I want to talk about sources and research about BDSM and D/s relationships. With the development of the Internet, it has become very easy to find information about BDSM nd connect with different communities. You no longer have to look at ads in the back pages of your local alternative paper, call a number, get a password and address, and show up to some clandestine group to meet kinksters. Kink is no longer in the shadows.
However, not all information on the web about kink and BDSM is GOOD, ACCURATE or USEFUL. Some is downright wrong and dangerous.
So, how can you dear reader, know what is good information and what is bad? I have a few tips. Finding and evaluating information is probably my foremost skill. It is something I have trained for years in and do professionally. Below are some basic do’s and don’t for finding and evaluating information about kink on the Web.
I am starting with the don’t’s because people don’t always read a whole post and avoiding these few things is at least a step in the right direction.
1. Just because it is on the first page of a GOOGLE search does not mean it is good information!
Google is great for many things! However, their search algorithm does not take accuracy and reliability of the information in a post into consideration. Just because a post has been viewed by millions of people does not mean the information is accurate or even safe. You have to look at the source of the information, how recent it is, and where it is posted to begin to determine if it is a safe and trustworthy resource.
2. Reading it in a popular book or magazine does not mean it is good information!
Popularity does not mean something is good. Yelp and Zagat’s are perfect examples of this. When something is rated based on the number of people who like it, things that appeal to the masses tend to rise to the top. In terms of restaurants, food that is accessible to the average untrained palette in an ambiance that taps into collective ideas of “upscale” tend to get the 5-star reviews. Most people can’t tell fenugreek from coriander or know what the proper consistency of a good creme on an espresso drink is suppose to feel and look like. These details can make an enormous difference to a sophisticated foodie but your average diner can’t determine if the chef did something wonderful or just average.
Books and magazines appeal to the masses. Just because it is a best seller does not mean what is contained within is good information. Just because it appears in your favorite magazine does not mean the person writing the piece has any real idea of what they are talking about. Popularity does not equal quality.
I love porn. I write porn, I have shot porn and I watch porn. I do not use porn as an instructional tool. Porn is there to stimulate you. Professional porn has professional actors. These are not “how-to” films. Its fine to get inspired by porn. Its fine to get turned on by porn. But please, don’t use it as an instructional guide to your next bedroom adventure.
4. Website and “Experts”
There is a huge number of BDSM websites with self-proclaimed experts. Pretty much anyone who has put on a blindfold during sex and likes to write will offer information on a blog as an “expert.”
A good site will have the bio of the authors on that site. It will say what their level of experience is, will provide information on any credentials they have, and will provide you links to other sites verifying their work. If these things are missing you probably should question the source.
5. Local classes and munches
This is a harder group to figure out if the information is good. Most cities in the United States have kink groups. Most cities have some space (public or private) that offer classes, support groups, and social gatherings.
Sometimes the people you meet in these groups are real experts. Sometimes they individuals with inflated egos who like to hear themselves talk and want to create a personal following.
Ask around. Talk to people. Look them up on Google, Fetlife and other kink sites. See if they have published anything or have taught outside your area. If they have not, take caution in following their advice.
You can also talk to them. Ask questions about who and where they trained. A person who is a good resource will have taken a number of classes at kink conventions or studied with an established expert. If they are really good, they may have taught classes at kink conventions themselves. Figure out their reputation in your community before you decide to trust their advice.
So, how do you tell if something is “good” information?
1. It will be cited by other people as a good resource.
There are millions of kink writers and experts. We study this stuff. We read stuff from other experts. We take classes. We attend seminars. We have relationships with other experts. If someone has produced quality work, we will cite one another. If you see the same resource over and over, it can probably be trusted.
2. Look at the source notation.
Where is this stuff published or residing on the Web? There are some established sites that tend to have consistently good information. I like SubmissiveGuide.com and DominantGuide.com as starting points. These sites are vetted by long-time practitioners and experts. The resources listed go through a gate keeper to make sure the information is safe and accurate.
Sorry, Fetlife is not a trusted resource. Fet is a social media site and anyone can post anything. There are a few threads on Fetlife that do have good readings listed. I like the BDSM Theory thread and WizeWords threads. Most threads however, are a clatter of voices from people with all levels of experience writing in anonymity from a keyboard.
You can also see who endorses your source. Are well-known and reputable practitioners citing the source, endorsing their publications, and commenting positively on their work? If so, it is probably a good source. If not… well, it may not be trustworthy.
3. Does it make sense?
In statistics, we call this face validity. When you look at something, does it appear to make sense on the face of it? Do you read or watch something and think, “Yeah… that doesn’t seem too far off the mark.” Your gut can tell you a lot. If the information seems to resonate with other stuff you know, it is a good first indicator it might be reliable.
4. Is the information frequently repeated?
This is not a safeguard against all bad information. However, basic good information tends to get repeated a lot. If you do anal, use a lot of lube! If you tie someone up, have safety scissors at the ready. Use a safe word. These basics are repeated all the time and are pretty good advice.
5. Does it resonate with you?
Kink and BDSM is a pretty individual experience. You need to be comfortable with what you are doing. If you read something (or watch, or hear) that seems totally wrong to you, you may want to seriously evaluate the information.
Again, your gut is a good guide. If you are being told something and it just feels wrong, don’t listen to it. It may be right for that individual, but it may be wrong for you. Trust your feelings if you think something sounds really off don’t follow it.
Kink and BDSM is a continual learning experience. To be a decent practitioner you need to continually seek out information beyond a few friends and a website or two. Be thoughtful about what you read. Look at who is writing this stuff. Be careful in what sources you choose to trust.
This page provides a resource list. Its is simple and short and continues to grow. The sources I list have been vetted by me or other submissives I trust. It can serve as a starting point.