I would like to take a moment to correct some errors and clear up some confusion that may have been created by the article “BDSM group strives to gain RSO status” published in the Aug. 30 issue of The Bulletin.
BDSM is an acronym which stands for five words: Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission and Sadomasochism. Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission and Sadomasochism (the combination of sadism and masochism) as subsets have distinct meanings. There are many other subsets, roles and identities that fall under the umbrella term of “BDSM.”
In the BDSM community we bastardize and pervert the English language in some very interesting ways. BDSM has its own dictionaries with terms and definitions that are not included in mainstream dictionaries. For instance a “fetish” in the BDSM community refers to an object or idea that is required in order for an individual to reach orgasm.
While it might be acceptable to define BDSM as a fetish in mainstream media, it is not acceptable by the BDSM community. BDSM is a lifestyle for some, a type of sexual activity for others, or a kinky addition to liven up the bedroom for others. These kinds of misunderstandings are a great example of why our group discussions are so important. We take the time necessary to clearly define terms and bring alternate terms or definitions to the discussion.
S.C.A.L.E.S. provides a safe community with support and education specifically for students who live alternative lifestyles and those persons who are curious about where they might belong in regard to alternative lifestyles. While there are individuals within the group who are dedicated to bringing awareness and education to the general public, those individuals do not represent the intent of the group as whole.
Mainstream media portrays practitioners of BDSM as taboo at best, as abuses illegally perpetrated by the mentally unstable at worst. From a legal standpoint there is no distinction made between consenting practitioners of BDSM and criminal predators that abuse their victims non-consensually. Because of these perceptions, people who are connected to BDSM can lose their reputations, jobs, friends, family and rights to custody of their children. These perceptions create an environment of fear in BDSM communities, making the line between protecting members and educating the public very hard to walk. As the President of S.C.A.L.E.S., my first obligation is to ensure the safety of our members.
Our group specifically chose a social network because of its focus on building alternative lifestyle communities and encouraging education and support within those communities. The intent of Fetlife.com is not to provide education and awareness to the general public at large. People who are sincerely curious are welcome on FetLife.
However, the members of FetLife.com do not want their family, friends, acquaintances and co-workers invading their safe space out of a curiosity created by mainstream media.
S.C.A.L.E.S. has not yet applied for RSO status yet because we do not have a faculty adviser or sponsor.