Re-caste-ing Alternative Sexuality: A Class Analysis of Social Status in the BDSM Scene by maymay

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ABSTRACT: Why are there significantly fewer bottoms than tops holding recognizable leadership positions in BDSM communities? Why does a newcomer who plays with another well-known player, the BDSM community equivalent of “sleeping one’s way to the top,” earn that person disproportionate community acceptance so quickly? Why are those who “play around” this way more likely to appropriate the traits of a bottom than a top? These questions (among others) betray an uncomfortable reality within many subcultures: the nature of their self-identity—the very way they oppose the mainstream—actually replicates certain elements they decry as flawed in the culture they supposedly subvert. In this talk, maymay examines the effects this reality has on individuals’ social status within the BDSM subculture. Here, one’s sexual role or one’s access to coveted resources (like luxury or “designer” toys) figure even more prominently than the more obvious systems of inequality in mainstream culture, such as gender or race. Similarly, if one’s affinity or distaste for the subculture’s symbolism (eg, laughing during dungeon play) doesn’t match the prevailing social norm, they’re positioned in a minority within the minority—they are viewed as a member of a sub-cultural caste. What can we learn from comparing common behaviors in a subculture to their “overculture” counterparts? What elements of the BDSM community’s discourse challenge the caste-like hierarchy and what elements reinforce it
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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