everything you ever wanted to know about BDSM scene names but didn’t even know to ask . . . (continued)
People’s fates are simplified by their names.
~ Elias Canetti
It’s essential for folks to realize that a scene name isn’t some kind of anonymous shield for illegal or abusive behavior. On the surface, the use of scene names might appear to be an invitation for predator types who prey on an unsuspecting victims. The common use of scene names could allow them to change their identity and move on. It’s quite true that sort of thing can happen, in theory. But, thankfully, in terms of anything of that sort actually occurring, it’s probably less common than it might have once been, in the days before our community got “connected” via the Internet.
Because of the dramatic increase in the number of educational and play events, as well as the popularity of the social networking site FetLife, the North American BDSM community is more tightly knit that ever before. That’s probably true worldwide, but I can’t say so with any real authority. My primary knowledge is limited to the USA and Canada.
Not only does the highly networked status of our community work as a deterrent against those with bad intent, it can actually help to drive abusers and predators from our midst. If an individual refuses to follow other’s limits, acts in a brutish or thuggish manner, if they have problems with hygiene or personal habits, the word will spread around. And, it will spread quickly. Once that kind of reputation spreads, you’ll likely find potential play partners in very short supply.
Attempting to change your scene name to avoid the inevitable consequences of poor behavior will never ultimately be successful. I believe our community is just too connected, and too aware, to allow such a thing to occur with any regularity. Predatory types are undoubtedly targeting newbies already, as experienced kinksters are usually too aware to be pulled into the web of deceit that kind likes to weave. That’s what makes educational efforts within our community so very important. And trust me, there’s no need for monstrosities like the Dominant Blacklist, a little bit of private networking is all it takes to check out another person’s reputation.
Secret lives make for secret suffering, and the time for secrets about who we are and what we enjoy is slowly ending.
~ Guy Baldwin
Because we don’t live in a truly sex positive culture, some folks feel huge stigma attached to taking part in BDSM activities. That was very much true for my former spouse, and that led to some issues. What does my ex tell her co-workers on Monday morning when they inevitably ask how she spent her weekend? What does she say when she is not comfortable telling them she spent the weekend as “bliss”, tied and cuffed to her Master’s bed?
It could be argued that scene names are counterproductive. Having to adopt a scene name could potentially contribute to diminished feelings of self-worth. I’ve heard this called a form of “self-loathing”, although that wouldn’t be my person preference for how I personify it. I mean, it’s good to be open about who we are. Generally, it’s healthier to live your life without having to compartmentalize everything you do. In a perfect world, we’d never be judged for how we love, how we serve (or require service) from another. In a perfect world we’d all be safe to express who we are without worry of repression from any other.
Yes, ideally, it’s better to be completely open about our sexuality. The Gay/Lesbian/Transgender communities have made incredible strides in having the open expression of their sexuality become safe and protected. In their corner of the kink world, it’s good to be “out”. I suppose it’s good to be “out” as an individual who practices BDSM, or any other alternative sexual kink for that matter. But, for some folks that’s just not realistic.
Whether you should be “out” as a participant and practitioner of any alternative sexuality including kink and BDSM, is an extremely personal question, and it’s far too complicated a topic to be discussed offhand in an essay about scene names. Just know that people who can freely and safely express their kinky sexuality are more likely to feel good about their sexuality. They are also far less likely to feel shame or remorse about their desires. If you can safely use your real name to navigate all your worlds, the world of kink and alternative sexuality inclusive, then go ahead and use your real name if you like, it’s totally up to you.
I’m not there myself, to be very honest. I’m doing as much as I can, in that I’m close to being “out”, but I do have limits. I am very carefully choosing friends, so that my time away from work won’t have to be full of compromises. With that said, I still work in an environment that isn’t terribly supportive of anything to do with alternative sexuality, and my relationship with my business partners might best be considered to be along the lines of “don’t ask don’t tell”. In other words, I’m not totally “out” – so I choose to use a scene name. I am aware of the potential negatives that might be associated with a scene name, but I find it’s positives outweigh the negatives. Only you can decide what’s right for you, and hopefully after reading this, you’ll feel better ready to decide whether adopting a scene name is right for you, as you explore the joy of kink.