How to explain BDSM to your family – House of Dasein Kink Toys and Apparel
How to explain BDSM to your family

Starting Out -

How to explain BDSM to your family

(Original article from https://offbeathome.com/explain-bdsm-to-your-family/)

I've been writing about kink online for over a decade. Sometimes, like when discussing the loving depiction of BDSM in The Addams Family, I write under my name. Other times, like when explaining how to find a BDSM partner, I wrote under my pseudonym, Sloane Adelaide. Why did I use a pseudonym for those posts? Mostly so that when prospective employers Google my name, they didn’t find a photo of me in Domme gear. But that was 2013; I was under the impression that I’d eventually want a job that would frown upon things like that. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve realized that there’s nothing to be ashamed of as long as I keep it appropriate for the audience and circumstance.

Now I don’t mind writing academically or casually about kink and attaching my name to it. I've done a lot of research, I have a lot of knowledge, and I can speak authoritatively on the subject, so I'm happy to do so when asked. Do I talk about kink out of nowhere, with strangers or acquaintances, using “I” statements and sharing anecdotes? No. Never. Would I talk to my family about it? Would I be embarrassed? Would you? …Why?

The answer probably depends on what your impetus for raising the topic with your family is in the first place. Maybe your family is concerned about something they inferred from a conversation they overheard. Maybe your family is surprised at something you posted online. Regardless of what raised the topic, don't treat your parents like they've just woken from cryosleep after traveling from another galaxy and need everything Earth-related explained to them. It's important to give your family more credit. Just because you haven’t had a conversation with them about kink before doesn’t mean that they don’t know what it is, don’t already understand it, or don’t partake in it themselves.

They've probably heard of it

Remember though, that “perceived” is the key word; your family is more aware of the world's wide variety sexual tastes than you give them credit for. Of course, if they seriously have never heard of BDSM, consider just linking them to the Wikipedia article. And then they’ll say, “Oh! Like in (piece of media that is very well-known because kink is actually often-represented in popular media even if it's the butt of a joke or extremely poorly done). You can then decide if you’d like to educate them further or if that’s the end of the conversation.

But besides being asked point-blank "what's BDSM?" there are other reasons you might want to start the conversation with your family.

Encouraging openness

Feeling embarrassed about what gets you off disproportionately affects women and non-binary people.

Maybe you want to engage in open and honest dialogue with your family or friends in order to help normalize "non-traditional" sexual relationships. One of my greatest passions is encouraging women and non-binary folks to openly talk about their sexual tastes with those who consent to hearing about it in an effort to destigmatize these aspects of sexuality.

Feeling embarrassed about what gets you off disproportionately affects women and non-binary people. Finding supportive, consenting people with whom you can talk freely about sex is a positive and healthy experience. It can also be a very comforting way to explore a side of ourselves when we are not encouraged to be sexually independent or sexually active people the same way cis men are.

As a personal example, I felt more than comfortable telling my then-boss that I spent the Amazon Gift Card she gave me on a Hitachi Magic Wand. (Big ups, Ariel!) Talking to my colleagues in a non-work environment about all aspects of our relationships, not just the PG ones, has helped us all individually become more fully self-aware people — but it’s only possible because of our trust and friendship outside of work.

I am in no way advocating that everyone talk to their boss about their tastes in porn or what good deals they found for strap-ons online. Workplace sexual harassment is endemic, as we’ve seen in the media lately. Talking casually in the break room for acquaintances to overhear about your penchant for piss is deplorable. Sometimes I joke that I’m the most sex-repulsed pervert you’ll ever meet, because while I’m happy to talk to you about kink in the right place at the right time, I can’t stand those who make kinksters look bad by not respecting the boundaries of others. How bad of a look is it that you’re crossing someone’s hard limit while talking about how great of a Dom you are?

But our colleagues and friends are not our family. In Vice’s article, What It's Like to Tell Your Friends and Family About Your Fetish, a few people provide anecdotes of their experiences telling people about their kinky sides. Similar to my experience with my former boss, one interviewee had a very good experience talking about kink with her boss. Talking about kink with her sister, however, was a different story. Often times, people will express a worry that your fetishes are dangerous. This can be coming from a place of legitimate concern and should be respected. Unless you are opening up to these people in order to have a safe person to tell about your upcoming adventures so that if anything goes wrong they can be an emergency contact, consider keeping the details to yourself and your kinky friends only. Besides being concerned for your well-being, people might not want to hear about your kinks because they are, quite simply, repulsed by them. That's their prerogative. The interviewee goes on to give some general advice that we should all keep in mind: people have the right to not hear about the details of your sexual activities.

Deciding to share (or not)

This raises the question: should you be telling your parents about BDSM in the first place? The article "coming out kinky" on the Sex Geek blog is an absolute must-read, especially if you're worrying about how to reconcile being proud of your sexual identity and not over-sharing your particular kinks. The line should be obvious, but Sex Geek underscores it in saying that the people she chooses to talk to about her kink "actually want to know about it" and "are capable of processing it."

Do your friends and family actually want to know about it? Are they capable of processing it? Answer these honestly before you tell them anything about yourself. There's a reason people refer to as opening up as being kinky as "coming out," though I don't personally agree with that term. The reason is that many of us are also queer and have had to remain secretive about this aspect for reasons that are much more serious than whether or not I can talk about what kind kinks I have.

Do your friends and family actually want to know about it? Are they capable of processing it?

We might feel it's time to talk to our family about our kinks for a variety of reasons, some of which can just be practical. For safety reasons, it's a good idea to let someone know that you plan to be engaging in certain activities at certain times, so they can check in on you. In Margaret Corvid's article "Here's Why You Should Tell Your Friends and Family You're Into BDSM," she reminds us to "Be clear why you’re sharing — you’re not looking to shock, or to involve them in your sex life — you’re being honest for your own well being and safety."

But beyond logistical information for safety's sake, Sex Geek describes plenty of good reasons to talk about our kinks to our family and friends (and I would argue the world at large, if we are in the position of privilege to do so safely!). She explains that she talks to her mom about her kink to a certain extent because:

I want her to know I’m safe, and that the things I do with my partners, however far outside the norm of conventional sexual practice, are done consciously, consensually, and with caring and love. I want her to know that I am loved and supported, and that my kink, far from isolating me and marginalizing me, has in fact brought me into wonderful and fulfilling relationships with kind and thoughtful people. […]

Do I want her to know the specifics of what makes me come? Well, if you can find me a good reason why that information would help her understand and respect me, I might consider it. Until then, that’s quite simply none of her business.

If, after considering that your parents aren't chaste virgins who have never seen television after 7pm, you still feel embarrassed talking to your closest about your kink(s), it’s time to ask yourself why. Is it rooted in a shame you feel about having these kinks? Is it because you’re worried your friends and family don’t understand them, and can’t possibly? Is it because you’re living a lie and don’t actually know anything about kink but wish you were more interesting?

Any of these reasons would point to a different underlying cause of which embarrassment about talking to your parents about BDSM is only a symptom. Exploring these deeper feelings can help you come to terms with shame that might exist well beyond your kinks, and I suggest doing so with the help of professionals.

And of course, there's a very real chance that talking with your family could turn out negatively. lunaKM on SubmissiveGuide.com offers lots of great advice on what to do in this case. It's amazing what you can find online if you research a couple keywords.

But if you are secure in your preferences and proclivities, and you want to start an open and honest dialogue with those closest to you, seek their consent, keep the details to yourself, and remember that they have the right to ask questions or stop the conversation, just as you do. There's nothing to be embarrassed about when consenting, capable adults have honest conversations.

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Real life examples from kinksters who did decide to come out or accidentally did! (From https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/yvx8dw/what-its-like-to-tell-your-friends-and-family-about-your-fetish)

For many people, coming out is a process of revealing their true identity—whether it's being gay, trans, or a Democrat in Texas. It isn't always easy, and there isn't a pre-written script explaining how to do it, but coming out can be freeing.

When you have a sexual fetish, though, should you always "come out" about it? How do you decide who to tell and from who to keep it a secret? And when you do decide to tell someone, what's the best way to explain: "Mom, Dad... I like to be electrocuted during sex"?

We posed these questions to a few people who have come out about their fetishes. Some are publicly out (and working in fetish porn), while others have only told their closest circles.

Thendara

Some of my kink interests are bondage, impact play, and electrical play. A few quick definitions: Impact play is when one person is struck by another person for sexual gratification; electrical play (also known as erotic electrostimulation) is like impact play, but with electrical toys that give off a jolt of energy to your body parts.

I first discovered my fetishes some 20 years ago, while going through a divorce. I was actively chatting with people in online chat forums, and I went to my first dungeon party—a place for people with various kinks to gather and openly express themselves. It was just mind-blowing. Some of the stuff I saw shocked me, repulsed me, but also turned me on. Through this dungeon, I got to know a lot of people, and discovered they were regular people who just had an unusual hobby.

After that, I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to tell everyone. I was working in a commercial insurance job, and I even told my boss, who was also a friend of mine. It turned out she had a kinky history too. So for special occasions after that, she'd get me gift cards to a local kink store.

I also came out to my sister. I figured since she had had multiple partners in college and seemed open, she would be fine with this news. "Someone wrapped me up in saran wrap, cut out holes, and used ice on me," I told her. She told me that my kink was "dangerous." After that, we never talked about it again. She still has no desire to hear about my lifestyle. If I had known it would upset her, I wouldn't have told her.

Now, I'm more conscious of whom to come out to. I don't come out to someone unless I have received some kind of encouragement to do so; I also feel that my friends and family have the right to not know this side of me. It doesn't bother me that talking openly about fetishes is off-limits information for lots of people because for me, this is a bedroom activity, not a 24/7 lifestyle.

Kevin

I'm told that when I was still only about one years old, I was obsessed with pulling the diapers off the boy next door. Freud wrote about toddlers getting stuck in the "anal stage," and I guess that was me. When I was a little older, I dared the boy next door to take off his clothes, bend over, and spread his cheeks so I could see what was between them. I'm not sure it was a "dare" as much as it was my own sheer curiosity. And when I saw an asshole for the first time that day, I might as well have heard hosts of angels singing. He turned around and saw I had an erection.

I'm a gay man who's obsessed with butts... but I'm not interested in fucking them. I like licking, spanking, and fisting them. I like poking them with electro zapping thingamajigs and plugging them with fruits and vegetables and opening them up with proctology kits. I like playing with rim chairs and enema bags—and I'm not afraid of a mess—but that standard way of playing doesn't do it for me. For a while, I kept that a secret, since gay men nowadays seem so obsessed with conformity and either/or-ing, and the vast majority use language on Grindr and other apps like "TOTAL TOP!" or "100 PERCENT BOTTOM!" as if there isn't a single sexual activity gay men have discovered besides inserting a penis into an anus.

I host a podcast called RISK! where people tell true stories they never thought they'd dare to share in public. About a year and a half into the show's history, someone dared me to go to Dark Odyssey, a kink camp in Maryland, for a weekend. I did, and it was a transcendent experience for me. I came home and created a 90-minute true story called "Kevin Goes to Kink Camp" for the podcast. It was the most "out" I'd ever been about any part of my sex life up to that point—not only to the strangers who listen to my podcast, but my friends.

My parents don't know about my fetish. They don't know how to download podcasts, so they're not exposed to RISK! I think they're mainly just thrilled that I'm finally doing something that is successful and meaningful, even if they don't wanna know all the nitty gritty.

Hundreds of people have reached out to say that the RISK! podcast has saved their lives. We get emails almost every day saying things like, "I was feeling suicidal... but then I heard that story and realized I'm not such a freak after all," or, "I never thought I had anything in common with people who do such-and-such a kinky activity, but the emotional journey you took me through left me feeling changed."

Latex

I started pony play at age nine. I tied myself up every night with a wire "bit" in my mouth. I kept a large mound of wire under the bed. My amateur radio hobby was a coverup excuse for the wire.

As an adult, I first came out to a close colleague at work. We were on a business trip and were a little drunk. I was thrilled to find he shared similar interests, but it was a huge risk that could have backfired badly. I'm glad it turned out wonderfully, but I don't think I would do it again, as it could have ruined my career.

My brother, on the other hand, found out by accident. He saw some pictures of pony play on my computer. I explained what it was, but my brother didn't take it well. He said that I'm welcome to do what I want, but he didn't ever want to see that again. The rest of my family knows, but does not want to hear about it.

Lance

The first fetish I was aware of was pantyhose. I was probably four when my mom dragged me to her jazzercise classes. I had to sit in a mini-van with all her friends in their leotards and pantyhose. Then, at 12, someone told me an urban myth about a bunch of cheerleaders holding down a guy from their high school and fucking his ass with a broom stick. The story really turned me on. I wasn't masturbating yet, but I remember feeling something that I knew was horny. Later, I developed fetish interests for women wearing pantyhose, fishnets, and spandex; women arousing men while hurting them; and things like sissification (a form of erotic humiliation in which a man is feminized and emasculated) and bimboification (like sissification, but sluttier).

When I was 23, a friend of mine saw my internet browser history, which I guess "outed" me. The friend thought it was hilarious, but I was embarrassed and very defensive at the time. I was like, "I like normal porn too," when I was mostly jerking off to fetish porn. I was worried he'd tell other people, it would become a joke, and that girls would lose interest in me. I didn't want women to think, He's only going to want me to fuck him with a strap-on. I was worried people wouldn't understand.

I wasn't fully "out" until a particularly rough breakup with a girl, at which point I was just like, Fuck it. What's the point of pretending I'm someone else? I started a fetish porn company, and I filmed clips of me being kicked in the balls, jerked off, and fucked in the ass by women in pantyhose. I put them all over the internet, and I made a lot of money that way.

After the business took off, I told my brother and sister-in-law. They were surprisingly cool about it. My brother mostly just wanted to know I was being safe and legal. We both agreed to keep it from our parents.

Not long after that, my parents came to visit and were asking lots of questions like, "What are you doing for work?" and "How are you making money?" I was purposely vague, telling them I was selling software—something I did for a while before porn—but they put things together. I can't remember if they googled me or someone sent them a link, but they found out. The first scene they saw was me getting fucked by a trans lady, and they freaked out. Eventually they came around, and we're fine now, but they asked me to never bring it up again.

I don't think it's a choice to be turned on by stuff, but it's totally a choice who you tell. You don't have to tell everyone. You can still scratch that kinky itch behind closed doors.


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