Why you won’t see any “how not to write BDSM fiction” posts from me:
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on blogs from my favorite authors that all revolve around a similar theme. They’re all talking about the “wrong” way to write BDSM fiction or what your story needs to include to be “real” BDSM fiction or “true to the lifestyle.” On the one hand I think those posts are great because I think that in general society has a lot of preconceived notions about the BDSM lifestyle and there is a lot of misinformation about both the practices themselves and the people who chose to express their sexuality in that way and I love that people who are educated and knowledgeable about the subject are trying to help correct these misconceptions. On the other hand I think that these types of posts and views can also be a slippery slope. So, since many of my readers know that in my personal life I’m heavily involved in the BDSM lifestyle and they may be expecting a post of a similar nature from me, I thought I’d take a few minutes to tell you the reasons why you won’t.
Real Life BDSM
Part of my problem with these types of posts in general is that I don’t even believe in that type of absolutism even when talking about real life BDSM. Of course I fully support healthy and safe play, but what that means for each person can differ wildly. To tell anyone else what the “right” way to express their sexuality is comes way too close to kink shaming for me, something I violently oppose. As long as everyone is using RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) as a guideline then if it works for all parties involved you’re doing it “right” as far as I’m concerned.
There are definitely practices and customs that are considered widely accepted as the “proper” etiquette for BDSM play, but in my own experience I’ve found that different kink communities have completely different “energies” and that certain practices are favored or shunned according to the makeup of its members. There are also basic concepts to the lifestyle and the psychology behind it that are considered “universal” to the fetish lifestyle, but even those are not absolute. The one thing I know for certain about BDSM is that as soon as you try to use the word “always” or “never” about a practice, a situation will pop up that will break whatever rule you just named.
This variation in the “rules” for what’s considered safe play makes for a really nebulous quality to the subculture and makes explaining it hard to define sometimes, but it also makes it wonderful. Anyone that tries to take the diversity out of BDSM is missing the point in my opinion. You may not always understand the other person’s needs and point of view, but you can certainly respect it.
I think everything I just outlined about real life BDSM is even more true when talking about fictional BDSM. There is such a range of kinks and intensities and situations available in the fictional world, and I think there’s a place for all of them. For me, the whole point of BDSM fiction is that it’s entirely fantasy. I want to gloss over or completely ignore the realities of BDSM play that sometimes aren’t sexy. I want to read about a scene without having to read about the hours of setup and cleanup required. I want to write about bondage with materials that really probably wouldn’t be safe to use in the real world. I want to push boundaries. I want to explore kinks I wouldn’t enjoy in real life but make me squirm and wiggle in print. Sometimes I want to delve into the darker parts of my sexuality and enjoy reading or writing things that toe the line of consent and sometimes things that blow right by that line. I want to pretend that nothing embarrassing ever happens mid-scene. I want to ignore the realities of bodily limitations and read and write scenes that last for hours at a time and feature several orgasms without any recovery time.
In short I want the fantasy, and my fantasies differ from day to day and they differ from the fantasies of others. To say that any story is “wrong” because the fantasy depicted doesn’t align with your expectations or your taste devalues the freedom of fantasy and fiction altogether. Obviously there are practices that are depicted, or relationships that are developed that I would never condone in a real life BDSM setting, but sometimes that’s part of the appeal.
I will say that there are times when I read a BDSM story and a character’s reactions don’t seem appropriate or something factually seems off but then I remember that my experiences are simply that—mine—and that they may differ, and often do, from others. Sometimes I don’t connect to a story or a character specifically because of the way the BDSM elements of the story are written, but that doesn’t make them “bad” it just makes them not for me.
I’m Not An Expert
So, in conclusion, write what you want because there’s a place for every story and every fantasy has value even if it’s not massively appealing. Even though I have over a decade of my own experience to draw on and the experiences of several close friends to integrate with my own, even though I’ve read hundreds of books dedicated to the art of practicing BDSM I still don’t consider myself an expert. I’m not in any position to tell anyone else what’s right for them in real life or in fiction and I won’t presume to do so. All I know is what’s right for me and my partner.
I do however love to talk about the lifestyle and answer questions about what I’ve noticed to be true in my own experience, so hit me up!