The Sneer Scale

I'm going to speak about the "sneer scale" in this blog; otherwise known as the kink hierarchy, the BDSM league tables or the incoherent and pathetic ways of attempting to "rank" kink and sexual practices.

Essentially, it goes a bit like this. Edgeplayers is at the top, because they are uber and really pushing the boundaries of kink and fetishism with all their fluid involving, dangerous play, right? Then BDSM, specifically DS, then SM, because the DS is "like, soooo much more powerful, right, cos it's *psychological*. For SM all you really need is a stick. Then the kinksters, who occupy the place in between BDSM and fetishism. Then Fetish people, with their curious obsessions and utter devotion to the sexualisation of objects.

And then, right down at the bottom on most of these scales is roleplay and CP.*

I'll be honest for a second. Even though I, myself, indulge in rp & cp a fair bit, I still occasionally see it all through the veil of the sneer scale. It's just so unfashionable. And I'm not entirely sure why, because to my knowledge, the majority of kinkster first fantasies originate in roleplay and CP. Possibly it's generational; not that many of the U35's do it because it's seen as something the O35's crowd have possession of? Or it's not extreme or exciting enough? Funnily enough though, a lot of the ultraviolence crowd I know despise canes for being too painful, too ritualised; ironic, given that this essentially means that the cp submissives can take a fair bit more than purported ultraviolent people at times. Maybe it's to do with the younger doms not having had masses of time to aquaint themselves with using a cane properly (I think this is a rubbish theory, but I'm putting it out there anyway)? Anyway, for whatever reason, CP is most certainly not "in" with the younger crowd.

Roleplay is also apparently the acceptable exception to the concept of YKIOK (Your Kink Is OK). I mean, I have genuinely lost count of the amount of times people have said to me "Roleplay? No, I don't do that, because essentially you're just pretending to be submissive, right? Not really being it." or "Hahahahahaha! You've got to be kidding right?" or "Nah, it's a bit weird, right? I mean, all that dressing up and old men wanting you in white knickers and the fact that sex doesn't even seem to come into it? Seriously, what's up with that?"

So, social stigma = 1, roleplay = 0

But, I'll admit, some cp'ers can lend themselves to such mockery. Some of the cp'ers I have known in the past have been *so serious* about the whole thing. And lets face it, when you are essentially whacking someone on the bottom for sexy time kicks, being uber can occasionally seem like the only way to gain credibility instead of being laughable.

What it actually gains is mockery, and rightly so. But, dear BDSM'ers; you've got your own twats. I mean, seriously. You really have. They are fucking unbearable and nauseatingly arrogant. So why are the roleplaying ones so much worse?

In bluntness, I'm occasionally uncomfortable with all of my friends, on both sides of the divide. The tutting about the recklessness and uncouthness of blood play etc, versus the mockery of the "hanky spanky" and general seriousness. But the thing is, they're all wrong. Blood play people are probably *the* most meticulous kinksters I have ever met on the scene. When I do a scene involving blood, the preparation and specific hygiene concerns are phenomenal. No recklessness there; just an immensely profound moment between two people. And that goes for most edgeplay. Equally, cp'ers can be fabulously silly, the gentlemen making happy fools of themselves, the ladies getting tipsy and giggly. And, holy crap, they play *hard* and punishments are real punishments. No pulled punches there, so to speak. Believe me; they aren't anywhere near as fluffy as you think. The stereotypes don't hold true, they have been proven not to hold true time and time again, and yet we all still persist in retaining the prejudices.

Why? I don't know. I really don't and it's starting to frustrate me. Play is getting more fluid, prejudice and MKIBTYK(My Kink Is Better Than Your Kink) is being stamped out; why does this divide persist?

Answers on a postcard please! I'm curious to hear people's opinions on this one.

*Ok, maybe not *right* at the bottom... That's obviously the vanillas. Which is a blogpost for some other time.


  1. Thanks for posting this, I really get your frustration here. I had noticed that until edgeplay/UV became very fashionable (fairly recently, that I had noticed anyway) edgeplayers would sometimes moan about being persecuted by the H&S police or looked down on for playing too hard. But the kinks that I always end up feeling most embarrassed about are the ones people see as being the softer side - I don't find it as easy to talk about being really into CP or roleplay, or non-sexual age-play, because I feel people see it as very cheesy.

    I wish I felt equally comfortable discussing all of my preferences but I don't - because of this seeming scale of 'cool' I'm glad it's not just me who feels this way, and I wish I could care a little less what other people think!

  2. I think it's a nerd thing - and perverts are a type of nerd (especially with our love of black, obsession with particular kit got from this particular place and special secret names and jargon).

    Nerd hierarchy rules evolve - I think - because of a certain leftover embarassment over what it is that we do. We know that BDSM can be amazing and mindblowing. We also know that it can be a bit silly. To inur ourselves against this we have the reassurance that what we do is less silly, more attractive and more sexy than what other people do. This includes a need to put people into boxes for mental filing "You do X therefore behave like Y".

  3. The compartmentalisation of kink is one thing that drives me really crazy. If what you do is hot for you, what benefit is there from criticising what other people find hot? We're in a minority anyway - solidarity people!

    There are two things I have a serious problem with and those are:

    - Genuinely unsafe stuff - the point you make about people doing bloodplay being meticulous is a good one. But when I see people doing something genuinely unsafe it makes me uneasy.
    - Stuff that makes others uncomfortable in an inappropriate environment - so not heavy/edgy play in a club where people have chosen to be there but people doing stuff involving the general public for humiliation, especially if there are children about.

    Beyond that there are things I enjoy, things I don't enjoy and things I haven't thought about/might enjoy. The need to play 'my kink is better than yours' always strikes me as quite sad and can be quite irritating because it puts people in boxes, which probably means we all miss out on meeting people we might connect with or trying things we might like.

    A lot of prejudices come from ignorance I think. People who've never seen something done well envisage cheesy, overdone roleplays or people extracting each others kidneys for kicks. In truth it's nothing like the reality but first impressions can stick. The weirdest thing is that people often are doing things which fall into the 'other' camp without even realising it - edge players that enjoy puppy/kitten play or 'role-play' people that threaten their victims with a scalpel. It's not really that cut and dry. Ironically the better players tend to do what they do but respect what others do as well - certainly in terms of people I've met.

    Personally I enjoy both and it's frustrating sometimes when people see you as a 'CP' person so don't think you're up for other things. Most of us go through phases of doing more of one thing or another depending upon whom we're playing with at the time and what headspace we're in.

    I think it's also a lot to do with headspace. When I'm not in a massively submissive place it can be more fun to roleplay because of the battles of wits and banter that evolve. When I'm in that headspace I can often take more pain, am far cheekier, won't show if something's hurting, resist much more and cause far more trouble. This type of play can also be easier to do with someone you don't know as well because the characters give you a bit of a safety net. It also allows you to let go and behave in ways that you might not at other times, which is fun. I think the big benefit of roleplay is the permission to be someone else for a while and often indulge my masochistic side. And wear awesome costumes.

    If I'm not roleplaying I inherently want to be a 'good girl' and not fight the person I'm playing with too much. I space out more quickly, tend to react to pain much more quickly in terms of whimpering or wriggling but am more cooperative. When I was new to kink and not entirely comfortable with the concept of being submissive I found it harder to play like this (which actually made for some very powerful scenes) but now it's much more comfortable.

    That's not to say if I'm playing as me I won't decide to kick someone in the head and if I'm roleplaying I won't be very submissive but I think for me personally that is how the two styles of play evolved - 'good girl' and 'make me' if you like. Partly because with a martial arts background if I really wanted to fight back I'd break people and that's no fun at all...

    As a headfuck it would be quite amusing to ask people who are hardline as one form of play or another to try the other to prove they're 'twue subs or Doms'. Or maybe not.

    This has turned into a bit of a ramble but never mind!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this, really hits the spot. I go through a lot of change recently and I sometimes feel that only my really close ones accept and understand what this all means to me and don't judge. Just because you don't see me a lot playing in public any more doesn't mean I am not into it any more, I just changed the way I like to play and hate when people try to put me into one of their boxes, she's this, she's that, it's not done with a simple label and I like to think a little bit more tolerance would often do the job.

  5. Yikes - I hadn't realised until I read this that we cp'ers were so sneered at and patronised by others in the scene. (Not you, I hasten to add - but by the people whose opinions you report).

    Taking me a moment to process that there's hostility and prejudice towards the area of the scene which is my particular thing. Maybe I live a sheltered life, not especially mixing on a regular basis with folks who are into, say, edgeplay - or just not happening to have ever particularly discussed that with friends who are.

    'Meticulous', 'preparation', 'profound' - they're all words that apply completely to a good cp scene, just as they doubtless do to the blood players you mention.

    As for the age difference - not sure that the cp scene is an O35s thing. The women in my cp circle are pretty much all U35 - although it's lovely that we're all growing just a little bit older disgracefully together. Most of the men seem to be older - but that doesn't mean that there aren't great tops who are in their 20s or early 30s. (Perhaps there is a view from some of the bottoms that a top needs a little age to carry authority - in which respect, I guess, we're a little like good claret).

    Poor innocent Abel, not realising that the likes of me are subject to such mockery - but ending up feeling not a little taken aback and bruised by having read the post (and re-read it several times, feeling a little stunned).

    So bring out the folks with the prejudices - I'd love to have an open discussion with them. But as with most people with prejudices, most people who choose to patronise, I guess they'd be afraid of a debate and unwilling to express their views directly to those at whom they're aiming their unfounded and intolerant barbs.

  6. @Belle It's not you who just feels that way at all, I think it is very much something which is perpetuated by the scene, in a similar way to people not wanting to be seen as silly or wimpy, so they push themselves further during scenes than then necessarily should. I think there's this whole issue going on in the kink world to do with pride atm (not that there isn't usually, but it seems particularly rife atm)... There seem to be more issues with things like safewords, sensual play, role play etc... They are seen as this uncool thing at the moment and I hate it. I use safewords, I like being stroked, I like role play. I should be just as interesting/cool when doing those things as I am when doing knife or punch play. Bah.

  7. @Electronic Doll Yay for nerds, boo for the need to stamp on other things in order to feel like ones actions are justified. I actually really agree with you in this particular section:

    "Nerd hierarchy rules evolve - I think - because of a certain leftover embarassment over what it is that we do. We know that BDSM can be amazing and mindblowing. We also know that it can be a bit silly. To inur ourselves against this we have the reassurance that what we do is less silly, more attractive and more sexy than what other people do."

    This is exactly it. "My thing is fine, because it's not as stupid as X" Argh. Argh. People can be suck.

  8. @Rebecca I agree with you about solidarity, but at the same time I accept that the split between BDSM'ers and the roleplay people isn't entirely a kink scene construction. In my experience, there seems to be a very specific roleplay/spankers community which maybe doesn't always interact with the rest of the BDSM scene that much. I can understand why; it can be difficult to do a schoolgirl scene in a club filled with lots of fetish and loud house music. But when one specific group of people seemingly snubs the rest of the scene, they are always going to be the scapegoats, sadly.

    I totally agree about the unsafe and non consensual involvement of public stuff, they are some of my pet hates.

    I also agree that lots of the kinks that people look down on feed into their own play; fear play is a perfect example, which both scenes utilise a lot. And when people describe subspace, or feeling submissive, I do often simply regard it as an informal form of role play, where the role may not have specific name, but it is still "other" to the self in a specific situation.

    Also, can we please do this? Pretty please?

    "As a headfuck it would be quite amusing to ask people who are hardline as one form of play or another to try the other to prove they're 'twue subs or Doms'."

  9. @In silence: We all love you, doesn't matter where your kinks take you, we will always be here :)

    I agree we could use a healthy dash of tolerance right now!

  10. @Abel I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shock you quite so much with this, just wanted to get my wandering thoughts down on (digital) paper. I should probably clarify that it's perhaps not quite so openly hostile as you got from this blog; this is several years of being on the kink scene condensed into one annoyed post after all.

    I guess what I was trying to say is not that cp'ers are reviled, but rather seen as uncool. A bit like when your gran decides to boogie on the dancefloor at a cousins wedding. Amusing, fun, endearing, but certainly not something you would want your friends to see.

    But I have to say, the fact you hadn't realised might perhaps point towards the problem a little? Cp'ers seem to very much have their own scene (like you say, even as one of the most prominent cp people: "Maybe I live a sheltered life, not especially mixing on a regular basis with folks who are into, say, edgeplay"), one which isn't as accessible as the general kink scene, and that creates a whole host of issues. 1. It means there isn't that much interaction between the two scenes, really. Which 2. Makes the wider kink scene find you a little elitist. Which 3. Makes them annoyed. Which 4. Makes them go "screw them". Which 5. Turns you into the scapegoats.

    I'm not saying this is correct, nor, if it is, that the kink scenes reaction is the right one. What I am saying is that it's always easiest to band together against the kid that isn't there.

    I followed Rapunzel's stuff for a long time precisely because she was pretty much the one vocal roleplayer on Informed Consent. I idolised her, because the was no one else. But only one person? That's an issue if the cp & kink scenes are supposed to be united.

    I mean, you aren't the only ones. It seems like there's always got to be something to mock; it used to be edgeplay (like Belle says above) until enough of us started posting prolifically and starting up our own club nights.

    I'm not saying that only edgeplay is 'Meticulous', 'prepared' or 'profound'; just that those phrases are often the opposite to what people think edgeplay is, but they are actually still applicable :)

    I do think that the cp scene seems to be quite male dom/ fem sub orientated and that the stereotype is that it is for O35. I'm not saying it's the case, just that that is how it is mostly perceived, esp by the U35's. Which I think is a massive problem. One of the reasons I'm posting this is because I think a lot of my friends and U35 people have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to roleplay and I would like to question that. I have a friend, who may notice this, who states on her profile that she doesn't do role play. But she does dollification. She was one of the key people who was speaking with me about a "dollhouse" party. And she isn't a rarity; she just doesn't associate what she does with the roleplaying scene, because she isn't a part of it. And roleplay has a stereotype which her play doesn't fit into.

    But yeah. Not many cp'ers who are U35 come to other kink events, which means the stereotype of it being O35 is perpetuated.

    I should clarify, specific people are rarely mocked. Just the concept of it seems so at odds with the current ultraviolence fun that it's getting a bit more of a bruising than usual. Which is so strange, because I find some cp thoroughly ultraviolent (if not all that abuse based).

    I would suggest that looking to "correct" people's opinions on this is something which would go most disastrously. But I may start this debate on IC at some point in the near future, which would give you a chance to air your views. I honestly think that the best thing to do though is to have more representation of cp'ers on the scene, or for those that are already on the scene but also indulge (usually behind closed doors) to get a bit more vocal about it. Make it cool again, as it were :)

  11. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I've found myself thinking about this a fair amount today, whilst travelling hoe on planes for far too many hours, and am still a bit surprised.

    I don't feel that we cp folks are especially elitist. Some of us are into other BDSM activities, to varying extents; some aren't. But given that (to use an example that's recurring) blood play is so different to my interests, it would never occur to me to seek to interact with those for whom that is their fetish.

    It's just like I wouldn't particularly interact with morris dancers - that's not excluding them or thinking we're superior, they're just a group with a different interest (some of whom we might meet if they happened to also by into cp), so I wouldn't see a particular need to seek them out or engage in dialogue with them!

    I maintain a fairly consistent stance that I don't judge anyone for what they choose to do, in the context of "adults giving their full and informed consent to safe kinky activities taking place in private" - as I discussed on my most recent SpankingCast podcast. And I'm always really happy to discover that other people enjoy different things to me, even if I may not want to try or watch them personally.

    Great debate here. Thanks for starting it.