Here’s to Success

Yesterday was one of those magical days. Those days when the total impact for the day transcends the sum of its parts. I’m still reeling a bit with an emotional hangover that the coffee doesn’t seem to be cutting. It’s 5 now and I’m on the second pot. So hang on, I don’t know where this is gonna go, but I gotta let it out. (That’s what he said)

We got asked to do this thing. We were very honored to be asked to serve on a panel for the Day of Leather in Indianapolis yesterday. I agreed because I thought it would be bad form to turn it down, good for my slave to put herself out there a little, and I am a talkative, oversharing, attention whore. We had no idea why anyone would want us for such a thing, and I assumed everyone good was either already busy with the event or had family plans for the holiday and had declined. We were also under the impression that it would be filled mostly with those “leather people” that we don’t really know and could make some new friends possibly. I love to work a room, it energizes me, and I always make a connection with someone. We dress up and go. I was careful not to wear the leather I wear often because I didn’t want to be taken as a representative of that community, that would be a privilege I have yet to earn. But hey, I’ll be glad to represent us “regular kinksters”, right?

We make the 2 hour drive, and on the way review the questions that had been given us as discussion starters (btw kudos to MasterLT_ for running the panel like a pro). It sparked some great discussion between slave and I, and we even shared some fond memories of our beginnings. The weather wasn’t awful, traffic was non-existent and we arrive in a relaxed M/s headspace, ready for whatever (or so I thought).

Walking in, we are greeted at the door by someone I admire, and was one of the first people that ever welcomed me to the kommunity (and also a fellow panelist). Here he was welcoming us once again. Registration is manned by another good friend. I look up to see a table full of people we both know well, all smiling and waving at us. From across the room another longtime friend that introduced me to my most well-known fetish, calls our name and invites us to join her at the empty tables. One by one the seats fill up around us(the contest let out) with people we call friends. Some close, some that we wish we were closer to, but every one of them were people we know, trust and enjoy the company of. Wait, one person I didn’t know, but even he was kind enough to show me his fine specimen of a penis (call me!). As I looked around I began to realize I knew more people than I didn’t, and actually liked all of them. I know, right? It was like being in a lunchroom where ALL the tables are the cool kid’s table, and I got invited to sit with them! (Or maybe all the tables were the freak kid’s tables and I… nevermind.)

So then we go upstairs for the first panel, which was very informative and a lot to digest. A great job was done by all, you all represented your clubs well. We get seated for our panel and it begins smoothly enough. It gets to trucking along, and I start to share more of our story with the crowd. (How is it that I knew everyone downstairs and hardly ANY of you people upstairs?) And then something weird happens.

It starts with this lump in my throat. What’s this wet stuff on my face? Why is my nose running and it’s hard to talk? Its NEVER hard for me to talk. I am overcome with emotion. I’m not supposed to be crying, I’m supposed to be charming! This isn’t very Masterly! I come to this big bad Leather event and start balling like a baby in front of a whole room full of(mostly) strangers. What the fuck?

You see, as I began to tell our story, which I thought was rather mundane and not very exciting to anyone, I began to really hear it. I heard it like it was someone else hearing it for the first time.

And it was beautiful.

How could our story be so romantic? How was it that our struggle was so beautiful? Since when did we become successful at this Master/slave thingy we do?
Perfect? Oh hell no.
Great at it? Sometimes.
Good at it? Yeah we can be.
Making it work? Like a motherfucking boss.
That’s right, I said it. Like a boss.
We rock this shit and we rock it 24/7.
We don’t rock it like Led Zeppelin world tour rock it, but we do rock it like your favorite bar band in your favorite bar on a Friday night with $3 pitchers.

SO there I am blubbering in front of a bunch of people I want to impress and I don’t know why, and then it all hit me. We are succeeding. Success isn’t the endgame, it’s the process. You don’t work and struggle to succeed and then stop, success is something you maintain. Success is a fluid state. It ebbs and flows, it hopefully improves even. Success can even be something you only have barely ahold of by your fingernails, but you have it. A small business can be successful, and then grow into a large company and be successful still. In fact, if it was growing, it was successful ALL ALONG.

All of this hits me like Jake Blues sitting in church seeing the light. If you were there, this is the point when I said, “I am not crying because it is sad, I’m crying because it is so beautiful.” The Panel continues and the ice has been broken. Everyone is sharing, more tears are flowing. We hear beautiful and moving stories come from each of the panelists. The audience is getting more involved, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. They are rocking this shit too. Loud and proud. Every one of them their own success story.

Bear with me, I’m trying to tie all this together.

A month ago, for some reason I wrote this on a scrap of paper and it has stayed on my desk ever since:

“You should sit down and form an idea of what you consider being successful looks like. Get a firm picture of it in your mind, because otherwise you may not recognize it when you see it.”

I told myself then that there was a writing in that, and I guess this is it. I know this may seem a bit like I am trying to toot my own horn and brag about how we are “rocking this shit”, but that’s not it. I am trying to tell you that YOU are rocking this shit.

I looked around that room yesterday where I seemed to know everyone, and I see that they are all rocking out with their cocks out. Like a motherfucking boss. Like capris and pumps you are all rocking it. I know you aren’t perfect. I know you struggle. I know you get into fuck-you-arguments with people you never want to hurt and feel like it is the end of the whole world, but I also know you get right back up and start all over again.

If you are out there giving it a shot, maybe in a relationship maybe not, maybe seeking a/another partner, maybe not? Then you are open for business and a success dammit. Your story is worth telling too. Chances are, you are a success and don’t even know it. Perfection and success are not synonymous. Perfection is something you strive for but are never to compare yourself to. Success is a state of mind.

So look at your story. Have you been beaten only to rise? Have you struggled and overcome? Are you learning? Perhaps you are successful, yes? I realized yesterday that we are. We are not perfect. We are not without struggles. We are not floundering but growing, growing both personally and in our dynamic as partners. We have healthy relationships with others, we have friends. We have a kommunity that we embrace and that embraces us. What hasn’t killed us has made us work harder, we were already strong. Like a motherfucking boss.

Take inventory and balance the books that really matter. I bet you are successful too!

Thank you to everyone who was there. Thank you Indiana Leather Club for having us, and for the unexpected group therapy session. Our deep respect to the others on the panel for showing us what their beautiful successes look like.

 

Sir_BigDaddy

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Kneel At My Feet

When you feel disconnected, kneel at my feet.

When you aren’t sure what is expected of you, kneel at my feet.

When you are angry with me, kneel at my feet.

When I am being an asshole, kneel at my feet.

When you need to feel loved, kneel at my feet.

When you need sex, kneel at my feet.

When you are frustrated, kneel at my feet.

When you need my approval, kneel at my feet.

When you feel the need to serve me, kneel at my feet.

When you feel like you want to tear that collar off of your neck and never-take-another-fucking-order-ever-again-for-as-long-as-you-live, kneel at my feet.

When feel like we are reading each others minds, kneel at my feet.

When you are in love, kneel at my feet.

When you are afraid, kneel at my feet.

When you are stressed and anxious, kneel at my feet.

When you feel like the luckiest girl in the world, kneel at my feet.

When you feel unworthy, kneel at my feet.

You at my feet with my arms around you, should be the center of our universe.

The alpha and omega of all that is “Us”.

Our safe haven, our sanctuary, our secret hideout, our villainous lair.

Kneeling at my feet is the one place you can always feel safe, and never reproached.

Anger has no bearing here.

No judgment can be made here.

No standards to be met.

All requirements fulfilled.

Kneel at my feet.

Absorb my energy.

Breathe my confidence.

Recharge yourself on our bond.

Become whole again.

Make us both whole again.

Kneel at my feet.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I’m getting close to 50 now. Not too close mind you, but close enough that I am beginning to see the world in a different way. I am learning to zoom out on life and take in a broader view. I try not to focus on the small stuff, it doesn’t have the impact it used to. I see people differently too. I try to overlook their flaws and mistakes, and attempt to see the good. I do my best to judge their hearts to be in the right place, even when their actions aren’t always following. Sometimes it gets me in trouble or causes me some grief, but overall the peace of mind it brings is well worth it.

My mother was a hoarder. I grew up in a house full of stuff. No animals or food garbage, just endless piles of “stuff”. Every bag, box, newspaper, magazine, package that ever came into the house, stayed in the house. Piles of dolls, sewing projects, books, clothes, bins and furniture. The house just had narrow windy paths through it, and clearing a place to make a sandwich was a challenge. My mother was very active in the community, and had lots of friends. She dressed nicely and never left the house unless she was looking her best. The hoarding was a big secret. I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone. We kept our appearances up outside the house, while our lives were being strangled inside by clutter.

Years later I would be invited to a college friends house to stay for a few days. I walked into his house for the first time and almost fainted. His mother was a hoarder too. The house was filled with the same piles of the same kind of stuff. It had the same narrow pathways. The only real difference was the animals; there were 5 or 6 dogs and more cats than even they knew of. You see, I almost fainted because I didn’t know anyone else lived like that. The word “hoarder” wasn’t used to describe this condition yet, it was only 1985. The fact that someone else had a similar experience was overwhelming to me. I knew what it meant. I knew the shame and secrets he had carried. I knew what a personally significant thing it was to be invited into his home. I wasn’t alone and neither was he. Random fate had made us friends, but the shared experience bonded us for life.

It made me feel “normal”.

It also helped me see my mother differently too. I saw that what she had was a mental illness, not just a lazy streak. She wasn’t a lazy hypocrite to me anymore, she became more human to me that day.

I am not writing to relive my past. What I want to talk about is the fact we all have secrets. We all have things going on in our houses that we don’t let other people know. Couples fight. People cheat. Bills don’t get paid. Clutter builds up. People drink and use drugs. Sons and daughters do things we are ashamed of. Things happen to our families that we always thought only happens to “other” people. Some people deal with environmental challenges, like poverty or crappy housing. Body issues, gender identification, eating disorders, and anxiety can become crippling problems. Mental illness, abuse and addiction are more prevalent than we care to admit. Some people are just crappy to each other or don’t get along. Some people are their own worst enemy.

Every fucking one of you has something you don’t want other people to know.

You know what? That’s OK. Relax. You are not alone.

If you have some issues that need attention at home, welcome to the world. Glad you could make it.

I just want you to take a breather a second and stop feeling ashamed of it. I’m not saying that any of the things I mentioned are OK, or should not be addressed. What I’m saying is that to have problems is normal. Eight out of ten people have some kind of problem in their lives and the other two are lying about it.

Quit feeling so ashamed of your struggles. I would venture to guess that a great deal of the stress you are feeling about your problems stems from worrying that others will know. It’s enough that you have this issue to deal with. Don’t add to your stress and anxiety by thinking you are the only one. You may be the only person you know that has this particular problem, but that just means the people you know have some OTHER fucked-up-shit they need to deal with.

You see, our daily lives are like boring, black and white, grainy, security camera footage. What we see of other people’s lives is like the next big Michael Bay blockbuster movie trailer complete with sexy people, epic music, explosions and unnecessary lens-flare. It’s what they want us to see, it’s a highlight reel. It is all their best parts, packaged up nicely for your viewing. The boring and crappy parts are left on the cutting room floor.

Stop comparing the two. Stop feeling inadequate and ashamed. You got enough to deal with as it is, right?

If you are doing your best to get it right, then you probably are. Maybe not every moment of every day, but the overall story-arc is probably progressing. Try to zoom out and see the big picture. Sometimes the little picture of right now obscures our view.

I have always felt that our character is not defined by the mistakes we make, but what we do afterward.

Suppose you break a glass. It sucks. Maybe it was someone’s favorite. You can walk away and leave the pieces lay for someone else to clean up or even step on, or you can get the broom and clean that shit up. Life is like that. We all have to clean up our messes and own what we did, right or wrong, intentional or not. There will be more glasses to use, and some of those will get broken too. Sometimes we have to jump in and clean up after the ones we love. Sometimes we have to help them clean up messes left for them by others in their past.

I’m saying stop trying to hide the broken pieces. Most likely, no one is paying attention anyway that isn’t in your closest circle. Personally, I’m pretty busy with my own broom over here, furiously sweeping day after day, trying to stay ahead of the glasses I break almost daily. As I get older, I break less and less, but it still happens often enough. Someday I will figure out how not to break so many. And so will you. What I have learned with age is to focus all of my energy on the clean-up process, and none of my energy trying to hide the mess I made. It’s just more efficient that way.

I don’t know what your problems are, but I can tell you few things I know for sure:

1) They will feel like the worst problems in the world, and like they are never going to go away. It’s normal to feel that way, we all do.
2) When they feel like they are the worst problems in the world, making smart choices about them becomes more difficult to do. Your brain is just wired that way.
3) Someone you know has worse problems than you. If you don’t know who that is, it just hasn’t come out yet.
4) Your problems can be improved upon greatly. You just have to figure out how, and then execute it. Easier said than done, but true nonetheless. What you are experiencing doesn’t have to be permanent.

Your problems are your own, but everyone has them. I wish I could give you the revealing experience I had when I first saw another “hoarder’s” house. If I could, I would pull back the curtain on other people’s problems and show you that you aren’t alone. We all try so hard to keep others from seeing our behind-the-scenes footage that we forget they have their own too. This is why talking about your issues with others is so important. Now I am not advocating that you air all your dirty laundry out in public, but don’t be so afraid to reach out for a hand. The shame and fear that comes with keeping up appearances is exhausting. You never know, by sharing what you have behind closed doors might help someone else to not feel so alone. You could help them AND yourself at the same time.

I am not a Christian, but a passage from the Bible comes to mind. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

We are meant to stand together. You are not alone in your troubles. You couples that are struggling are not the first or last to struggle. Don’t be afraid to reach out for someone to lean on. If we don’t, what the hell do we even have a community for? I don’t know about you, but I am not here to learn about how to be kinky, I am here so I don’t have to hide it or be ashamed of it. I am here to share my dark side, not hide it.

Life is hard enough when we are getting it right. Life can be overwhelming when don’t. Just doing your best IS getting it right. Do your best and if it goes well, it’s a great feeling. If it doesn’t? Well, we can handle that too, just like we have all handled the other shit we’ve been through. The end result is not what determines our success or failure, it is the journey we make getting there.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Let’s make the journey together.

May you find the balance you seek,
Big Daddy

Sour Grapes and Negative Assumptions

The term “Sour Grapes” comes from an ancient tale attributed to Aesop. It is used in today’s language to describe the ease of negative assumptions, and how some people cope with things they cannot have or know for certain. The story goes something like this:

  • One day a hungry fox spotted some ripe grapes hanging on a branch that was out of reach to him. After attempting to reach the grapes with no success, he began to think to himself, “They are probably sour. Those grapes probably taste bad anyway.” As his thought process progressed, he began to convince himself that he wasn’t even hungry in the first place. He eventually moves on, convinced that the grapes are no good and that he didn’t ever want/need them in the first place.

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? We want something we can’t have, and we rationalize a reason as to why we don’t need it or really want it. We see an item in a store we like, but tell ourselves that we cannot afford it, yet continue to spend money on other people, or on other unnecessary items. We meet someone we find attractive, but when they do not return the feelings, we tell ourselves “They aren’t THAT good-looking and besides they aren’t my type.” We see a new car we want but cannot afford, so we convince ourselves that the car is a gas-guzzler or a lemon.

In a healthy setting, this is a common way that we deal with cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when we have conflicting thought processes in our brains. We feel one way, but the facts presented to us show otherwise. The fox was hungry, needed to eat, and wanted the grapes but the fact remained that he couldn’t have them, creating a conflict (cognitive dissonance). To ease the pain of the conflict he convinced himself that they were NOT what he desired or needed. He assumed something he had no way of possibly knowing. For all the fox knew the grapes could have been the most delicious grapes on the planet, but he walked away convinced they were the worst. The fox makes a negative assumption instead of a positive one.

The common denominator to all of this is Negative Assumptions. Instead of making NO assumptions and just accepting the fact he couldn’t reach the grapes, the fox assumes the worst to justify his disappointment. Another possibility is to assume something positive, like “I bet those grapes are the best ever, and I will come back later when I figure out a way to reach them”. Both assumptions are based totally in fantasy. The fox has no way of corroborating the story he has created in his mind. There is NO EVIDENCE that the grapes are good OR bad, it is an unknown. Yet the fox becomes convinced that the grapes are sour. He now believes it in his heart to be a solid fact when it actually is a lie.

This type of thinking is pretty common. We all use it to a certain extent to help us justify all kinds of things for ourselves, and in a healthy situation, it can be a useful coping mechanism. It helps us be at peace with all kinds of things that are out of our control. It is a major factor in religious beliefs. When something bad happens we have no control over, we invent thoughts like “God must have a plan” or “It’s just Karma”.

When we use this thinking to deal with inanimate objects or random occurrences in our lives it doesn’t matter much if we think negatively or positively. It doesn’t matter what the fox thinks of the grapes, because they are inanimate objects. The problem occurs when we apply this “sour grapes” thinking to people and/or the relationships we are in.

It happens in our community. We get online or attend an event desiring to make some connections with others. We want to make friends, find a mate, find a play partner, etc. We are the hungry fox looking for sustenance. When those things don’t work out for us, or the results we get aren’t what we expected (the grapes are out of reach), we assume the worst. “Those people are jerks anyway” Or “Those people just don’t like me”, or even “this whole community is unwelcoming” (sour grapes). The facts are neutral. Unless someone actually said out loud to you, “I don’t like you” or “we don’t want you here” it is unfair to assume those things as true. Sometimes we even internalize our sour grapes with thoughts like “I don’t fit in here” or “I am unworthy/unattractive”. Either way we have now applied a negative assumption to an otherwise neutral occurrence.

Thinking like this becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. The more we assume the worst of the situation, the more the neutrality of it feels like validation. Let’s say I go to a dance wanting to meet people and dance. If I think the fact that no one asked me to dance proves my negative assumption of *I’m ugly/unlikeable/unworthy,* the more I will begin to behave in a negative way as a response. I will withdraw, stand in the corner, maybe even lash out because of my now hurt feelings. After attending a couple of dances, I may even decide that I don’t want to attend anymore. When in fact the REALITY of the situation was that most of the people at the dance brought their own dates, or didn’t even see me, or were shy and awkward or worse yet: having their own negative assumptions. Maybe someone was waiting for a slow song to ask me, or had a sore ankle? Maybe they wanted to wait until they saw me again at the next dance? In reality, the possibilities are numerous and varied. Positive, negative and neutral possibilities abound, with no way to prove or disprove any of them without more information.  The facts that presented themselves in NO WAY actually substantiated the negative fantasy I created. I assumed the worst and am now SUFFERING for it with hurt feelings of rejection and unworthiness created solely in my own mind. My life has been damaged by my own thought process.

The real danger is when we fall into this trap in the close relationships of our lives. Many a marriage has been hurt by negative assumptions and the sour grapes principle. Jealousy is probably the most common culprit. Your significant other(S.O.) can’t come to dinner with you because they have other plans with a friend. While your S.O. is away you have no real facts to go on. You just know they are out of reach (like the grapes). A negative assumption might be that they are out flirting and cheating with other people. A neutral assumption would be that they are simply out with a friend having food. A positive assumption would be that they are having a fantastic time and will come home in a great mood.

WITHOUT FACTS, THE ONLY ASSUMPTION WITH ANY VALIDITY IS THE NEUTRAL ONE.

Let that sink in.

Now here is how the negative assumption becomes damaging. Because of it, you are now at home angry and hurt because you are becoming convinced of the worst. You suddenly begin to (falsely) connect other vague facts and assumptions to try and support your negative fantasy. Maybe you remember that a pretty waitress works at the restaurant they are going to, maybe the friend is a known drinker, maybe they stay a little longer than expected. All unrelated things that begin to more and more FEEL like validation when in fact they are NOT. Random occurrences begin to take on personal meaning in your mind. This is known as “subjective validation” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_validation] or “the Forer Effect”. By the time your S.O. comes home, an entire fantasy of them being the worst cheater FEELS like the cold hard truth. They walk in the door to you making accusations and connecting unrelated dots, become defensive and the worst fight you ever had begins to happen. All because of your fantasy of negative assumptions.

Parents do it a LOT. Your teenager heads off to visit a school friend who’s away at college for the weekend. While they are away, you begin to worry for their safety like any parent should and wish they were at home where you know what they are doing. But they aren’t at home (the grapes are out of reach). To balance your desire to have them home vs. the fact that they are not becomes too great, so we begin to try and process that. Just like before, we are faced with a positive, a negative, and a neutral. The positive assumption would be that they are having a great time and miss you as much as you miss them. The neutral would be simply to wait and see what you can learn when they arrive back home. The negative would be to assume the worst (they’re giving head in a bus station for crank money). The first two are undamaging and healthy coping mechanisms for the situation. The third can *ruin your relationships.* You become upset and worried about your kid, you become sullen or combative towards your spouse because of it, and when your kid returns home they are met by arguing parents and a flood of unfair accusations.

Now, should we always assume the best and walk around viewing the world as if everyone has good intentions and will behave exemplary at all times? No, that’s not what I am saying. Healthy speculation is a must for survival. It is not inherently bad to think of negative possibilities, but it is unhealthy to ONLY assume them. In the scenarios above, if your S.O. had a history of cheating or flirting with others, or you had some kind of corroboration from a third party (an eyewitness or tangible evidence like a note or text), then worrying that they might be cheating could be justified. If your kid had a known drug problem or they had been sexually reckless in the past, then it would be smart to be concerned. This is where the principle of Occam’s Razor comes into play. If assumptions are to be made, it is only safe to assume the most likely, not the unlikely. Face it, which is more likely? That your S.O. is having a beer and yelling at sports on a T.V. with a bunch of guys? Or banging a hot chick in the parking lot? Is your kid snorting coke off of the back of a toilet or eating pizza and watching Netflix with friends? If you hear hoofbeats do you assume horses, or unicorns?

Still, even with prior evidence it is not healthy to just assume the absolute worst. All it will do is upset you, affect the loved ones around you, and cloud your ability to make a rational decision should there be a REAL problem. Negative thinking is NEVER helpful.

It’s why our laws have basic concepts built into them. “Innocent until proven guilty”, not “innocent until we feel like they are guilty.” Negative assumptions are easy to make when we have been hurt or a tragedy has occurred. This is why the law has to be careful to avoid such feelings and remain neutral.

Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, “The wise man is the one who knows what he does not know”. We must live our lives being able to discern the truth from what *feels* like the truth. I myself try to live my life looking at things from the neutral approach or even from the positive approach. On some days, I admit I lean toward the negative, and those days my friends are THE WORST. I cannot imagine what it must be like for those who view life from the negative view all the time. I suppose it is the very definition of depression. Life is absolutely chock full of unknowns and unfinished mysteries. Everything from “does this person like me?” to “Where did my sock go?” The negative person thinks they are unloved and that someone stole the sock from them, and I think I AM loved and that the sock will turn up.

I present this here only as a precautionary observation. I have no real answers as to how to convert one’s thinking from the negative to the neutral or the positive. I only know that the negative path is the road to nowhere. I do know that recognizing and admitting to these types of thought patterns is the first (and most important) step to correcting them. Many people find comfort in religion. I myself find great comfort in the wisdom of the Tao. Its positive/negative balance helps me to remain neutral and therefore see things more objectively.

Personally, I think it boils down to the choices we make. We are constantly faced with choices on not only how to act on something, but how to feel. Yes I believe we can choose how we feel. It isn’t a switch we can turn, or an immediate change we can easily make. I see it more like a diet. It takes a long time, a fair amount of effort, requires long-term maintenance, should only be done in safe increments, and you should expect some setbacks. But also like a diet, it can radically change how you feel and think about life, and the people and relationships around you. It can reduce your pain, make life dramatically easier, and might even save your life.

May you find the balance,

Big Daddy

I haven’t seen it, but I like 50 Shades already.

Yes, this is another writing about 50 Shades of Grey. I am not going to review the movie, nor will I rant about how good/bad it is, or throw around buzz words like “abuse” or “consent”. You won’t hear me complain about its inaccurate depiction of a “true” D/s dynamic any more than you will hear me complain about the inaccuracies of “Armageddon” and it’s depiction of the Space Program. In fact, I haven’t even seen the movie or read the books (GASP). I plan to, but you know what? I LIKE IT ALREADY.

If you know me, you know what a movie nerd I am. I love movies. I love bad movies and I love great films. I collect movies. I attend movie conventions, and I even run a couple of internet movie channels. I mention this because I am not looking at this movie from the kink community aspect so much as I am from a movie buff that happens to be kinky.

I contend that we are witnessing a historic turning point for us as a subculture. “But I hate 50 Shades” you say. “It’s such a terrible depiction of..” OH SHUT THE HELL UP. Suddenly everyone is Rex-fucking-Reed. As movies go, I am not expecting Schindler’s List, OK? What I do expect to come is CHANGE… It doesn’t matter if it’s a good movie or not. What will matter in the long run is its impact on pop culture, not our community. The plot and story arc don’t matter at all, what matters will be how this movie is going to actually affect our community in the long run. I contend that it will affect us greatly and I would like to tell you why.

In no particular order:

In 2004 the movie “Sideways” came out. In it, Paul Giamatti plays a wine snob that refuses to drink Merlot. He rants a little about it, and sings the praises of Pinot Noir. In the months following its release, Merlot sales dropped, and Pinot Noir increased sharply by 14%. The “Sideways Effect” is now legendary in the wine world.

In 1980 the film “Urban Cowboy” hit the screens. It featured some big named stars and had a popular soundtrack album. The soundtrack alone sold over 3 million copies and debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts. By 1981, country music was the number one selling music style in America. Previous to this, country music had really only been popular in the South and the Midwest. These cowboys didn’t have farms or ride hoses. They worked in blue-collar jobs and drove pick-up trucks. Suddenly, people in New York City were wearing cowboy boots and hats. Country music radio took over the airwaves and the rest is history. What we see today as the face of modern country was born directly from that movie.

“Days of Thunder” with then-heartthrob Tom Cruise and veteran award winner Robert Duvall came out in theaters in 1990. NASCAR racing had been around and was gaining popularity, but no one was prepared for what this movie would do for the sport. It went from weak viewership on obscure sports channels to Sunday afternoon primetime on ESPN. NASCAR went from “that redneck sport” to nationwide fanimania.

In 2006 Disney released “High School Musical” and followed it up with numerous sequels and TV events. In 2009 Fox network’s “Glee” became a hit television series. Suddenly, in high schools across the country, the homecoming/prom court was no longer the realm of jocks and cheerleaders. Choir geeks across America were suddenly getting laid, and there was much rejoicing.

You see where I am going don’t you? Was the Urban Cowboy soundtrack a quality cross-section of country music? No.. it was heavily influenced by pop-radio stars like The Eagles, Bob Seger and Linda Ronstadt. Did “Days of Thunder” give an accurate depiction of NASCAR? Oh hell no, and the steadfast fans of NASCAR raged about all the noobies that suddenly flooded the infields of America. “Sideways” only served to prove how fickle and easily manipulated the wine culture was. Trust me, high school choir in my hometown isn’t anything like “Glee” at all.

In each of these examples one constant stands out. A thriving subculture, not well known to the general public, became immensely popular and commercially successful. A community or fanbase was outed as a whole. Each time merchandise and paraphernalia sold like crazy.

That’s what is happening here. We are being outed as a community. The kink lifestyle is being drug kicking and screaming into the mainstream of pop culture whether we like it or not.

It has been coming for a while now. Progress was being made, but slowly. The books have been a big catalyst as well, but the movie is going to be the tipping point. I remember in 1980 or so, when I walked into the local used paperback store and asked the owner if he had heard of a book called “The Story of O”. He raised an eyebrow at me, and said “Yes, but I keep it under here” and reached under the counter to retrieve it. Now there is an entire AISLE of erotic literature IN THE MALL FOR CHRISAKES. That’s a long way from under the counter. Xavier Hollander would be proud.

With Fandango’s pre-release ticket sales for 50 Shades reaching record numbers, this movie is sure to make a big shift in pop culture and how the general public views kink in general. The wave of new people will come and go, but the after effects will be far reaching. A few years ago, you couldn’t buy a vibrator at your local Mall-Wart, now you can (not because of 50 Shades). I venture to say that ten years from now, you will be able to buy a paddle or a flogger at Mall-Wart. They will be cheaply made in China, with warning labels in Spanish, but they will be there.

It will happen because of money. Our lifestyle and its trappings are proving to be profitable. With book sales of 50 Shades reaching over 100 million, and the movie ticket sales in excess of 400 million dollars worldwide, this is a cash cow everyone will want to grab a teat on. Profitability requires exposure. Exposure means desensitization. The marketers are going to have to sell this stuff as “OK” or even “normal”. In other words, kink is going to go mainstream.

Now I know what you are thinking.. it isn’t cool anymore if everyone is doing it. That’s what Ye Olde Guarde said when “Cruising” came out. Well suck it up, buttercup, the times-they-are-a-changin’. Relax; it’s going to be great. Some really great things may come from this mainstreaming of our subculture. Right now, people have to hide their kinky social media profiles from coworkers and families. You can still get fired for being kinky! I venture to say that a few years from now, by the time the third 50 Shades movie is released on DVD, it might not matter anymore. People will point and snigger still when they stumble over your kinky online profile, but you won’t get canned for it anymore. Toys and floggers will be more readily available. I predict that what used to be considered mild fetish wear (corsets, collars, latex and leather) will be considered regular evening wear in your local bar/nightclub.

I say we should all quit griping about 50 Shades and embrace it as the game-changer that it is. Someone finally broke the ice, and it turns out it was a nerdy British girl with some fan fiction. Did she get it absolutely right? No. Did she do us all a great favor? Yeah, I think she did. I recently had some T-shirts made before a kink event. After telling the guy at the shop what I wanted, he looked at me and said, “You’re one of those 50 Shaders, aren’t you?” I said “Yeah, but long before the books were even written”. “I gotcha” he replied, and went right on with my order, no more questions asked. We didn’t have to have a conversation about it. I didn’t have to make some weird excuse up as to why I wanted “Master” and “slave” printed on black T-shirts. He just accepted it and moved on. Does he understand the intricacies of a M/s relationship? Oh hell no, but he didn’t need to. He had a frame of reference and it served its purpose.

Personally, I am excited to see the paradigm shift that is coming. I am hoping that someone else comes along and makes a better movie about D/s relationships (“Black Snake Moan” was pretty dead on if you watch it with a kinky eye). I am excited that people might not lose their jobs for finding their true selves. I look forward to finding kinky implements in a local store or at a public flea market, or a corset for my girl at Mall-Wart.

Most of all, I look forward to being able to be honest. That, my kinky friends, is nothing to sneeze at. I say as a community we need to stop grousing over the little details, like the plot or acting, and take in the larger picture here. We need to stop treating 50 Shades like it is a problem for the community, and start looking at it as an opportunity.

May you find the balance,

Big Daddy

Let them be who they need to be.

We are who we are. We have a need to be who we need to be. Call it our destiny, our pre-disposition, our DNA or whatever, but we are wired a certain way. The age old debate about being born a certain way or shaped into a certain way becomes moot after a while, and we just need to accept ourselves and others for who we/they are.

My girl is submissive and I am dominant. That’s who we are and we have accepted that. We have chosen to live an “alternative” lifestyle based on these self-evident truths. It is our Yin and Yang. We have found a balance that fulfills both our needs and our wants.

Now my head has wrapped itself around this and accepted it, but actually practicing it has proven to be more difficult than I thought. I thought “Hey if it’s all our natural makeup, it should be easier to be this way.” I felt like we had been fighting against our natural instincts by trying to live in a vanilla relationship and starting this wonderful M/S dynamic would be easy and make things better like a magic spell. Boy was I naive, lol.

I thought it would be easy to just be myself. I thought I would just bark some orders, give some wise advice or set up some household rules and everything would fall into place from there. I would lead and she would follow, happily ever after. It has turned out to have layers and layers of subtlety and nuances, like an everlasting gobstopper of a relationship. There was more…so much more.

Being the leader, having control and making decisions isn’t just something I want. It’s a need. I have had to learn to recognize it as such. A “want” is different from a “need”. A want can be done without, a need is needed. To go without it creates a void. My need to be the dominant in the relationship is real. Without it, I get wonky. When I feel like I don’t have the power, I feel adrift or insecure. It leaves me all out of whack and emotionally unstable. Almost like my consent has been violated.

Recognizing this in myself has caused me to see things from my girl’s view a little better. She has a need to submit. She has a need to serve. She has a need to sacrifice. Sometimes I unintentionally deny her that.

Growing up vanilla, an only child, and male, self-reliance has been drilled into me from birth. My mother had serious health problems and knew she would be lucky to live to see me graduate high school, so she taught me to take care of myself early. My father grew up in the depression, where the concept of self-reliance is literally what kept him and his family alive. As a result, I have an independent streak a mile wide, and all the stubbornness to match. When my girl says “can I get you something to drink?” my first instinct is to say “No, I’ll get it myself.” In the vanilla world, this is just seen as polite. You don’t ask others to wait on you in the vanilla world, you get it yourself. At times it is a real struggle for me to let her do things for me, even if I need her help.

I am learning that that is counterproductive in our dynamic. Sometimes it’s downright hurtful.

As the Master it is my destiny to lead. As the slave it is her destiny to serve. It is what fulfills us, it is what makes us who we are. To deny that of ourselves is wrong and to deny it of the other is wrong too. M/s and D/s are power exchange relationships. The key word being exchange. My power is to lead, guide, protect, and nurture; her power is to serve, follow, prepare, and guide (Yes, guide. More about that in the future). To deny or prevent her ability to serve me, is to deny her very essence. The Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said “We shape clay into a bowl, but it is it’s emptiness that makes it useful.” A bowl that is empty isn’t being fulfilled. It is not serving the purpose for which it was designed. Sure it can be decorative or be other things like a paperweight or a doorstop, but those aren’t the things it was made for. If I am to help mold, shape and guide my slave into being a slave, I deny her very essence when I deny her service to me. When I don’t allow her to serve, I take away her side of the power exchange, creating an imbalance. I hold all of the power then, and together we become all Yang with no Yin. The power exchange becomes an unfair trade.

What am I getting at in all this wordiness? Sometimes I need to shut-he-fuck-up and let her serve me. I need to learn to recognize that she has a need to serve me, to submit to me. When she asks me “What can I fix you for breakfast?” sometimes it isn’t about breakfast. It’s about us. It’s about her need to serve, and my need to be served. If I say “No, I will make my own breakfast”, it is like telling her I don’t value her service. It leaves her with no purpose to fulfill, and it leaves her needs unmet.

The same can happen in reverse. I have a need to be Daddy. I have a need to care for my girl, to meet her needs AND her wants. “I would like to buy these boots you like for you” sometimes isn’t about boots. It is about us. She doesn’t need the boots, she just likes them. But I may NEED to buy them for her. I need to feel like I am taking care of my slave. I own her, and to not take good care of her is just bad stewardship. I want to have the happiest slave in the universe. Her happiness is the mark and measure of how well I am doing at being a Master. Happy slave=good Master, unhappy slave=asshole Master, right? My destiny is to care for her, to spoil her, to make her squeal and feel special. When I hear things like “We don’t have the money” or “I don’t want you to buy something for me, buy yourself something instead” it is the equivalent of me telling her “I don’t need your service.” Sometimes she needs to shut-the-fuck-up and let me Daddy her.

In the end it is all about the balancing of the Yin and the Yang. We have to recognize our own needs and express them to those who would fulfill them. We also have to recognize the needs of our partners and learn to LET them fulfill them. Back and forth, an ebb and flow, exchanging power in a fair trade, until a balance is met, fulfilling our own purposes and at the same time helping others to fulfill theirs.

Sometimes we just have to STFU and let them be who they need to be.

May your life be balanced,

SBD