Savage Love | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Savage Love

The kink community is NOT a utopia of ultimate sexual enlightenment.

I'm what was once quaintly called a "woman of a certain age" who started reading your column to broaden my horizons. As a result, I summoned the courage to join an online BDSM dating site. I got a response almost immediately from a man who proceeded to tell me my name would henceforth be Sub, advised me that he was to be addressed as His Majesty King Something, and ordered me to phone him. This was too much, too fast, and too weird. I gave him what I thought was a plausible excuse for my decision not to proceed to avoid hurting his feelings. He wouldn't take no for an answer. I tried blocking him, but he seemed to have several identities on the same site. I deactivated my account. So now I'm in a quandary as to where to seek out other options — preferably options that are safer and not so ritualistically restrictive.

Fear Of Flying

"When folks first decide to explore a curiosity in kink or BDSM, one of the things I let them know is that this loose band of variegated kinky types — the kink community — is NOT a utopia of ultimate sexual enlightenment," said Mollena Williams, a kinky author, activist and blogger. "The kink community is a microcosm of the broader society. The same creeps, jerks and assholes on standard dating sites are on BDSM-centric sites. And some will utilize the trappings of consensual kink to nonconsensually slime people."

What Williams means by "slime" is "manipulate, intimidate and potentially abuse." Creepy assholes will seek out younger and/or less experienced subs like you, because older and/or more experienced subs are more likely to recognize his behavior for the red flag it is — and tell him to fuck off.

So what can you do? "Block the trolls," said Williams, "and seek out the awesome folks who are also hanging out at sites like,, and A kink-friendly profile on a non-kink site is another option. I met my current dominant partner on OkCupid because my profile reveals that I happen to be a big old pervert. Kinky folks are everywhere!"

You also have offline options. "She can find local events by checking out Caryl's BDSM Page ( or by joining FetLife and searching events in her area," said Williams. "She can attend munches, which are nonsexual social meet-and-greets, and classes are good places to meet people who are experienced." Getting to know kinksters face-to-face doesn't offer total protection from creeps, "but it's a great way to get feedback, recommendations and ever-important warnings. Dating in the kink world is no different than dating in the default world. You don't have to drop your drawers because you're told to. You don't have to spank someone because they're insisting they NEED it. Always meet on an equal footing first. Get to know potential partners and THEN decide if you've got enough in common to proceed."

Two suggestions from me: Get a copy of Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities by Mollena Williams and Lee Harrington, and follow Williams on Twitter @Mollena.

I'm a bi girl and have been with my girlfriend for nearly 10 years. We discovered a love of BDSM and we've had lots of fun exploring. Until now. I am a natural sub, but my girlfriend asked to switch and for me to dominate her. I have tried half a dozen times, but afterward — or sometimes during a scene — she tells me it isn't working. She says it's not about my actions but about my "tone." I feel guilty and depressed because I can't seem to return the pleasure she gave me when our roles were reversed.

Giving Up On BDSM

Either your technique and style are both lousy — maybe every fiber of your being is (subconsciously) screaming "I hate this role" during a scene — or your girlfriend is one of those BDSM switches who has a difficult time submitting to someone she knows, loves, wakes up next to every morning, gets into arguments with about bills, etc. It might be better if she subbed for someone else, while continuing to dominate you.

I am married to a man who is into BDSM. I am happy to do lighter stuff, but I am not interested in squeezing into a corset and using a flogger on him. So I gave him permission to visit a pro. The pressure was off me, he was getting what he needed, our relationship and sex life improved. But I had no idea how much pros cost! He has been going to see a pro twice a month and spends $200+ on each visit! I expected that he would go a few times a year and that these "sessions" would cost $100. We are supposed to be saving to buy a home! I asked him to cut back and see someone cheaper, and he became angry and defensive. What's a reasonable number of times to see a pro? What's a reasonable rate? What about a couple's plans for the future?

He Spent More Than I Thought

Two hundred dollars a session isn't unreasonable when you consider that corsets, floggers, bondage gear and dungeon spaces do not come cheap. But unless money is no object, blowing $400+ a month is unreasonable and unfair. That's $4,800+ a year, which could go a long way toward a down payment on a house. Since there aren't many pro doms who work for $100 an hour — or many partners as understanding as you — your husband should think about cutting back, getting a second job or winning the lottery.

But here's something for you to think about: You say those sessions have improved your relationship and your sex life. If your husband were spending $100 a week to see a shrink — $5,200 a year — and you were seeing those results, would you object?

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