Given my recent ranty post about having ‘children’ listed as a hard limit, I am now going to ask a question that hits hard up against that rant.
What age does someone have to be before it ok to talk to them about *their interest* in BDSM? I use the emphasis there because I am making a distinction between young people being coerced and young people who HAVE this interest, they have these feelings and they don’t know what to do with them, or where to go with them, or who they can talk to, or where they can find information… etc.
I know there are a lot of people involved in BDSM who say that their interests started when they were children, before they understood what it meant to ask their little friends to tie them up, but they knew that it made them feel ‘funny’.
When I was a kid and still playing with Barbie and Ken dolls, I played out rape scenes and I knew it turned me on. I guess I was 12 or so. I knew it was ‘wrong’ (my sister was disgusted when she caught me and refused to let me commit that horror on her Barbies ever again!), and I was ashamed, even while I found it exciting.
Given kids are sexually active well before ‘adulthood’ (in the US, 27% of boys aged 15 and 23% of girls aged 15 have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner *), what do we do with those kids who come looking for information about BDSM before they are of legal age? Do we practice the ‘just say no’ mantra with regard to information because they are ‘too young’?
Am I too young to be interested? Especially because I’m a girl? I generally feel very alone, in this. Like there aren’t other people like me, or at least now, at my age… And I just keep thinking ‘I can’t wait until I’m 18′ when it would be more okay to ask or talk about.
Where does she get good, balanced, intelligent advice from if she is not allowed to talk to the very people who are able to give it to her because she is not yet an adult and therefore doesn’t have direct access to adult resources?
So, a little story from my personal experience. Many years ago when I was on IRC (yes, that long ago!), I came across a 17yo boy who, for obvious reasons, didn’t reveal his age until we had been talking for some time. He refused to be dissuaded from his desperation to ‘get into the community’ despite my best efforts, and I knew that in this sub frenzy, he would not be able to make the right decisions to keep himself safe. He was going to do it with or without me, so I had a choice to either wash my hands of him and leave him to his own devices or do my best to guide him and keep him safe. I chose the latter.
I met up with him, and essentially took him under my wing, to educate him as well as I could, to introduce him to some gentle aspects of D/s, and to keep him safe. To the outside world, he was ‘mine’ in the sense that I was his Domme, I took him to munches and events as ‘mine’, he knelt at my feet while there in public, and he served me (in a non sexual way) with little chores and gentle D/s interplay in private.
I look back with hindsight, and I think I was naive in a lot of ways, and would probably handle it differently now, but at the time, my primary concern was that if it wasn’t me who took him under my wing, it would be someone else who perhaps would not have his best interests at heart.
So there’s the question… what do we do with these non-adults who are already sexually active, very sexually aware, who feel this way, who carry the weight of ‘wrongness’ on their shoulders and don’t know where to go for help and information? How old is ‘old enough’? Where do we point them? How do we help them?
Scarleteen seems to be the only English speaking internet resource specifically for young people that includes both information and a discussion forum. I sent them an email asking about BDSM information specifically, and Heather Corinna came back with the following:
We have a few articles focused on BDSM issues specifically, but then also some general articles that (like most of our articles) are inclusive of BDSM and would probably be helpful. Here’s a list for you to get started with:
• Working the kinks out (D/s)
• When sex goes wrong (bondage)
• Can I like BDSM and still be a feminist?
• Talking about sex with a partner
• What is ‘sex’?
• Navigating consent
• Yes/No/Maybe List