I understand we have an obsession for labels.
You point to your shoes and say the word “Prada” and some people simply treat you differently. You tell people the area code of where you live, and you might get a reaction of “oooooh!” or just the opposite. Even when I take out a set of locking fistmitts the person may joyfully react with, “Mr.S?”, and I’ll nod proudly. We have assigned a perceived importance of labels to instigate how we shall continue our interaction. It’s as though they are touchstones to how things will proceed.
Sometimes we appear to have to do this in leather and kink, and frankly the words have gotten out of control.
Someone will ask you, “how do you identify?” Okay, I understand if you respond with ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ or ‘gay’ or ‘bi’ or whatever. Maybe you need to say something like “I’m more old guard” or “I’m a pain pig” to appear more enticing. Great! Ultimately we just want to know if a connection of some kind is going to be possible or if there might be chemistry. So, these words can indicate if it’s a go or not. Maybe you’re a submissive who is seeing being collared to a dominant, and what they are looking for is someone who sees themselves as a ‘slave’, where you might be more ‘pup’. Okay, both parties know to keep looking. Words like this can be useful to economize finding what you are looking for.
But I remember being at a large event where I heard all kinds of crazy labels that really told me nothing:
“I am biologically male and my inner prowess identifies as a feminized boy, but as a power switch I lean more toward an internalized she-wolf and so I take on a woman’s name when I Dom. I’m a service-oriented pain servant as well with pup-like tendencies and lean more toward being someone else’s beta when I do so. How about you?”
I shrugged and simply said, “I’m Dart.”
I was blown away. I had NO idea what any of these words really meant or what I was supposed to do with this information that was provided. Does this mean we won’t play? Are you even interested? Is there something I’m supposed to do when it comes to our interaction based on these terms…?
I understand that I am being judgmental here, and it deserves some grace. Truth be told the fact is that these labels provided some means of identity for this person. It was as though taking them on gave them permission to express themselves they way they wanted to. So, it’s not completely fair for me to not understand them because obviously they are they to enable the other person to be who they want to be. But ultimately, an overuse of the English language isn’t going to add to the power exchange we’re hoping to have. When you get deep into it, the words are just ‘noise’.
Sometimes the use of a label on someone can be a hindrance, because it doesn’t illustrate the totality of the person. I have a dear friend at work who survived a bout with breast cancer, and she absolutely detests being called a “cancer survivor”. Her reasons are simple – she doesn’t want to be called a survivor, she wants to be seen as a person who survived. Subtle difference, but one gives her an identity all around the breast cancer, the other treats her as a whole person who happened to have breast cancer at one time. It’s something she had, but it isn’t who she is. “If people interact with me based solely on what I went through with the cancer, they are missing out on all the really awesome things about me!’ she says. I absolutely adore her by the way and I find this approach to be very inspiring. It has made me wonder how I am missing out on the labels that I have taken on.
Personally, I think we need to back off on all of these BDSM/kink labels for they have reached a ridiculous level of jargon. A connection is a connection and ultimately the dynamics reach a level that cannot be understood on a linear level. If we need these words as a way “directing our spirit” I can certainly understand that, however we want the focus of others to be on US, not the labels.
Next time you’re at an event and someone asks how you identify, try saying “I’m ME”.
For many of you the connection that follows will be utterly amazing 🙂