New Year, New Kink: BDSM Community Intentions for 2023

By Mark Hay

Looking back at 2022, the kink community can find ample successes to celebrate. Perhaps most notably, after spending two years largely restricted to online spaces by the ongoing pandemic, we found safe ways to start reopening in-person venues and events. But rather than abandon the internet in favor of these reemerging options, we also strengthened and expanded pandemic-era digital communities, deepening and broadening networks and making the community more accessible than ever. Oh and *cough cough* the year also saw the launch of Zipper Magazine, a space for nuanced conversations about specific kinks and fetishes, as well as the community as a whole, that are accessible to insiders and outsiders alike. (That’s the goal at least!) 

 

But 2022 also served up a slew of reminders that, for all the strides the kink community’s made in terms of visibility, acceptance, accessibility, inclusivity, education, and safety, growth is a gradual and perpetual process—and there will always be more issues to grapple with. Notably, waves of crackdowns on kinksters (especially pro dommes) on social media pointed to the continued challenges of censorship and stigma online. The lingering effects of the pandemic, emerging economic woes, and ever-shifting laws and regulations put a spotlight on the fragility of dedicated in-person kink spaces. Fresh accounts of microaggressions and abuse at kink events, as well as the hopelessness some expressed about the chances of their local leaders hearing them out, much less addressing these issues, laid bare persistent safety and inclusivity shortcomings. (That issue is far from universal; some kink spaces are incredibly thoughtful and proactive on this front.) And that’s just a smattering of the issues that came on kinksters’ radars in 2022. 

 

As we head into a new year, full of opportunity to tackle these and other issues, Zipper asked thirteen prominent kinksters to share their hopes, dreams, and intentions for the community and its trajectory throughout 2023. Below, we present their wide-ranging thoughts and insights.  

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity, and appear in alphabetical order.

Kink Educator

Due to the pandemic, the kink community has not felt as connected. I hope 2023 brings a lot more kinky parties, educational events, and conferences. I hope we will be able to navigate connectivity while maintaining awareness of risks to our health, and our communities’ health. 

The push for accessibility and safety in kink spaces for people of all races and sexualities and people with disabilities is growing more pronounced in the kink community. I hope the community will become even more intentional in the ways we create safer, more welcoming and accessible spaces, and that we’ll see lots of big strides for kink equity.

BDSM & Sexuality Educator

There are some awesome events coming up in 2023 where I think we can put intersectionality into practice in all that we do as a community, and get one step closer to being a genuinely welcoming community for all who feel at home under the label of BDSM. I’m definitely manifesting for those events to be successful, and to spark further changes in that direction. 

My biggest intention for the community in 2023 is that we will continue to dismantle stereotypes about kink. I’ve been on the internet for a long time, but for some reason it seemed as if in 2022 in particular there was a lot of backlash against kink, whether in responses to recent celebrity scandals or through misinformation on apps like TikTok. As social media becomes a bigger part of our lives every year, I believe that we can harness these platforms for good as well, like helping people discover themselves and accurately learn about what the kink community does. 

Perhaps we can also finally rid our community of endless infighting about who’s kinkier, who’s doing BDSM the “right way,” and what the proper definition of this or that term is. I’d love to at least move in the direction where that squabbling no longer dominates my conversations.

As a community, I hope we can continue to educate people, creating an understanding of the world of kink that comes without judgment—not acceptance but an embrace. I dream of a world where “normal” does not exist, and we all live a life of understanding, respect, and consent. 

Inside the community, we all need to learn the role of respect. Men in particular need to stop being so thirsty and see their partners as humans first rather than some vessel for their desire. (Yes, other people do this too, but not to the extent that men do.)

D/s Couple, BDSM Educators & Hosts of “Loving BDSM” Podcast

The last few years have been a lot for us in ways that have made living our best D/s life even more challenging. And after nearly a decade together, it’s easy to get into ruts and routines. 

But we thrive together and as individuals when we’re secure and solid in our D/s relationship. So in the coming year, our personal goal is to reconnect within our power exchange on a deeper and more meaningful level. That means getting back to our BDSM dungeon for the kinds of scenes we haven’t been able to do at home. It means finding new and thoughtful ways to sink into and embrace our roles as Dom and sub. And it means working through the traumas—a term we don’t use lightly—stressors and conflicts we’ve lived through together over the past few years, in order to heal and grow so that we can be our best and most authentic selves with each other. 

As kink educators, we’ve worked for years to help normalize what a D/s relationship can be, beyond the erotic fantasies and airbrushed imagery often found online, by sharing what our relationship looks like—the good and bad. We’re going to keep doing that in as many ways as possible to help others create a happy, healthy power exchange in their lives. Especially those who want to live a D/s life but aren’t quite sure how to do that when the vanilla world interferes. But to do this, in the coming year, we’ll have to step outside of our comfort zones, embrace new opportunities to meet kinksters where they’re at, and find new ways to connect with them.

BDSM Educator & Content Creator

As the BDSM aesthetic becomes increasingly popular on platforms like TikTok and shows like Bonding and Euphoria, a new generation is getting curious about kink. If we want to see growth in the vibrancy and diversity of the community, it’s imperative that we welcome them with kindness and care… and create an encouraging, inclusive environment for them to explore. 

So for 2023, I’m dreaming of a community that continues to break away from single-sided, monolithic perceptions of kink and revels in the fact that there’s no singular way to be kinky. (Aside from the baselines of consent and communication this craft requires, obviously). 

At the beginning of my own journey, I struggled with imposter syndrome, and not feeling “legit enough.” Part of that was necessary growing pains, but I do wish I’d had access to more guidance and grace. So as we move forward, welcoming new people needs to start with more experienced, OG folks meeting young, perhaps clumsy expressions of kink with patience and education.

Owner of Leather Masters & House of MarKus, Leathersmith & Alternative Lifestyle Educator

We had to shut down the Leather Masters store in Dallas when COVID broke out in 2020. I took that downtime to finish my psychology degree and redirect my focus to a new venture, Fox-N-Lion, focused on education on alternative lifestyles—everything from kink to poly to LGBT. We’re working on our first educational content, with the goal of releasing it within the year. 

The idea is to do education not just for individuals or small groups, but instead mass education for those who don’t know about these lifestyles, like corporations or chambers of commerce. The goal is to help them learn how to adapt for and work with employees, customers, and others from these communities. Discrimination still exists against people in these groups, but it’s often due to the fact that people fear what they don’t understand. So the only solution I see is to provide people in the wider world with the right information and resources to reach them.

Dominatrix & Fetish Content Creator

In 2023, I want to make kink kinky again. Too many submissives these days focus on jerking off, on their orgasms—which is so vanilla, boring, and self-serving. Let’s get back to good old-fashioned domination with some imprisonment, humiliation, whipping, chastity, and caning. Let’s stop letting what people see in porn dictate how they think a BDSM scene should go. I’d much rather tie someone up, pierce and electrify them, than watch a pathetic jerk-off show.

Sexologist & Kink Educator

This year, I hope we can all learn how to take too long breaths, so that we might engage one another with more civility, grace, and benefit of the doubt. I’d particularly like to see this online, because virtual resources and online communities are great, especially for those in remote areas or who want to learn about kink on their own and at their own pace, but we all know the ugly sides of FetLife, KinkTok, etc.: Strong emotions can flare up quickly and, while when we’re face-to-face with another human being most of us can and downgrade those heated reactions, when we’re facing a screen spewing out that hot gut reaction feels somehow “good.” (Most of us know that it’s not actually good—but we fall for the allure of that feeling anyway.) 

Communication is difficult. We’re often misunderstood. We often fail to explain ourselves. And we often forget to think of the impacts and outcomes of our attempts at communicating. So when we encounter something that pushes that deliciously toxic “outrage” button in us—when we feel that heat rise and our body react to it in a flash—we need to get in a habit of taking two breaths. I hope we can be kinder to each other, so that we can enjoy the good sort of being mean and nasty.

I also hope that this year we can all learn more about the history of kink and BDSM, and the heroes of our recent past, because a lot happened just before the internet boom that set the ground for how we practice kink—and for privileges that it’s so easy to take for granted today. These things get forgotten, like the fact that the phrase “safe, sane, and consensual” was developed in the 1980s by gay and lesbian Leather folk as a political slogan to take up space against the respectability politics prevalent in certain sectors of the gay rights movement. There’s so much about the history of kink that I don’t know as well… but you get the idea.

Kink Educator & Host of Kinkology Podcast 

I hope that more old-guard kinksters will take a significantly larger and more proactive role in teaching and mentoring people in BDSM and kink fundamentals. We’ve seen the growth of a population of what I call “50 Shades” Academy Graduates, who have misguided ideas about what it means to be kinksters, and with them, more and more incorrect information pumped into the community, (mis)informed by their lack of exposure to our long-standing rules and protocols. If we OGs don’t step up and course-correct, we’ll be failing in our duty to the community that gave us a home when it was much harder for us to find each other. Not to mention that we’ll also be missing out on an opportunity to show the mainstream world how the safety measures we have in place can foster greeted intimacy by fostering consent, open communication, and trust.

Dominatrix & Research Fellow at UCLA’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry

I’ve been thinking for months about how, in the coming year, we can take concrete steps towards policy changes to A) make the internet less of a puritanical hellscape, and B) combat the fascism inherent in existing internet privacy laws and in the anti-porn laws that’re being proposed in legislatures at dizzying rates. Because we should be able to do what we want on the internet without being tracked by advertisers or the state. And because policy decisions that could mean life or death for a lot of people are currently being left in the hands of big, private corporations, and that really needs to be addressed. So much horrific shit has gone down on the internet this year, like the constant doxing of sex workers and queer and kink individuals, that I hope that maybe we can start finding meaningful ways of organizing to push back on all of this.  

People think it’s such a herculean task to change the way the internet works that they can’t do anything about it and just have to live with it. But think about how FOSTA-SESTA only passed into law four years ago, and it’s changed the internet dramatically. So we can change the way the internet works—it’s just that no one in power has been willing to change it for the good so far. 

People who are in a position to be able to relatively safely come out as kinky need to do so. They need to use their platforms, even if they’re just saying, “I’m kinky in XYZ ways” openly. I have a friend who’s an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary and who makes a point of speaking out in defense of kink, queer people, and sex workers and written about being kink and bisexual. In her Virginia town, being willing to say these things openly has had a really profound local effect. More people need to do that if we want to create the pressure needed for change.

Disability & Sexuality Writer and Educator

My hopes and dreams for the kink community in the new year are of inclusion. It’d be fabulous  to see communities thinking more about the myriad ways they can accommodate and provide sensual access for disabled bodies. I’d specifically like to see acknowledgments of disability and invitations to people to speak up for their needs included in welcome circle introductions. I’d like to see acknowledgment that all bodies and minds need support in being able to participate in various activities. And I’d like to see these types of inclusion normalized within the community. 

In the last year of reopening and rebuilding, curating art and performance spaces and cultivating and supporting all the incredible talent in the kink community was my biggest passion. In 2023, I want to continue creating supportive environments for performers. Because nurturing the talent of our artists creates a vibrant, thriving community that inspires and enriches us all. But there are not a lot of performance-focused events, or folks mentoring kink performers and performances. 

Compensation is also an issue that we need to address. I often lose money on performances. This makes performance in general less accessible. We live in a capitalist society, so valuing things means paying for them.

I hope community spaces help to educate people about Explicit Prior Permissions during demos and worships. This new model code, which the American Law Institute will publish this year, replaces outdated case law that held that “consent is not a defense” for a BDSM act. That case law made a lot of what we do illegal even if it was consensual, including activities as mild as hot wax play. Now that Explicit Prior Permission is being introduced in court cases, it’s important for everyone to know the five things they need for legal consent to kink: Before you start, when you’re sound of mind, you need to agree with your partner(s) to specific kink and sex acts, and to the intensity you want. You have to agree on what kind of roleplay resistance is okay, and on safe words or signals so you can stop at any time. Even with consent, you aren’t allowed to risk seriously injuring someone. Please help celebrate consent by spreading the word about this. 

Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin

Sharing is caring

Mark-Hay-Headshot

Mark Hay is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who covers sex and sexuality, among other beats. You can also find his work in The Daily Beast, Mel Magazine, VICE, and many, many other outlets.

How The Pandemic Made Us Kinkier

Did the creative ways kinksters connected, learned, and played during isolation help us grow and find pleasure in ways we couldn’t have anticipated?

Emily Adaire kink identity

Emily Adaire sat down with Zipper Magazine to talk about her journey as a kinkster and content creator. She tells us about some of the most memorable scenes she’s done, what’s on her kinky bucket list, and gives advice for those just starting to explore their kink and identity.

Top 5 BDSM Power Exchange Myths

What are the rules for D/s relationships? Many have strong views on how power exchange should be done–but those are opinions & preferences, not a one-size-fits-all formula. Evie Lupine tells us the top 5 BDSM power exchange misconceptions that keep us from exploring kink the way we truly desire.

Pet Play 101 With Evie Lupine

Halloween is the perfect time for erotic roleplay. Costumes, wigs, and props are at our fingertips and creative playfulness is in the air. If pet play kink has you curious as a cat, Evie Lupine has you covered.

We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Accept
Reject