The Comfort Zone

The recent pondering I’ve done about reaching out and bringing scene people together has got me thinking about the notion of comfort. Exactly how comfortable do people need to be?

The world is a big place full of lots of different people. I walk down the street or, like I’m doing right now, sit in a Starbucks and I’m surrounded by lots of people, most of whom have little in common with me other than where we live and the fact that they are humans like me. I go to work and I’m surrounded by many people who have nothing in common with me. I go to a party or the club and rub elbows with some folks who share my kink and others who practice and enjoy other flavors. Wherever I am, there are people of all shapes, ages, classes and education levels and I have no choice but to accept them for what they are and just deal with the fact that they are around.

The scene is full of everyone you could imagine — a microcosm of the real world albeit with a twist. That twist is the thing that ties so many of us together in a way that might not exist without it. That’s one of the things I most love about the scene, the feeling of camaraderie or community that’s created just because people share a kink. I know there are divisions of opinion on things and that some people feel strongly one way or another on a host of issues. I also know that there are personality clashes that crop up from time to time. There are also those who feel that certain kinds of people are those that they’d rather not mix with for whatever reason. There’s nothing particularly strange or unique about these thoughts — they are human. My feeling about it, however, comes down to one word: Tough.

The scene is a big place and, frankly, if you want to be in it, you’re going to have to sometimes deal with people you’d rather not deal with. It’s just incumbent upon all of us not to blow things out of proportion just because they don’t fit into a narrow viewpoint. This is something I struggle with all the time. I like the scene (for the most part) and like to meet people and have new friends — being insular would get in the way so I keep those kinds of thoughts in check for my own good.

Now I’m not talking about intrusions that are beyond mere annoyances. I won’t and don’t put up with anyone who thinks it is OK to intrude on me or anyone else. In my book, that’s a person who is asked to leave and then not asked back. Getting along with each other no matter who we are is about respect. Those who are respectful of their fellow kinksters are good upstanding members of the community — those who are not will find themselves a party of one very quickly.

A comfort zone is something that each person has to work to create and sometimes that means having to be tolerant of different ideas and people even though you’d really rather not.

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11 Responses to “The Comfort Zone”

  1. The very first person I met in the scene was someone who – I discovered later – had a lot of trouble getting along with others in the scene. All I knew, unfortunately, was what this particular individual told me . . . at least until I got some experience under my belt.

    I haven’t even been in the scene all that long – just a couple years. But, that’s long enough to go through a complete cycle of bewilderment, gushing enthusiasm, excitement, resentment, boredom, anger, reconciliation, and acceptance. In that time two realizations stand out, both of which are still entirely relevent. The first is that it is a wonderful, magical, thing to have a community of fellow spankos who “get it” (who understand one’s needs and desires) and with whom one can be totally honest in a way that is impossible with anyone outside of the community. The second is what you said, Rad.

    In order to stay happy – or at least, at peace – among a diverse group community, many of whom we may not otherwise share much in common with, it is necessary to keep the first realization in mind. Once taken for granted, a person tends to forget why they were drawn into the scene in the first place.

    • radagast Says:

      Quite honestly, I like diversity and I like the scene as well. There are people that I sometimes don’t think quite fit into a particular situation but as long as they have not done anything to me personally (and that means those close to me as well), I don’t have a reason to be exclusionary.

  2. Like all things, isn’t this all relative to what one believes is an annoyance vs an intrusion? Because, even one or the other can be due to communication issues due to one person, or more, being “different”. Fuel that with possibly crossing the wrong — and powerful — person, and that stigma can stay with you, with extra exaggerated “offenses” made up to boot. I’ve seen this on more than one occasion, once even against a very popular and well-liked member of the scene simply because of one Top’s jealousy over a bottom who paid attention to the bloke.

    The scene reminds me a lot of high school, to be honest. Or middle school. You’re either in with this clique, or you’re not…..or somewhere in between where your presence is simply tolerated. But the main reason you’re not in with the “clique” is because you don’t act or communicate or think in the exact same fashion as the status quo. And when you blunder, everyone knows it — it spreads like wildfire except in telephone, where the last person to hear it has you killing and eating little babies and speaking of it as if it was witnessed firsthand when in fact, you misinterpreted something said or done due to a different way of thinking.

    Me, I don’t care about it all. MY experience with someone is what matters to ME, not the whisperings and such or the political game of shunning someone who happened to piss off someone who has particular pull in the scene. If my experience with a person is an uncomfortable one, I steer clear — completely clear — and let others decide for themselves if they can tolerate that personality better than I can. Or, if I understand why they may be a certain way (having a special needs child has opened my eyes that people who seem “creepy” are not necessarily truly “creepy”), I adjust myself around them temporarily if it’s not too tiresome (isn’t that what tolerance is??) and be as direct as possible with my expectations.

    I like to say that I am tolerant of others, but I have been guilty of making judgments based on someone being “off” without really giving someone much chance (the real reason, as I will freely admit, is I have little patience for those too different than I am, for too long)

    Where am I going with this? I’ve forgotten (damn kids interrupting. I know, I shouldn’t be perving while they’re about. BAD me.))

    Tolerance is all well and good in theory — but it’s really rarely applied, I’ve come to find out, and I am not talking simply in the scene.

    g.

    • radagast Says:

      Thank you for your lengthy and interesting response. No one is tolerant to any great degree without working at it. Even the most inclusive people must have feelings that they know are not right — they have to push them back down by force of will.

      Yes, there are people I steer clear from but I don’t openly try to shun them — that would be excessive in my book.

    • ginger,

      the High School/Middle School analogy makes a lot of sense. One reason is that for some people in the spanking scene (such as myself), the group experience of socializing with the opposite sex was inhibited during the teen years due to the inability to express and share the common sexual link of spanking. Those rituals – coming out, dating, and mating are tumultuous. I’m increasingly of the opinion that for some people (such as myself) being in the Spanking scene, even at an older age, can be their true initial period of growing up, in the dating/mating social sense. I cop to being immature in this regard, much like a Middle School/High School kid.

    • . . . ginger, by the way, the link to your blog doesn’t work. Do you have a different URL?

  3. I find myself nodding vigorously at ginger’s words. I often feel that this scene IS a big clique..although that word means different things to different people.

    I also think it’s a sad fact of human nature that we ARE all rather judgemental.

    Being that we can’t really change what others think of us, it’s then simply up to us as individuals to decide if we give a rat’s behind if we ‘care’ or not.

    Many of us SAY we don’t care what ‘the rest’ think but..I think we do. If not, there’s an elemental level of human empathy missing.

    Let’s face it.. the scene can be a VERY lonely place if you have no partner, or are looking for one (whether for casual play or maybe long term romance or anything in between) and are met with closed doors..for whatever reason.

    It’s not anyone’s ‘job’ to be a hand-holder but….I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to not be a newcomer at this stage of the game in the scene.

    • radagast Says:

      I was a newcomer at age 41 and got extremely lucky that I had a personality that people resonated with and lucky that I met Sandy who was the perfect guide into this world.

    • @Lisa,

      I can say I don’t care honestly! That doesn’t mean I don’t care what ANYONE thinks, cuz I do care about what people whom I respect and like think about me. But those I don’t like or respect or don’t know from Adam….on a personal level, I actually don’t care much what their opinion of me is.

      I think there are different levels of caring, tho (just as there are different levels of tolerance)…lol. When an anonymous makes a comment on my blog or on a discussion forum about something I said that I feel may have been misinterpreted, I “care” cuz it’s public and I wanna be clear on what I actually meant. On personal levels tho, I shrug. For instance, just recently someone made private statements to be based on something I disagreed with in a discussion on a forum, and did indeed stoop to a couple of personal jabs. My response was to shrug – cuz I don’t actually care about or respect this person — and not waste time on a response since what she thinks actually does not mean anything to me. 🙂

      g.

  4. I can remember being at Paddles a few months ago, and friends were having a BDSM Scene, and other friends caught wind of this, and went back and told other people that “you have to see this”, and went on to make fun of the first set of friends. I hate that. I figure that my kink is my kink, and other folks kink is their kink, and while we might not agree, we can all have fun. We don’t all have to like the same thing, but as long as we aren’t expected to participate, we can accept what is different. (That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it!)

    • This reminds me of an acronym that I have seen used on the soc.sexuality.spanking newsgroup often enough over the years: “YKINMK (your kink is not my kink) but it’s OK”. Anyone that has ever spent 5 minutes on the SSS newsgroup can see that it’s very diverse, with many different styles and opinions not only on the scene, but life in general. On any given day you can probably find a… debate (ok, sometimes it’s an out and out flame war) on anything from political views to shoe size, but the one thing that most people by and large tend to agree on is that so long as someone’s kink is consensual and between adults it’s OK. I have watched the fiercest shoe size debaters stop and come into full agreement on the issue of YKINMK.

      Paddles reminds me a lot of the sss newsgroup. You’re going to run into people from all walks of life with a world of different views and opinions, and varying levels of interest in the scene. People come out and join groups and clubs to be part of a community where they can safely be themselves and explore their kink among others who just get them, or at the very least understand what it’s like to hide a kinky interest for most of their lives.

      When I first started going to the club I remember hearing the phrase “No judgements”, and I like to think for the most part that it’s true. You don’t have to get along with every one, you don’t have to like everything they are into, you don’t even have to understand it for that matter, but when there is mocking coming from within your own community, is it really any different then, say, engaging in spanking in a vanilla setting?

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