The Way We Were, AKA The WON TWOO WAY™

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


I follow a lot of different kink groups on various sites (since the alt BB days, even Compuserve had BDSM bulletin boards) because I find it fascinating the different perspectives on WIITWD (What It Is The We Do) that are out there.

I follow a lot more than I participate, and when I have participated, I’ve often found that the very people who proclaim to all how accepting WE KINKSTERZ are of others are themselves incredibly intolerant of views that don’t exactly match their own.

And they bellyache and whine constantly about all the young kids playing on THEIR lawn, shaking their virtual fists about them not doing it right, with no respect for their elders, and generally making a mess out of all the traditions they hold so dear.

It seems almost as weepy as Barbara in The Way We Were.

Here’s the thing: as someone who has been in this lifestyle for 25+ years, who was raised by people in the lifestyle, who’s traveled around the country and the world meeting kinksters and learning as much as I can, there are a few things that stand out to me that seem to never be discussed.

  • Different “houses” had different protocol, even in the “Old Guard” days. What I learned at The Vault in NYC at 19 is not what my parents practiced, and not what I found when I moved to different states through the years. None of them are what I read in books as “real” or discovered online through people’s written accounts of their experiences.
  • Even similar or affiliated houses in different parts of the country or world had different rules.
  • Words and labels often mean different things in different geographical areas.
  • Traditions vary, no matter how old or distinguished they are. Even in my early years hanging with leathermen in NYC, there were disagreements between them on how specific protocols should be interpreted or displayed. Some discussions were quite heated.
  • As soon as there was a monopoly on kink/leather/BDSM thought anywhere, there was someone who disagreed, and created a splinter group devoted to doing it “better” and overthrowing the “old wrong way.”
  • The leadership (might) makes the rules (right) in any given group—locally, regionally, and nationally.
  • Lower rung leadership also interprets the rules as they see fit as they are handed down from on high, with minor variations in interpretation making a huge difference in the overall atmosphere of a group.
  • Memory is faulty and intensely personal, colored as much by what we wish happened as by what actually did. I’ve been there when people waxed nostalgic about things that never happened 10 years ago, or didn’t happen they way they thought they did. I’m sure I’ve got a few of my own rose-colored memories like that.
  • People lie. To make their history look better, to read more smoothly, to entertain more. “How we always did it,” is rarely accurate. It’s “How we do it now that I’m in charge,” far more often.

In my view, there is no WON TWOO WAY™, except for the one way that I find works best for myself and those I lead. Yours may be different, and that’s 100% OK.

For me, the key is to accept and value the diversity of the lives we choose to live and the rules, protocols and rituals we select for our personal relationships. To celebrate those who find their own way in this amazing wide, wonderful world of kink.

And at times, to face off against those who believe that there is only WON TWOO WAY™ for all.

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