I’ve been somewhat silent on this blog for a little while and some of you probably already know why. For those that don’t, my professional life has been all a twitter with all sorts of tasks related to my first (non-BDSM or sexuality-focused) book publication. That’s quite exciting, but it also means I’ve pretty much taken on another part time job in addition to my full-time one.

A while back before any of this began I submitted an article to a small local kink magazine here in Sydney called Kink-E Magazine. Apparently it’s been accepted and published and I never even knew about it. You’d think I’d get an email or something of the sort (if not an author copy), but I’ve not heard a word from the publishers. The only reason I found out the article was published was because I met a nice fellow at a dinner party of sorts who recognized my name and said he’d found this blog through the magazine.

Another very annoying thing is that apparently the magazine decided to print my article—which includes a picture of my back—on top of a large picture of a submissive, bound woman and some other random picture I’ve never seen before. I’m not claiming I should have had artistic input for the layout, but doesn’t it seem more than a little disingenuous to print an article about a submissive boy with a huge picture of a submissive girl behind the text of the article itself? This might be a great time for another one of my rants about the state of acceptance for submissive male sexuality but in deference to my exhaustion, I’ll let it slide without another word this time.

Scanned image of \"Learning the Ropes\" article text (Click to enlarge.)

Sigh…. Either way, I’m glad to see that the article is in print, and that it’s providing this blog and the great blogs I link to some additional exposure. Since the magazine’s website has seemingly gone from a partially free online publication to a closed “we won’t show you our content unless you pay us” model, I’m going to repost the entirety of my article here for your viewing pleasure.

This article was a part of my efforts to encourage educational events focused on BDSM and alternative sexuality (beyond queer or homosexual issues) in the Sydney area. See also My First Two Months in the Sydney BDSM Scene.

I still remember [my partner] Eileen‘s face the first time she talked to me about hitting me with a single tail whip. “It makes a completely different noise when it hits skin,” she said, brimming with excitement. I gave her a knowing grin. When the two of us began playing together regularly she was the new-blood and I was the one with the reputation.

Her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more and to try new things was enthralling, attractive, seductive. Sometimes she would tell me that her fingers itched, that they wanted to hurt me. I wanted nothing more than to give her unfettered access to me to do just that.

I think ‘access’ is a sexy word. It’s seductive in implication, explicitly slippery on the tongue, and just sounds raw. Even its meaning is primal: a means of approaching or entering a place, or person. Part of what I found so enthralling about playing with Eileen was how much her newness to the kind of play we were doing was teaching me things, too. Contrary to the popular stereotypes, I didn’t actually have much hands-on experience at the time.

For a lot of people, the answer to the question “When did you know you were into this BDSM stuff?” is very similar. It goes something like, “I’ve known as far back as I can remember.” I’m no exception.

I was four years old when I started making requests of my father to tie me up. At that young age, I wasn’t really questioning why I was asking this of him, I just knew that it was something I felt like I really wanted to have happen, something that would relax me. As a boy, I liked crawling into small spaces like the one under my bed or in my closet. At night I would wrap myself up in a cocoon of my sheets to relax, enjoying the compression and tightness of the fabric on my body.

When I was nine my family got a computer connected to the Internet for the first time. By the time I turned ten I had several hundred bookmarks of BDSM resources saved on the computer. I started reading each one voraciously. Thousands of words a piece, all about sexual dominance and submission, straight-out sex, sexuality, sadism, masochism, and erotica of course.

At first, most people look aghast when they learn this about me. In what world would exposing a ten year old child to endless information about BDSM sex be a positive experience? Indeed, I believe there are myriad dangers in doing so, arguably more so with today’s Internet than the one of thirteen years ago.

To be certain, that kind of access to information is Pandora’s Box. Looking in hindsight at my own experiences, as I’m sure Pandora must have done, I can now see both the good and the bad. The bad: misinformation, and deceitful, predatory, or just plain misguided people. The good: information in abundance, and a community of like-minded people.

For more than eight years I lurked in cyberspace, reading other people’s experiences. I spent a lot of my time filtering out what I thought was fanciful fiction from what seemed like an accurate representation of events and fact. I learned safety basics such as risky parts of the body to strike (kidneys, the tailbone, the neck, etc.), which led me to pursue other interests in anatomy.

Finally, together with my first kinky girlfriend, the two of us braved the real world together. We went to our very first BDSM-oriented meeting at The Eulenspiegel Society. It was a lecture-plus-demo-style presentation on flogging by the well-known Boymeat and his partner at the time, Luna.

“Not everyone plays this way,” I remember Boymeat saying with ernest while locking his gaze straight at my girlfriend and I, who—dressed in our casual cottons and Birkenstock sandals—stood out like a pair of sore thumbs in the crowd of some thirty-odd much older people wearing leathers, vests, and other black accoutrement. “Because we know one another,” Boymeat continued the caveats to his demo, “Luna and I play very roughly together.”

Little did he know at the time, but he didn’t need his caveats. When he began the demo and his flogger literally shoved Luna into the wall she was standing near, I was endlessly intrigued. Here, now, I could finally see with my own eyes everything that I’d been reading about for nearly a decade.

I realized that I could once and for all put to rest dozens of questions that I’d had about flogging and begin to answer dozens more. Watching, I remembered descriptions about flogging I’d read online and started cataloguing some as plausible and others as fantasy, distinctions I could not be confident of just twenty minutes prior. The experience of attending that presentation was invaluable, and for years following that attending similar presentations proved very rewarding for a lot of different reasons.

On a very personal level, spending time with other people who had similar desires as I did helped to legitimize my own thoughts and fantasies. It also showed me just how social an activity education really is. The vast majority of learning happens in the presence of either peers or teachers (or sometimes someone who is both). This is even more apparent in a community like ours that is heavily focused on physical, social experiences, either with a single partner or with a group.

Education, like sex and play, is a social activity—and learning can be very sexy. This makes face-to-face education even more valuable because, in addition to being the single most effective measure against accidents, abuse, and other negative consequences of ignorance, it can also provide opportunities to make friends and to network with others. At that first TES meeting I attended, I met Virgil, now former Vice-President of Columbia University of New York City’s BDSM discussion group called Conversio Virium, where a few years later I first met Eileen at a single tail demo I participated in.

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