March/April 2002

Integrity

by Kuma

The Internet has been both blessing and curse to the lifestyle. On the one hand, it brings instantaneous contact with our wondrous world of BDSM, and everyone involved in it. Never before has such an immense wealth of knowledge and sharing of experience been possible. We are connected in ways we never thought possible and the possibilities in the future are limitless. Thatís the good news. On the other hand however, we have a situation which impacts us even more greatly than the positive. That same wealth of information and experience makes it possible for virtually anyone to click their way into a fairly convincing masquerade. These folks go by a number of names: predators, posers, players, wanna-beís, HNGís (horny net geeks), the list is almost endless. The names I have for them are neither polite nor printable; suffice to say that I have some VERY strong feelings against those that are not legitimate members of our community.

The horror stories surrounding these people are legendary. New and willing submissives have been beaten in a very violent and non-consensual manner, raped, severely injured, and in some cases even killed. This happened because they believed every word that they had been told by an individual who had just enough knowledge to be convincing, but had not ounce one of integrity. I wish I could tell you all that everyone you meet is legitimate, and that you may trust and depend on them to behave in an honest manner filled with integrity, but sadly that is just not the case.

When first encountering anyone who is in the lifestyle, there are a few signs that you can watch for along the way that may help, and may signal trouble. Someone you may want to be around will share personal information that is actual and factual. Does the phone number they provide always work, is available at any time, and is always answered by the person that has provided it? Someone you may want to be around will proceed in a non-threatening and sane pace. Do they go from Email, to telephone, to face to face, or do they demand that the relationship proceed directly into conditions and actions without negotiations? Someone you may want to be around will be always be considerate of your feelings and condition. Are they always concerned for your well being, or do they insist it is "MY way or the highway"? Someone you may want to be around will be watchful for the possible changes and improvements in your relationship. Are they willing to re-negotiate and change the relationship for both your benefits, or is it again "MY way or the highway"? Someone you may want to be around is consistent, honest, loving and caring. Are all of these factors present, or do you find yourself with nagging questions ?

When people first enter the lifestyle, they tend to enter what I like to call the "honeymoon phase". Itís all wonderful, and bright, and full of promise, and so very, very exciting. New places, new people, and how in the world will you deal with all those new experiences ?

For the first time in your life, you feel alive, and healthy, and whole, and you want to have as much of it as you can as fast as you can because you know that this is the life you have always wanted to lead. But whom to share it with? It is at this heady time in your experience that you want it all, but it is also the time that you can be hurt the worst, both emotionally and physically, by the predators. The lifestyle isnít going anywhere, and the partner thatís right (or even right now) isnít leaving either. Take the time to take the steps so that all of you is safe and treated sanely. Legitimate members of the community will take the time to get to know you, and to let you know them. Legitimate members of the community will negotiate, and honor the decisions of those negotiations. Legitimate members of the community will re-negotiate whenever necessary. Legitimate members of the community act honorably, and always respect themselves and others. Legitimate members of the community care for those that in are in their lives, and show that care by both word and deed. Legitimate members of the community will accept an honest "no" without negative feeling or action. If it feels wrong, or you have questions, then you need to re-assess.

Finally, I am going to touch on a subject which brings a lot of controversy within the community, but it is one that I personally believe in, and feel very strongly about.

SSC (or Safe, Sane, and Consensual) is a set of guidelines and a way of behaving within the community that brings a lot of sense and reality to everything we do. Some folks believe it to be to restrictive, and that it interferes with their personal freedoms.

Remember folks that SSC is a set of guidelines, not rules. No one insists that everyone abide by them. They are, like most everything in the lifestyle, a choice and I do not discriminate against those that use them and those that donít. If you are not familiar with it and are interested, I urge you to look into it. Along with SSC, I also believe in the practice of safecalling. There are a couple of formal safecalling organizations in place, or you can arrange one on your own very easily.

Kuma, Lifeís Master to shani*
Copyright © 2002 by Two Hearts One Soul (http://www.twoheartsonesoul.com)