I Visited An S&M Club

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bdsm dungeon visit
Visiting a BDSM dungeon makes the writer examine her privacy boundaries.

I raced to my car, feeling disoriented and shaken to my core. For days and weeks, I kept replaying the images in my head, which, by now, had morphed into an allegorical depiction of Dante's descent into Hell.

Why did the dungeon trigger such a negative visceral reaction within me?

 

Was it because the spectators and participants were not the stuff of my dreams?

Would I have reacted differently if the woman was Eartha Kitt, whose purr could arouse even the most cowardly of lions, or if the face underneath the eye patch and bandanna belonged to Johnny Depp?

It's true that many of the participants resembled Duane Hansen salt and pepper shakers, but surely that wasn't the problem. After all, I taught women of all shapes, sizes and ages in my exotic dance class, and each week I celebrated with genuine pleasure their desire to feel more sexually alive.

I gradually came to realize that my central problem was the flagrant sexhibition that was on display at the dungeon. I had a front row seat to a public drama, and I was a hostile witness because it violated my definition of privacy. Poll: Exhibitionism - Hot Or Not?

My sex life is like a child's activity book, in which each shape is clearly defined in bold print. The boundaries are immutable, and I never, ever, color outside the lines. What happens between me and other consenting adult falls into the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" category. Within these limits, I feel free to engage in erotic improvisation and to act out my fantasies.

Yet, just because I take comfort in securing the door to my intimate emporium with a privacy lock, a limited guest list, and a prominently displayed "Do Not Disturb" sign doesn't give me right to assume everyone should follow the same rules. Who am I to judge other people's choices?

People transmit sexual signals across a broad spectrum of frequencies. For these BDSM participants, breaking down the public/private Maginot line is precisely the point. They find enhanced sexual stimulation and release in a more public fireworks display. And truth be told, the dungeon is also marked by boundaries. It is a precisely calibrated theatrical event, a house of mirrors where trust and discretion matter.

What I interpreted as random acts of aggression and exploitation are actually highly ritualized activities. The rules are negotiated beforehand and governed by three principles: safe, sane and consensual.

I admit that it is initially confounding to see how shackles and spiked collars translate into reciprocal romance. But, let's be honest: Sexual intercourse for a lot of people consists of the woman staring stoically at the ceiling and a man who falls asleep before her final curtain call. He shoots… he snores! It's pretty hard to justify moral outrage if that's your definition of mutual respect and pleasure.

Am I interested in a return visit to the dungeon? No. My pain threshold is too low and my privacy needs are too high.

Do I intend to change my closing salutation to "Spanks a lot, Athena?" Only with very good friends. But I have learned one essential lesson: I should spend less time fine-tuning my fortress and more time adjusting my attitude. Read: Can A Feminist Like Spanking?

 

 
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