You’d hope instructors in the kink community would be well versed in the importance of boundaries. However, the BDSM scene has bad apples like any other and I ran into one the other day at a discussion group.

This particular dude-bro was waxing poetic about his penchant for shocking the vanilla coworkers at his day job. He would shove his phone in their faces and encourage them to look at pictures he’d taken during workshops, some of which were bloody and rather graphic. Over time, he told us, he’d alienated his colleagues so badly that they’d relocated him, à la Milton from "Office Space", into a corner of the office and labeled him a creepy weirdo.

He was, evidently, rather proud of all this, beaming with a twinkle in his eye as he shoved his kinky pics in all of our faces.

“Why are you so intent on pestering the vanillas?” I asked.

“Because they’re fucking boring and need to live a little. I like showing them just how boring they are.”

Unlike this guy's poor coworkers, I found nothing about his behavior to be shocking. I used to pull similar shenanigans when I started experimenting with BDSM and had play partners do the same in their own fits of frenzy. When you feel as if you’ve stumbled across the holy grail of sexuality, it’s hard not to want to spread the love and whip out your kink in public. I may as well have hopped door-to-door like the Jehova’s Witness of hedonism. “Good morning! Do you have a moment to talk about BDSM?”

While I understand the temptation to get loud and proud, looking back on those instances makes me cringe. With experience, I’ve come to believe there’s a time and place for kink, and that parading it in the faces of uninterested parties goes against the ethical mores we claim to uphold.

So here are five things I would say to my younger self, dude-bro in the office corner, and any other snobby kinksters who deserve un-fun spankings. (Y'all KNOW who you are.)

We're "all about consent in the BDSM community," or so the mantra goes. Naturally, this desire to honor others' comfort should extend to our non-kinky peers as well as the people we fuck, right?

Consent isn't just about asking before touching someone or stopping play when a safeword is called. The whole point is to make sure the people we interact with feel safe in our company so we can build great relationships. Pushing someone to look at graphic pictures they can't un-see or doing BDSM in front of people who haven't agreed to watch flies in the face of everything we stand for.

Non-kinky people are vanilla by choice. Their reasons for this are none of our business. Some may be intrigued by our stories or secretly want to know more about what we do, but they have the right to decide for themselves whether to dig in and discover more.

If we claim to like consent, we need to walk the walk by applying respect for boundaries to everyone in our lives. Being selective about whose feelings you'll respect screams "Hey, I'm full of shit! I only care about limits when it benefits me." It's also a red flag for other kinksters who might have wanted to get to know you better. You think I'd let you tie me up when you obviously get off on pushing limits? Pfft.

Placing superiority on kink is some sex-negative garbage.

The sentiment that vanilla folk are "boring" is common in the fetish community. As far as personal preference goes, I concur. Sex without kink doesn't excite me much.

However, I respect the fact that people like different things and what floats my boat won't work for everyone. Isn't the point of sex positivity to accept the preferences of others, provided they're not harming anyone? Isn't acceptance what we kinksters are always going on about when people pooh-pooh BDSM?

Read: Is It Sex Positive or Inappropriate? 10 Questions to Help You Tell the Difference

If you don't like vanilla sex, groovy! Don't have it. Find play partners who delight in your fetishes and go to town with them. Painting others as inferior for not being sexually aroused by the same things as you is ... what's the best word here ... ridiculous? Petty? Pretentious? Few things could be more boring than all that.

You're being oblivious to the fact that trauma is a thing.

I find bruises to be beautiful on my own body. To me, they're symbols of the memories my play partners and I create together. I gaze at them as they heal and fondly remember how they came to be.

Someone who's suffered physical abuse in the past might not feel the same way. They might see my bruises and associate them with horror, anguish, or shame rather than sexy fun. The same applies to other survivors of sexual assault, which is why I don't offer up my rape fantasies to whoever's sitting next to me on the bus.

You have no idea what someone may have been through in the past, and therefore have no reason to expect them to react to anything in the way you would. You can anticipate, however, that things like blood, bruises, impact play, and consensual non-consent will be triggering for a fair number of people, both kinky and vanilla.

"I won't let those snowflakes piss on my parade! I'm an adult and this is America! Rawr!" (*Hulk smash*)

Yes, this is America and you can go through life acting like an insensitive prick. It's your god-given right. Just don't turn around and be surprised when nobody's there to love or support you.

Stop using BDSM to fuel your nasty narcissism.

YO! Your ego is showing. Put that thing back in your pants where it belongs.

Liking BDSM does not magically make you special. It's exceedingly common. It also won't solve all your personal problems or save you from your insecurities.

Shoving your proclivities in the faces of people who aren't interested is a serious cry for validation. You've got some self-lovin' to do in that case, and I don't mean the masturbation kind. (Though that's pretty great too.)

And lastly,

Grow up, doode.

I'm a dreamer and I'll be the first to admit it. I wish we could frolic through each day buck naked, playing in public, having orgies in the streets to Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" while tranced out on opium. And sometimes we can! But not all the time. In the words of George Costanza, "We're living in a society!!" and some social norms exist for valid reasons.

If you wish BDSM could be better understood and more accepted, I'm right there with you. I hate the fact that kinky people face so much persecution and judgment. I also want anyone who's interested in kink and sexuality in general to have access to quality information and community support.

Preaching the gospel to people who legitimately don't care isn't how we accomplish this. There are better avenues for our efforts. Write about kink for a platform whose audience wants to read about it. Teach kinky skill-share classes to people who are dying to learn. Talk with the friends in your life who would love nothing more than to hear about the new toy you whacked your boyfriend with last weekend. You have their informed consent, so go nuts.

In Conclusion ...

I'm not here to kink shame or advocate secrecy. Far from it! Having a community where we can be out and open about BDSM makes it safer and more fun for those of us who dig it. We have every right to be who we are and enjoy with other consenting adults.

I’m proposing, rather, that we come at this life and the people in it with balance and respect. There is far too much "me me me" floating through the collective consciousness. Be a force of good by considering the greater "us" while deciding when, where, and around whom you sprinkle your kinky pixie dust.

(To put it more succinctly: Don't be a dick.)



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