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I almost hesitate to write this rant. Not because it isn't just, but because it is around a topic that's been discussed and debated and ranted about and for and tossed around so many times that I really think it has become the scene's dirty heirloom that no one really knows what to do with.

What am I talking about? Old Guard, of course! (Well, kind of.)

Rant Number 2 - "Do the whatever the hell you want and keep me out of it."

I heard a keynote speech recently that brought up one of my favorite topics of all time... "leather traditions." I love this phrase so much, because it has just about as much literal meaning as "somewhere," or "something," or "maybe." Terminology that references nothing in specific, and is mindbogglingly vague. And yet, whenever it is said out loud, we're all supposed to know what it means and what it is in reference too.

Anyways, this speech referenced the importance of leather traditions - honoring them, remembering them, fostering their continued existence. All fine and dandy, heard before, yadda yadda yadda. And then of course, we had to go into an "us vs. them" discussion.

Everytime this topic comes up, there is usually a scapegoat. Something to point a finger at and say "here is where we went wrong!" and "this is what killed SM!" And what was it this time? Oh, just a small thing we call the Internet.

Of course.

Because the internet fosters an "anything goes mentality."

Because the internet has killed the screening process that the scene once had and has replaced it with easy open access.

Because the internet has made the scene frivolousness, and steps away from the days when play was work and toys were tools.

Of course.

Am I the only one who is tired of this speech? Surely, I can't be.

The internet is the scapegoat for today, just like SM education groups, phone sex lines, newspaper ads, etc. have been the culprits before. Any single time there is an entry point into alternative sexuality that wasn't around before, those who didn't have access to it yell that it is destroying the scene and all that was good with it.

Here is a fresh outlook on the whole Old Guard/New Guard debate for ya. Forget leather. Forget SM. Forget any of those classic concepts that we indentify with so closely. Because you know what it all boils down to? Sex.

We all approach our sexuality differently. We all have our tastes, our desires, our preferences. Whether from a biological need, or a psychological need, or just simple curiosity, we make choices on the types of sex we want to have and with who. We choose "lifestyles" based on what feels right and what gets us off. We all do.

But of course, yours is better than mine, isn't it? Because you've been doing it for 10, 20, 30 years longer than I have. Yours was right, mine is wrong!

Fuck you.

Am I saying you're doing it wrong? Am I telling you that your leather traditions suck, and that we should just do away with the whole bunch? Am I telling you that my way of having sex has replaced your way of having sex? That my way of living my life has replaced yours?

No. I'm not. So stop fucking saying it to me.

Or maybe you're scared. Maybe you're scared that there are less and less people doing it your way, and there are more and more people doing it mine. I dunno. Hell, I'm just about in the same boat with you! I've been around for 13 years - a mere 13 years! - and already I sometimes feel archaic. I remember the way I did things, the places I've been, the way I learned how to do what I do. And I look at the folks today in awe and shock.

I didn't pick up a cane until I was 22. I didn't hit someone with a singletail until I was 23. Blood and scalpels? 24. I got into this thing we call Leather/SM when I was 19. I bought my first leather vest when I was 19, pants at 20, chaps at 21. It took me years to play as heavy as I do now! (Don't quote me on those numbers... it's been so long I can't really remember!!!)

Today people are doing it at 18, 19, 20. There are people 10 years my younger who when wielding a singletail make me look like I am trying to wrestle with a garden hose. They're blowing me away. They're playing harder, faster, and creating even more complicated forms of relationships and power dynamics and poly groups - and my mind REELS when observing them.

And I love it. Because it is forcing me to evolve. It's opening my eyes up to new ways, new ideas, new techniques, new energy, new relationships. New people. New things. It's scary... and it's awesome.

Evolve
. There is that word again.

The Old Guard is upset because they are dinosaurs. Because they are a dying breed. And I get that. And while I feel bad for you, I encourage you to live your life openly and do what you want however the fuck you want.

And while you're doing that, stop disenfranchising me and let me do things however the fuck I want too.

Because me? I'm watching others do their thing too. And just imagine how cool it would be if we were all in the same room, all doing whatever the fuck we wanted, and getting off on each other's scenes? Pretty damn cool.

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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eric_mathgeek
Mar. 6th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Am I the only one who is tired of this speech? Surely, I can't be.

HELL NO, you're not the only one.

I was just telling something this morning, when someone claims "Old Guard tradition" like it should make them more trustworthy or imply that they're more versed in what they do -- I'm *less* likely to trust them, or at least I'm more wary about it. Their values are not mine.

I love you, you know. (I know I'm not the only one, either, hah!)
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
We choose "lifestyles" based on what feels right and what gets us off.

I chose Trojans. /juvenile snicker.

Because me? I'm watching others do their thing too. And just imagine how cool it would be if we were all in the same room, all doing whatever the fuck we wanted, and getting off on each other's scenes? Pretty damn cool.

It would be... but you know, we'd have to get over ourselves to do it. We'd have to realize that because there is a pussy/cock/ugly in the room we're not going to be not gay/straight/pretty (or we'd have to get over ourselves, and buck up and play even if the people around us aren't hot (to us))

We'd/You'd have to tackle the idea inherent to community that "proximity reinforces identity" regardless of activity.

We'd also have to expand our idea of sexy, and suspend our judgments of other people play and play methodology. But you know -- its too much fun to police these borders because we have a political agenda and standards and a sense of tradition (whatever that is) to uphold!

So, theoretically, that which gives the leather community that sense of place, history, and legitimizes the kinked desires, is what has inevitably blocked "the scene" from being able to play together. (I think anyway)

boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I hear you there on the difficulties of play spaces for all. Lord knows that's another discussion that's been beat harder than a horse.

But I think play serves as a good metaphor for just existing in the same weekend event as everyone else. I left this out of my rant (mostly because I could have included the kitchen sink and still not have run out of content)... this particular speech I am referencing basically gave the sense of "if you are not traditional leather, you do not belong at this event." Normally, these sort of things don't bother me. I've heard so many speeches about old guard/new guard that my eyes glaze over.

But this one pissed me off. Because at this one, I there as an invited guest to be one of the teachers that weekend. And here is someone else trying to tell me that, oh, no, this event isn't really for you?

I mean, we just have so many places and ways to gather together and be around our (semi... sort of... kind of) peers. Don't try to silo me away there - it's not going to happen.
(no subject) - haptotrope - Mar. 6th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
pierceheart
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Can I ask you something about something I saw in the "scene", that sort of bothered me, but is barely related to this discussion?
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Of course. I'm always willing to be asked. You can do so here, or through e-mail, of which you'll find on my profile page.
(no subject) - pierceheart - Mar. 6th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boymeat - Mar. 6th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
desiringsubject
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
Thesis is always cocky.
Antithesis is always angry.
Synthesis never knows it has arrived until it becomes cocky thesis.

That's my nutshell hegel for the day.
coraline
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
good rant! A+ :)
stivalineri
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
I thought all this New Guard/Old Guard stuff had been hashed out 15 years ago...
I remember the tail end of the 70s and the early eighties before G.R.I.D.S. became A.I.D.S. That was apparently the Golden Age, and it wasn't that Golden. Drug use was the norm, Alchohol abuse was almost considered a Sacred Communion, there was plenty of gonorrhea and syphilis going around. And crabs. Lots of crabs.

Crisco was all there was for fisting. Dildo choices were limited. As far as expertise with a weapon-tool, there was a lot of experience with bondage, and CBTT, but percussion play was either bland or brutal. (Fostering endorphin release wasn't important.) There were a lot more public exhibitionistic scenes in the bars, cops never came near them because of protection money that was paid.

Suicide among leathermen was common, as were drug overdoses and drunk driving crashes and motorcycle accidents. No one thought twice about playing with minor teenage boys. (that's how I got my start.)

The end of the Old Guard age It was a lot of fun when you were having fun, and pretty miserable when you weren't. But it was definitely an exciting time, and if you survived it, you do feel like a moth that got its wings singed and lived to fly another day.
haptotrope
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: I thought all this New Guard/Old Guard stuff had been hashed out 15 years ago...
But the danger was sexy. Sexy sexy knives.
adpfromga
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
so when do you get all cranky and tradition bound and start saying that "MY way is the only way?"

JK

For some reason the subject of your rant just keeps rearing it's ugly head. I had someone tell me point blank that I wasn't "real leather," not too long ago.

I told them I was thrilled to hear that, cause I didn't want to be real leather anyway. Not if it made me so unhappy about what everyone else was doing.
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
It does keep coming up, and yet I hear no keynote speeches about the other side of the coin. Here is my contribution to having balance in the air waves.
(no subject) - archers_elegant - Mar. 7th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Key Note - abqstarr - Mar. 7th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC) - Expand
lil_laurel
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
you hit the nail on the head with something early on - i can't honor and uphold the Leather Traditions if no one can talk about them without breaking some secret code (or at least that's how it feels). Maybe i ruined my chances 'cause i got lots of information too young on the internet, but i want to learn from others! I would of just stayed behind the computer if that wasn't the case!

I hate the "your experience is not the same as mine, it doesn't count" mentality. I'm seeing it in all sorts of directions and the more i notice it the more i cringe.
boymeat
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
It's because if they tell you what that code is, they're immediately revealing that they're making it up.

There was no such code! Each group of people had their own codes. To say that there was one all-encompassing code is horseshit.
(Deleted comment)
redhead_sue
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this - well written, well argued, and well, just a great read.

I found the scene thanks to the internet. When I was too scared to come into the scene, I got online, read about things, and met fantastic people who shared information and helped me find the courage to go out into the real BDSM world. I wouldn't be in it if not for them and the internet. And hey - I'm good for the scene, and it's good for me, and I don't want to hear anyone say otherwise.

I know that was only a portion of your argument, but it's the specific part that rankles me the most. Honestly, I've been lucky that my mentors in the scene have been people like you and Lolita, who don't hold the newer people to unachievable standards, who are more interested in teaching and making connections than feeling superior and distancing yourself from anything new. You guys are my Old Guard and you're doing a great job. :)
boymeat
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
If I could count the many ways I love you, well, I'd be counting pretty gosh darn high.
quirkstreet
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
Fascinating stuff for a 45-year-old who is *just* getting into the scene. Then again, I did a version of it ten years ago as a 35-year-old just getting into the queer community, agemate with some of the older folks but experiencing freshly like many of the younger.

Where you end your rant is where I want to begin ...
boymeat
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Make your own road. Just like they did before us.
willowrrain
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
First... thank Bob, the saints, Jesus, and whatever devine force made you first look at a stick and go... hrm... I'd like to hit someone with this.


Second... It doesn't really ever seem to me, that the "elders" (and I mean that term with respect) are the ones whining. It seems to come up more with people who are still finding out who they are and who they want to be, and with those who are very drawn toward rules and regulations. Some folks really long for there to be a "right way" so that they can do it the "right way". The idea that there are as many ways as people, might be darn well terrifying. The ones that complain the loudest, never seem to me to be the ones that have experience having lasting viable real life leather, bdsm, power exchange, connections. I could be wrong, but it does seem that way.

Third - I love tradition. I'm a formal dork in some ways. The idea that there are families, or heritages of behavior in certain places and amongst certain people doesn't bother me a bit. It only sours when it is tainted by self rightiousness, or arrogance, or a tone of entitlement.

Fourth - :) Whatever it is, SEX, Connection, Spirituality, Sport, Frolic, Competition, Altered States, and whatever is valued by me in all it's flavors and incarnations. We each have a right and deserve room to find what that is. It isn't only Fuck. And it is Fuck. It's human animals doing what we do and thank god for it.

My back still sings for you. It makes up happy little ditties, emphasized with the ocasional, "bork.. bork... bork."

archers_elegant
Mar. 7th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Second... It doesn't really ever seem to me, that the "elders" (and I mean that term with respect) are the ones whining. It seems to come up more with people who are still finding out who they are and who they want to be, and with those who are very drawn toward rules and regulations. Some folks really long for there to be a "right way" so that they can do it the "right way". The idea that there are as many ways as people, might be darn well terrifying. The ones that complain the loudest, never seem to me to be the ones that have experience having lasting viable real life leather, bdsm, power exchange, connections. I could be wrong, but it does seem that way.

Third - ...........It only sours when it is tainted by self rightiousness, or arrogance, or a tone of entitlement.


Well said. Thanks
(no subject) - feyrieprincess - Mar. 7th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand
brat_sheba
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Amen!!!
purplepathos
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
I'm totally giggling at the idea of you wrestling with a garden hose. Need a bottom? ;)

Seriously though. There's a lot of "My way is the RIGHT way!" sentiment in the scene. Mostly I just try to ignore it and not get too close to the people who proclaim it. One thing that irks me is the notion that the "right" way is to start as a bottom and "work one's way to the top." If what turns somebody on is to be in charge, then that's what they should do. The implication that "bottom" is somehow less valuable or empowered than "top," or that topping has to be earned somehow, annoys the shit out of me. I topped more or less exclusively when I first started playing... not for lack of desire to bottom, but just because that's how it worked out with the partners I had, and because I was shy and didn't trust easily. The bottoming came later. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I still have lots of people ask me, "but which do you like better, bottoming or topping???" Like really deep down I must be one or the other, because you know, switch isn't a valid identity. Bah. Thanks for getting me started. LOL
(Deleted comment)
glowroper
Mar. 7th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting
"I do not remember hearing this phrase until the New Guard came around and needed an Old Guard so they could be new."

Mmmhmmm. What daddy said. ;)


Great rant, Boymeat. Some of those endless threads on Fetlife must really twist your knickers, huh?
spikydave
Mar. 6th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
It's not the internet that's destroying the scene, it's Twitter! *grin*
boymeat
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
I so Twittered the fact that I was ranting. :-P

*laughing*
(no subject) - glowroper - Mar. 7th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC) - Expand
noble_knave
Mar. 7th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
I have much respect for you discussing this. :-)
boymeat
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Thank you Justin. Be careful, I know you're surrounded by the things I rant about. ;-)
thanos73
Mar. 7th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
AURGGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HATES THIS ARGUEMENTS, HATES IT!

This is my statement to the old guard, new guard, left guard, corner back or any other fucking dick, loser, fuck head who wants to get up in my grill because I am not doing X and not really "leather". FUCK YOU! Fuck you sideways, I gonna do what I want to the people who love what I do to and with them, cause it makes me fucking happy. You gotta problem, shut the fuck up and go the fuck away, I don't care.

You nailed it!
(Deleted comment)
finubala
Mar. 7th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
I lovelovelove this entry.
I really do.
haptotrope
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)

Or maybe you're scared. Maybe you're scared that there are less and less people doing it your way, and there are more and more people doing it mine.


Reading it again; I wonder, abstractly, how much of this Old/oldish guard angst is about subtly trying to control their dating/playing pool. And as it gets smaller, the angst is the only way they know how to keep a semi revered status, that keeps people coming to play with them. and that accepting the new would mean that they may have to open thier eyes -- and that isn't always easy.(it brings the external question back to the self)

boymeat
Mar. 9th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Well, that's definitely a huge part of it! They're finding themselves in a pool that is shrinking. And instead of evolving to the times and opening their eyes to new outlooks and experiences, they treasure the old.

Which is fine. Really. I support that.

It just burns me up when they demand respect and don't give it.
(no subject) - haptotrope - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
margoeve
Mar. 9th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
Say Yes to Evolution
They're blowing me away. They're playing harder, faster, and creating even more complicated forms of relationships and power dynamics and poly groups - and my mind REELS when observing them.

And I love it. Because it is forcing me to evolve. It's opening my eyes up to new ways, new ideas, new techniques, new energy, new relationships. New people. New things. It's scary... and it's awesome.



A-fracking-men.

I thought we ended this shit 10 years ago with the TNG movement. Yet *shock and awe* it still remains. I bet from the same people too.

Well, now we're not TNG, and the TNG is even more TNG than we ever were... The only constant is change, right?

I for one am with you in embracing the evolution. It scares the shit out of me. I love it.


Edited at 2009-03-09 12:27 am (UTC)
boymeat
Mar. 9th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Re: Say Yes to Evolution
It never ends, Margo. So I guess I'll just have to keep shouting.
Re: Say Yes to Evolution - margoeve - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Say Yes to Evolution - boymeat - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Say Yes to Evolution - margoeve - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
breakring
Mar. 9th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
I think the real gripe of the older leather folks is that the new kids do not seem to be turning to many of the more experienced folks for leadership.

I am sure it can be frustrating to see oneself as a community leader and have a whole new crop of kinksters coming along who do not seem to want to learn (and thus play) from you. Instead they play with someone less aloof, or younger.


------------- snip -------------


Wow dude, you got me typing on a school night to such a degree that it exceeded the comment size limitation. I am going to post it on my journal (cuz it is gloablly of interest). But, for here, suffice it to be said that it pretty much, IMO, boils down to what I typed above.
chronic_petunia
Mar. 9th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
I've had a similar conversation this past weekend. I see the "Old Guard" as focusing too much on the rear view mirror, missing the entirety of the world that sprawls out before them.

One of my beefs is being expected to adhere to a tradition that I had no part in establishing. I respect it, but that's what worked then. This is now.
ext_140835
Mar. 10th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
Hiya. I went to your KFA talk on the Old Guard. I think you're somewhat right but I also think that your negative experiences may be leading you to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I'm not saying that there aren't some asshole Old Guard folks out there who think their way is "better". There are, and I don't like them either. But I think that the major problem a lot of Old Guard people have is not so much that they feel bothered that the scene is evolving, as that they feel bothered that we aren't respecting their experience. And that's fair.

I blogged more about this, if you're interested. (http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/various-thoughts-post-kinkforall/)
boymeat
Mar. 10th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
Clarisse - thanks for responding. I will say that I'm sorry that I missed your presentation on the LA&M. I'm a long time supporter of that organization, and I'm glad you took the time to spread word about it.

I'm all about mutual respect. I have no issues with people basing their SM lives around traditions of old. I have no problem with people sharing those traditions either. Nor do I have a problem with people looking to preserve them in their own lives.

This post, however, was based around the loss of that mutual respect. The more public speakers on "Old Guard" traditions usually take a better-than-thou attitude, like the keynote speech I was reacting to in this post.

Admittedly, I did a piss poor job at KinkForAll in my presentation. I was not prepared to teach that topic - someone in the hallway asked me to, and I did not do a good job. These rants were still too fresh in my mind, and what you saw reacted to that.

I will, and do respect their experiences. But when their experiences are communicated in a style of "This is how the REAL work is done," then I'm going to speak up.
whipartist
Mar. 12th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
You're kinda sorta right.

The one thing I'm really sick of, though, is relative newcomers to the scene who believe that their way is the One True Way and want to impose their ideas on the whole community. I'm sick of chatroom-DS people who think that it's all about doms and subs, and that all subs are supposed to behave in a certain way toward all doms. (Oh, sorry, they would never write dom-- it's Dom. What a faux pas I've committed!)

I'm also really sick of these n00bs believing what some self-righteous schmoe told them about Ancient European Houses of Domination going back five hundred years and being smug and sanctimonious because they've fallen for this line of bullshit.

I actually had some n00b tell me today that slash speak was part of the history of the community. N00bs who tell me I'm doing it wrong are even worse than old-timers who do it!
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