SSC and The Lifestyle
I recently read a comment on a BDSM community discussion board. The comment mentioned that SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) was the only 'rule' when it comes to BDSM related matters. This made me raise my eyebrows. Sure, SSC is a good baseline to follow. But, this also brings into question what the BDSM community really is. There are aspects of BDSM related cultures which would suggest that there are far more rules to follow.
From my observations over the years, I have come to realize that the term BDSM really isn't an accurate way for someone to describe themselves. It would be like trying to label the new car you just bought as a 'motor vehicle'.
Person A: Hey buddy! I just bought a new motor vehicle today!
Person B: Cool, what kind?
Person A: It is a motor vehicle.
Doesn't really give much information does it? I mean sure, we know it isn't a bicycle. Just like if someone says they are into BDSM, we know they aren't vanilla.
It is often said that BDSM is a sub-culture. Maybe... But I think that BDSM has it's own sub-cultures under it in addition. The culture of kinksters, and D/s lifestylers are quite different. Both fall under the genre of the BDSM world, but they are very different. A kinkster is focused on kinky fun, and typically on short term, Domination and submission focused roleplay in the bedroom. Where as a D/s (Dom/sub) lifestyler is focused on long term commitments based upon a Dominant and submissive relationship which develops over time, and isn't forced or pretend.
While the rules involved in being a kinkster may well be SSC, the rules involved in being a D/s lifestyler tend to be a tad more in depth. D/s Lifestylers tend to be more focused on honesty, trust, commitment, and a general compatibility of interests outside of the bedroom. The idea of collaring and possession in a lifestyle focused relationship is as serious as an agreement to get married in the vanilla world. It is not something to take lightly. Where as in the kinksters world, a collar is often given out and worn without the serious considering as to how long that bond may last.
Titles also differ between the two world as well. While sure, someone could be a Lifestyle Dom or a Kinkster Dom, and they may be very much identical. But the difference I notice is that kinksters like to give themselves titles and roleplay or act in accordance with those titles. Where as lifestylers tend to grow into their roles naturally, and only earn the titles through their actions and personality.
I have had many discussions with some females I speak to regularly who ask me questions such as: "Sir, why do I feel Dominant and aggressive against some male Doms? I am a sub, shouldn't I always bow down to them?". Indeed, in the more traditional, male focused, old school Lifestyle, you probably would of been punished for that. But that old school view was more a kin to a Master/slave relationship. Modern Lifestyle views tend not to be focused on Master / slave. Therefore, my response is that, yes... You may consider yourself a submissive. But since you haven't submit yourself to these Doms, you aren't a submissive to them. Also, there is no rule that you have to maintain your 'title' in every relationship or situation. Even in old school European Lifestyle, many submissives, became Domme's over others for the purposes of training or managing harems. So, I suppose the key here is that, no matter what you think you should be, just because someone claims to be something else (such as a Dom, Master, or sub), that title should not dictate how you treat them unless you choose to treat them that way.
(But generally, in my mind, approaching a stranger and saying you are a Dom, is absolutely silly and a sign of what I would call a Fake Dom. If you have to advertise it, you obviously have confidence issues and insecurity issues and maybe you shouldn't be participating in such a deep lifestyle, which can have serious effects on others involved. But that is my opinion...)
The Gorean subculture is yet another split from the BDSM world. Gorean is a fantasy based sub-culture based on a book series. The sub-culture aligns more with old-school European Lifestyler traits, in that it is focused on a male Dominated society where females may be used as slaves. However it goes beyond old-school European Lifestyle relationships. Gorean is generally considered to be more unrealistic than the fantasy portrayed in 50 Shades of Grey. Both fictional stories are generally frowned upon by the more traditional modern D/s community.
The typical 50 shades of grey fan will likely align themselves to being a kinkster. The ideas, maturity and development needed for more serious 'D/s lifestyle' based relationships are likely not going to develop without some training. So they end up focusing on bedroom fun. But the Gorean fans will tend to be very forceful in their ways. To many Gorean Dominants, any girl should automatically submit to them, or at least show them respect. In my opinion, this removes the Consensual aspect from SSC. The girls can't choose to submit to Gorean Doms, they are expected to submit. It is also my opinion that in many cases, a 'slave' isn't always a consenting slave. I believe that they tend to submit initially to the promise of fantasy and love, but often are not told of the more negative parts until they have already made a commitment. A commitment that they are often too fearful to break off. It is kinda like how the Army recruiter tells you that you will see the world, and it is like a fun vacation; but once you are in, you realize that it is pure shit.
So this shows that not every sub-culture within BDSM follows the general guideline of SSC. But like I said earlier, the acronym BDSM really doesn't do justice to the varied sub-cultures within the community. In my opinion, "BDSM" is just a label which is used to categorize pornography. Outside of that aspect, it really shouldn't be used to define anyone involved in the sub-cultures involved in it. Saying that you are a Kinkster, or a D/s Lifestyler, or a Gorean, will generally give someone a clearer indication as to your own rulesets than just saying that you are involved in the BDSM community.