Lots of people claim to be an expert in kink and BDSM. I bring this up because recently a couple of people referred to me as an “expert.” Its not a term I am particularly comfortable with. Kink and BDSM are so broad, there are so many ways to do things, and ultimately, every relationship is unique. I write from my perspective and never claim that I know what is “best” for anyone. I think I have a few things to add to the conversation since I have almost three decades of experience with the community and I read and think a lot about kink, but I do not claim to be the be-all, end-all expert.
However, humility is lacking in this community. I was at an event with other kink authors. Three different authors in three different genres each told me that “they change people’s lives,” and boasted about the vast number of people who approach them to have sex. *Sigh* First, I find that amazingly pretentious. Second, any given book can open someone’s eyes to a new idea but any transformation is a journey and comes from within. Third, having a lot of people ask you to have sex doesn’t have a lot of value. They want to fuck you… and? I can post a single picture of me giving a bj on Fetlife and generate dozens of proposals to hook-up in encounters that have no value.
Its not just published authors that lack humility. It is lacking in many of our “community leaders.” More than once, I have met someone who thinks they are a Dom(me). They have played privately for a few months. They start reading blogs, discussion boards, books and going to munches. They find a few play partners and develop a few basic skills. Within six months they are promoting themselves as uber-Dom(me), they are more than happy to pontificate about kink and BDSM, they offer their opinion in every venue they can find, and they go on a quest to “friend” as many people as possible in social media. Within a year, they claim to be a “community leader” and offer “mentorships” when they themselves have been doing this less than 24 months.
I find the cockiness itself off-putting. But more importantly, I see danger in all of this. Kink and BDSM is a journey. People who had done this for years will tell you, your role in D/s relationships, your skill level, your understanding of the psychologies of different people, your care and your desires continue to grow and change. Speaking from personal experience, how I submit and how I understand kink at 41 is vastly different than I understood it at 31 and both are different than how I practiced at 21.
Someone claiming expertise after a few months or years in kink has not had the opportunity to develop the deep understanding about this life (I do not care how smart you are or how much time you spend thinking about this). Kink is like anything else, the 10,000 hour rule applies. There is a theory that if you do something for 10,000 hours, you can master a skill. I know with my writing I now have surpassed that 10,000 hour mark (it took almost 15 years to get there). How I write and how I understand writing is amazingly different than how I understood it after two years of intensive writing. Its why I can produce upward of 20k words a week for publication and have not experienced writers block in almost a decade.
The 10,000 hour rule applies in kink and BDSM. Where someone’s understanding is after 10,000 hours of thinking, writing, taking classes and practicing kink is on a level that cannot be reached by a few months of intensive reading and going to munches. I have a number of friends who have practiced kink and lived in D/s and M/s relationships for many years. When we chat, there is a quantifiable difference in the conversations we have and the understandings we have come to then when I chat with people who have only been doing this a few years.
Many people claim expertise long before 10,000 hours. They have the energy and have not been put off by the on-going drama in most communities to lead munches and talk to newbies. They are happy to offer their “services” in learning the kink world. I appreciate the energy but question the advice and mentorship offered.
What’s the solution? Simple. As a kinkster, recognize you have some skills. Recognize you have a limited set of knowledge. Recognize you can continue to learn and grow in this community. Its fine to offer your opinion, but don’t claim to be a vast font of knowledge and have the “right” answers. Recognize everyone’s journey is different and they may disagree with you or experience things differently than you did.
For newbies, seek out multiple lines of information. Today, there are munches in most communities, blogs, discussion boards and groups, podcasts, books, and classes. Look for things that resonate with you. People submit in different ways. People Dom in different ways. When it comes to play, two people will use the same flogger in a different manner. Recognize this is a journey. You need to find out what works for you and your partner(s). No one person is the best font of knowledge. Be patient. Enjoy the learning process.