Competitions within BDSM?
Competitions within BDSM?

LordSir Ninetails inspired me to write this post as he became the devil’s advocate in the replies under this post, which has been highly appreciated. and being the Devils advocate is always important and welcome.

It is totally correct that there are numerous competitions within the community – But if we look closely at them, they are mostly targeted at aesthetics (usually visuals) and technical aspects as they are easy to judge from a general framework of measurement. That sort of framework is impossible to apply to aftercare or processing. Competitions have a purpose to make the contestants known and recognized with in the BDSM community. Competitions also make BDSM more easily accessible to the general public as well.

Within this lies a danger as well. It is easy to get a skewed image that BDSM is all about being the best whipper/flogger within the community etc. I would strongly argue that competitions are not an integral part of the essence of BDSM. Their reason to exist is to create publicity, which is totally ok. Another reason for them to exist might be more economical, the organisers can draw a crowd that generate entrance fees, which is ok as well. A more important reason though for competitions within in BDSM is that they allow the community to teach the most stubborn participants a baseline of knowledge. Tell a stubborn dominant that he should practice his flogging in order do minimize dangers, and he/she will frown at you. Tell the same dominant that there is a flogging competition in town and he/she will read up on a lot of stuff and then flog the crap out of every cushion they know – They would even train so much that the cushions would start to beg for mercy.

Does this make them into an important part of BDSM? In order to sort out that question you need to decide on which perspective you want to take.

If it is possible to establish a framework that all aspect of BDSM can be judged from, then competitions are an integral part – But is that really possible? My hairdresser has a bundle of nice plaques and diplomas on his wall – They tell me he is skilled with the tools of his trade, but they doesn’t say anything about his customer skills and they don’t cover the whole spectrum of his creativity. A lot of elements within BDSM are subjectively judged, some of them are judged collectively by the Dominant and the submissive together (hence processing) and those aspects would be very hard to judge in any format that would involve any form of competitive element. One example is aftercare – Almost impossible to judge from an external point of view as the quality of it is judged by the shared experience between the Dominant and the submissive.

If competitions gives you the possibility to develop your selfexpression, then they are a fundamental part of BDSM – But there are other stages for selfexpression within BDSM. Public play is one of them and I would say that public play doesn’t take because people are in a sort of competitive mode. Exhibitionism should not be mistaken for “showing off”, enjoying that unknown random people are watching youflogging of your submissive is not competitive to me. I am an exhibitionist and I would say, based on my own feelings, that it is more about attention than recognition. I am also not so sure that people are necessarily comparing themselves against each other in a public play space, I know a lot of people that would label comparing to get inspiration instead.

But of course it happens that people spur of comments like “jeez, he is not that good at flogging, is he?” and other differentiating comments and to some extent its natural as people, in order to build a confidence, wants to make a difference between us and them. By doing that you can also define your own skills by comparison and this happens especially in contexts where there is a lack of mesaurable variables – Which leads me back to my original argument; There is a difficulty to measure a lot of things within BDSM and that makes competitions in to what they are: Only a small part of what BDSM probably is and they should be seen as that, nothing more or less.

So I would say, with a holistic approach in mind, that BDSM isn’t a competition and if you enter BDSM because you want to compete, then you might be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Competitions are an interesting phenomena within BDSM, they are fun to watch, they create a reason for people to get together – But BDSM wouldn’t cease to exist if competitions were taken out of the mix.


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