Trying “The Scene” Again
So I’ve been participating in The Scene again for almost a year now. I went in as a young, unpartnered, female, queerish/genderfluid-but-non-presenting, dominant/sadistic/toppish person with a stake in femdom and sadist identities. I went in with a firm knowledge that The Scene was not going to live up to my standards, and that I was going to take the good parts for what they were worth anyway. I was ready. I was tired of settling [for mostly “vanilla” acts of intimacy]. After having done a lot of growing, and gone through some profound life crisis, I was ready to be seriously proactive in getting my needs met.
The disappointing parts of The Scene are still disappointing. The assumptions, stereotypes, and discriminations are still there. I haven’t been around long enough to pick out the skeletons shoved in the closets, but I know they’re there. But going in with the attitude that I was going to navigate that as authentically and in the best integrity that I could, has allowed me to enjoy the good parts more. Namely, that there are well-populated spaces where I can be my sexual orientation and talk about it and it be taken for granted, instead of met with surprise, confusion, fear, and disgust. That there are respectful, intelligent, thoughtful, fun people who want to play with me.
I’ve been in two different cities, which has given me a nice little triangular pool to draw comparisons and contrasts with the first regional scene I experienced.
One city was a large metropolitan area in an extremely conservative American state. Because of that, I didn’t expect it to be a Megalopolis of BDSM, but it was. Which had some awesome benefits. They had two dungeons and usually two or three events to go to a week, minimum. HUGE rope scene. Two groups dedicated to femdom (two!). One was high protocol fetishista style. I never ended up going, but I had started the process to at least experience it despite my instinctive bleagh sentiments. The other was just… well-intentioned and highly awkward. Which was really unfortunate for everyone involved, and I think especially for the people I met there who were just starting to explore their mansub/femdom desires. But it was there that I found a really awesome couple to play with.
They were a couple of rungs above me in the generation scheme and coming from a different life-context, but we just played together really well. They were more along the s/m part of the spectrum than the d/s, with perhaps some d/s flavor thrown in. He was a super fun reactive masochist, and she was a super-playful sadist, and beating on him together was fantastic.
There was another couple I played with a few times as well, both of them slightly younger with me. They were more d/s, and I ended up connecting in play more with the sub in the couple and being more friends with the dom, but still a really great experience.
In retrospect I feel really fortunate tha I had those relationships, even if they only lasted a few months, because they were really positive experiences to have just coming back into the public scene. I also found out that it can be super fun to play with couples because they know each other and you get part of an insider’s perspective right away when playing. And they got a sexy extra to mix things up. :)
The second local scene, that I’m currently participating in, is much, much smaller and held in a small, progressive city in a more generally conservative region. There are no dungeons here because there are no consent laws. Basically boxers can legally beat the crap out of each other, but you can’t legally consent to being beaten for love and leisure. That means that instead there are private “public” parties which offer more legal protections. This means less access to a large playspace and equipment, but you can have sex there, and there are some safeguards in place in terms of who can attend.
While this sounds like a good idea, the vetting process is pretty spotty, so who knows what it actually does to safeguard anyone. Also, it’s a huge pain in the ass if you’ve been a part of The Scene before and you know you’re a safe and respectful player and you know how dungeon etiquette works, but don’t happen to be a national presenter or something, so you have to go about proving it all over again before you can get vetted for each event.
I’ve now got a couple of regular play partners who I really enjoy, and do some pickup play here and there. I also really enjoy the discussion groups, and the local jiu-jitsu-for-kink group, which is basically the only event besides one of the munches that runs weekly.
The general BDSM aesthetic of being all dark and shit prevails in both the scenes. They’re both mandom/femsub heavy, but in the six years since I started in The Scene and now, identifying as a switch seems to have gone from still being pretty heavily marginalized to being at least fifty percent of the people I meet, and in some ways almost more of a standard than the mandom/femsub dynamic. I have even, I swear, encountered a subtle attitude that if you don’t switch you basically just haven’t found your inner switchness. Which is puzzling and hilarious.
The local scene I’m in now is in general more chill. There is absolutely no expectation of public high-protocol. When I see people with relationship protocols acted in public, it is also chill. Dominants do not just go grab anybody they want, and I’m-submissive-not-a-doormat and I’m-a-bottom-not-a-sub-respect-it seem to be standard. I haven’t had a single skeevy mandom come-on (thus far). I’ve certainly had a couple mandoms feel me out who maybe didn’t quite get that I wasn’t a switch just because they see me tie myself up in public so often, but they weren’t pushy.
As I read the last couple of lines I’m reminded of a pansexual discussion group I went do where in the course of a discussion I brought up that in this city I’d only been catcalled once. I was presenting it as a somewhat extraordinary and positive thing, and there was this guy who laughed in horror and said, “I’m sorry, I’m just cringing inside that it’s the state of the culture that it’s a positive experience that you were only catcalled once.”
He saw it, and I didn’t, because being publically treated as a sexual object by strangers had become a part of my background reality. White noise.
Remembering that, I kind of laugh at myself for judging it a positive aspect of my experience in the local scene that I have not had any skeevy mandom comeons. Basically evaluating something as positive based not on all the great things that happen, but on the bad things that don’t. Within the relativism of my previous experience, it’s an improvement.
I’ve got a lot more to write about what I’ve experienced in the past year, but I’m going to try to break it up by theme.