BDSM and Its Relationship to Self Esteem (In Two Parts)
Speaker: Tan1th Ty-rr
February 1, 1998

Part 1

*** Topic for #submission_discuss: BDSM and self-esteem tonight at 9 pm Eastern, 6 pm Pacific
*** Topic for #submission_discuss set by ^kira on Sunday, February 1, 1998 4:35:23 PM


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TheKttN: Welcome to tonights discussion. Our topic is "BDSM and its relationship to self-esteem" This a rare evening and opportunity to speak with Tan1th Ty-rr, one of the best-known voices in the BDSM community. This forum will be moderated in

TheKttN: keeping with the spirit of a roundtable discussion. Please save your questions till the time we open QUEUE and they will be answered in order.

TheKttN: Tan1th will be relaying short stories of personal experiences, good and bad, of how a BDSM relationship or specific BDSM activity either helped or hurt one's self esteem. NO NAMES will be pasted on channel from email submissions without that person's permission; in other words, this is not for complaining about someone who isn't present.

TheKttN: Tan1th is proud to be a contributing member of the BDSM community, and an activist for sexual minority rights and education for over a decade. The main thing she has learned in all these years is that there are no gurus and damn few single right answers.With that, i turn the channel to Tan1th:)

Tan1thT smiles. Thanks for the flattering introduction. :) I'd like to start with an open queue and let people talk for a few minutes about what they think about the relationship of BDSM to self esteem is. Do you think BDSM raises or lowers your self esteem, as you practice it now in your daily life? Or do you think it can do both?

TheKttN: to ask a question please type ? or ! on channel and you will be called in order

soraya only knows that during the relationship I had with my self-confidence went through the roof :))

jade{SP} feels it can do both, but the Dom and the sub must have good communication about that...

SirMykal: to me, it seems to be a double edged sword. i feel much better about myself, knowing who and what i am but i suffer some when i am labled a opervert or deviant by those who THINK they know!

mena-- thinks it depends on the Dom and how well he knows his sub....and how alike or diff they are in ways of what they like and dont like, give and take...I know with my Master my self esteem has def improved 10 more now than with any other Master ive had because ive known this one for over a year as a ffriend and such first=)

jade{SP} nods to SirMykal...this girl feels the same...she feels proud and her self esteem rises high when she is in this type of relationship, yet the same things can be done to her by someone not in the scene and that lowers this girl's self esteem becuase they do not have the same feelings or think it is right

Tan1thT: That's definitely true, SirMykal. Coming to terms with our different,"deviant" sexuality can be both a boost to our self esteem and a problem in our outside lives. I'd like to share Frank's story here.

<Kahonez cuts and pastes>

Frank's Story
copyright 1996 by Frank

Free at last.

It is with a very profound feeling of "Rightness" that I post this message. I have thought for a long time that I would like, one day, to be able to. It has always been a goal of mine to be able to live without secrets. I don't mean secrets like what new product my employer is working on or what I got for somebody's birthday. I'm talking about secrets which embarass me. Secrets about which I am ashamed.

See, I've got this possibly over-simplistic philosophy that if one lives ones life in a good way, then one need not have any such secrets. My own reaction to the possibility of some possible action of mine becoming well known then becomes the measure by which I live.

There is power in living without secrets, and there is freedom. Freedom from fear of discovery. Freedom from having to hide. Freedom from the pain of knowing that you are different than you pretend to be. Freedom from the fear that your friends would not be your friends if they knew...

With one exception, I have lived my life without secrets for some time now. There is very little about me that I am not comfortable talking about. I am open and honest with all. With one exception.

{This is starting to sound over-dramatic. Sorry - don't mean it to be.}

Until a week ago only I and my (soon to be ex)wife knew of my interest in B&D and D&S. Interest is not the right word really, because it isn't casual and it isn't optional and it isn't something that is apart from me.

I am sexually submissive. The emphasis must be on the word "am" because this truly is a defining part of who and what I am. I have tried at times to make it go away. That isn't going to happen. I have been this way since I was a child, and I expect I always will be. I no longer want it to go away.

I am not sick. I am not dangerous. I am not seeking to repent for anything, or to punish myself. My self esteem is just fine. I will not corrupt anybody's children, and I do not break any laws that I am aware of. I am however powerfully turned on by scenarios, activities, situations, and fantasies which leave some people cold and others disgusted.

I reject entirely the popular stereotypes of spineless, sniveling, squeaky voiced masochists that are made into objects of ridicule in books, movies, TV shows. (No insult intended to anyone who is spineless, sniveling, squeaky voiced and happy about it - be what you want to be!)

It has been a long and rocky road to get here. I have grown through many stages where I tried this or that because I was struggling to find ways to satisfy my desires and still retain some self respect. It is very hard to overcome the lessons we are taught as we grow up about what is okay and what is not okay. I went through needing to be "Forced" into bondage. I went through needing spankings to be a punishment, because of course it would be sick to actually *want* such a thing. It took years of soul searching to be able to say "I *like* to be spanked, and I can ask my partner to do that as a reward, and I am still an okay person."

The net has been an invaluable tool on that journey, even if most of you don't know my name. I've been lurking off and on for years. For a time I had an account under another name (Jamie A. Miller) and I used that account to participate in asb long before there was a femdom group. I'm not sure how many people are left here from those days. (Did I see STella post recently?) I recall D!, Clay Bond, Stuart Rubio (sp?), and the Bottiers most clearly, but there were certainly many others whose posts helped me to understand that different does not equal bad if nobody is being harmed.

Many thanks of course to those who are here now as well, for your stories (both erotic and practical), your cautions, your sharing. You've all helped me to get to where I am.

If people have coming out advice or stories I'd like to hear from you (publicly is probably best, so others can benefit too, but email if you prefer.) I'll be looking for like-minded people in Ottawa and any tips in that regard would be appreciated as well.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. :)

Good health.


Tan1thT: Frank's story is not an atypical one - in finally admitting that you *are* a submissive or dominant or pervert or BDSM person, you can free something in yourself. You can also run into some trouble in the outside world. Let's continue the queue where we left off. :)

mena--: pervert?

sassysub: Mindful1, pls go ahead

MindFul1: I don't think there is any inherent relationship between dbsm and self-esteem, at least not any more than there would be in any other type of activity or relationship. The key issues of self-esteem (defining one's values, self-worth, loving oneself) are present in one's life no matter the activity or relationship. As for bdsm, those who take a hard look at themselves and accept their fundamental nature will often increase their

Tan1thT: There is a difference between outside factors that can make you feel bad, and your self esteem and feelings about yourself. You can feel proud to be a leatherperson, and still have an asshole beat you up with a baseball bat.

MindFul1: someone beating me up will have no effect on my self-esteem!

Morrak: i think it increases the self esteem without a doubt... you look mroe towards pleasing the other one and less about what others think... it takes more of yourself to be able to give to someone and you simply like yourself more because the one you are with loves you so much... to me my slave is all that matters... she is all i want, and she helps me see myself in a better ilght you could say... :)

mena--: yeah i agree Mind...

soraya: sure it will

mena--: it just means there an asshole

sassysub: queue : elipse, Morrak, mena, Llazarus, Wirchler, sevoo

Tan1thT nods at Mindful. That's an excellent observation, and I basically agree with it. Your sexuality can definitely be a major issue in your self esteem, though. It's a large contributing factor.

MindFul1: Sure it is, Tan1th, regardless of sexual bent.

Tan1thT nods at mena. Self esteem and running into trouble because you're out and proud are different things.

Tan1thT: Llazar us?

LLazarus: To me it can be either it depends upon how the persons involved are handled.. Mostly I feel it tends to raise self esteem in those I have dealt with. Most of the women and men that I have dealt with had extremely low self esteem comming into the relationship..and upon leaving were more a whole person again. The reason for this is the fact that I try to inbide in them their natural worth as humanbeings as well as submissives or slaves.

isa-owned: Tan1th....i am having trouble following your idea of "out"

Tan1thT: Sorry, local San Francisco slang. ;) Out, public with your sexual orientation.

LLazarus: They had keyed into the idea that because what they were doing sexually was not accepted as "normal" that they were not good persons. In that way they slowly lost their self-esteem thru each encounter that they were involved in.

Scarlett: nods

Tan1thT Let's close the queue after MsMirage.

sassysub: order of queu,,,,elipse, Morrak, mena, Wirchler, sevoo, Elektra, MsMirage

mena--: well it really depends on how open ppl are about it, those who dont except you or me because i choose to live for my Master dont need to associate with me...its part of who me not going to let others bring me down or let them affect my self esteem because they are vanilla on the subject, as long as my Master is happy with me im happy with myself

najah{DR} cheers for mena

soraya smiles at mena

LLazarus: That is fine for one entering with good self esteem but what about those walking wounded out there

Tan1thT nods at Lazarus. Since some parts of Judeo-Christian society say that BDSM is wrong, perverted, nasty, dirty, evil, etc, if you decide to internalize society's view, you can have some problems.

Tan1thT: Let's pause the queue for a moment please. (+m) I'd like to explore what Lazarus brought up more fully. It is true that people with low self esteem can run into serious problems when playing with BDSM.

"Self Medicating" with BDSM
copyright 1997 Tan1th Ty-rr

Some individuals with severe past emotional traumas can have these memories and feelings triggered by a BDSM session. This can be a healing experience, or it can further damage and traumatize the individual.

Some people deliberately use BDSM scenes to relive past traumas and empower themselves. Caution and extremely clear and explicit negotiation with everyone involved in the scene (even observers) is a very good idea in this case, and the input of a responsible mental health professional, such as a scene-friendly counsellor or psychologist, is an excellent additional "safety rail" for people who are doing this kind of heavy psychological play.

Other individuals may be attempting to relive their traumas and seek empowerment over them, but seem "stuck" or locked at a certain point, obssessed with repeating specific themes or fetishes and unable to actually derive any significant satisfaction or self improvement, by their own assessment. In my experience, and in the observations of the researchers I have worked with personally on this subject, this is the type of individual who most often does not actively participate in the BDSM community for more than a short period of time and who does end their participation in BDSM activity entirely at some point in their lives. They are also typically highly conflicted about their desire for BDSM activity, with guilt and self-loathing alternating with intense periods of actively pursuing their BDSM interest. This is the "problem BDSM'r", and probably somebody to be avoided as a play partner and referred to a responsible and understanding mental health professional.

The closest analogy I can come up with for this type of individual vs the healthy and healing BDSM player is that of self medication. If you are a basically emotionally healthy and balanced person and you relieve occasional mild stress or normal sexual tension with a fun and creative BDSM play session, you're doing fine and you don't need more than normal safety guidelines or anyone's supervision to just have kinky sex or fool around with a flogger. You're dealing with a simple need, not unlike being hungry and choosing to eat to relieve your hunger; and there are no complex motivations or underlying emotional traumas to work out here.

If you choose to use BDSM play to relax yourself from severe stress, create a euphoric state, distract yourself from the physical pain of an injury or from emotional pain, you may be self medicating with endorphins to some extent, or seeking healing through empowerment over themes in your life which have challeged you or caused you stress. With heavy play in particular, some fairly stringent safety guidelines are necessary.

If you are severely emotionally damaged and attempting to use BDSM to self medicate, you may be beyond your own ability or the ability of your partner to heal without outside help. The desire to self medicate (seek out BDSM play) may be there, but perhaps not the ability to achieve a strongly positive effect by self medicating, and the desire can turn dysfunctional.

There are particular danger signs along this road, including extreme fetishism (to the point that it interferes with your normal and necessary day to day functioning), an obssessive need to repeat a single and specific BDSM script over and over again without tolerance of variation, and your own lack of satisfaction with what you are doing.

Please note that there are fetishists who are perfectly healthy and people who just like the same BDSM game in the same way that they like the same breakfast cereal every morning; these are possible signs, not definite indications. Probably the strongest problem signs are being deeply conflicted and experiencing intense guilt and self hatred, and feel ing obssessed or compelled to do something which gives you no real satisfaction once completed.

In general, BDSM is a healthy activity practiced by healthy and consenting people. However, we're not immune from the same problems as the rest of the world, and that includes psychological ones.

In short, if you are already a healthy, happy, strong and essentially stable person with normal self esteem, BDSM won't hurt you.

If you have some issues already around your self esteem, you are more likely to get hurt, and you may need to step more carefully.

I like to compare BDSM to playing full contact football. If you are not in good strong physical condition, if you already have tender spots or bruises or broken bones, maybe you shouldn't go on the field for heavy play until you have healed.

Co-Dependence and Power Exchange
copyright 1998 by Tan1th Ty-rr

A damaged, co-dependent person might enter or stay in an abusive relationship because of hir issues around dependency and self worth, confusing their codependence with healthy BDSM. There is a difference.

Healthy BDSM play involves strong, seperate, stable and loving people who choose to exchange power in a relationship of dominance and submission, or to participate in intense sensation play (SM) to enhance their lovemaking or to explore the limits of their bodies, minds or spirituality. A Master or Mistress and hir slave may be very close and enjoy a deep, intense bond, but they are still seperate people, and they can grow forward together in their relationship rather than simply enabling one another to keep practicing their addictions, compulsions or illnesses.

To the outsider, a BDSM relationship can resemble a codependent one, but there are very clear differences that can be recognized. These are some of the warning signs that your relationship may be a codependent one.

*Addictions to drugs and alcohol (substance abuse). This is the classic codependence situation, where the enabling partner "covers" for the addicted person, making excuses for their behavior and enabling it to continue. Adult children of alcoholics and addicts in particular are prone to these behavior patterns, which they may continue to enact in their relationships whether or not their partner is an alcoholic. Addictive behavior may manifest in the absence of chemical substances, and the mere presence of chemical substances does not equal addiction.

*Compulsive behaviors such as sexual addictions which are out of control or cause significant disruption to your ability to function socially or professionally. Kinky sex is not inherently unhealthy; feeling uncontrollably compelled to practice it in ways that are self destructive or dangerous probably is. Other addictions/compulsions include behaviors around food (binging, purging, anorexia, hoarding) and cleanliness (compulsive hand washing). DSM-IV, the acknowledged diagnostic manual for the mental health field, lists the criteria for the most common addictions and compulsions that can become a basis for codependence.

*Nonconsensual physical or verbal abuse that goes beyond the boundaries of one or both partners' desire, comfort level or ability to absorb without any lasting impact or harm. It can be difficult or impossible for the outsider to tell when the boundaries have been crossed from BDSM to abuse. It can also be difficult for your partner to tell when your boundaries have been crossed, which is why constant and open communication is of critical importance in a healthy BDSM relationship.

*Inability to accept responsibility for the consequences of your actions; a feeling that if only your partner would change, it would fix you and make everything better.

*Being terrified of losing your partner; the whole world would come to an end, and you know you would never recover or find anyone else, ever. No matter how bad the relationship you have now is, it's important to hang on, since breaking up would be even worse than staying and putting up with the fights and abuse. Anything is better than losing him/her, even the hell you're going through now.

*Probably the biggest danger sign: knowing that things are bad and that they are not healthy or good for you, but being unwilling to take any positive steps towards changing them.

While 12-step programs are not the answer for everyone, they do have a high success rate in helping people with addictive-compulsive behaviors including alcohol and drug addiction and codependence. If you would like to learn more about addiction and codependence, there is some excellent resource material available. Look for your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous in the phone book, and ask for information on related chapters of Adult Children of Alcoholics and CoDependents Anonymous if you don't find them listed as well.

In a healthy BDSM relationship, as well as any other romantic relationship, the partners may depend very much on one another in their daily lives and for their emotional well being. The line is only crossed into codependence when one or more of these significant problems manifest themselves in a relationship, and generally not before. If being in a BDSM relationship makes you feel good about yourself and your partner, and your desire to practice BDSM does not cause significant dysfunction or harm, you are not "sick" simply because you like to act out on your sexual fantasies with a willing partner - even if those fantasies are pretty extreme and intense.

However, a damaged, severely co-dependent person should probably not be doing heavy, risky BDSM play any more than a person with broken bones should be playing tackle football. Wait until your bones heal and you are healthy and strong - go to the doctor if need be to speed your healing - before you start playing hard, strenuous sports. And wait until you have your head screwed on straight before you get into heavy BDSM.

You will find many more damaged, co-dependent people in abusive vanilla relationships than you will in BDSM relationships. They get hit and beaten, and they do not consent, and do not like it, and get nothing helpful, healing or positive out of it a t all.

Two strong, healthy people playing with power are as safe as any two people can be in this world. There is a risk, but there are risks involved in driving, flying and crossing the street. With vigilance and safety/health awareness, it is possible to give up or accept power over another person and to find it a loving, fulfilling and safe experience.


Tan1thT: In short, if you are already a healthy, happy, strong and essentially stable person with normal self esteem, BDSM won't hurt you. If you have some issues already around your self esteem, you are more likely to get hurt, and you may need to step more carefully. I like to compare BDSM to playing full contact football. If you are not in good strong physical condition, if you already have tender spots or bruises or broken bones, maybe you shouldn't go on the field for heavy play until you have healed.

sassysub: GA mena

mena--: Ok what if you were stable to begin with....and have a bad Dom? I mean couldnt that also hurt you? I know with my Master now i kind started out not having to high of a self esteem but he reaaaally has lifted i think it depends on how bad you are to begin with kinda even in self esteem of yourself

Tan1thT: It's been suggested we throw the discussion more open, but I would like to let the folks in the first queue talk. ;)

J_Kay: you teach what you can, educate whenever possible to groups, practice your kink safely, and counsel those who seem to desire it, attend social events, classes, conferences, share with those who want to learn. Now, if you get a few bleeders, well at least you tried to lessen the number. And then you continue

Tan1thT nods. Any traumatic experience can hurt you, and to have a loved one mess with your self esteem is pretty traumatic.

mena--: but in the past i have been extremely stable and some of my Master reallllly brought me more down maybe its lack of their esteem or their knowledge of BDSM

Wirchler: Where are we in the Queue, anyaway?

Tan1thT: In particular, when you voluntarily lower even normal, vanilla relationship barriers to another partner in a BDSM relationship you are extremelty vulnerable.

J_Kay: you communicate alot and know that you can stop at any time that's 'any time' period.

mena--: how do you repair what other Doms might have done? full of questions tonight hehe=)

Tan1thT: mena: You don't ask the easy questions, do you? ;) I mean, it isn't as simple as handing someone a spanner wrench. ;)

sassysub: GA elipse.....

J_Kay: what is this queue thing?

soraya: mena, you fill your Master in on what has happened in the past and then set about exploring it together as a starting point :)

mena--: one bad Master can lead to you having problems with a reaaaaally great loving wonderful Master....

isa-owned: Masters or vanilla partners....damage is damage

mena--: thank you soraya=)

Tan1thT nods.

flower^: one extremely bad experience can also render a sub unable to trust again

jade{SP}: true flower....

isa-owned: none of this is any different in my opinion than what goes on in the realm of vanilla

jade{SP} has a hard time trusting as she has been hurt in vanilla relationships in the past...but she trusts her Master of very few that she does

sassysub: order of queu as it stands.....Morrak, Llazarus, Wirchler, sevoo, Elektra, MsMirage, pet{MW}

flower^: isa: it is, in that much more trust and sharing take place within the realm of D/s

pandora-: I agree with isa, my only truly bad experience was in a vanilla relationship...

sassysub: Morrak, pls GA

its^me: jade{SP} I'm exactly the same

isa-owned: flower.....but doesnt that mean one has to be stronger to begin order to trust so intensely?

Tan1thT: Does anyone have some input for mena? I think we might just want to take open discussion right now, if the folks in the queue don't feel too insulted. ;) And please, no messages to me about how you think we should run this. I'm trying to do eighteen things at once and adjust to an unfamiliar talk environment. <note: a rude individual named J_Kay was repeatedly flooding Tan1th with /msgs after being told several times that she was not able to handle them and he needed to talk to a channel op.>

barb`: there are no easy answers... once trust is compromised, it is very hard to regain... but trust is all important here

flower^: you bet!

jade{SP}: trust and communications

Tan1thT: J_Kay, for the third time, SAFEWORD.

jade{SP} is learning that through her Master and collared sister as the first people that have taken the time to show her that she is worthy

soraya: yes, trust is not given or earned takes time to build slowly

Tan1thT: isa-owned: I agree. One of the prevalent myths in our community is...'scuse me, would you please kick J_Kay?

J_Kay: poor poor Tan1th

sevoo: I find my recovery from hurt, and raised self-esteem in general, comes from a lot of places, but two of them are explicitly kink-related: 1) feeling cherished and 2) being out.

Morrak: i think it increases the self esteem without a doubt... you look mroe towards pleasing the other one and less about what others think... it takes more of yourself to be able to give to someone and you simply like yourself more because the one you are with loves you so much... to me my slave is all that matters... she is all i want, and she helps me see myself in a better ilght you could say... :)

jade{SP} nods to Sir Morrak

Morrak: i think it does affect how you view yoursel;f... you have to be able to trust yourself enough to pick up the cat... you need to love yourself enough to be sureminded enough to know that what you ask isnt just an ego thing... it doesnt matter to me what society sees me as... i know who i am and i wish the same for my slave...

mena- smiles

barb`: it is very important to be able to accept yourself and to have others accept you for what you are

Morrak: i think it is a matter of how much you are willing to share and trust in the other person... it leaves a lot to fall... but if it is real then you should enjoy and learn from one another how important a role you fill for each other...

Tan1thT nods at barb. Especially so.

Morrak: i think it is a matter of how much you are willing to share and trust in the other person... it leaves a lot to fall... but if it is real then you should enjoy and learn from one another how important a role you fill for each other...

Tan1thT nods. About myths....BDSM plays with more raw and primal elements of the human psyche, with fewer barriers, than vanilla sex. And it does have the potential to reach deeper inside us, touching and changing who we are. In essence, when we play with BDSM, we are not just turning on the lights in our houses; we're fiddling with the wiring in our walls. This can be some dark and scary territory, and it's a good idea to learn as much as we can to better light our way.

BDSM Myths In Our Community
copyright 1996 by Tan1th Ty-rr

One of the most damaging unwritten myths of our community is that because our sexuality is different, we can throw away or disregard all the conventional rules of how to maintain our relationships with our partners.

Human beings don't work that way. Even the most submissive and downtrodden slave needs a source of positive self-esteem to be healthy; even the most dominant Master or Mistress needs reassurance themselves when things are going badly. Honesty, intimacy and trust are still issues in the BDSM relationship, perhaps even more so than in a conventional one.

If there are significant elements present in your BDSM relationship that would mean major trouble in a conventional relationship such as a friendship, a buisiness partnership or a love relationship, the mere fact that your relationship is BDSM-oriented isn't going to save it or make it exempt from these basic issues.

Can you trust your partner to be honest with you? Can you honestly share your feelings with your partner? Can you rely on your partner to look after your interests, your health, your safety? Do you respect your partner as a human being? Do you find your feelings of self worth enhanced by your partner, or diminished? Do you feel better about yourself when you are with your partner, or worse? These are some good questions to ask yourself about any relationship, including one based on BDSM.

Note that I am not excluding the possibility of two people being very happy and fulfilled by something like humiliation play or a 24/7 absolute owner-slave relationship - there is a difference between enjoying consensual play and having real issues around self esteem. A relationship can be based on very strict, harsh and intense DS and yet still leave both partners feeling good about themselves and each other - even though to an outsider, their expressions of love, caring and possession might be indistinguishable from "abuse".


Tan1thT: Sassy, shall we throw the floor open at this point for questions, or stick with the queue?

sassysub: i think open will suffice for now, Tan1th

sassysub: most in the queu had already spoken :o)

Tan1thT nods. Any comments? I think that this is a very important issue in our community.

Elektra^: I would submit that a person with low self-esteem is going to screw up any relationship, regardless BDSM or not, so it isn't

Wirchler: Sexuality is an inherent quality. 'Pervert' is just the way 'normal' people refer to those of us with different sexual tastes or preferences. I also tend to agree with LLazarus. The development of what is needed is an important part of self-esteem. On both parts.

mena- nods

jade{SP} nods

Elektra^: the nature of the relationship but the existence of same which gives them a chance to get hurt and hurt others

Morrak: what do you mean low...? keeping it low...? or starting low and building up Elektra...?

Tan1thT: I have seen a lot of media images of dominance in glamour magazines, ranging from the wicked, man-hating femdom to the kidnapper-rapist dom. Those images, I think, don't do our community much good for more than the obvious reasons.

sevoo agrees with Elektra. When a perv's relationship breaks up, outsiders will frequently blame it on kink -- the "see, I knew it wouldn't work" reaction.

barb`: true Tan1th... but we know better (i hope)

sevoo: Which is silly, since relationships break up all the time...

mena-: yeah but there are ppl out there that do that anyhow and arent into BDSM.....some are just not all up there...

Strider|: I feel it is the duty of the Dominant to raise the self-esteem of the submissive. One is the reflection of the other.

Elektra^: The only ppl whose self-esteem suffers in a relationship (any relationship) are those who had a low one to begin with, Morrak

mena-: i agree Strider| Sir=)

Tan1thT: Does anyone here actually know any relationships that work on the basis you see in magazines, with "worthless, crawlingn worm" slaves who are really not cared for?

jazorbil: thinks the discussion is on target--a submissives willingness to submit and a Dominants willingness to accept exemplives the issues of willingness to be vlulnerable, to trust, to share, and to be honest

sevoo: Striderl: That's a pretty motive, but how would you go about doing so? It's not so simple as it sounds.

Tan1thT: Elektra - I disagree, and so do the clinical folks in the field on this. ;) Trauma can lower self esteem in anyone, though the extent that it can affect you does depend on your own emotional stability as well as how intense the trauma.

jade{SP} has not been into this that long, but what she has seen so far does not show that type of relationship where the dom does not care for and protect his sub

barb`: each can suport the other.. indiffernet ways

mena-: but some ppl that are "worthless, crawlingn worm" might be happy doing that...they maybe well educated and happy pl with themselves and need something like that or its a turn on diff ppl like diff things

sassysub: at this time the floor is open...we will take names for a queu during ? and ! period at the end of the discussion

pet{MW}: could there ever be any chance that a person with low self esteem haveing a sucessful bdsm relationship

Tan1thT: Absolutely, if you go slow and easy and are willing to work hard at communicating the things you need in order to help heal yourself. One formula for disaster is expecting a romantic relationship, BDSM or otherwise, to fix your damaged self esteem and make you better. A loving partner can help, but part of your healing is accepting that *you* are responsible for doing most of the work towards this goal and for telling your partner what you need to help you achieve it. If you don't take the responsibility for setting yourself and your healing as a priority you will work hard on, it is unlikely and unrealistic to expect that another person - lover, Master, friend or parent - can succeed in "fixing" you.

sevoo: There *are* relationships where the dom does not care for and/or protect zir sub. Some of them just don't *work* that way, others are abusive.

LLazarus: I say yes from experience with several such

Elektra^: I completely absolutely disagree, Tan1thT. And that's from my own experience

barb`: or any relationship, pet... low-selfesteem can ruin the most vanilla of relationships

Strider|: sevoo: I have done it. The submissive must be taught that <s>he is the equal of the Dominant...we simply have different needs.

Morrak: not neccessarily so Elektra... i had about normal self esteem when i met mena... i dunno... i have grown to lov emyself more and what i do well... i dont conentrate on my faults because i want to spen more tyme with her and it hurts her to see me like that... something i will not have... :) i am not hurting this relationship... i think if NEthing it is making it stronger for us...

najah{DR}: i say yes as well.

Tan1thT: Elektra, I'd like to explore why you disagree some more.

mena-: thats because they give BDSM bad names sevoo.....and dont take it to heart only to relieve their own personal conflicts on someone else its like a couple and the husban beats his wife....obviously the man has problems

sevoo: Striderl: I don't dispute that it can be done. However, I also don't think it's as simple as waking up one day and saying, hey, I'm going to raise a sub's self-esteem today.

Elektra^: because, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger..... or supposed to :)))

LLazarus: No it never is that easy sevoo

claudia{A: pet, why not? if one comes into the relationship with a low self esteem, perhaps their esteem can be raisedwithin the relationship

mena-: i agree claudia

najah{DR}: it most certainly can

barb`: caring and openness and honesty and acceptance can go a long way to helping

Tan1thT: But I have not seen any long term relationships - other than genuinely abusive ones, generally vanilla - that lasted on the basis of one partner really not respecting or caring for the other.

sevoo: While it may be true that there's a strong correlation between low self-esteem to begin with an further deterioration of self-esteem, that'snot the ONLY way one's self-esteem can be damaged.

LLazarus: In a healthy relationship it can be claudia

Elektra^: so you were OK to begin with , Morrak, which proves my point

Strider|: I agree completely, sevoo. *Any* relationship takes a lot of work, and I think bdsm ones take more than vanilla ones.

barb`: agreed, Tan1th

muriel_: is there anyone here who practices non-consensual domination??

sevoo: Electra: Just because it's worked a certain way for you and yours doesn't mean it's the only way for things to work. Some of us have had experiences contrary to you.

Tan1thT: Elektra, I agree that if a relationship becomes abusive, the person can simply walk. But even the strongest person will feel pain and suffering, and wonder if there was something they could have done to prevent it.

Elektra^: I'm not talking about lack of respect and care, but about a perception of such lack

Morrak: claudia : yes... i agree... it is just that way , for my slave and myself...

najah{DR}: that's been my experience too

mena- smiles. its about helping one another out and explore themselves, and what they both like and dislike, its give and take...thats what relationships are...give and take, supporting one another...and helping one another make eachother wiser and better ppl=)

LLazarus: True sevoo.. different things happen in different relationships

barb`: and mine

MatureDom: If I might interject - a successful BDSM relationship must be grounded upon the very same principals of a vanilla relationship, a loving relationship, with trust truthfulness, communication, and security and protection for each party.

soraya: muriel: how do you define "non-consensual" ?

Elektra^: and ppl with low self-esteem are prone to such perception, however ungrounded

barb`: very true, matureDom

Tan1thT: Elektra: an outsider's perception? BDSM often looks cruel and harsh to an outsider who does not understand the internal dynamic.

jade{SP} nods ... agreeing with Tan1thT

mena-: i was just telling my Master that in msg MatureDom Sir, i agree....basic principles and morals....for BDSM relationships and vanilla

Elektra^: no a relationship's party's perception, which is a wrong one

Tan1thT isn't into tying up and raping the postman, chuckle. Is that how you define nonconsensual domination?

Morrak: thats exactly right mena... :) its a give and take meant to make both stronger and more sure at what they do...

MindFul1: I think it's critically important to have self-esteem coming into a relationship. It's very risky thinking that a certain partner will raise one's self-esteem. With self-esteem going in, one will choose a partner with similar self-esteem.

soraya: lol, Tan1th

sassysub: *perk* doing the postman????!!!!!!

sevoo: And while one might *eventually* be stronger because of a bad experience, frequently ther'es a period of low-self esteem to begin with.

sassysub: woops.....i prefer UPS

jade{SP}: but...tying up and using one that wants it...good for both if both feel its right for them

sevoo notes that the UPS lady at my last job was awful cute. :)

barb`: that is so very true, servoo

sassysub: lol sevoo

Tan1thT nods at Elektra. So you believe that a strong person should be able to survive even the most horrible, heart-tearing experiences with no loss of self esteem or confidence? I think it can get pretty hairy out there. ;)

MatureDom: jade, that is a good perception, and I agree.

Tan1thT: And I think real people do suffer pangs of indecision, pain, grief and yes, sometimes a loss of confidence and self esteem when bad things happen.

jade{SP}: thank you Sir

ohdear: sevoo: and fear to trust again

mena-: you can have a high self esteem about every aspect or area in your life...nothing is 100% but you CAN work on it=)

^kethry^: Mindful1 i have to agree with you 100 percent.. we can not rely and expect others to raise our self esteem.. it and must be something that comes from with in... and if it is low from the start one will not feel worthy of deserving better

barb`: that's the crux of the problem, ohdear

sassysub: i think at different times in our lives we lose our self's hard as hell to get it back alone, it's nice to have someone who TRULY CARES to help you during those times

Tan1thT: I think that your self esteem initially has a lot to do with how much it can be raised or degraded.

sevoo: So, what advice for the single sub with low self-esteem? (My own take on it was to get into therapy, but I recognize that not everybody has a kink-friendly therapist)

Elektra^: Tan1thT, the most horrible, heart tearing experience is when someone close to you turns up dead. But how it's supposed to affect your self-esteem?

MatureDom: Tan1th what you are expressing is basically emotions that all people endure from time to time.

barb`: essential

Tan1thT: I suggest that all activities which encompass wiitwd, BDSM, etc, involve an element of risk. Taking safety precautions, assessing the physical and emotional health and stability of the individual (ie, their fitness to participate safely) and maintaining a high awareness throughout of the level of risk is necessary in order to enjoy any such activities with the maximum degree of safety.

_joy: i agree with sassy

Elektra^: It's just a tragedy... as you said, trauma

Cats^kitN: very true MindFul1 but if often, esp in ppl who are begining their jounrney into D/s, they have lowered self-esteem because they do not understand these feelings they have. i know in my oun case i thought something was wrong, but once i came to learn and accept and find the person with which i could exchange power, i am a much stronger dynamic person now than before

barb`: well of course, Tan1th

LLazarus: But then what do you as individuals do when one you come incontact with wants to be part of a relationship with you and you find they have low self-esteem.. Do you cast them off to fend for themselves or do you help them and nurture them.??????

MaidenBA: muriel, there are many men who would have you believe that you are nothing but a worthless possession

mena-: sevoo i dont feel a sub with a lil low self esteem should have to just resort to a shrink or everyone in the world would be giving shrinks alot of money=)

Strider|: Here I'd like to say that it's not always the matter of the individual or couple...the bdsm *community* can do wonders toward raising the self-esteem of all.

Tan1thT: Elektra, when someone dies, you sometimes blame yourself - but it's a sudden loss. When a loved one turns mentally ill or alcoholic in front of you, turns into a different person, the process can be more drawn out and painful and likely to affec

MindFul1: I still that's a risky way to approach it, though, Cats^kitN

barb`: Strider: that is a very important point

Morrak: cats... thats how i felt precisely... always wondered why i left or got left by my old gf's... just somethign they all said... that i wanted to much from them... i thought there was somethign wrong and accidently found BDSM and and feeling quite fulfilled now... :) its one of them rags to riches stories... :)

sevoo: mena -- I dunno, my shrink was *great* for me. It's not everybody's answer, but it was mine -- however, I know not everybody's insurance will pick up half the tab like mine did.

Elektra^: I agree with you there, Tan1thT... to a certain point though

sassysub: we're going back to a moderated channel now....pls hold your comments

Tan1thT: Pardon me for interrupting the lively and well written information flow from folks, but I'm suffering under screen overload. ;) I'm willing to let this stay open and let everyone have their say, but I will not be able to follow it and answer al l questions if we use this format.

sevoo prefers the queue method, as enjoyable as this lively conversation has been.

sassysub nods

sevoo: (we could always go back to discussion after Tan1th gets tired -- Tan1th, do you get tired? :)

Elektra^ likes structured discussions. Q!!

^kethry^ nods barb

sassysub: Please....may i have your attn

MatureDom public open would be satisfactory to me.

LordSable: I think the queu would keep it more structured

Tan1thT: There are more than a dozen texts yet to be quoted.

Morrak agrees... the queue was easier to follow... though slower, theres much to be said for following the conversation... :)

Strider|: Queue.

sassysub: if you are too shy to ? or !...pls paste to me and i will present it to the Tan1th

Tan1thT: Geez, I'm the Tan1th. ;)

jade{SP}: what if the queue goes for a bit and then a disussion between?

swan{BT}: I would like to make one comment if I may as I believe it applies to discussion.

sassysub: lol...wooops

sassysub: well,,,,<ahem>

Strider|: <laughing> *The* Tan1th

Tan1thT: Sounds good to me.

sassysub: you DO have 2 Ts

MindFul1: Praise be to the Tan1th!

Elektra^: Queue 'em up!! :))))

sassysub laughs

sassysub: ok ok ok ok.....i'm human too....a sassy one! ok....i'm taking queue....please DO NOT jump ahead of others , remember how you want to be treated

swan{BT}: many do not actually recognize the diffence between D/s and Bdsm...many wrongfully assume that if they like to be tied up during sex that they must be a submissive, but then confusion reigns because their personalities are more Dom. I know many Doms that happen to enjoy cock and ball torture. Sometimes, one is neither sub or Dom, just a bit into some erotica

mena-: its hard to know whos first and when they are done heh

ProvokeMe: those of you that jump ahead will cause us to moderate the channel again... and we would like to avoid that

Tan1thT will leave the decision to the channel ops.

MatureDom: Am new to this discussion group so how do we enter the queue?

Tan1thT: Message sassysub, or type ? in channel.

sassysub: ok.....queu is as follows...LLazarus, najah{DR} Strider

Tan1thT notes that generally you will be recognized by a channel op, not me. ;)

sassysub: GA LLazarus, Sir

Tan1thT nods thoughtfully at swan, whom she invited to speak. :)

^kethry^: how do we message sassysub??

swan{BT}: sorry, forgot about the que thing

sassysub: type /msg sassysub text

Tan1thT: I think that a lot of people have different desires and needs, and not everyone fits neatly into a pigeonhole of The Perfect Sub or the One True Dominant. ;)

LLazarus: I ask those present if you come upon an individual that has low self-esteem are you going to pass them up or are you going to stick out your hand and say let me help you.? I for one will not turn my face away from those in need. I might have to help them to the shrinks but I wont turn away.

Tan1thT: Sassy, would you periodically publish the queue?

sassysub: yes i will queu........najah{DR}, Strider, Elektra

Tan1thT nods. I have a document that is a bit long to post on channel, but that I periodically post. It's called the S Letters, and it's largely about self esteem and why we play. I'll be glad to /dcc it to the channel ops who can then pass it around on request.

ProvokeMe: I'll take it Tan1th, and put it up for autograb to those who want

The S Letters
copyright 1995 Tan1th Ty-rr

I recently initiated an extensive correspondence with a friend of mine who happens to be a male submissive. Yes, that's quite correct; he is my friend, and not *my* submissive at all, for a number of good and mutually agreed-upon reasons. When we talk, our respective genders and roles make no real difference at all, except to make it easier for each of us to see a little bit of the world through the other's eyes.

This is more of a blessing than you can imagine, unless you're a also a pro dom who gets deluged daily with submissive men drooling in your boots, who at the same time treat you as barely human; a kind of fleshy extension of the whip handle and a combination shoe tree and display hanger for their favorite fetish wear. Which I am; and it's enough to make me appreciate my friends who know me as a human being rather than a cardboard object to use as a prop in their fantasies, even if I am a pro domme in my public life. Thanks, friends - you know who you are.

I initially had it in mind to extend to "S" a few pointers on the local BDSM scene, but in the course of his correspondence and our growing friendship, my heart went out to him and I found myself patiently writing reams of philosophy, advice and charitable sentiments. And - surprise - learning a lot myself as I wrote and he responded, about what really makes some of us tick, dominants and submissives alike.

The more I ponder, the more I suspect that the differences of roles and genders and rituals are only skin deep, and what binds us all together is the eternal and very human desire to play and to learn to be whole. This is What It Is That We Do, at the very least for "S" and me. Perhaps some of the rest of you will find things to resonate with here as well.

All identifying information has been edited out; "S" is not this person's name and never has been, and is a fictional choice of my own. Please do not ask his identity; I will not answer, unless he so chooses to "out" himself here. I won't do it for him.

In these letters, I speak rather strongly and from my own point of view. Please take what you like from my declarations of What Is in these letters, believe of it what you want, reject the rest, and mentally append, "This is Tan1th's personal belief and experience and not necessarily right or true for me."

I am reasonably confident that I have good and workable answers for myself that apply to my life and my experiences in the world of BDSM, but I cannot have the right answers for everyone else, and I may not have the right answers for you. Perhaps my experiences will help you, and perhaps they will not. We are not all alike. Thank goodness; think of how boring a place this world would be if we were. ;>

When you read "we" and "us" and "ours" in these letters, these pronouns refer to "S" and to myself, and they are not meant to refer to anyone else in this rather wider audience. Thanks for listening.

- Tan1th Ty-rr October, 1995

****THE "S" LETTERS****

Dear S,

I resonate deeply with some of the things you mentioned about your play being a way to heal hurts from your childhood. And I do undestand. Thank you for sharing some of your most private thoughts and feelings with me. As you well know, pain shared is pain lessened; and opening up old wounds and talking about them is one way to make sure that they do not fester.

While I don't think D/S play is unhealthy at all, I do think a lot of us use it as a positive way to play out and gain a sense of empowerment over hurts that happened to us in the past - a kind of self-therapy that is remarkably effective. Yes, it can also be used simply a spice in someone's love life; but I have the feeling that you and I are in the category of "healers" rather than "players".

I'm glad we've begun this correspondence. Investing time and energy in a project, or a person, is a lot like planting a seed. You aren't always completely sure what will come up; but you know that if you nurture it enough, it should bear good fruit according to its nature.


Dear S,

Healers can be self-healers as well, an important fact you should keep in mind. And I suppose I should take my own advice as well; I often tend to give out more nurturing than I feel comfortable getting, and it is quite a task to keep in mind that we, too, deserve some of what we give to others.

Scripts etched deeply into our mind in childhood can feel somehow comfortable, even if they're dysfunctional and terrible for us and painful to act out. But we just keep acting them out, don't we? Each in our own different ways, but ultimately the same, I suspect. It feels "good" not to have any fun and to be responsible because it's what we're used to.

We may be on opposite sides of the fence - I'm a professional dominatrix, and you're a novice submissive - but I suspect that our scripts are awfully similar. It's just our ways of acting them out that appear to be different. But are they really different, in the long run? You tell me.

I'm sure there will be room for you at the upcoming party; I know the place is small, but there is always room for one more. At least, that's my dream; to create a place that isn't too big, and isn't too little, where anyone who feels lonely and shamed and out of place because of their different and special sexuality can come and share the company of others who feel the same way. Somewhere in the middle of all this, maybe we can all find a measure of healing and acceptance.

You can wear anything you want to the party; literally anything you feel comfortable in. Some people are going to dress casually, some people are going to dress in fetish wear, and some people are going to be in between. Nobody will care what you're wearing; they'll be too busy talking and laughing with you and having a good time. That is, if you let them.


Dear S,

Funny, isn't it?

Part of being a dom (though I am emphatically not being a dom here) is being basically psychic, seeing through to another's deepest needs and feeding them. I have that ability, I pretty much *have* to, in order to effectively work with the folks who walk into my dungeon bewildered and without understanding, not really knowing what they want of me or why. I do my best to give them what they need, and help them find a measure of real peace with themselves and their desires.

I believe that a good dominatrix, if she is functioning at a truly responsible and ethical level, must give more than just a sexual titillation to the men who come and bare their souls to her. She must give healing and the gift of self-acceptance, if she is able and the subject is ready.

I don't mean to imply that I'm in any way acting as a professional dominatrix with you; I'm not. It's just that I have this skill and these senses, and not to use them would be like closing my eyes or stopping my ears. I can't stop being who I am because I'm not at work right now.

And it isn't if I was just looking in from the outside, either - I can resonate so deeply with my clients and with my BDSM community friends because I feel as they do; I have been where they have been, I am going where they are going. And when we go on these journeys together, it lessens our pain and strengthens us in reaching our goals.

Regardless of the roles we choose to play, and who we choose to be to one another, we are all potentially healers and healed, nurturers and the ones taken care of. You and I are friends; we are travellers along the same path, and we have the luxury of *not* being crammed into any rigid roles or behaviors.

I have no expectations and no demands on you; you have the right to simply be who you are. Likewise, I am not going to lie on a Procrustean bed to conform myself to your personal definitions of a Mistress; I will speak to you as a person in my own right, and not the elusive ghost of an ideal.

It's a relief not to *have* to be a dominant all the time, y'know. That's why I value my friends.


Dear S,

It's all right to be afraid, sometimes. Try to keep this in mind. Your personal feelings, your fears and your weaknesses are your right as a human being. Please don't let anyone label you a "wimp" for being afraid of something that really is pretty scary to that little child inside you; instead, hold that child tight and tell him that it's OK to be scared of things and to want to be protected. You have the right to be little and scared, and held and reassured.

That's a lot of what some of us BDSM'rs like to play with, the need to be nurtured when you're scared or hurt. Different things scare and hurt different people; depending on what happened to them when they really were little, and the choices they made then. Some of those things are too terrifying to play with, and some of them are the things that we most want to play with.

If you ever got caught trying on Mommy's c lothes, or if you were caught masturbating, often that sense of shame is internalized, eroticized and sometimes fossilized in the cores of ourselves. Unless we deliberately replay those sensations, and make the choices again in our adult lives, it can continue to shape who we are without our control or our consent.

This is one of the reasons why we play. We are talking to those deeply buried feelings within ourselves, and even when we don't remember why we have them, we have the need to control them and eroticize them and make them into something positive and healthy. We reclaim our own power over ourselves and our own healing by voluntarily choosing to replay old scripts with new outcomes.

Yes, the naughty little boy gets punished - but he also has an orgasm. It's OK to put on Mommy's clothes, and instead of being disapproved of, you're told how sexy you look. You're forced to do something "terrible and degrading", and of course you love every minute of it, since you suggested it in the first place. You surrender yourself and are made helpless, and no harm comes of it. Or you surrender yourself and you are beaten; but then you are hugged and held and loved, and the pain becomes both an expression of caring and a cathartic release.

These scripts might once have been genuinely abusive, emotionally or physically, but through consensual and caring play we can transform them into something positive and healing. The healthy BDSM'r says, "This is something I choose now for myself, and it makes me stronger. I am empowered and I am healed by honoring these feelings I have, and acting them out in a healthy way with a consenting partner."

Incidentally, I've been really inspired writing to you; do you mind if I collect the letters, strip all identifying information about you, and publish them eventually? I'll run them by you before I publish them, to make sure that there is nothing left in them that in any way reveals details about you. I will re-write and change portions of them to apply more to novice submissives in general than to you specifically.

I was thinking of referring to you as "S" in the letters, unless you have a letter you'd prefer to be known by.



jade{SP} would like that

Tan1thT nods. Good point, Llazarus. I guess it depends on how much time and energy you have to contribute.

sassysub: GA najah{DR}

Strider|: LLazarus: I'd advise them to get professional counsel. Unless I had a personal interest, I'd feel unqualified to help.

LLazarus: Yes it does but it also depends upon your view of life.

najah{DR}: just from my own experience...

jane{MP} kneels by her Mistress

LLazarus: This assumes you do

najah{DR}: i had a very mentally abusive vanilla relationship for 12 years.

sassysub: queu.....najah{DR}, Strider, Elektra, fNd, sassy

najah{DR}: BUT...since Master has come into my life...I've realized I'm not a worthless piece of garbage, but a worthwhile, valuable human being who is special in her own way and valued for that reason.

Strider|: Then, Airborne all the way, Llazurus. You don't leave your own people behind.

sassysub: woops....queu, Strider, Elektra, its^me, sassy

LLazarus: Damn straight

mena-: i agree najah i felt the same until i met Morrak and he showed me that im special and something ppl can beat up on=)

Tan1thT: Great testimonial, najah. :) I think that this has been true of many people who have come into BDSM and accepted themselves and been accepted by a loving partner.

jade{SP} agrees also najah...very much so the same here...

Tan1thT: Next in queue?

sassysub: queu, Elektra, its^me, sassy

Tan1thT: I think that one of the most important issues in building - or rebuilding - or making sure not to damage - self esteem and emotional well being is aftercare.

Strider|: My question is why submissives, in R/L, are often considered inferior. To me, the first rule is that the Dominant is the reflection of the submissive, and the submissive the reflection of the Dominant.

fireNdark hopes he aint getting hurt. :)

Tan1thT: Damn, that's a popular file. ;) Let's pause to let people grab it. ;)

mena-: thats exactly how i feel Stride, Sir=)

jade{SP} does not consider herself inferior

sassysub: we are silencing the channel a moment

Tan1thT: Excellent question, Strider. I'd like to address it with some text, so please bear with for a moment. ;)

isa-owned: in what world are subs considered inferior Strider? in the vanilla world?

sassysub: pls hold your thoughts

LordSable: Well said, Strider :))

soraya: I simply dont get involved with anyone would think me inferior to begin with

Elektra^: surely not in mine, isa :)))

mena-: my Master always treats me as an equal mentally and such but there are thi ngs i do not knowand that is why he is there to teach and help me with things i dont know so that i may better understand =)

Strider|: In many of the bdsm scenes I've seen, isa-owned.

Tan1thT: There seems to be a strong IRC culture that encourages people to treat dominants and submissives differently on a social basis. I have some pretty strong feelings about this myself, chuckle, and I tend to fall into culture shock when I step from socializing with the real world BDSM community into IRC.

Titles and SM
copyright 1998 by Tan1th Ty-rr

I feel strongly that BDSM is a consensual and deeply personal exchange between two (sometimes more) people that is not generally transferrable to the world at large. If you marry a man, he is your husband, and you might call him "Husband". Going around calling other men "Husband" or strange women "Wife" simply because they're also heterosexual is not considered appropriate, and for good reason - no such intimate relationship exists, and the title is inappropriate.

I think that titles like Master and Mistress are essentially the same thing when used in a dominance/submission context. I am friendly and polite to anyone I meet initially, and their sexual and BDSM orientation is simply not of any interest or relevance to me in our social interaction. I do not know (and don't really care) if I'm talking to a gay bottom, a lesbian top, a heterosexual switch or a transgendered vanilla. What they do in bed with their spouses (spice?) or consenting partners or Hitachi magic wands is not the business of a casual acquaintance in a social setting, until or unless that relationship goes beyond casual.

Tan1thT: I seem to be missing the channel volunteer tape recorder, chuckle,and I cannot play the longer file about how subs and doms are treated different socially.

sassysub: hmmmm

Tan1thT has sent the document to sassy and Provoke.

sassysub: PM is cutting and pasting...pls be patient w/us :o)

sassysub: this is a good time to get that cup of coffee or tea or...kiss yer honey :o)

<soraya pasting here>

Social or Sexual?
copyright 1998 by Tan1th Ty-rr

How about those submissives who are trained to call everyone who doesn't de-capitalize their nickname (for whatever reason) Master or Mistress, Sir or Ma'am, in a socially dominant/submissive context?

Some folks enjoy that kind of wholesale BDSM atmosphere, and if it's consensual for all, that's great. Personally, I don't consent, and I am not comfortable on channels where this is the norm. I see D/S as an intensely personal, meaningful interaction that is not fun to do with random strangers. My viewpoint is not necessarily the right one for anyone but myself, but I feel that I have a right to set my personal boundaries (not to do DS with strangers) and to have them respected.

I don't want to upset other folks who are trying to express their BDSM identities, but I feel that it is not fair for them to force me to play when I don't want to play with them.

The way I put it is like this. "OK. You're trained to call free people Master or Mistress, right? What would you do at the laundromat, call the guy at the change machine Master? Would you call the town librarian Mistress? If you went into #unix to get a technical answer to a shell script question, would you be using those titles there? No? Why not?"

Usually the answer comes out after a little thinking, and it boils down to, "Because those aren't BDSM people and they don't understand or consent to participate in my lifestyle."

Bingo. Yes, I practice BDSM in my private life. No, I do NOT consent to wholesale BDSM interactions with strangers. My private life is not the business of strangers, nor does the mere fact of my sexual orientation give anyone the right to take liberties and to practice that sexuality on me without negotiation or consent.

True story - a femdom at a play party I hosted once commanded her sub to go over and lick my boots, and he did. I was not consulted. I was pretty disgusted, though not as disgusted as the sub when he found out that those were my pig-slaughtering, alligator-pen-mucking work boots. ;)

I felt disgusted, unilaterally used as a prop for someone else's kinky foreplay, and generally annoyed that anyone could have such poor ethics as to tell their submissives to go and involve nonconsenting people in their play, violating other people's personal and emotional boundaries.

To a lesser extent, I feel similarly used when a submissive forces me into a socially higher status role over them by using a title to address me. I don't want that role. I want to be plain old me, a regular human being, a BDSM community member, a friend. Not a Mistress, Ma'am, or slave to anyone I don't even know. I feel icky when someone tries to force what is to me a deeply intimate relationship of power exchange without so much as asking me first if I consent.

I believe that to a large extent, there is a serious culture clash between real life and IRC, in truth. Those kinds of commands do not tend to be given by dominants in real life in my experience, and it is a rare play party or event in which those rules are expected. I actually hosted one, and I know folks who have hosted others, but they are comparatively less common that events where ordinary rules of social courtesy apply.

A lot of people in the real life BDSM community don't "flag", so it is hard to tell whether you are chatting with a gay bottom, a lesbian Daddy-top, a transgendered switch or a straight submissive. The normal social rules that apply to the BDSM gatherings I have actively att ended in the last decade or so in California are basically not dissimilar from the social rules anywhere else - courtesy to everybody, acceptance of other peoples' kink, and no intrusive touching or domming or subbing at anybody until it's consensual.

I know some folks who have entered this community with the notion prevalent on IRC that somebody who chooses to do X in bed with their partner is deserving of a different social treatment that somebody who chooses to do Y. They tend to run into some serious culture clash problems until they figure out that most folks out here in real life don't do it that way.

Actually, they get laughed at as incredibly clueless. "Ahhh, you want me to call you Master because you say you spell your name with a capital letter? Um....riiiiight." <*snrk* *giggle* *better get the straitjacket, Edna, this one's a live one!*>

I think that what can actually work on an IRC channel, given consent and certain background assumptions (like, everyone's heterosexual and nobody is a switch), could work in real life given those same assumptions. Unfortunately, the BDSM community (at least in California and New York that I know of) is extremely diverse, and expecting a lesbian butch submissive to call a straight man Master ain't gonna happen. So no one expects it, and we socialize in peace.

Since folks have a right to gather and to make their rules as they please for the gatherings, I basically avoid IRC channels that come with the assumption that you have to assume either a dominant or submissive role to strangers. I'm not comfy playing that way, but if other folks are, that's fine and dandy.

When people bring it out of their consensual IRC gathering spots and into places where entry does not constitute an agreement to abide by those rules, I get a bit more annoyed and I like to point out that I prefer to abide by normal rules of social courtesy and I do not want to play any "special" kinky games with strangers. Ie, just treat me like the librarian, please, until we get to know one another and mutually consent to a different arrangement.


Tan1thT: The topic is treating dominants and submissives differently on a social basis, how this works online compared to how this works in real life. I'd like to throw the queue open for discussion.

flower^: LOL

fireNdark laughs

cfish{V}: LOL

sassysub: LOL

fireNdark: thank you soraya :)

sassysub: Elektra, GA

Tan1thT is learning about lag an' such. Yuck.

sassysub: queue :Elektra, its^me, sassy, sassy

isa-owned: ok now....

isa-owned: LOL

isa-owned: slight delay due to technical probs

barb`: i believe that most of us treat each other with respect here... i see little evidence of orientations being forced on anyone

Elektra^: Tan1th, you were introduced as an activist for sexual minority rights. What does it mean exactly?

sassysub: please lets stay w/the queu

Tan1thT: Next time, let's meet on a MUCK, please? I'm a wizard on TinyFugue and creating interactive environments. :/ Just not any good on IRC. :/

sassysub: are doing great,'s the techie probs, not you at all

isa-owned: you are doing Masterfully here Tan1th :)

Tan1thT isn't wearing *that* toy now, isa. ;)

fireNdark: Tan1th....under the circumstances, you've done wonderful

femery: Thank you Tan1th. Your true stories have helped this submissive woman in real time and with online friendships.

Tan1thT: Elektra: That means I march in Pride parades, talk to the press, give classes and lectures, write educational stuff, etc, to help the public recognize that different sexual orientations are simply different and not evil or wrong.Tan1thT grins. Anybody can be an activist. C'mon and join the fun. Next Q?

Elektra^: Guess my question was to a definition of a sexual minority

sassysub: GA its^me

its^me: I'm not the "perfect" sub,if there is such a thing, I argue and say "no" but my opinions are valued, it is based on trust and give and take, he doesn't want a doormat and I'm sure not one.My self esteem has gone ahead in leaps and bounds all because of his love and me being able to trust him completely, and most importantly, not be scared, I feel safe and valued for the first time EVER

sassysub: queu, sassy, sassy.....taking more ? and !

jade{SP}: ohhhh its^me...this girl totally agrees with you

mena-: me too its!!!!!!

Tan1thT: Thank you for the wonderful shared story, it^sme. :)

its^me: and it sure is a nice feeling :)

mena- feels like the MOST wonderful thing on the planet=)

jade{SP}: oh yes

Morrak: its^me... yea it works both ways... :)

najah{DR} is in complete agreement

soraya feels good just listening to you :)

its^me: I now Morrak, and that makes it special too :)

barb` agress

Tan1thT: Strider, do you feel that the topic of treating doms and subs different socially was adequately answered, or shall we explore there some more?

its^me: thats it :)

Morrak: because you are to me lil one... :)

mena-: its^ sometimes you think it cant get anymore wonderful and then your Master surprises you and you feel so overwhelmed=)

Strider|: This is an important question to me, Tan1th, so I would appreciate further discussion.

Tan1thT gently reminds folks that if we degenerate into too many side comments, poses, metoos and jumping in, she won't be able to answer every question and people might get passed over by accident.

its^me: thats sooo true mena :) you beam from ear to ear :)

isa-owned: Strider.....when we met..... i didnt think you treated me any differently than you treated let's say....than i was treated by my vanilla friends

sassysub: ok....let's get back to Strider then we will continue the queu...still taking more ? and !

mena- is beaming now its=)

Tan1thT nods at Strider. More comments/questions on that topic?

Elektra^: I'd really appreciate your answering my question, Tan1th

Tan1thT: As you can tell, chuckle, I feel strongly that what somebody does in bed has no relevance to a polite social interaction.

Strider|: I didn't, isa, but so many people do....try going to a party as a sub then to another as a the difference.

Tan1thT: Elektra: did I not answer it adequately? I thought I had.

Elektra^: the question was to a definiton of a "sexual minority"?

Tan1thT: Hold a minute, sassy - trying to make sure we've covered the topics on the table previous.

Tan1thT: Sorry. Well, anything other than heterosexual missionary position. ;)

sassysub: queu is on hold...pls type ? or ! if you would like to question or comment...otherwise lets wait our turn *thanks y'all*

Tan1thT: I personally draw the line at pedophilia and nonconsensal stuff, but other than than, I believe that diversity is a good thing and should not be persecuted.

Elektra^: So, Mr. Clinton belongs to your sexual minority?

sassysub: lol

Tan1thT laughs. No, I think he would disown us real perverts.

sassysub laughs

jade{SP}: heheh

Elektra^: I wouldn't be so sure :)))

barb` bites her tongue

sassysub bites barb's tongue too

BldStar waves to barb quietly

sassysub: woops....sorry, needed a laugh

Tan1thT: If you'd like to discuss that with me some more, I'll ask that you send me some email, OK? :) I'd like to give more people a chance to talk. Next?

Elektra^: You know what my question is, Tan1th. Are you seeking government protection as yet another victims class?

sassysub: next is barb....GA pls barb

Tan1thT: Elektra, I really am not an omnipotent psychic. ;) And no, my efforts are more focused on public education than politics.

Elektra^: sure thing :)

Tan1thT doesna trust the gov't, and likes to work around it rather than in it, if y'know what I mean, Elektra.

Elektra^: ok

barb`: back to the question of treating different orientations differently... i tend to act submissive in all contexts.... that is, I ask rather than deman, i defer... but it's not something i force on people... just who i am... and most accept me for what i am even when they don't know just what it is they are accepting

sassysub: queu : barb, sassy, its^me, sevoo, mena

Tan1thT nods at barb. And I find myself caught in a dilemma - I don't want to be mean to poor li'l subs who are trying to express themselves, but I feel icky about accepting a dom role without being asked.

jade{SP}: good point barb ;)

Tan1thT: If you addressed me by a title, barb, I would ask you to please just think of me as an equal, maybe a friend, because we have no BDSM relationship.

sassysub: correction on queu.....sassy, isa-owned, sevoo, mena.....sorry folks

barb`: i would not address you by title unless asked to, Tan1th... but i would tend to defer to you

Tan1thT: barb: do you differentiate in your submissive behavior towards people of different BDSM/sexual orientations? Ie, would you act different towards a submissive than towards a dominant, even if the dominant was gay and had no interest in playing with you? Let's GA with the next in the queue while I continue with barb; we can handle two at once. ;)

barb`: Tan1th: it's my style.. when i am with someone with whom i have a d/s relationship, it's more overt, and more recognized, but it is alwways there to some extent

Tan1thT nods at barb. I think that when you start to differentiate based on what somebody does in bed with somebody else, you start to step over some social boundaries.

barb`: and when i am with other subs, i laugh a lot about who will take the lead

isa-owned: when does barb start to have a BDSM relationship with you Tan1th? when she has sex with you.....or when she acknowledges that both of you share a similar passion?

Tan1thT chuckles. When we negotiate one, isa. Please be kind to my scrolling screen and the other folks in queue. Isa, that is a good question, but could you please get in the quue for it? I want to answer it, but it's kethry's turn and I don't want to be rude.

barb`: but submission, to me, is not a purely sexual thing... it's a way of life

mena- agrees with barb

isa-owned: i am in the queue....sorry

sassysub smiles at isa.....

sassysub: <kethry> I am new to the lifestyle.. about 3-4 months ago i discovered that what i longed for and felt all my life was a deep sense of submission..(i have yet to serve a Master.. but long for the day i will get the chance..) but i fear that day may never come because of all the wrong ideas i got when i was vanilla and searching for ways to deal with my submission.. the only way i knew was to give up any thoughts of who i was..what i needed and will never find a loving and carring Master.. due to my previouse expierences.. i also have trouble feeling pleasure.. i have denyed myself it for so long :) one way to put it is to say that i have denied myself the simplest of pleasures all my life because what i found pleasure in people told me it was wrong.. vanilla people said i was sick perverted.. now that i have learned different how do i learn that these pleasures are exceptible.. that i have a right to them :)

Tan1thT: Wow, great story. :) Is there a question attached?

isa-owned smiles back at sassy.....i am new to this :)

sassysub: s'ok babe**

Tan1thT: Isa, we begin to have a BDSM relationship simply by agreeing to have one. ;) The submissive says, "May I call you Master/Mistress?" The dominant says "Yes". Done. ;) Obviously, this is not comparable to a long term, live in relationship, but it is consent to play dominant and submissive roles opposite one another. ;)

kethry: there is a question but mostly just a lot of confusion.. alot of fear.. a little anxiouse ness ect :)

sassysub: perhaps you are looking for someone to reassure you that it's ok, kethry?

Tan1thT nods at kethry. I know that this is a chaotic discussion, but I hope you stay around (or read the log they'll put up afterward) and gain something positive and empowering. ;)

Strider|: kethry, I'd suggest that you look into any bdsm support groups, Munches, etc. in your area.

Tan1thT: When you first get started in BDSM, it's normal to be anxious...where are the guidelines, what is safe, what is abusive, where do you draw the line? I'd like to hold on this subject for a minute.... +m please?

kethry: sassysub yes that could be.. but i have no fear of showing my submission in public.. no fear of what they might think or feel towards me.. but well a dom finds pleasure in knowing his sub is pleased.. but what happens if a sub cannot feel that pleasure due to prior abuse of it :)

sassysub: okie.....hold your comments for a moment pls folks we'll take up the queu where we left off...mssg me if you want to be put in line

Tan1thT: kethry: Abuse is a *very* bad thing, and one of the most important functions our community has is to serve as a reality check and as support. How do we differentiate abuse and BDSM? And how do you rebuild a damaged self esteem and trust if abuse has happned? One of the most important ways to differentiate between BDSM and abuse, and also to help heal and prevent damage, is aftercare. There are also some very specific signs of how to differentiate abuse from BDSM, and I'll be sending those along in a moment as well.

Morrak: <cutting and pasting documents for channel>

Tan1thT: Aftercare is one of the most important things I know in helping heal trust. I'd like to throw the queue back open now to discuss it. After you submit yourself, the care and reassurance that you did well and are OK now can be critically important to your self esteem and feeling that all is OK in the world.

copyright 1996 Tan1th Ty-rr

Another element of BDSM play that most of the BDSM community strongly feels should be present is something called aftercare. This is generally where hugs are exchanged between top and bottom, and emotional reassurance is given from both sides as well as a physical assessment of the condition of both partners. Food or drink or a warm blanket might be offered if needed, and Band-Aids and Betadine put on scrapes or welts. The specifics of aftercare might vary as much as the specifics of BDSM play itself, but many people in the BDSM community feel very strongly that some sort of aftercare is very much a necessity for scenes that go beyond a certain level of intensity.

kethry nods to Tan1th

sassysub: has isa spoken?

sassysub: queu .....isa-owned, sevoo, mena

isa-owned: oh please...i havent shut up

Tan1thT grins. GA anyway.

sassysub: LOL

isa-owned:'ll be sorry. anyway, first why do we have to come out? do vanilla beans have to come out?

Tan1thT: isa: Well , I felt for me that it was critically important to my self esteem that I never hide from anyone or deny who and what I was.

isa-owned: i mean we dont have to hide it that we like it kinky or rough....or painfully or whatever.....but why do we have to proclaim it?

Elektra plays with her riding crop. Come out, isa

Tan1thT: But different people have different feelings about the matter. If you don't feel that way, you aren't wrong, just different.

isa-owned: ok i understand not denying it....if questioned

Tan1thT: Some people gain a feeling of freedom and self esteem by "coming out". Others have very, very good reasons to remain closeted.

isa-owned: for you it was important that the rest of the world know that sexually you were not of the puritan ethic what about the rest of your persona?

Tan1thT: In particular, if you have children, it is wise to be *very* careful about who knows. Especially in light of the recent custody cases in which Child Protective Services got involved. :/ isa: yes, it is important to me that I be proud of my identity as a leatherperson and that I do not hide. That does not mean I feel the need to be "in your face" to people whose business it is not. I do not, f'r instance, grab the postman or the grocery clerk and proclaim my leatherhood. ;)

sassysub: i bet they'd like ya too *g*

Tan1thT: isa: I have friends whom I would advise to deny it if questioned. Reality sucks. ;) It would be nice if we could all be out and proud and there was no prejudice, but ain't so out there. Tan1thT smiles. Next question?

sevoo: Tan1th, do you think the fairly recent move towards collars and such as fashion items helps us or hurts us in terms of trying for public acceptance? How does this effort concert (or not) with those of other sexual minorities (queer, polyamorous, etc?) (and for Kethry, I'd like to recommend Pat Califia's _Sensual_Magic_ (and my SO disagrees that The Lesbian SM Safety Manual is a good starter's book, but I like it).)

Tan1thT: Ehhh, good topic, sevoo. ;)

sevoo: (did that all make it through? I've just been dropping off my thoughts :)

Tan1thT: In one sense, it helps us. We can be more of who we are in public, if that's what we want, with less hassle. And we have more freedom and more allies, more public exposure and understanding.

End Part 1


[ Discussion Logs | Part 2 ]