A Different Path
Alternative lifestyles exist because not everyone fits into the nice package that society tries to sell. Too many follow the path that we are indoctrinated with only to find it lacking. Many pursue this avenue for decades hoping something will change. All too often, it does not. People ultimately end up repeating the same mistakes. It is ironic that the names and faces change yet the people do not.
We see this debate presently fought out in the public arena over gay marriage. While not going into the merits of either side in this article, it is interesting to note how "those in charge" seem to want to dictate what normal is. For centuries, just being gay was enough to suffer extreme ostracization at best and death at worst. Obviously, society has come a long way since that point yet equality is not present. Again, the reason being is it still falls outside the bound of what is normal.
Most of us in BDSM understand this plight. We live a lifestyle that is also considered outside the realm of mainstream. While society has opened up to the idea with movies such as Secretary and the 50 Shades books, the truth is BDSM is still looked at as nothing more than a kink. Power exchange might be acceptable to some in the bedroom. However, equality is still the mantra espoused by masses.
Therefore, those who embraced their submissive or dominating side while choosing to structure his/her life around it is stepping outside the bounds of normalcy. Walking this path makes us different from everyone else. The reality is that most people tend to toe the line of what society conditions them for. Most people enter into heterosexual marriages which have a fairly even breakdown of power. They work traditional jobs to support their average, normal children. Overall, they are model citizens which is exactly what they are conditioned to be.
BDSM people are different in the fact that they consciously chose a different path. This is in direct opposition to those living how I just described. The majority never thought about why they made the decisions that they did. In fact, if you look closer, most did not make the decision. It was ingrained in them. Getting married is something that "everyone does". No thought required. Meet someone, fall in love, get married. Again, swallowing the cultural Kool Aid. People involved in BDSM drank from the same tap until they suddenly woke up one day. Since they found something lacking, they undertook the search to discover what was needed. It is in this process that they found a way of life which matched their inner desires. Fortunately, they also had the courage to follow those desires since the risk of being ostracized is great.
Power exchange, from a cultural perspective, is an interesting case. We all know the mantra is equality yet, as evidenced by gay marriage, equality goes only to those that the majority feel are deserving. At the same time, inequality is openly embraced. In the work place, equality is promoted based upon gender and race, yet we know that there is an inherent inequality since certain individuals are granted power over others. To start, the person signing the paycheck who also has the ability to fire has a lot more control than the one on the receiving end of that. Here we see an open exchange of power which most people do not think twice about. Yet we are led to believe that society is about equality. The facts simply do not bear this out.
Of course, when we turn to relationships, equality is the promoted outcome. There was a big movement in the 1960s to ensure that there was equality within relationships. Perhaps some of you will remember the burnings bras that took place in protest of the previous bias towards males within our culture. As we all know, this movement was successful which created a new "normal".
Which brings up the original idea of this post: What if your path to happiness does not lie in an equal breakdown of power? Obviously you are an individual who does not fit into the model of normalcy. We are taught that happiness is achieved by being involved in a loving relationship with another person (of the opposite sex) based upon the foundation of equality. Anything contrary to this idea is either outdated, perverted, or makes one weak (usually aimed at the females).
BDSM goes counter to the idea of equality. This is a lifestyle where relationships are structured on the fundamental premise of inequality. When one enters this realm, it is often a difficult transition to make. Remember, most have existed for decades under the idea of things being fairly split when it comes to power. The idea of total control (or no control) is a foreign one. Oftentimes, it is a challenge for people to adjust to the level of responsibility the comes along with these decisions. Again, it is not normal for someone to approach life in this manner according to our cultural standards.
The bottom line is that a relationship structure such as this is often the path to happiness for many. While there are many people who find happiness in the traditional model, those of us who are involved in BDSM opted for another way. Ultimately, no matter what society preaches, it is up to each individual to find the proper path for him or her. Life is not a practice test; we only get one shot at it. Make sure choices about how you want to live your life are conscious and not just following a belief that was instilled in you by society.
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