Imagine. The two of you have been in a relationship for years. You are either married, living together or have been long-time companions in some other form of relationship. Suddenly, you start to develop erotic power exchange emotions and fantasies. Or your partner does. Now what? How do you introduce this to each other? What will happen to the relationship? Will there even be a relationship? How will your partner respond to this?

This is hardly an uncommon situation. In fact, a lot of people have this problem; it is not unusual for people to be confronted with feelings and fantasies about erotic power exchange in a later stage of their lives. It may be these feelings have been there for a long time, but have been suppressed. Or they “just came out of the blue,” so to speak. Since it is hard to determine what exactly triggers these emotions, it can happen in any stage of your life. And, many people find it difficult to find an outlet for these emotions, especially when they already are in a relationship. People are afraid of being rejected, or just called crazy. They may be afraid their partner may not be willing to share their feelings. In fact, it is entirely possible the partner already has rejected it.

You may be kinky, but you are certainly not insane

First of all: whatever your emotions are, you are not crazy, you are not alone and these feelings are perfectly normal, even if what you fantasize about seems extreme. Scientists estimate between 15 and 30 percent of the adult population has fantasies about erotic power exchange in some form. Next, these emotions – dominant or submissive – are very hard to suppress or ignore. Sooner or later they have to come out. Ignoring them may seem a short term solution, but in the long run it is not. You may be “kinky,” but you are perfectly sane.
The best advice is to talk about these emotions, no matter how difficult this may seem to you. If there is mutual trust and respect between the two of you, there should be no reason to be afraid. This may sound rude, but if you seriously think there is not enough trust, understanding and respect in your relationship, well, you may have to consider what kind of relationship you are in.

Next, do not overdo it in the beginning. It may be that you have cherished your fantasies for several years, before coming to the point where you want to talk about them. Remember that everything you are going to talk to your partner about is probably entirely new to him or her. Your partner may be open minded, but you should give him or her sufficient time to get used to this new situation. Another wise thing to do is to prepare yourself. Before you start talking, try to identify exactly what it is you want to talk about. Try to acquire some more general knowledge about erotic power exchange, so you are able to explain the phenomenon and not just your own emotions. It is usually very helpful to have some resources on the subject available for your partner, so he or she can form an independent judgment, based on your emotions, plus objective, outside, general information. There are several good books, and study places on the net, such as studyBDSM in our Community.

If you are the partner on the “receiving end,” the best advice is to be open. Of course, this new information may trouble or even scare you. That is very understandable. If it does not, well then both of you may share quite a lot here and there is much to talk about. Still, if your partner does not do it, see to it that you get yourself informed.

Coming out

What you are looking at are, in fact, two different things: one being the general “coming out” and the other being the relationship with your partner. Although this may sometimes be difficult, try to separate these two topics. Do the “coming out” first and than look at the perspectives for your relationship. This will require time, patience and mutual understanding. A coming out situation has been described as difficult to most people. Coming out usually is preceded by a period of uncertainty, and sometimes very strong feelings of loneliness and fear. That is what makes coming out so difficult. Even when the coming out process has started, it may take some time to get rid of these hidden fears and uncertainties. People in a coming out phase are usually very vulnerable and overly sensitive to even the slightest indication of possible rejection. That makes it hard to talk to them.

Another form of behavior, typical to coming out, is to drain yourself completely. Once the waterfall of words finally starts, it looks like the entire dam is giving way and the overwhelming flood can not be stopped. To the partner on the receiving end this is very difficult and it may feel like a blizzard coming at them. It is very wise to try and do this in small doses at a time.

A third factor you should try to take into account here is something that a lot of people, attracted to erotic power exchange, tend to do. This is called shopping list behavior. What happens is that novices probably have had one particular fantasy for years and the first thing they want is that fantasy to be carried out exactly as they have envisaged it, including every little detail. This of course is first of all almost always impossible. Secondly, it does not leave any room for your partner, who may have other thoughts about this. It usually kills the situation, before it even started.

The last factor we should mention here is over prioritizing. A lot of people tend to over prioritize their (newly discovered) power exchange emotions and put them in front of everything else. Although this is very understandable, it is also very impractical and may make things rather complicated.

A playmate outside your relationship

Quite a few people will tend to look for what they call a “play partner” outside their relationship. They do so in order to avoid possible rejection by their partner. Sometimes this is done based on mutual consent between the partners. To some people this may be a solution, especially in those cases where one of the partners is incapable of following the other. However, there are some major risks involved here. Although some people tend to make a difference between erotic power play and a relationship, in fact there is no such difference. The power exchange you will have with your play partner, will without doubt lead to a very intimate exchange of emotions and will create a very strong bond. The other partner may feel left out and since it may be hard to share all these feelings and emotions on an equal basis between the now existing threesome, the risks and dangers towards your “prime” relationship are both real and immense. Although people will often indicate otherwise, very few people can live with a situation where their mate or spouse shares very intimate feelings and emotions – let alone the physical part of all this – with somebody else.

If you have trouble working out the erotic power exchange feelings between the two of you, the best advise is get help. Most modern day therapists, marriage counselors, psychologists and sexologists will not have any trouble to discussing the subject of erotic power exchange and role play. They will also understand the risks and problems involved and they will have an open-minded discussion with both of you and will take an objective attitude towards erotic power exchange. If yours does not, simply find another one. And do check the local bookstore. There are a lot of books around to help you out. Finally, you may want to talk to some people from a local BDSM-group who are experienced and can help you. try the Community here on CNC, its 100% free to use and join.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Sex sells

Two recent news quotes:

From “All Headline News” – “Los Angeles, CA – Angelina Jolie’s former lesbian lover says the stunning actress was very provocative and raunchy before ever settling down. She even claims the two visited dominatrix dens together, which Angelina “loved.”

From “The New York Daily News” – “At a celebration for President Bill Clinton’s 50th birthday, at Radio City Music Hall, in 1996, Simon, terrified of following Smokey Robinson, invited the entire horn section to let her have it,” writes

John Lahr in the New Yorker. ”’They all took turns spanking me,’she says. ‘During the spank the curtain went up.’“
What do these two random newsclips (there are many, many more each week) tell us? Well, first of all that celebrities have a sexlife as well (duhh). Secondly, that some celebrities are into forms of kinky sex. No wonder, 30 percent of the adult population in the western world at the very least has fantasies about alternative lifestyles and kinky sex, so statistically one out of each three celebrities is likely to be into that kind of thing.

The question is, is this actually news? Well, while a more or less public spanking – especially in front of a former US-president – will certainly make the headlines that doesn’t mean it qualifies as “news”. Had it been Jane Doe, singing at her grandma’s birthday party nobody would have bothered. So, just because it happens to celebrities, it triggers the attention of the media.

Let’s not forget that – again according to the above statistics – one out of every three reporters also has such fantasies, or actually is actively involved in some form of alternative sexuality. That we do not hear about of course.

From a simple, basic journalistic point of view …. if 1/3 of the population does it all the time, it is probably very common. That is why nobody reports about the fact that people go to football or baseball stadiums to watch their favorite team play. That is why watching a sitcom will not get you on the New York Times’ front page. That is why eating a slice of pizza will not make you famous. Simply because these are activities almost everyone does every now and then. And actually “kinky sex” is no different.

The United States is by far the largest producer of pornography. Yet the country does not want to know about that. A survey by the Powerotics Foundation revealed that no mainstream television soap can be successful without the occasional “damsel in distress” action. Actresses are tied up, abducted, gagged or caged all the time on daytime television. Several years ago a collector had no problem finding thousands of whipping, caning, bondage and spanking scenes from thousands and thousands of mainstream Hollywood movies.

And here we get to the real point: kinky sex, or hints to kinky or alternative sex, SELLS! It sells newspapers and magazines, movies and television shows. It even sells entire careers, such as those of Madonna and Billy Idol. it is largely what makes Bill Clinton’s recent autobiography sell. If it is such a powerful sales argument, why not use it, instead of condemning it?

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Male Sexual Arousal

You’re a man. Your sexual buttons are pushed easily, as marketing experts, pornography producers as well as Hollywood moviemakers will prove daily. Almost anything – that is advertised with the man in mind – has a hidden sexual motive. Nearly any movie has hidden persuaders deliberately incorporated and pornography of course is obvious. While the objective usually is to make you buy something – a car, a movie ticket, a soft drink or whatever – the side-effect is that you get turned on subconsciously frequently during the day.

Within a BDSM context the daily “turn ons” are even bigger, since you will – conciously or subconciously – be attracted to many more fetishes, such as leather, high heels or even a dog collar.

Fetishism is perfectly normal

The social conditioning, that we talked about earlier, brought about something else: stygmatizing “fetishism” as abnormal. Of course, if sex is a reward for good social behavior, you (the government or the religion or whatever other regulator) don’t want other incentives that produce a similar effect to what you want to achieve, so you condemn everything else as “wrong”.

The current double social standard is that fetishism and non-mainstream sex are still largely condemned by such powerful and influential social entities as governments, religions, feminist action groups and others, while society at the same time will praise Steven Spielberg (ever wondered why “Jaws” is so appealing?) as a contribution to society, Hollywood still is the major source of visual entertainment (which includes movies such as “Basic Instincts”) and girl-popstars like Britney Spears try to convince the world that their “ooohs” and “aahs” have no sexual connotation whatsoever and they’re NOT a sex symbol.

What is fetishism?

A fetish is a sexual turn on and it can be anything: the sight of a girl on the beach in a bikini, the thrill of a well-turned leg, the sight of a smoothly rounded bottom in a tight pair of jeans, the tempting crevice of a cleavage disappearing into a blouse, you name it. Quite often a fetish doesn’t have to be such an explicit image as the above. Leather upholstery in luxurious sport cars for example has everything to do with the fact that the scent and feel of leather – even outside the BDSM-realm – to many is a (hidden) sexual turn on.

Several years ago a Japanese camera producer – Asahi Pentax – had difficulty selling telelenses. A marketing-psychologist was brought in to try and dertemine what the problem was. His first conclusion, after research, was that the vast majority of men – interested in buying long range telelenses, did NOT by these because they wanted to make pictures of birds and other animals, or wanted to do sports photography. Their hidden motive appeared to be that almost every men – potentially interested in buying a telelens – wanted to do so because he hoped to make a snapshot of his neighbors’ wife or daughter in bath or otherwise naked. As a result: the psychologist advised to advertize the lenses in UPRIGHT positions only (i.e. as a phallus symbol). As a result the salesfigures of telelenses suddenly skyrocketed!

You might be saying – what is there that doesn’t turn men on? And you’d be right – somewhere, someone is being turned on right now by things you never even thought of. It is the peculiarity of the male sexual being that so many things, so little understood, can be sexual stimuli. Your girlfriend may have long flowing locks and long hair may become a compelling stimulus. Other men report similar effects of their first sexual experience – as if, in some way, the various sights and sounds present at that first crucial moment become an imprint for later turn-ons. (Better tell your son to be careful where he first makes out – best if he does it at home in a safe, loving environment with contraception at hand)

Then there is the stimulus of naughty talk – a reaction, perhaps, by the child inside us to being prim and proper, so that simply using naughty words is exciting and stimulating: the same logic might apply to making love in forbidden or risky situations where there is the risk of discovery – the additional adrenaline may simply heighten the excitement and make all the stimuli more intense. This isn’t really high science, though, it’s more like common-sense. What is more difficult to explain are the – what psycholigists, psychiatrists, legislators and doctors will still quickly label – “paraphilias” – in their (outdated) opinion “the bizarre or outlandish sexual stimulii” such as cross-dressing, exhibitionism, voyeurism, high heels, red lingerie, BDSM and so on.

Various ideas have been put forward to explain all this: for example, that men feel guilty about sex and seek somehow to transfer their sexual feelings to objects like underwear, or high heels, which may or may not have an obvious sexual connotation. ALL THIS IS UTTER NONSENS!!! and you shouldn’t worry about it. What de facto is the matter is that from an evolutionary/genetic point of view reproduction (which requires sex) is the number one obligation for any species and that hidden or less hidden persuaders are as normal to birds or elephants as they should be to us. Birds are often multi-colored for that purpose. Squids even produce bio-energetic light to attract the other species. Frogs wake entire towns literally “yelling” out their hornyness and so do crickets.

SEXUAL SIGNALS ARE AS NORMAL AS TRAFFIC LIGHTS. Their main function is to make a man (elephant, shark or mosquito alike) horny so they will feel the urge to reproduce. True, we’re humans and not animals but that doesn’t mean the signals and effects aren’t there.

Of course, it’s great to feel the rising tide of sexual excitement that results from being near a loved one, or a sexual partner, or even a friend with whom a comfortable sexual relationship but little emotional commitment exists (the nice idea of the gay “fuck buddy” comes in this category: a relationship based on sexual pleasure alone – a relationship which many straight men would accept instantly if it were on offer to them: think of it – sex with no commitment. Wow! Now – is that stereotypical male thinking, and if it is, does it come from our genetic make-up or our learned experiences and attitudes? ). The subtlety of male arousal is such that even a glance, the touch of a lover’s hand, the smell of a lover’s hair, the sight or scent of their clothes (especially fresh off their body), can stir a man’s sexual interest.

That is one of most exciting aspects of being a man – that sudden sexual excitement, the spontaneous erection, the surge of desire that takes one by surprise, the sheer urgent, sexiness of it all. While in the end emotional connection is more satisfying, and, with the right partner, can reinforce one’s sense of self and one’s sense of masculinity, the “instant pleasure buttons” any man has shouldn’t be ignored or denied. Yes they can be – and should be – fun and there is no reason why you shouldn’t just enjoy this innocent sexual pleasure.

Listen to your body

There is nothing wrong with listening to your body. Your physical sexual respons to your environment is a very complex process of hormonal reactions, most of which is yet to be mapped and understood by science – the process as well as the complex set of triggers, reactions and mental and physical responses.

As a result, the most important as well as sensible thing to do is – within the context of your personal situation – to listen to your body, get the monkeys off your back and open yourself up to your sexual needs, desires and reactions.

And, talk about them! Tell your partner when you feel aroused and – if you know – why. Not only does that bring about a better understanding of what you are and what turns you on, it also makes it clear to her when your aroused (horny) and why and very likely BOTH of you will enjoy the moment. While that doesn’t HAVE to result in actual, instant intercourse, there is nothing wrong with a quicky on the kitchen table either and that can and will sometimes greatly improve your relationship.

Your partner is probably a fetish

It is very likely that your partner, as a person or (parts of) her body are a fetish to you. This might be anything, but very likely it will be her hair, mouth, neck, breasts, butt, legs or something and usually more than one thing. While we are (social conventions again) NOT to like and desire women for their body, that is exactly one of the things that you should learn to communicate about.

We need to explain yet another double social standard. We – men – are indeed taught not to like women for their body. While at the same time we’re bombarded with conflicting signals: from sexy dresses, to perfume – from hairdo to just about any commercial. Of course all of that is NOT an open invitation to rape and sexual harrassement! But is IS a signal that you will respond to and are supposed to respond to (albeit in a civilized way). The opinion – spread by feminist groups and others – that women are allowed to dress the way they want to and that men are not supposed to interpret that as a sexual signal is far to easy and actually both pretty cheap as well as untrue. Of course is short skirt is a sexual signal – so is a bikini, so is lipstick, so is perfume. It may very well not be JUST and ONLY a sexual signal, but it is a pretty naive idea that you can put on a perfume that has all the hidden aromatic persuaders in it and expect men NOT to respond to it.

So, do respond to it (towards your partner that is, not the female sitting next to you in the bus!). If you like her legs – tell her!

On top of that – most men fantasize about “different ways of having sex” – different as in having oral sex, anal sex or cumming between her breasts, all over her face or in her hair. The fact of the matter is that most women fantasize about exactly that (fantasies about being raped, abducted or being used as a sexual object or being a whore or a slut are the most common ones among women). So don’t be afraid you’ll shock her if you tell her about your fetish, because it is very likely she’ll have the same one or at least a similar one of her own.

And here is another helpful hint: the vast majority of women fantasize about what they will describe as “male men” (truckdrivers, man smelling of diesel, freshly cut wood and – VERY IMPORTANT – fresh sweat as well as men in business attire). So, be male – down to earth feet in the clay male – chances are she’ll love you for it.

Physical and mental attraction

Many people try to make a difference between physical and mental attraction. In fact: women (while communicating they want to be valued for their mental attraction) put a lot of emphasys on their physical ability to attract men (and in the process sexually compete with other women). That can often be very confusing. The important part is in “attraction”, regardless where it comes from. Attraction is the bridgehead – for sex, for communication, actually for the entire relationship. Attraction is what started it between the two (or three of four) of you.

Fact of the matter is that there is actual very little difference between phsyical or mental attraction and that every sexual/emotional interaction between men and women is a combination of both. Picture this: this gorgious blond suddenly walks into your life and while she’s physically everything you ever desired, she has this horrible accent and can only talk about her mother and TV-soaps. Will she still attract you once she opens her mouth? Probably not. And that is what it is all about.

What scientists will tell you (man) is that you are easily aroused and aroused by many different things, either solo or in combination. And that it happens hundreds of times a day. Scientists believe the male mind is drawn to some sort sort of sexual stimulation as often as 700 times a day. In very simple, very unscientific terms: you are pretty trigger happy bastard, to put it mildly. And we started this chapter with telling you that you’re probably aroused more times through reading Life Magazine or looking at the billboards or watching a movie.

What is important first of all is to understand that this happens and that – the two of – you might as well use it to your advantage, for starters by telling each other about it. That is you telling her. By doing so, even if at first she may feel threatened by it, you’re telling her a lot about how that happy trigger works. Information she can next use to pump up the volume, so to speak. Women are not exactly stupid and there is nothing wrong with telling them what turns you on. The idea of course is SHE turns you on. Because that is what brings things back to basics and allows you to follow what your genes are basically programmed for. This is not the same as having her belly-dance every night of course – the idea is to share and use useful information that BOTH of your can use to your mutual benefit.

Once you’ve gotten there, actually the only other thing you need to master is to ASK her, about what turns her on. Do both – tell and ask – and you’re very likely on the road to a very happy sexlife.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm.He the chairman for poweroticFoundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Is Erotic Power Exchange A Culture?

Alternative lifestyles are frequently labeled “sub-culture.” Could it be erotic power exchange is much more than that?

Occasionally the erotic power exchange (BDSM) community looks at the gay community with a certain amount of envy, as a result of the fact that the latter has achieved quite a bit when it comes to general understanding for and acceptance of different lifestyles. One of the questions, asked in this respect, is the one about being a culture yes or no. Although that as such is a question that can be debated endlessly, fact of the matter is that the narrow – sexual only – approach does not seem to cover all aspects of erotic power exchange. So, are “we” a culture? Below is at least one answer to that question.

First of all: what is a culture? There are of course various definitions, but personally I like to use the one given by anthropologist Ruth Benedict (which is the more or less generally accepted one in the scientific community): “culture is a more or less consistent pattern of thought and action with a characteristic purpose that pervades the forms of behavior and institutions of a society.” Hence, a culture is defined by a set of patterns.

Are “we” a “culture” (as in a religious culture, a national culture for example)? If culture is defined as being that total and all-embracing the answer to that question is NO, unless of course you would argue that BDSM-views and opinions have any specific relevance to and influence on social structures, general behavior patterns or institutions (which I personally consider quite unlikely). However, if you take the definition but add the words “limited” and “some”, the answer is: yes, we are.

The opposite of the above definition, by the way, is true for the BDSM-community: i.e., the world around us (society) has a direct influence on us (general perceptions, legislation, prejudice, political and religious views, to only name a few) and not in the way they have as a general factor in everyone’s life, but directly in (and as a result of) the ideals the community as well as individuals within that community strive(s) and stand(s) for.

There are other methods to find out whether or not BDSM is a culture. One of them is to try and establish if there are concepts, views and behavior patterns within a “group” that seem to be more or less generally accepted and are at the root of the group behavior (chaos-theory).

Behavior patterns

Thus the question is: are there such concepts, views and behavior patterns? The answer here – in my view – is yes, there are: there is a more or less generally accepted lingo (that at least is generally recognized), there are concepts (voluntary, informed consensual, safe and sane for example, negotiation for example, safewords for example). We may not be to good at exactly describing them, but there are norms and values: in general the community has a pretty good general idea about what is acceptable behavior in the group and what is not. In the same way there are (again not specifically written down) certain more or less generally accepted ethics.

And next to that there even is a more or less “creative process” based on the group’s ideas (design, clothing, art, photography, writing and more) that usually is recognized as “belonging to or within the group”.

Finally, do we have specific and more or less general behavior patterns? The answer again is yes. Coming out for example, finding information, communication and even some negative ones, like taking things personal and concentrating on personal ideas and interpretations as opposed to more general ones.

So, this method also seems to proof there at least is something indicating a culture, albeit not a very well studied and described one (but then again many cultures are not very well, or not at all described, such as many tribal cultures and the entire Maya culture for example).

Is all this enough to claim “we” are/have a culture. With sufficient modesty to say that we will probably not make a difference in changing the world’s general ethics my answer to that question is yes.

Are we a sub-culture? A sub-culture is a derivative from something else. Personally, I can not see where we are a derivative of something else, so no, I wouldn’t say we are a subculture. And this is where I think we first meet some arguments of the “outside world” that tries to narrow BDSM down to a form of sexual behavior (and to many preferably a sexual deviation). Why would the outside world do that? The answer in my mind is obvious: fear. Sexuality in many (especially Western) societies is something that has always been looked at with double standards. Religions for example (and they have a traditionally strong influence on sexual behavior) have a very double standard here. On one end for example they praise the phenomena of life and giving birth, while at the same time they will condemn women the moment they show physical signs of their ability to give life (like menstruation, pregnancy and such) and call them impure. They will endorse big families with many children but at the same time condemn the act that is at the very root of reproduction.

Fear on one end and narrow minded political views about controlling people’s lives on the other are what brings about this element of fear and hence the well-known rhetorical trick of creating a “common enemy” (the evil). “We” are “an evil” in that sense and this evil is described in very simple, one dimensional straight forward terms that usually have little to do with the truth. Which is only one reason to stay away from a purely sexual/psychological approach and try to put things in a somewhat broader perspective.

What is this culture made of?

So, if we are a culture, what is that culture made off? That is where it becomes very hard. There is little research to rely on or find answers in and unfortunately any debate about trying to describe the culture will almost automatically turn into a debate about personal preferences. The reasons for this happening are actually quite simple. Most of “us” live in a very narrow, closed environment when it comes to BDSM (which is not a negative connotation but merely an observation and in itself a direct result of the general social stigmatism and prejudice) and as a result many people only have their personal ideas and feelings to go by, while on the other hand the subject itself directly hits home with almost all of us and brings out – understandable – fierce and intense emotions.
The Internet – even though a blessing in some ways – is not exactly helpful either, since the “net-community” seems to go through exactly the same growing pains the “real life community” (at least in Europe) has gone through some 15 to 20 years ago. Hence, for the moment on the Internet history is only repeating itself, which is not bad as such, since it helps the vast numbers of newcomers, but is of little or no help when it comes to try and debate, research more abstract issues like this one.

Different cultures

As for example Weinberg and Falk (“Studies in Sadomasochism”, 1983) conclude, there is very little methodical and theoretical research from the sociological field available when it comes to BDSM. If any work has been done in this area, most of that is journalistic research and not scientific. Still, one fact is generally accepted in the scientific field (and in other areas): there are huge differences between the gay/lesbian and heterosexual BDSM-cultures.

Coming out (which to gay/lesbians is a “second coming out”) for one thing is totally different, primarily because coming out as a concept is alien to the heterosexual world since it has never been a real issue. Hence there is little experience with the phenomena and whereas coming out is recognized as probably the most important stage in the life of a homosexual (and treated and respected as such), in the heterosexual world it is predominantly still ignored or undervalued.

Other main differences are in the social behavior patterns. Especially gay men – within their community – are not only more open to different forms of sexuality, it is also very common to act out preferences in a more or less public environment such as gay bars and meeting places. Try acting out your heterosexual BDSM preferences in a public bar or in the local community center and you’ll have huge problems. Also, there is a much more integrated process of accepting different preferences within the gay/lesbian community and hence there is a lot more openness and willingness to investigate, whether for personal use or just for better understanding. So yes, there ARE at least two different BDSM-cultures with their own patterns, behavior and general dynamics.

BDSM influence in other social areas

To ascertain if BDSM as such is a culture one method is to identify if the phenomena as such has any influence in other social areas. This is an incomplete list of such influences.

  • * BDSM has a (sometimes even quite substantial) influence in areas like fashion, pop music, movie industry and art. In European countries it even has an influence on advertising.
  • * BDSM has its own literature, art and fashion.
  • * BDSM has its own media (print and Internet)
  • * BDSM has its own places for gatherings (clubs, the above facilities, groups, gatherings, munches)
  • * BDSM has its own organizations (local, national and some – like the NLA – even internationally)
  • * BDSM has its own lingo, different form others, some of which influences other areas
  • * BDSM has its own concepts, some of which have also been accepted in or adopted by other areas
  • * BDSM is an economical factor, in the forms of products like videos, toys, gear, more or less dedicated shops, media and art galleries, clothing and such and – weather we like it or not – prostitution.
  • * BDSM is scientifically recognized as a phenomena of its own.
  • * BDSM is the subject of research in different scientific areas (psychology, psychiatry, sociology)
  • * BDSM is condemned by other groups, including some very influential ones.
  • * BDSM has lead to specific legislation to try an ban it in various countries and regions.
  • * BDSM is the subject of political debates and decision making.

Different cultures within the community

Are there different cultures within hetero BDSM? I tend to think there are at least two: Maledom/femsub and Femdom/malesub. First of all, of course they have a lot in common. Probably eighty to ninety percent of their basic cultural patterns are exactly the same (albeit maybe slightly different in their format and presentation). However, there are a few basic differences that in my opinion make them different (mind you, I am not advocating one is better than the other, just different). So where are these differences?
First of all there is a difference in social acceptance. For example, the more or less general assumption is that men can take better care of themselves when it comes to security risks. Hence, a submissive male is generally seen as “less vulnerable” when compared to female submissives. To a certain extent that is true. Male sexuality in general is more open and men are much more used to share their sexual experiences and thoughts with others than women. Men are – more than women and again generally speaking – more used to things like masturbating, exploring their sex organ and the sex organs of others and are more likely to talk about this to others and experiment. Hence they have an advantage when it comes to taking risks and coping with vulnerability. This, by the way, should not be taken as a statement that the male submissive actually is or feels less vulnerable, because this is probably not true.

Another main difference is in the difference in sexual experience. The male experience simply is a more physical one, whereas the female experience is much more mental. This brings about differences in attitude, play forms, safety issues and interaction as well as a couple of cultural differences such as the fact that female submissives are much more receptive – and have a different attitude towards – fantasy.

Female submissives have other cultural differences, such as the conflict of roles (mother, career person, central function in the household/relationship and submissive) which is much more dominant to them then it is to male submissives (and usually much more of a problem). And to many there is the female (social) masochism and role-stereotyping in general (that is not good, but still very much “there”).

By the way, here a nice example of similarities as well since this is something the lesbian world also has substantial problems with.
Male dominants – as opposed to their female counterparts – also have many differences, such as their own role conflicts (men aren’t supposed to beat women and are brought up that way – in many cultures men still aren’t supposed to show their softer sides, hence many have never learned how to do that). And, simply because the subs are different, the dominants are different.

There probably is a long list of other differences, one that should for example be considered is the fact that as a result of the widespread commercialization of the Femdom world, it is a lot easier for male subs to at least find a format to live out their fantasies than it is for female subs.

Is it functional to recognize such differences? I think it is. Not in an effort to conveniently cut up the cake in very tiny pieces in order to find sufficient similarities to determine one specific group, but in an effort to try and identify the differences and address them. Like brothers and sisters are part of the same family, they have their own specifics wants, needs, dynamics and interactions and understanding each other better starts with identifying and understanding the specifics of the other, identifying where differences and where similarities are. Just as it often is very counterproductive to address certain problems by only using either male or female logic (ultimately the combination of both is what usually produces result) it is not very productive to try and push everyone “into the same corset” when it comes to defining cultures. Understanding that there are similarities AND differences is what will eventually establish a better understanding of the entire group.

General significance

Finally, does all this have a relevance when it comes to educating and informing the outside world? Again my opinion here is a positive one. Why? Because the outside world is constantly mixing up different aspects of the different cultures, which does not help the debate nor the education. For example, whenever I am asked to participate in a television program, talkshow, do an interview or whatever on BDSM my first question for the journalist/producer will be “what BDSM?” That usually – apart from it being a very effective way to delay the entire production for a considerable period – leads to a fundamental discussion during the production phase about what the show/interview/documentary is supposed to achieve. That will automatically – usually – lead to a better understanding by the journalist(s)/producer(s) involved and will improve the quality of the end product as well as well the quality of future products by the same producer/journalist. I will do exactly the same when preparing a presentation in any other format and – for example when it comes to informing law enforcement people – one simply has to identify and explain the different cultures because the officer involved will have to be able to judge individual situations in real life and a gay scene is something that is usually totally different from a hetero scene in the first place (not to mention the cases where a male is in fact an abuse victim).
Bottom line: if we want to inform and educate others (which is I think what most of us – latent or not – want or would like to see happen) the first question to ask is: what do we want to inform and educate them about?

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

how to find real Sex information?

Do the test. Go to Google and type “masturbation” in the search box. Because you are looking for some serious and reliable information on the subject. What you get? You probably already know. At least 500.000 links to porn sites. Think that is a lot? Well, actually it is much more!

The root of this problem is in three things:

  • 1. Search engines (not just Google) do not research the net nor the “information” they pretend to offer. They simply have robots that crawl the Internet 24 hours a day every day looking for only one thing: the pages that best fit their submission criteria.
  • 2. The adult industry as a collective is a master in manipulating search engines and they do not mind using every trick in the book, including the ones that are in the “forbidden” chapter.
  • 3. Most importantly: the first really useful search tool for the Internet – that can be used by ordinary people like you and me – has yet to be invented.

So how do you bypass or eliminate all the BS?

The truth is: trying to avoid all of it is impossible. But, the good news is …….. there are ways to avoid most of it.

Ask questions

A single word search in any search engine is usually useless. It will simply bring up thousands of sites that have the word you are looking for as a “keyword” in their text, their invisible meta tags, or both. Porn sites use software to search for the most frequently used search terms (including typing errors) and will pack their pages with them. So “masturbation” will get you nowhere. To be exact: it will bring up 20.700.000 results in Google. Not very productive.

Let’s add just one word and search for “masturbation methods”. Now we are down to 805.000 results. That is still way too much to be useful, but by adding one word we have eliminated 20 million (!) results. “common masturbation methods” gets us down to 571.000 results. “Common masturbation methods definition” knocks off another 100.000 results.

You get my point. The more precise your question, the better the results.

Multiple engine searches

Another effective method is to use multiple search engine searches. There is an easy to use and free software program for that called Copernic. You can download it from and the free version of their software will do just fine for most users.

Multiple engine searches usually scan between five to eight of the top engines and will bring up the top results of all these engines first. This too, especially if you use the multiple word trick here as well, is very effective.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm.He the chairman forpowerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

How Not kinky Are You?

“Vanilla” is a term used frequently by those, into more or less alternative lifestyles, for those, who – according to them – are not. The question however is, does “vanilla” actually exist and isn’t vanilla actually the new sexual minority?

Let’s face it: the we-get-married-live-happily-ever-after have-sex-2.5-times-per-week couple is rapidly becoming a rare phenonomemum in our modern society. Sex before marriage (almost unthinkable fifty years ago) is the current norm. Usually with multiple partners. Especially in the United States teenage mothers still in high school is no longer an exception (not meaning to say that this a a good sign!). More than half of the United States marriages end up in a divorce and this has brought us a new term: “serial monogamy”. “Till death do us part” is a vow not many people will stick to these days and if they do it is far from uncommon to engage in such things as threesomes, swinging or simply do what modern day therapists call “spicing up your sexlife”.

Is all this “uncommon” or “abnormal”? In terms of evolution actually not. In the end the human species is a mamal and monogomous mamals are indeed very rare. To a point there is evolutionairy logic to becoming pregnant as soon as you can. Why else would nature create fertility at a young age? Give a bonobo (an ape) a pencil and it is likely to draw a penis (yes they can and will, as scientific research has proven). And on the evolutionary calender of mankind things such as monogamy or even marriage make up for less than the last five minutes of that calender.

Can you honestly say you have never engaged in anything kinky?

There is no scientific research to provide a solid answer to that question. But my guess is that in our modern Western society very few people can honestly say they never have. In the current Internet age many – if not most – people at the very least have taken a (sneak)peak at porn-sites, engaged in an erotic chat or even exchanged some steamy email. Exposed belly buttons and navel piercings are common fashion statements and so are spiked leather collars, high heels, short skirts, revealing blouses and push-up bras. Not mention botox and breast implants.

Yes, a breast implant is a form of kinky sex. In the kinky world it is called body manipulation and in fact no different from a tattoo, a piercing, a branding or a scar. What actually is the difference between wearing make up and wearing a sexy leather skirt?

The answer is: your own perception – nothing else.

There’s an old joke: “A dirty mind is a joy forever”. As in most jokes there is wisdom in this one. The brain is the biggest sex organ. Some would argue it actually is the only one. And that is the whole point. Your own perception is what drives you. And if you want to “hip”, “avant garde” or tendsetter? Well, maybe becoming “vanilla” again might be a wise choice.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Hidden Sex Organs

Most mammals, when mating, show an interest in the tail bone. For example – if you have one – try patting your cat just above the tail. We humans may have lost our tail, but we still have our tail bone. And that can bring a new dimension to your sex life.

In simple terms, your tail bone area is packed with hormone receptors and erotic pressure points. Working with it is a great way to spice up your sex life; not to mention a simple thing called lust.

Gentle, subtle stimulation

The trick is to very gently and subtly stimulate this unknown triangle of love. They work for both men and women and it provides very intens sexual responses.

You do not need any toys for that. Your fingernails will do just fine. Try “scratching” the skin whilst just barely touching the skin in small circular patterns or from top to bottom and back. Go slow and be as gentle as yo can. The more subtle, the better.

In case you do like to grab an erotic toy, go for a feather or a specific tickler (erotic boutiques and online erotic shops have hundreds of them). A piece of fur will also do the trick. I cannot stress this enough – go for a gentle “teasing” approach. And don’t give up – the longer the better. You’ll soon have your partner squirming and “wiggling his or her tail”.

And if you want to be a little kinky, why not try using an ice cube. By all means: have fun.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for the powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Help, My Spouse Is Into Kinky Sex!

Below is one of the questions people ask me often. The situation is one that is not uncommon when it comes to erotic power exchange: one of the partners wants it, the other doesn’t. Hopefully this question and answer will help others.

Although written for a Male in charge situation, we feel this is relevant if the sexes are reversed

The Question

“I am looking for information that might cover the troubles that crop up in a relationship, particularly in a marriage, when one partner reveals his/her tendencies towards BDSM. I am the vanilla spouse of a man who believes he is dominant. We have been married eight years, and until about two years ago, I had no clue he had such interests. We have done some experimentation since he “came out,” but I do not find any of it appealing at all. It’s possible that the circumstances of some of our encounters turned me off to it all, but trust me, the turn off is permanent.

I have read a ton of information on this issue, have read stories, have talked to both dom(me)s and subs, have talked with my husband, etc. I’m one of those poor dull saps who just doesn’t get it.

My husband and I have reached a point in our marriage where he has decided that he needs to shelve his BD notions. About a week ago, the issue was whether I was the stronger pull or BD was the stronger pull. When I began talking about taking some time off from the marriage to give him a chance to sort out his feelings (it’s tough being married for eight years and realizing that you might not be picked), he said, adamantly, that he would put aside his feelings for BDSM and focus on the marriage.

It seems that our options are: he shelves his desires; I try to figure out a way to play with him (not going to happen); we negotiate a way for him to seek another “play” partner (this makes me whoozy because I understand the emotional involvement necessary and don’t think I can cope); we split up and he pursues his needs without the baggage of a vanilla spouse (not a terribly happy solution considering I love this little guy).

My question is, how likely is it that these feelings will surface in the future and cause him more conflict? We have discussed the possibility of his finding a sub and having a “no sex” relationship with her. But a number of things are a problem with that possibility. No. 1, I believe that erotic power exchange, whether it involves intercourse or not, is a form of sex (in other words, I am terminally monogamous). I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself. No. 2, he doesn’t want to “soil” the marriage with his needs (would rather divorce than soil it, I suspect). No. 3, he can’t find a partner.

Anyway, if you know of any resources, people, articles, books, organizations, angels, fairy godmothers, ANYONE or ANYTHING that might help me come up with some answers on this, I would be so grateful that I would – well, I don’t know what. I’m at a point where I’m struggling issues of trust, betrayal (of self and spouse), fear, etc. I looked through your listing of books and articles and didn’t see anything that looked even remotely helpful.

I apologize for the intimate and personal tone of this e-mail, but I am rather desperate. We are about to seek counseling (ug! but it’s necessary), but something tells me that I will find no answers there, that the focus will be on why he is the way he is. I AM grateful to have found your website. The listing of stages is MOST enlightening.”

My answer

Thank you for bringing up the question, because it is one many people have problems with. Let us start with saying that erotic power exchange emotions are not likely to disappear. Although science still has not determined exactly what determines our sexual preferences, it is becoming apparant that at least a substantial part of it is genetically encoded. Your husband is obviously facing a huge personal problem (and as a result so are you) that is not an easy nut to crack. Even though he may probably try to shelf his emotions for now, they are very likely to pop up again in the future and it is not unlikely they will become stronger, since he may try to shelf his emotions; the basic feelings and the fantasies will still be there. That brings a lot of strain in your relationship, no doubt.

There is very little or no literature on this. It boils down to incompatibality of partners (which is not uncommon – with or without erotic power exchange).

Having said this, the situation is probably not completely hopeless. We’ll get to that in a minute. First however another warning. You are very right in saying that erotic power exchange (even without “the act”) is a form of sexuality, hence there is indeed no erotic power exchange without sex. Having a play partner outside the relationship is a form many find to cope with problems like these. Does that work? Usually not. There are a couple of risks involved in such a set up:

  • * the erotic power exchange will bring out feelings and emotions between the two playing. Emotions that weren’t there before – at least not in a “live” situation. The play partners are very likely to bond, the non-playing spouse will feel left out and the other will be torn between two different people he (as in this case) shares his emotions with;
  • * “play without sex” is what many people will suggest to start with. You can take our word for it that some sort of “active sex” will evolve soon, since the tension built up in active play requires a release AND builds up sexual needs;
  • * since erotic power exchange to most people are very dear, personal and treasured emotions, sharing them with someone will automatically lead to a special bond that will grow and things that should not be in there will also slip in, even if the play partners sincerely do not want that to happen.

Hence, unless you find a commercial play partner (prostitute, which in this case is very unlikely because there are very little sub-prostitutes) you pay for playing but do do build up any “relationship” with, the risks of such a solution are huge. And you are right, you would have to agreee to all this too and cope with it.

Now, to the question, is this hopeless? Probably not. Without even knowing about exactly what has happened between the two of you so far it is likely things have started on the wrong foot and your husband is asking too much. Even without the specific dominant/submissive dynamics there are very little women that will not be attracted to “exciting” eroticism and sexuality (even though you may have to accept yourself and your desires first). Mind you, we are not going to throw the “you are submissive but you don’t know that yet” routine on you, because that is nonsense.

However, do try and envisage the following situation: you are blindfolded (with something soft like silk) and all he does is carress you, arouse you, kiss you all over, maybe tickle you a bit and undertakes every effort to seduce you. No whips, no ropes and cuffs, no heavy leather stuff, just a blindfold, maybe a glass of wine, candle light, soft music, comfort, enjoyment and MOST IMPORTANTLY, no stress. Just pure and simple enjoyment. Chances are you’d like that very much and this IS an erotic power exchange setting where you leave it to him to work his butt off to seduce you, while he will be the one that has the initiative and these are exactly the dynamics that we are really talking about.

Something like the above – and please take out the strain and the stress, forget about being called slave, calling him master or anything, forget about the fact that this is erotic power exchange, just enjoy – might be pure and simple joy and fun. There are a lot of other simple ways to bring out the same eroticism. For example, allow him to “order” you to cook a wonderful candlelight dinner for the two of you. That will probably make a nice entree to pure enjoyment too.

The examples above are simple and very erotic and intimate forms of role play without all the heavy stuff and they – or other ways – may bring about a wonderful way to experience what you yourself like and what not. Letting him pick your clothes for a change, you doing simple things to please him and he being receptive to that and responding to it, all of that is erotic power exchange and that may appeal to him as well as to you without the heavy stuff. The idea is to learn and play and BOTH try and experiment with FUN things, without the stress, the need, etcetera.

Will this go further? Who is to say. That totally depends on the two of you. But do try. It isn’t as scary as it seems as you can see (or at least it doesn’t have to be). It offers both of you a possibility to explore, for him to learn and understand that the trick (in any erotic power exchange setting) is subtlety and NOT the heavy stuff (most of what you see is pornography and has little to do with the things people do in their homes).

By all means do talk about this, communicate and exchange what both of you can and can not do. That goes for you too and should be respected

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

BDSM and Media

Media coverage is extremely important when it comes to the image the world has about any group in society. It may even be decisive. And as for any other group, this is true for the erotic power exchange world as well. Since erotic power exchange is attracting more interest in society, it is only logical the phenomena gets increased media coverage. In addition, the current trend – especially in audiovisual media – to try and cover more eroticism in general contributes extra to this trend.

Journalists trying to cover the subject are faced with various difficulties and complications – the most important being the complexity of the subject as well as the difficulty to find people who feel comfortable with talking about their most intimate emotions in mass media. Next to that, to an outsider it is not easy to understand the cultural differences within the group and the subject takes up quite a bit of research and/or pre-production time as well as space or air time to cover it in a more serious way.

The scene” does not exist

Despite what general opinion would like people to believe, there is no such thing as “an EPE (or BDSM) scene”. Instead there are different cultures, different sexual preferences and most of all individuals and couples practicing or just fantasizing about power dynamics in an erotic setting. One of the main difficulties is that – as a result of the very individual determination of sexual behavior in general and with that erotic power exchange – it is extremely hard, if not entirely impossible to find common denominators. Hence talking to one or two people will only sketch THEIR views. These may be significantly different from others and are most certainly not THE views or opinions.

First of all, there are very distinct differences in culture, based on sexual preference. Homosexual EPE is very different in many aspects from its heterosexual equivalent. Homosexual men are – in their EPE-emotions – very different from homosexual women and within the heterosexual world the first main difference should be made between the Maledom/femsub (dominant man/submissive woman) and the Femdom(me)/malesub (dominant woman/submissive man) cultures. When concentrating on the heterosexual “world” only, one of the major differences is the fact that the Femdom(me) culture is dominated by women, who have made a profession out of their nature; a phenomena that is almost non-existent in the Maledom/femsub culture (although there are professional submissive women and -albeit extremely few – professional dominant men).

Most of the literature available is about homosexual erotic power exchange, where power dynamics are different, the culture is much outward oriented and – although this a dangerous generalization – generally speaking, more rough. In addition, there are many technical differences between homosexual and heterosexual EPE. Another very important consideration is that sexuality between members of the same sex is entirely different from sexuality between members of the opposite sex. Beyond these major variances, there are many other heterosexual-specific concerns, such as the fact that a heterosexual couple will usually be confronted with having to raise children. It is, therefore, impossible to rely on available literature when it comes to form an undistorted opinion on heterosexual erotic power exchange.

The image of erotic power exchange is, to a large extent, generated by both pornography on one end and one-sided, dysfunction-oriented clinical and scientific research. Hence the picture the media paint – for understandable reasons – is a picture very few erotic power exchange people would recognize. One of the main reasons for this sullied view of EPE is the fact that it is difficult for media to get people to talk about their emotions. The majority of people interviewed – since they are usually the only ones available – are people who are commercially active in the erotic power exchange world – predominantly dominatrixes. These people usually and again understandable, have a one-sided image. Professional EPE-activity is a commercial enterprise with the aim to make profit, not to express the person’s own feelings towards a partner. Since the vast majority of EPE-professionals are dominatrixes, they will attract a very specific type of person, in particular submissive men. Very few of the clients a professional dominatrix has, have an active erotic power exchange relationship with their partner. And, the professionals interviewed have an entirely different agenda. Their motive is not to give unprejudiced information about their subject. Their first objective is to attract (more) clients and the immediate second motive is to make sure they stand out from their colleagues.

A picture based on alternate motives

Unfortunately, the EPE image is predominantly influenced by several elements all of which have ulterior motives. Non of them have had or currently have the objective to communicate unprejudiced information. Let’s make an interesting list of the four most influential factors on the image of erotic power exchange:


The majority of scientific publications on the subject originate from the psychological/psychiatric field. None of these publications deals with the power exchange between healthy, well-adjusted people, capable to make safe, sane, consensual, well-informed and conscious decisions. Instead, all these publications deal with people seeking help (usually from the author) and have been written primarily to advocate either one specific opinion or one specific treatment by one specific therapist. Unfortunately, there is no broad, large scale research available on the phenomena of EPE. It is estimated that as much as 30 percent of the adult population has erotic power exchange fantasies and is (potentially) active in this area. The largest group that has ever been the subject of research is a group from approximately two hundred people from one country. This can hardly be called representative for the world-wide group, hence all conclusions should not be projected on the entire population. Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently.

Furthermore, much of the available scientific research available and quoted, is extremely outdated. This is especially true for politicians, legislators and lawyers in many countries, who will go back and cite research that is at least thirty or forty years old. Whereas no court or scientific body in the world would accept other (semi)medical data that old as a basis for judgment, when it comes to erotic power exchange this is still generally accepted.

Pornography and pseudo-experts

These two groups are mentioned in one header deliberately because pseudo-experts predominantly style themselves on the pictures painted by pornography, sometimes cleverly validating themselves and their views by misquoting scientists. Both pornography and pseudo-experts have only one objective: to sell as many books, articles, magazines or videos and CD’s as they possibly can. Erotic power exchange-related pornography is mainly sold to people who are NOT active in erotic power exchange. Much of what is sold is – unfortunately – quite often mistaken for information, especially by people who are new to the subject. The picture painted is not meant to give information, but instead, is meant to indulge fantasy. In these situations fantasy does not have to become reality, and when it comes to erotic power exchange, hardly ever does fully.


Without making any judgments here, the media plays an important role in the image-building. Next to the difficulties sketched above – the fact that it is indeed extremely difficult to depict a clear image of EPE and the unintentional effect of dominatrixes – it is obvious that excess-oriented journalism does not help and, again, does not have the objective of communicating factual and independent information, but has the objective of selling copy as well as entertaining.

The “community” itself

Even though the various support groups put a lot of effort in trying to inform and educate, their efforts reflect the average lack of experience in mass communication as well as the variety of opinions that even the EPE community itself holds. None of the support groups, not even larger national groups like the USA National Leather Association, have any critical sway in the EPE community, compared to the number of people interested in the subject. This is again the result of both the variety of opinions held as well as the different cultures. Individual subgroups are only just finding out they have a different identity from other like-minded people. This is new and somewhat disturbing to many and it is difficult for groups as well as individuals to find and identify with a “new” identity.

These support groups are small. They do not have one-tenth of the budget, that scientists and especially pornography producers can use. There for it is a very uneven battle, trying to fight the misinformation with little more than a personal computer and a xerox-machine, when resources in the pornography industry are huge.

Finally, there are the well meant efforts of individuals, especially on the Internet, to try and build personal home pages that provide “information”. Such information is usually highly individual (and as such useful for identification purposes) and of little or no relevance for a more general informational approach.The bottom line is that the information/misinformation ratio is about 10:90. It is no wonder the image the outside world has is the wrong image; an image that has very little to do with the day-to-day practice of erotic power exchange.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

Are “We” Different?

It is actually amazing to see people – outsiders especially – struggle with the phenomenon of BDSM (erotic power exchange if you like). It is, however, just as amazing to see that “the community” seems to forget about the obvious, when it comes to explaining what it is we do.

First this. There is a difference between “defending” and “explaining”. And that, in itself, is a power ritual.

When operating from the “defending” position the defender de facto places him/herself in the underdog position and, through the act of defending, the defender implicitely agrees that he/she is being attacked and – again implicitly – acknowledges that there is a reason for this attack, no matter how futile this reason may be.

Coming form the “explaining” (teaching or informing, if you like) position, he/she who explains places him/herself in an entirely different position: as an equal in the power-situation or – especially in a teaching-situation – in an even more powerful position. Personally, I prefer the the explaining-position, when it comes to talking to outsiders about BDSM.

Back to the subject at hand.

BDSM is nothing but an explicit (magnified) form of power play between people. And not necessarily limited to the sexuality-issue. In fact, the sexual connotations are probably part of the power-instruments, partners/players have in a BDSM-situation. That is why it would be very helpful if any research on BDSM would be taken OUT of the sexuality corner and into the corner where it belongs: sociology and anthropology – i.e. the sciences of the human behavior patterns and cultures.

BDSM doesn’t belong (or at best only partially belongs) in the field dominated by therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and doctors.

Why, you might ask.

Power dynamics are as normal (and essential) to the human race as eating, drinking, breathing and sleeping. In other words: without it, the human race just doesn’t function the way it does. And neither does any society, human or animal. Just look at a society of monkeys, or lions, or elephants, or starfish and you’ll see power patterns. Patterns that are different from the human ones, but still power patterns. And these power patterns (next to such things as feeding and hunting) almost always apply to sexuality as well. Makes sense, since from an evolutionary point of view reproduction is priority number one. Keeping the species alive and in tact is even more important than breathing or feeding. Evolution doesn’t care if you die – as long as make sure you have taken care of your offspring, so the species continues to exist.

Reproduction = sexuality = inherent power dynamics!

Overpowering is natural (and genetically encoded) and in principle evolution again doesn’t care about moral, legislation and other norms and values. It just cares about reproduction and adaption. And – quite frankly it doesn’t matter who (male or female) takes the initiative – one partner will make sure he or she gets what he/she wants from an evolutionary point of view. Which is: mixing strong genes with other strong genes.

Since adaptation for any species is just as important as reproduction (reproduction in itself is useless if the species doesn’t adapt as well) norms and values are important and as a result will probably become an important part of the lovemaking/reproduction RITUAL. And ritual is the key word in any power driven situation. Ritual and conventions.

Here we go. Laborers and employers have their own rituals, when it comes to playing out the power dynamics between them – for example to gain better wages. Of course everyone knows that strikes will eventually lead to negotiations and to an end-result. So if we know we’ll need to negotiate sooner or later, what’s the use of a strike or a demonstration? Well, that is the power ritual. And that power ritual is part of the power-dynamics. Much like a mating ritual, actually. Fight first, become friends afterward and find a solution. The ritual is needed to allow both sides to later explain they were the winner. To each other as well as to the ones they represent. And even more important: the entire powerplay was an effective method to show how much they CARE!

Similar power rituals exist in politics. They do not always seem to make sense, but at least you might argue that since they’ve been around for centuries, we (the human race) apparently need them. And again the “we are showing we care” argument is just as important as the ritualistic behavior towards each other.

Similar principles apply in schools, or in economic competition, or in the workplace, or ….. well, you name it. There is hardly any area in a human life where there are no power dynamics involved, one way or another. So power dynamics are part of the way we (the human race) behave. Hence it is no surprise power dynamics will also play a role in the sexuality between partners. And they do – even in a non-BDSM context.

So power rituals in a sexual context are nothing new and nothing special. Showing you have power in many cases means: you care!

Hence sexual power play doesn’t belong in the “therapist corner”. You need to eat, otherwise you can’t have sex. That doesn’t turn food-science into an area for sexologists and therapists. You need to work in order to stay alive (and actually your economical success has a huge influence on your ability to mate). That doesn’t make economics the area area of psychologists.

In other words: power behavior is normal human behavior and power behavior in (or with) a sexual context is no different.

Next question: is magnifying the power dynamics in a sexual context any different from other power situations?

By designing a system where – and not only for practical reasons – we elect people to represent our interests when it comes to shaping and controlling the general society, the human race implicitly acknowledges that politics is a profession (although many might argue they’re not) and that an explicit power system is useful. If not, why do we need elections and (probably more importantly) “winners”? Why do we need different ideologies when we could just as well design a system, based on the concept on what is needed and reasonable? One answer is that the human race again needs to be able to see these power struggles going on and as a result identify with the winner of the battle.

The economy simple does not work without competition, although it would probably make a lot more sense to simply share what we have and – as a planet – work together to preserve the planet and grow what we need.

Still, life doesn’t work that way. An important part of marketing is that people want to share the success (of a brand or a product) in order to be able to identify with it. Again we need winners – someone or something with a strong power appeal.

And then we’re not even talking about the appeal of sports!

Not everyone wants to be part of a “power circle”. Not everyone becomes a politician, or a salesman, or an athlete. Some do. In sports, ahtletes are pretty useless without spectators.

In economics, products (and hence product-designers and marketeers) are useless without people buying them. And politicians are useless without the electorate.

So in any situation a small group magnifies the power-dynamics within that groups and plays and works with it. Hence, it only makes sense to expect a group of people to do the same in their lovemaking/sexuality. And yes, some do – they are “into BDSM”.

Apparently “we” are not much different.

But, there may be something else. “We” have things like fetishes, leather “uniforms” and power symbols such as whips.

Ritualistic behavior again is no different from other power situations. The powerful business world has its own symbols and rituals. Try entering a board-meeting in your jeans and T-shirt. No one will identify you are a powerful economical hotshot. However, dress sharp, buy an Armani suit, a tie, a cellphone, an attache-suitcase and an Audi or a Porsche and EVERYONE will recognize you as one. No different from leather trousers and a whip, I’d say.

A police uniform (among other things) is a symbol of power, so is the doctor’s white coat and the teacher’s jeans and sweater. Most members of any social group will tell you: “if you want to be one, look like one”. Show your colors. You don’t go to a baseball-match wearing your fishing outfit (and most certainly not wearing the colors of the club you do NOT support!).

Each social group – especially when it comes to the power dynamics within that group, has its own “fetishes” and rituals. Again, in sexual behavior things are no different. The “sexual power hotshots” (the BDSM-group) have their own. In principle, leather, whips and cuffs are no different from the Armani suit, the police-uniform and the baseball cap. Different in the way they look, but no different when it comes to function.

If the above is all true, is there any difference when it comes to “picking our battle grounds”, i.e. the “arena” where the power play is being exercised?

I’m afraid the answer again is: not really. Politics belong in their specific “houses”: the capitol, town hall, you name it. Legal battles belong in courthouses. Sports have their arenas and stadiums, the business world has its board and meeting rooms and BDSM has: its dungeons and the bedroom.

In other words: magnified power dynamics is nothing new, when it comes to general human behavior. And magnified power dynamics always require their specific environment, their specific rituals, behavior patterns, lingo, norms and values and fetishes and rituals.

So, no – “we” are no different. We’re actually very human.

©2007 Hans Meijer

Hans Meijer is 54, a Dutch former journalist and government spokesmen, webmaster and filmmaker, active in the sexual and erotic information realm. He was the chairman for powerotics Foundation (now closed). This organization is dedicated to provide quality information about alternative lifestyles. His 5 e-book series “Shibari Fumo Ryu” about the Japanese erotic Shibari technique and art is considered groundbreaking. Reproduced with permission.

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