When we read a book many of us will judge it to be good or bad based on how deeply we're able to "feel" the experience. When we suspend our beliefs and engage in several hours of fictional fun, does it embed an experience in our subconscious mind and begin to create belief systems that play out in our lives? Is this perhaps how so many individuals who are searching for various answers come to possess unrealistic expectations when exploring BDSM?
Many individuals seek further knowledge of their sexual desires over the internet and by researching through books. This has become almost a main stream practice for novices entering our communities. This is one reason why the discussion of the realities of SM, BDSM, D/s, and M/s versus Fiction occurs often and is taught by many esteemed teachers at events across the country. Perhaps their very research becomes some part of their reality and the line between reality and illusion thins.
If the veil between reality and fiction does thin, the dangers of such thought are rampart. We've all heard the horror stories of abused novices who made poor choices in their first top. We have even developed codified language and symbols regarding this phenomenon- a collar of protection is a perfect example of what has developed. So other than a certain ignorance in judging character, why does this lack of judgment occur in adults who have had practice choosing friends and lovers most of their lives?
Is there a difference between the novice who believes that all Masters will be like the ever-desirable pleasure slave trainer Ninon from Laura Antoniou's Marketplace series and a woman who believes that if she gets married that the fairy tale with her prince will begin? Yes and no.
Sometimes when an inexperienced person is searching for their princess or prince, they are full of hope based on the illusion of how good they believe this relationship will magically be. They are relatively inexperienced if they still hold a belief system that says once you're in a relationship, any relationship, it will all be good and wonderful. It is experience that teaches them that the illusion isn't true and doesn't work. It is then that this person must settle down to the realties of a working, viable, and occasionally difficult, relationship.
I believe that many of the novices who search for their sexual identities may have already kissed several frogs. Perhaps they have gone to therapy regarding their disillusionment of the magical properties of relationships. Having done so they are now firmly seated in the reality that relationships, while magical at times, take work. Now, they have learned more about themselves and are willing to deal with their sexuality and relationships differently. They go seeking their desires, find a community, learn a bit about BDSM, and seemingly the world of possible connections/relationships is new again. Something magical might take place-they become innocent again because the types of options and relationships found in BDSM are different from anything they have seen before. This innocence and wide-eyed desire to ascertain their newfound BDSM pleasure might lead to unrealistic choices.
After all, innocence is appealing. It is a place that we have not yet utilized the shelves that will hold various pieces of baggage with ex's names on each individual bag. Innocence is a place of trust. When one has such deep trust one's ability to experience loving feelings and joy is exponentially increased. Who wouldn't wish to rediscover the perhaps now foreign country of your own innocent heart? The possibilities of such openness do have their allure.
I believe it is this very innocence and newness that allows otherwise savvy adults to leave behind everything they know of people in general and more specifically what they have learned regarding adult relationships. Their new BDSM experiences allow them to rediscover their open hearts and later the devastation of first heart breaks anew. Their newfound innocence allows them to believe again in the fairy tales they have read and their subconsciously absorbed belief systems from those fairy tales support those beliefs. I do believe that if this attraction to innocence were not in place the absorbed subconscious ideology presented in fiction would never have enough power to eradicate the learned lessons of living/loving the conscious mind retains.
We believe because we want too. We need heroes, good guys, and to have faith that we will find a place of satisfaction. Books are a wonderful way to experience hero's, good guys, and bolster our faith that we may also find the perfect D/s, M/s, play partner match. So while I do believe books influence us in many ways, I think we have to stop blaming some of the fabulous writers who have provided good reads for the poor decisions of novices. It is our own needs, wants, and longings that send novices deep into unrealistic situations. It is the strength of our core needs that allow novices to retake the ground of innocence and for a time believe that illusion and fantasy are possible.
© Copyright 2005 Catherine Gross, please contact Catherine for all permissions to distribute.
Appeared first in Leather Journey, July 2006