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The soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm FAQ list (Part 6 of 6)

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The soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm FAQ List
Where the kinky knowledge resides!
Part 6 of 7

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This list is posted semi-monthly, on or around the 1st and 15th.
Please send additions, suggestions, etc. to johnson_grey@unrealities.com
If this posting appears truncated or damaged, contact me, also.

The World Wide Web version of this FAQ (which is the prime copy) is at:
        http://www.unrealities.com/adult/ssbb/faq.htm
Please make links to that page, rather than posting separate
Web copies of the text of this FAQ.

This FAQ list is copyrighted.  The full copyright notice appears at
the end of each part of the list; please respect it.

 
*The FAQs Themselves*

PART 1:
 1. What do B&D, S&M, D&S, "top", "bottom" mean?

 2. What is a "scene", and what is "negotiation"?

 3. What is a "safeword"?

 4. When is pain not pain?

 5. What are some basics of safe SM, emotionally and physically?
PART 2:
 6. Is everyone either a top or a bottom?  What's a "switch"?

 7. How can I learn to be a good top?

 8. How can I learn to be a good bottom?

 9. Is BDSM sexual?

10. Why is bondage fun?

11. Why is whipping fun?
PART 3:
12. What is body piercing? What is "C&B" play, or "genitorture"?

13. What is cutting/play piercing/burning/branding/electrical play? 
    What are "bloodsports"?

14. What is it about breath control? Is it safe to make someone pass 
    out?

15. What are "golden showers"? How about "scat"?

16. Is anal sex safe? Why do people do it?

17. What is "fisting"?
PART 4:
18. Does the way I play qualify as "real" SM? What is "real" SM, anyway?

19. What is it about leather/latex/high heels/corsets/other fetishes?

20. What about shaving body hair and/or crossdressing?

21. Why am I defending SM?

22. Is SM degrading or abusive? Were most SM people abused?
PART 5:
23. Why is SM taboo, and is SM criminal, unnatural, immoral, 
    unethical, or unhealthy?

24. Isn't the bottom always in control?

25. Can someone _really_ be someone else's slave?

26. What are the "codes"?

27. My fantasies scare me. What if I get too into SM?
PART 6:
28. I want to throw a play party; how do I go about it?

29. I want to attend a play party; what is the etiquette?

30. What's the deal with this anonymity stuff?

31. Are SM people being politically and socially harassed?

32. What topics are or aren't acceptable on s.s.b-b? (including, 
    what's s.s.b-b's charter?)

33. I'm sick of certain topics on s.s.b-b. How can I avoid them? Also, 
    what's with all these ads?


34. OK, so I can't post ads to s.s.b-b.  Where CAN I post them?

35. I don't have access to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm; what can I do 
    to get information about the scene?

=======================================================================
*28. I want to throw a play party; how can I go about it?*

Occasionally on soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm_ _there is a flurry of email
about some event that recently occurred (often in the SF Bay area) at
which many net.folks were in attendance, and about the tremendously
enjoyable things that transpired there. Then others around the country
post, wishing they lived out here too. Well, you don't have to live out
here to have a play party!

What is a play party? A party where your guests can (and hopefully will)
play with each other! It can be as simple as a backrub circle which
turns into more intimate activity, or it can be one person who gets
clothespins applied to them while others watch and contribute energy
before going off into their own scenes, or indeed anything at all. The
idea is to enjoy each other, to communicate and share the pleasure that
touching and playing can bring. If there is a common interest in SM,
that's convenient, as lots of things can be initiated with a simple
pair of handcuffs or a whip that looks like it'd feel good; also, if
the guests have played with SM, they will understand the need for
negotiation, and they will know what it is to respect another's limits.

Some tips: Don't encourage alcohol; make it BYOB. This makes the party
safer, and the drunker you get the less likely you are to really be able
to fully negotiate and communicate. Minimize video and loud music; this
causes people to interact with each other, which is the whole point,
rather than sit back and stay out of the action. (Good party music can
help set the mood, though.) Keep condoms, dental dams, latex gloves,
lube (water-based!), betadine (if piercers or cutters are present),
bleach (for cleaning toys), and paper towels handy; this makes people
aware that they can easily play safely--a matter of life and death--as
well as expressing the hosts' concern for the guests.

If possible, have several playspaces (i.e. rooms where people can
recline and play with each other); this lets the exhibitionists
exhibit, while the more private ones can be more private, and the heavy
players can play heavily (serious whippings, candles, etc.) without
freaking out the folks with lighter tastes. Have some knowledgeable
people take turns as safety monitors; if anything's going on that looks
unsafe or nonconsensual, give those people authority to take action.
Establish a party safeword (a great one is "Safeword!"). In general,
make your place into a safe space, a haven here people can unwind and
enjoy each other to whatever extent they want to, without feeling
pressured or uncomfortable.

Possibly the most helpful tip: if you can, try to get a group of people
in your area together, and try to get activities planned between
parties--lunches, group shopping trips to your local toy stores,
movies, etcetera. It's hard to overcome the barriers to trusting
someone enough to have sensual or sexual contact with them, especially
in our pleasure-negative society; therefore, things may not get off to
the rollicking start you could wish for at your first party. If there
are a couple of exhibitionists to break the ice, though, it helps; and
as people get to know each other better and get to be friends, it will
increase the level of fun everyone will have!

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 315 Dec 1997
=======================================================================
*29. I want to attend a play party; what is the etiquette?*

The simplest way to fit in in a play party is to behave politely. There
will be people right in front of you who are doing very sexual things.
They are doing them for _their_ pleasure, not for yours. Stay away from
the action unless invited to participate-- and a glance in your
direction does not constitute an invitation.

The people who really interfere with the energy of a party are the
people who seemingly assume that just because the scene is taking place
in a semi-public context means that comments from the audience are okay
fine.  They're NOT.  The top in the scene is concentrating on the
bottom's pleasure, and the bottom is almost certainly in a very private
mental space.  Neither the top nor the bottom will  appreciate being
yanked back to reality by a loud suggestion or greeting.  If you want to
compliment them on something, WAIT UNTIL THE SCENE IS OVER and they're
circulating and being sociable again!  Interfering with a scene in
progress is inexcusably rude, and if I were dungeon-mastering I would
throw you out of the party for doing it.

Once you understand that scenes are private even though they're taking
place in public, the question then becomes, how can you watch without
detracting from the energy of the scene?

There definitely are people who interfere just by watching.  They've
been dubbed "energy vampires" in the past.  These people are watching
the action as though it was a porno movie--as though the intense magic
taking place in front of them was no more than a bad fuck flick where
the actress is half asleep.  They have no empathy, no sense of
connection to what's going on; they might as well be in a movie theater.

If you have the ability to watch what is happening with an open heart,
if you can pick up on the energy and send your own good wishes towards
the participants in the scene, you will be much more valuable as a
watcher.  Public players never object to an enthusiastic audience which
can appreciate the way they're playing!  An audience which values the
gift of being allowed to watch, and which contributes its goodwill
towards the play, can be a delight; an audience which watches without
giving and without connecting takes the life and spirit out of the
scene.  (And remember, a good audience does NOT make comments that the
players can hear--an audience doesn't interfere with the performance!)

You can be a part of the magic without playing yourself.  All it takes
is an honest enjoyment of what's happening combined with politeness and
tact.

If you _do_ want to play, and there's someone you want to play with, you
can ask--but be prepared to accept a "no, thanks" gracefully.  If you
are comfortable mingling and making small talk, you'll be more likely to
find someone with compatible desires--after all, everyone else there has
similar tastes!  There often will be rooms for heavy play and rooms for
hanging out and socializing; don't try to do one activity in the other
activity's space.

(It helps if you dress sexily, even if you're not playing--the more
leather and lace there is to look at, the better!)

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 10 August 1995
=======================================================================
*30. What's the deal with this anonymity stuff?*

There are many people who post to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm through
the wizvax Anonymous Posting Service, and many others who post from
pseudonymous accounts.  The reasons are obvious; "kinky sex" in our
society is stigmatized, and being openly interested in sexuality or
alternate sexual practices can result in personal and professional
consequences including losing one's job, losing one's friends, and if
child custody is involved, losing one's children.  Yes, in America
today, you can lose custody of your child if it becomes known that you
practice SM. (This is not merely anecdotal; people on the net have had
these things happen to them.)  Oral sex is a crime in some states! After
reading this FAQ, it (hopefully) should be clear how twisted this
situation is, when acts of love can be used as evidence of psychological
damage.

This is why many choose to write and post anonymously.  By using a
pseudonym, they can say what they want to say, while remaining free of
the nastiness that could ensue were their coworkers to discover their
interests.  Homosexuals know what it's like to be ostracized for their
romantic and sexual preferences; SM devotees are, in some ways, in the
same boat.  It's a strange world, where love is perceived as evil, and
beauty as ugliness....

Anonymous posters are not cowards.  The consequences I have outlined are
enough to make anyone question whether posting under their own name is
worthwhile.  Those who choose to do so are not necessarily so much
courageous as lucky--lucky to be able to be out, to declare their
lifestyles openly.  (Note that pseudonyms are sometimes used in
real-life situations, as well; there are many netters who go by their
net names even at social functions.)

This means that it is rude to inquire as to someone's actual identity if
they choose to use a pseudonym.  It is also rude to tell others of their
real name, if you somehow become privy to it, without first asking them;
they have entrusted you with something that they don't want commonly
known.  DON'T OUT SOMEONE IF THEY DON'T WANT TO BE OUTED.  You yourself
may not need a net.name; that doesn't mean you can take others'
anonymity any less seriously than they themselves do. This goes for the
net and for real life.  If you meet someone at a party who you've known
from the net, they'll probably still want to be known under their net
name, and if you're writing about that party later, make sure you have
their permission before describing them or scenes in which they
participated (even if you use only their net name).

It is an open question whether the world would improve if everyone outed
themselves.  Some say that we need to get all kinky people out of the
closet, so everyone'll realize how many of us there are (and there are
many!).  Others, myself included, believe that everyone should be free
to choose how they want to live their life--including choosing to be
anonymous.

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 10 August 1995
=======================================================================
*31. Are SM people subjected to political or social harassment?*

Like all alternate sexualities, SM is stigmatized in many ways by most
of society. In extreme cases, SM players are prosecuted legally. or
persecuted by people who would _like_ to so prosecute them. This
section of the FAQ describes some of these ongoing battles. (See
another question for a brief mention of one recently-vanquished
challenge.)

*The Spanner case* First, the most serious anti-SM action in years: the
Spanner case. In Britain in 1992, sixteen men who had attended an SM
party were convicted of assault, despite the fact that everything that
happened at the party was fully consensual. The sentence was four to six
years in prison.

The defendants appealed, and eventually reached the highest court in
Britain, which issued a judgment rife with the worst and most inaccurate
popular misconceptions about BDSM, ignoring everything that is now
widely known about how it is safe and consensual. This judgment is a
travesty of human rights, and flies blindly in the face of medical and
psychological fact, in favor of prejudicial ignorance.

The men involved are now pushing to take the case to the European court
of human rights. They need any and all assistance. An organization named
Countdown on Spanner was formed to pursue the appeal as far as
necessary.

Countdown on Spanner can be reached via Snail Mail; C/O Central Station
37 Wharfdale Road London N1 Great Britain Please include a SAE. Or
contact via e-mail: phas@siva.bris.ac.uk. There is also a
{http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/span/span1.html} Spanner web page.

*Canadian censorship* Another situation demanding attention is the
censorship being practiced by Canadian customs. Canada has no First
Amendment, and Customs has been seizing gay and lesbian erotica,
especially SM-related material, and preventing it from reaching
bookstores in Canada. This arbitrary action has made it very difficult
for many of these bookstores to survive. The Canadian government, via
Customs, is silencing the voices of those who want to talk about their
sexuality.

Little Sisters Bookstore in Vancouver is suing Customs, asserting that
Customs should not have the right to seize books on suspicion of
obscenity. If the case is won, obscenity will have to be determined by
the courts, not by Customs. It is not at all certain that the case will
be won; a recent Supreme Court decision in Canada used language from
American anti-porn activist Catherine MacKinnon to define pornography
as material that is "violent" or "degrading" to women. Such laws can be
used to keep ANY SM-related material from ever being published--which
is exactly the intent. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin have repeatedly
pushed for such legislation in the United States as well. The Canada
case is thus very relevant for Americans into SM.

If you can contribute, please write to Little Sisters Defense Fund, 1221
Thurlow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6E 1X4. The case
will be expensive, and help is badly needed.

*America* America has its share of official persecution of SM, though
not so seriously as in the Spanner case. SM clubs are still associated
by the media with unsafe sex, whether or not the club requires safe sex
(as almost all do). Of course, the current ignorance of consensual SM in
America leads to regular prosecution of people producing erotic
material, whether videos, magazines, or pictures. Legal fees from
obscenity proceedings brought by the government can put a small producer
or publisher out of business before the case ever comes to trial. For
example, movies involving bondage together with sex are essentially
censored in this country, because of such government action.

Most of all, learn for yourself about the realities of SM, as opposed to
the myths. And speak out against oppression born out of ignorance.

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 10 August 1995
=======================================================================
*32. What topics are and aren't acceptable on s.s.b-b?*

Back in the days of yore, the group for discussing kinky topics was
alt.sex.bondage. This group was created in response to a joke, which
turned serious once people actually started using the group.  But there
was never any charter or definition of what was and wasn't acceptable,
as with the rest of the alt.* newsgroups.  So alt.sex.bondage is now
completely overrun with advertising and spam.

soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm was created mainly in order to set up a
charter forbidding spam, but also to broaden the explicit agenda of the
group from just bondage to bondage and BDSM (which as we know is a
compound acronym defining a lot of different behaviors!).  Thus many of
the flame wars about "that's not bondage, it doesn't belong on this
group!" have gone away forever.

The s.s.b-b charter is {http://www.mindspring.com/~frites/charter.htm}
available on the Web. (Here's
{http://www.unrealities.com/adult/ssbb/charter.htm} a local copy.)

Now, there are still plenty of flamewars, and no little amount of
flaming about how many flamewars there are and how hostile an
environment is created as a result... but there's no doubt that much
more good BDSM conversation is happening on the new s.s.b-b than was
happening on the old a.s.b in its dying years!

What s.s.b-b has evolved into (and actually has always been) is, as the
intro to this FAQ states, a group for discussing "ways to have sex that
are outside the mainstream". This is an awfully wide description. There
is room underneath it for discussing everything from "how do I tie
someone up?" to "how can I play with razors safely?" to "what's it like
to love someone of your sex?"

The inevitable consequence of this is that people sometimes get exposed
to material that squicks them. That's life in the big net. There is no
guarantee that everything on s.s.b-b will suit your personal interests.
The general rule of the net applies here in spades: if you don't like
it, hit "n" and ignore it. It's guaranteed that there are many many out
there who _do_ like it. Remember, limits are relative; many of the
"heavy players" you read about started as novices themselves, and the
person who just described their intense whipping scene may be unable to
handle even the lightest tickling... food for thought!

I just finished reading a few stories about nonconsensual rape and
sadistic murder that were posted netwide. I personally disliked those
stories. Do I think they're appropriate for s.s.b-b? Not really. Can I
stop them from being posted? Nope. Can I ignore them? Hell yes.
Remember, a story is a fantasy that someone bothered to write down...
and fantasies can't hurt anybody--if you don't like it, ignore it! That
is certainly more productive than flaming the person who wrote it.

Can the ferment of different topics and views on s.s.b-b degenerate into
chaos? Yes, and it sometimes does. But more frequently, the mixing of
interests and ideas generates a really wonderful dialogue out of which
new knowledge and fantasy is born. Novices pipe up with questions that
spark an insightful reply by an old-timer. Old-timers post about some
experience that gets lurkers' juices flowing everywhere. Someone who
knows a lot about one kind of play tries something new and posts about
it.

s.s.b-b works, like no other group I know of on the net. So don't be too
hasty with that "n" key... you might learn something!

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 30 June 1998
=======================================================================
*33. I'm sick of certain topics on s.s.b-b. How can I avoid them? Also,
what's with all these ads?*

s.s.b-b, like all Usenet groups, has its share of flame wars. Many of
them revolve around questions of whether particular BDSM activities are
healthy or not (the usual answer: "They're risky, but it's possible to
do them safely and beneficially, and many people do"), or whether
soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm is a heterosexist group or not (I'm not
gonna tackle _that_ one here, yet). One common feature of all, though,
is that some people get burned out on reading all the hundreds of
articles in the thread.

The solution? Most newsreading programs support a tool called a "kill
file", which is a list of subjects and/or authors that you are NOT
interested in and never want to look at. Different newsreaders have
different ways of using killfiles. I use rn, so my example will refer
to it. (If you use a different program, see the documentation for that
program.

To add a particular subject (say, "FAQ List") to your killfile in rn, go
to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm When you are reading the group, type ^K
(control-K). This will put you into an editor which is editing your
killfile for soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm. Type the following: /FAQ
List/h:j
then exit your editor. What that line says is "junk any articles which
contain the text `FAQ List' in the header." Replace "FAQ List" with the
subject you dislike or the user ID of the person you no longer wish to
read, and presto, your blood pressure will be much happier.

    I've been told the following about the "gnus" newsreader: In
    gnus, from the subject buffer, on an article from the person
    you wish to kill: type meta-k [gnus-Subject-edit-local-kill], C-c C-k C-a
    [gnus-Kill-file-kill-by-author], C-c C-a [gnus-Kill-file-apply-buffer],
    C-c C-c [gnus-Kill-file-exit]." "C-a" stands for "control-A", and "meta-k"
    stands for "escape-K." The text in brackets isn't stuff you should type;
it's just explanation of what each set of keystrokes means.
If you use nn, track down a post written by the victim to be killfiled,
and just hit 'K' (capital-K). Follow the somewhat cryptic prompts, and
respond according to your needs. For example:    nn gives you
                       you respond
   ------------                              -----------
   AUTO (k)ill or (s)elect [...]                   k
   AUTO KILL on (s)ubject or (n)ame [...]          n
   KILL Name: (=/)                                 /
   KILL Name (regexp):                             FAQ List
   KILL in (g)roup 'soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm' or
          in (a)ll groups                          a
   Lifetime of entry in days (p)ermanent [...]     p  [or 21915 to 25568]
   CONFIRM KILL Name perm regexp: FAQ List          y
If you use tin, you can either hand-edit .tin/kill (instructions should
be given in that file), or you can hit control-K while reading any
article. This will toss a nice menu on the screen. Just follow the
prompts. For example:
     tin gives you               you respond
     -------------               -----------
     Kill type: Kill             [return/enter]
     Kill text pattern:          FAQ List [return/enter]
     Apply pattern to:           [spacebar until "Subject: & From: lines" 
                                    appears, then hit return]
     Kill Subject [...]: No      [return/enter]
     Kill From [...]: No         [return/enter]
     Kill pattern scope:         [spacebar until appropriate choice 
                                     appears, then return]
Two pieces of jargon related to kill files: Sometimes you will see
someone responding to something egregiously stupid (in the responder's
opinion) said by someone else. The response may look like, "Ho, hum.
<Plonk.>" What is plonk? Plonk is the sound of someone being dropped
into a kill file; the respondent is announcing that they are
permanently killfiling the original poster. Other times, a poster may
be annoying lots and lots of people on s.s.b-b, and someone will post
something like "Everyone PISS on this guy!" PISS stands for Passive
Ignorance Silence Strike, and basically means that everyone should just
ignore the poster, rather than arguing and/or flaming. The idea is that
if the person can't get a rise out of anyone, they will get bored and
leave. It very often works, too... or at least it reduces the wasted
bandwidth.

What about the ads? See the next question; ads are not appropriate on
s.s.b-b and will result in you getting flamed like crazy if you post one
there!

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 18 November 1996
=======================================================================
*34. OK, so I can't post ads to s.s.b-b.  Where CAN I post them?*

Plenty of places, bunky!

o Looking for a kinky partner?  Try posting your personal ad in
alt.personals.bondage or alt.personals.fetish.

o Looking to buy or sell some stuff?  Try posting in alt.sex.marketplace
or alt.sex.erotica.marketplace.

o Hmm, that sort of covers it for starters!  (What am I forgetting,
loyal readers?)

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 30 June 1998
=======================================================================
*35. I don't have access to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm; what can I do
to get information about the scene?*

A question I've been getting more and more often as my FAQ spreads
outwards into the world is, "I can't read soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm,
but the stuff you talk about in your FAQ sounds really interesting. Are
there any ways for me to access soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm, or do you
know of any SM groups or BBS'es near me?"

First off: unless you have access to a system which gets USENET news,
and soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm in particular, there is no way for you
to read alt.sex.bondage. There are no mailing-list gateways or FTP
archives of soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm. There may be public-access net
sites in your area which you could use to access s.s.b-b.

Second: I don't track very many local SM organizations, beyond the ones
I mention at the end of this FAQ. So please don't ask me for information
beyond what's contained here.

HOWEVER: There is a way you can get answers to your questions! If you
have email access to the Internet, you can use an "anonymous posting
service". A posting service is a program running on some
Internet-connected computer. You can send email to the service, and it
will remove your userid from the email, append a newly-generated
anonymous userid, and post your email to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm!
Anyone can send you mail in response, and the service will forward it
to you. So if you have questions about SM resources in your area, use
an anonymous posting service to send your question to s.s.b-b (for
example, "I can't read soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm, but I'd like to
know whether there are any SM groups in Vancouver. Please reply by
email"). You will definitely get more responses than you would any
other way.

(Of course, if you _can_ read s.s.b-b but don't want to post under your
real name, you can use a posting service for that; that's what they're
mainly for.)

Unfortunately, as of November 1996, the major anonymous posting service
(which used to be at "help@anon.penet.fi") has been shut down, due to
complaints that it was being used for child-pornography-related
purposes. I know of no other service that really substitutes for it. My
best suggestion right now? Get a trial America Online account, pick a
phony nickname, and post to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm that way. Yes,
that's a lousy substitute. Anyone with better anonymous-posting
solutions, please let me know, and I'll update this information again.

Previous section Created 10 August 1995, last updated 18 November 1996
=======================================================================
Thanks for reading!
Hope you learned something! Remember, your sexuality is wonderful;
treasure it and nourish it!

Created 10 August 1995, last updated 2 15 Dec 1999, and copyright
{http://www.unrealities.com/adult/copyrite.htm} by Johnson Grey
{johnson_grey@unrealities.com}.

User Contributions:

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