The Top Ten Breeches of BDSM Etiquette

By Mistress Ren

Growing up, we are taught the importance of etiquette - societal etiquette, business etiquette, etiquette for Grandma's house, etc. Good etiquette is our way of showing others that we respect them.

Having been in the scene for quite a while, I've witnessed my share of faux pas. The following are breeches of scene etiquette that I have seen over the years. They are in no particular order…

1) Talking indiscreetly about private BDSM parties.

Whether it be before the fact - or after - talking indiscreetly about play parties can, at the least, get folks angry with you, and, at the most, have you permanently removed from future guest lists.

Because private homes or function spaces can only accommodate so many people, many party hosts find that they are limited in the number of folks they can invite. When invitees talk openly about the upcoming party, or a party they have just attended, people not on the guest list tend to feel slighted, and often badger the host for an invite. This can lead to bad feelings between hosts and uninvited guests.

2) Exposing 'vanilla' people to our kink

Scene members who like to 'shock the vanillas' by carrying or exhibiting their toys in vanilla public, and sceneing in public, not only bring unwanted and negative attention to the community, but also to themselves with their egotistic behavior.

To members of the BDSM community, whips, floggers, and other toys are not only functional, but beautiful as well. But, to many members of the vanilla community, they are just downright scary. So while we enjoy showing them off, and carry them with pride, we should remember to keep them within our own circles.

Proudly wear your whip or flogger to the next party - leave it home for the trip to the supermarket.

3) Inappropriate behavior at Munches

Many munches are set up in public spaces, and as such, have rules in effect to make the event not only comfortable for attendees, but also for the vanilla public who may be in the immediate area. The following actions are definite no-nos at Munches:

Sceneing: You'd think this would be a given when a Munch meets at a crowded restaurant, but still, there are some players who like to push the public limits and get in a few blows or some humiliation play. FYI - sceneing in a public space is one of the major reasons that Munch leaders are asked to find a new meeting place!

Showing off toys: Again, a crowded local is not the place to show off floggers and whips - save them for private parties or gatherings.

Chicken-hawking: 'Chicken hawking' refers to experienced Dominant players hitting on inexperienced players at Munches or other events. Chicken hawking is NOT gender specific - some female Dommes are just as bad (if not worse!) as the male Doms. Munches are usually intended to be safe places for newbies to meet scene members and take a first step into the physical BDSM world….all feeling of safety, respect, and welcome feel thrown out the door when a newbie is swooped upon by more experienced players trying to make a quick conquest.

Using real names: Many folks attending munches like to remain anonymous, so unless you have been told by an attendee to use their true name, always use screen/scene names. Your kinky co-worker Harold may introduce himself to others as 'Master Iron Fist' - respect his choice, and keep his true identity quiet.

Not ordering food/drinks: Many restaurants and pubs where Munches are held allow groups to meet provided that they order food and/or beverages. So always plan to order something - even if it is just a cup of coffee. Technically, folks who don't patronize the establishment - even if others are doing so - are considered 'loiterers' and can legally be asked to leave.

Stiffing the Hosts: Munch hosts put a lot of effort into organizing a gathering - especially at restaurants. Be kind to your hosts and don't stiff them when the bill comes. Always pay your share and be sure to leave a proper tip for the wait staff. As a general rule, I believe every attendee should add an extra dollar to their share, thus insuring that the hosts don't have to cover any missing monies. If you are worried that you may be asked to add more than your share - or if the group is splitting the check evenly (and you are paying for somebody else's steak while you only had a cup of coffee), then discreetly ask the wait staff for a separate bill.

4) Giving bad references based on personality conflicts - not performance and safety

Partnerships come and go for various reasons. Sometimes, partners just aren't compatible due to play differences, lack of communication, and various other reasons. Odd as it sounds, the old 'It's not personal, it's business' rule applies to giving references about former partners.

Unfortunately, many people - when asked for references about a former partner - forget this rule. Their former partner may be stellar when it comes to BDSM practices - but if they've had personal disagreements, they base their reference on issues of the heart, as opposed to issued pertaining to BDSM safety and experience. Keep in mind that personality issues are just that - personality issues. It is not necessarily true that the person who isn't right for you, isn't right for anyone - if that was the case, no divorced person would ever remarry!

5) Touching other people's toys without permission

People within the scene have the most wonderful array of toys imaginable. When asked, many Dominants will gladly show off their collection. However, helping oneself to another person's toybag is a major faux pas.

For many Dominants and submissives, toys are very personal items - not just in the sense of how they are used on the body, but also in the sense of emotional attachment. I know of many people (myself included) who have special toys that they only use on a particular sub, and sometimes only on certain occasions. To have a 'special' toy handled by somebody else - or used on yet another person - without permission, is considered an insult.

6) Touching other people's partners without permission

You would never walk into a supermarket and begin fondling a stranger, would you? Of course not! And yet, it happens often in BDSM clubs and private parties all the time.

There are some egotistic Dominants who feel that all submissives - regardless of who might own them - are fair game. These dominants think nothing of approaching a submissive, and not only ordering them about, but helping themselves to the submissive's body. Why do they get away with it? Mostly because newbie submissives don't realize they have the right to tell this rude interloper to go blow.

Touching another person without their express permission is not only a rude invasion of privacy and the height of bad BDSM manners, but can also be considered a crime of sexual harassment or sexual assault. So think twice before you help yourself!

7) Approaching scene players in vanilla public

Scene players come from all walks of life - and for many, BDSM involvement is kept very, very quiet due to fear of losing a job, being chastised by friends and family, or being shunned by a spouse or significant other.

When you see another player in public - especially if they are with somebody else - never rush over and greet them loudly with their scene name ("Hey! Master Sadist! How are you?!). Certainly, don't discuss their most recent adventures at the local BDSM club! You don't know if the person with them is involved in the scene or not, or if that person knows of your friend's involvement.

So should you completely ignore him? No……catch his eye, give a polite non-verbal nod of hello, and save more involved conversations for when you both meet at the next Munch.

8) Interrupting a scene in progress

When two partners are sceneing, they weave an aura about themselves of trust and intimacy. The play station they are using - and the area around them - becomes a sacred space, where both the Dom and the sub tend to lose themselves in the magic of the moment. Interrupting that space cannot only ruin the atmosphere of the scene in progress, but can also be physically dangerous, especially if the person interrupting gets in the way of a flogger or singletail!

Interrupting doesn't only mean interfering with the circle of physical intimacy - it also means interrupting the concentration of the Dominant and the sub-space of the submissive. There's nothing more frustrating than losing your 'flow' mid scene!

This is probably the absolute rudest BDSM breech of etiquette. Forty lashes with a pointy rubber flogger to anyone who does this!!

9) Being too loud in a dungeon or around people who are sceneing

For some submissives, getting into sub-space is hard work. Like meditation, sub-space can usually only be achieved when the submissive is able to concentrate on their emotions and the sensations upon and within their bodies. This is particularly hard to do when the noise level at a dungeon or a party is extreme.

To avoid disturbing playing partners, voices should be kept low and conversations brief. If you need to have an in-depth talk with somebody, be polite and either leave the dungeon or move to an area of the room away from scenes in progress (still, remember to keep your voice down).

Talking isn't the only noise problem in dungeons. Some submissives feel the need to be the loudest orgasimer in the room! Be respectful of others trying to play, and use a gag if you tend to be extremely passionate in your emoting!

10) Ignoring Safewords and/or the word 'No.'

Safewords and the word 'no' exist in order to give people the opportunity to regain control over an activity or encounter that makes them feel uncomfortable or in danger. While words like 'no' and 'red' are small in stature, they carry a huge message that should never, ever, be ignored!

People who disregard safewords or the word 'no' not only show that that they have no respect for their partner; they show that they are only out to please one person - themselves. Ignoring the two little - but powerful - words places an individual in the category of 'abuser.'

Due to our own internal community policing, individuals within the BDSM realm who ignore safewords or the word 'no' often find that the flow of available partners and invitations to parties stop on a dime. In short, their reputations become ruined by their own actions, and they are often regarded with suspicion by others.

**Bonus Breech of Etiquette: Not respecting a person's kink, or choice of role.

As a community, we love to throw about cute mantras, like 'safe sane and consensual' and 'always ask for references.' But when it comes to 'Your kink isn't my kink, but that's OK,' we tend to fail miserably. People like to judge one another, and trying to persuade folks to practice BDSM a certain way (i.e.,: your way) has become an annoying past time.

Everyone has the right to practice the kink that makes them happy - as long as both (or all) partners agree upon the activities, and nobody is being harmed. We have enough censorship from the vanilla world - do we really need it among ourselves?

We also spend far too much time analyzing other kinkster's roles. How often have you heard somebody say, "he isn't a real submissive - he doesn't do this…." Or, "She thinks she's a Dominant, but she's too nice…." I've seen people try to convince strong submissives that they should be swinging the whip, and convince sensitive female Dommes that they are really submissives deep down. Disrespectful comments such as these not only irritate people, but cause them to lose faith and trust in you as an accepting person.

Advice in this case? It's ok not to agree with somebody's kink…..just keep your personal negative opinions to yourself. If somebody's proclivities aren't to your taste, smile and remember that if we were all alike, it would be a very dull world!

Copyright Mistress Ren


  Page Updated 09/05/05


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