girls as far back as when I was in Elementary School – many years prior to that.) Supplementing that, I have been a member of different online communities (ranging from IRC to Second Life) on and off since the days of Windows 3.1 in the early 90s. Being connected to people like yourself, talking to them and sharing a learning pathway – about your chosen way of living and sexually expressing yourself – is a positive and empowering thing. It is a good choice.
A word of caution must however be whispered. In the past different BDSM communities have been ‘infiltrated’ by unscrupulous people and their members have been publicly ‘outed’. Simply follow the usual cyber safety precautions that would keep your identity safe if you do not want your employer, your mother or your children to one day be able to learn that you like to do this.
A basic definition of BDSM
BDSM is a range of different things to different people. The name breaks down into three different categories:
- BD = Bondage and Discipline
- DS = Dominance and Submission
- SM = Sadism and Masochism
Then as a special bonus you can also find the letters for MS – Masters and slaves.
Around that framework you can think in the following terms:
- Play = Play is what we do when we interact in a BDSM way. If you flog someone, if you get spanked, if urinating upon someone’s face, or if you have your partner on a leash and make them drink milk from a kitten bowl… you are playing. Play is a broad term for all BDSM and kink activities when they are being enacted. (I played with Betty last night, gave her a splendid paddling with my kauri frat paddle.)
- The Scene = The Scene is the real life in person BDSM community. It will vary from place to place, and there are different subgroups within it (such as Old Guard) however it is a reasonably standard term. (There is a Scene workshop on tonight about figging. Figging is putting raw ginger in someone’s ass or vagina.)
- A Scene = The area where your play is taking place, as well as the play. This is more commonly used than play for larger scale interactions that use a lot more equipment or toys. (Jill scened with Jack on the St Andrews Cross.)
The participants in BDSM have a range of titles as well, from pet to Daddy and from slave to Top. In setting up your profile you will need to select one of those roles. It is important to have at least a vague understanding of what those roles mean so that you identify yourself correctly to others, and you have a vague idea of what kind of person you are talking to.
So lets look at a few of the more common role types:
Uncommitted to BDSM roles
- Vanilla = This means that you are not actually into BDSM and are just here to talk to someone, or look at naked boobie pictures… or some other reason… but you probably look at the boobies anyway.
- Unsure = Unsure indicates that either you are not sure if you are really into kink yet – perhaps you are just curious, or, that you are just not quite positive what your role will be.
- Top = Someone who likes to tie people up, spank them, or perhaps use other toys on them, and actively do things to them for pleasure in the bedroom. Tops usually pair off with Bottoms. This role relates solely to a scene.
- Bottom = Someone who likes to be tied up, spanked, or have a range of other toys used on them for pleasure in the bedroom. Bottoms usually pair off with Tops. This role relates solely to a scene.
- Switch = Someone who likes to be both a Top and a Bottom. This type of person takes a role that relates solely to a scene – and then can swap roles for the next scene. The Switch classification can apply to someone who is a Top and Bottom or a Sadist and a Masochist depending on the situation.
- Fetishist = A fetishist is someone who is primarily interested in one or more fetishes. They are not really into power exchange or general BDSM play.
- Kinkster = This role definition is often chosen by people who are not experienced enough within the realms of BDSM to classify themselves more accurately. They know they like kinky sex, but so far that is about all they have worked out. Some experienced BDSM practitioners keep this role title by choice but that is not the norm.
D/s relationships are ones that include a combination of play, some power exchange and usually some role play (even if it is limited to just using honorific titles).
- Dominant or Domme = Someone who likes to take control of their partner in the bedroom (and sometimes outside of it as well within pre-negotiated ways) and do things to them for pleasure. This can include everything that a Top does, and also usually includes some kind of roleplay such as being called Sir/Ma’am. This is the Top-like role where people begin exchanging power, yet usually it is only in small ways or at set times.
- Submissive = Someone who likes to give up control to their partner in the bedroom (and sometimes outside of it as well within pre-negotiated ways) and have things done to them for pleasure. This could include bondage, flogging, spanking, paddling, humiliation or any number of a multitude of other activities. Usually it also includes some kind of roleplay such as calling their partner Sir/Ma’am. This is the Bottom-like role where people begin exchanging power, yet usually it is only in small ways or at set times.
- Brat = This classification is usually used by a submissive with a bratty, or not naturally submissive, attitude. They are often slightly lippy and behave in ways that elicit spankings. Some Dominants like the challenge of bratty submissives, others simply find them irritating. This role title can however also be used by Bottoms, Ageplayers and Babygirls.
- Daddy / Mommy = Someone who enjoys BDSM activities with a heavy amount of roleplay. The roleplay will include the other person calling them Daddy during intimate moments – and often includes interactions typical of a Daddy/daughter or similar relationship. Sometimes there will be a process of taking care of the other participant as well.
- Ageplayer / Babygirl = Someone who usually engages in D/s interactions with a Daddy or Mommy dominant. These people might like to regress to the state of small children, or ‘littles’, where they may be bathed, have diapers and suck on pacifiers. Alternatively some Babygirls take the role of extremely sexualized young teens. These are submissive roles.
- Pet = A pet is a submissive role within a D/s relationship. The title can be used as a term of endearment, or alternatively it can refer to the nature of the D/s interactions. There is a lot of variety in ‘pet’ styles.
- Sadist = Someone who derives sexual pleasure from causing particular kinds of pain.
- Masochist = Someone who derives sexual pleasure from receiving particular kinds of pain.
M/s is usually thought of – rightly or wrongly – as the most extreme form of the power exchange relationships. This kind of relationship almost always includes the use of honorific titles. M/s relationships often involve the use of ‘slave contracts’. M/s relationships , as a group, are a very broad ranging group of relationships so they can vary a lot.
- Master / Mistress = Someone who takes control of their partner in the bedroom and often outside of it as well. The partner surrenders control over aspects of their life, sometimes progressively moving towards TPE (total power exchange) but sometimes just in an agreed set of ways. They do things to their partner for pleasure. This can include everything that a Top does, and also usually includes some kind of roleplay such as being called Master/Mistress. Generally Masters seek relationships with slaves.
- Slave = A slave is someone who seeks a Master or Mistress. A slave surrenders control both inside and outside of the bedroom to form a power exchange relationship with their partner. The control surrendered can be limited to certain areas of life or it can be broader and cover all things in the case of TPE (total power exchange). Usually people start with a few areas then build up over time as trust grows and the bonds of the relationship deepen. The slave seeks to please their Owner in all things.
- Kajira / kajirus = This is another name for a slave, and it specifically denotes the person as being actively involved with the M/s philosophy set out in the novels of Gor. Gor is a M/s setting (largely but not exclusively a heterosexual male led one) that features in the creative writing of John Norman. There are Gorean groups on Fetlife.com for people to discuss this M/s philosophy and there are Gorean roleplaying communities on Second Life. Kajira is the female role, kajirus is the male counterpart.
Some of the status options should be easy to understand. I will just explain a few of the basic BDSM ones here. Translating these to Vanilla terms as briefly as possible, I would suggest that new Shaders view the terms in the following ways:
- Under Protection = Either this person is new to kink and their partner is protecting them from the ‘wolves’ (read eager experienced dominants) until they build their confidence; OR; someone is being a pain in the ass so a dominant is looking out for the person; OR; an experienced dominant has marked this person as someone that they have first dibs upon once they learn more about BDSM
- Play Partners = Dating. Playing, often sexually. This may or may not be exclusive.
- Under Consideration = This one means that the person is being considered for ownership. They are off the market and in solid negotiations with one possible Owner until a final decision is made.
- Owned and Collared = Think of this like married.
There are others but those are the basics.
This field is a bit of a mystery, in that different people use it in different ways. I strongly suggest using it to explain what and who you are (do not reveal any identifying details though) and to explain what you are seeking. Be specific – if all you want is a chat on sunday afternoons then say it.
You will probably want to add a picture to your profile. It will encourage more people to visit your profile, and lets face it, most folks will enjoy the attention it may attract. There are however a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, if you choose to post a photo of your face keep in mind that it will be on the internet – where anyone (including your mother, boss or twenty-something child) could find it. Secondly, if posting nudes keep in mind you should only be doing that if you are really totally and completely ok with it. Never post photos that are semi or totally nude just to make others happy. It has to be what you want – as you will have the permanent consequence of photos perhaps being ‘out there’.
There is the option to keep nudes or shots you feel more cautious about semi-private, and available to friends only.When you upload a picture, or at any time thereafter, there is a privacy setting that you can switch between visible to all Fetlifers or just visible to friends. You can also always delete pictures that you change your mind about.
Finally, keep in mind the powerful message in a song that is now a relic of the old ‘wild west’ days of the web.
Helpful starter Groups to join
General Groups for Everyone
- BDSM Book and Film Club (This is a new group but it has lots of potential.)
- BDSM Theory
- Germs, Toy Cleaning and Safe Practices
- Novices and Newbies
- WordWize (A collection of writings about BDSM)
Some more specific interest based groups
- 1950s Household
- A Sound Spanking
- Australia and New Zealand Polyamory
- BDSM in Second Life
- Gorean Gathering Place
- Riggers and Rope Sluts
- Sadists and Masochists
First Contact and dealing with Mr/s Pushy
Inevitably you will be contacted by a person with an interest in pursuing some kind of BDSM interaction with you at some point. Some people like that will be lovely. Others, not so much. The key is remembering that you are a human being and that no one ‘owns’ you or has the right to make you do things until you choose them specifically as the person to own you. You have the right to ignore anyone who is rude, or to tell them you don’t want to talk to them if you want. You can also use the block feature in Fetlife to stop receiving mail from them.
If they persist in being a pain you can report them, or you can get in touch with a friendly Dom who will tell them to go away on your behalf.
If you get really stuck send us a mail.
Other online places to go: I want more!
Ok so as a newcomer to BDSM you just want more!
Wanting to be social is normal – being new to BDSM and feeling like it is water and you are standing in a drought stricken wasteland… is normal too. Everyone goes through a period where they simply can not get enough.
In years past there were several viable options for BDSM folks online – aust.net, bondage.net and sex.net on the IRC network (basically dead compared to a decade ago); and web ads, forums and chat like www.bondage.com (now closed), www.collarme.com (gone after heavy amounts of public drama between the D/s couple that owned it) – which has reformed as collarspace.com and www.alt.com (currently being re-worked). In the mid-90s there was also a section of a larger virtual community called WBS that unofficially catered to BDSM, however the company that owned WBS was purchased by Disney and the Go Network… so you can imagine the outcome of that.
Along side all of those services there have been several 3D environments, almost like ‘games’ but in reality they are just interactive social meeting and BDSM online roleplaying or discussion tools, that have formed and developed. Of those the choice is definately Second Life.
While many seasoned BDSM veterans shun online BDSM roleplay communities they do have a place for people who are not yet ready to take that next step – or who, due to life circumstances, just can’t right now.
Second Life is a 3D environment where there are developed and active BDSM roleplaying and discussion communities that cover most fetishes and interests.Second Life has the ability to highly customise your avatar, making it distinctlively what you want to be, and enables important things like voice chat.
In order to make the most out of your Second Life BDSM experience you may want to find out about RLV – which is a special piece of software that enables different BDSM controls within Second Life. I have not logged into Second Life for about five years but I am aware that it is still going strongly.
Welcome to BDSM. It has been an amazing journey for me, and is a part of my life so deeply ingrained that I could not be happy without it. There will be a range of people who will want to talk to you, and interact with you, keep in mind that just like everywhere else in the world some will be helpful and others will not. Everyone has their own reasons for what they do. Overall however, the BDSM community is very helpful and welcoming.
If you have any questions and you think we might be able to help – feel free toask us. 🙂
Don’t forget to read the other parts in this series of guides. The currently available other parts are: