When Can I Call Myself A BDSM Expert?

A person poses with their hands on their hips in in PVC shorts. White text on a black banner reads "When Can I call Myslef A BDSM Expert?"

Hello Twisties,

If you’ve read this post before, you’ll know that I really, really don’t like referring to myself (or others) as a BDSM expert. It’s promotes a sense of entitlement, a whiff of self-righteousness, a holier-than-thou attitude. Everyone starts somewhere, and in BDSM, nothing could be more true. Despite that, there are still all too many ‘BDSM experts’ out there.

So when might be the right time to call yourself one of them? And how can you tell if you qualify?

As I mention frequently on my blog, I am in love with the digital penpal app, Slowly. I have a great number of ‘pen pals’ on there, some many of whom who read my work. One name in particular stands out and was the inspiration behind this post, my fellow (law reform) blogger and Canadian retired professor penpal, Ben. Ben and I chat about a lot of things; the deeply intellectual, everyday adventures and even the humdrum of life. In his most recent letter though, Ben referred to me as a ‘BDSM expert’.

And true to form, that had me recoiling into my definitely-not-a-BDSM-expert shell.

But then that got me thinking; who gets to call themselves a BDSM expert anyway? And how do you know if you are one? Here are my top eight signs that you may just be a BDSM expert, after all.

1. You’ve Studied BDSM

Whilst it’s certainly true that there is no universally recognised BDSM manual out there, you’ve wasted no time in reading the various recommended books that do exist, watching numerous Youtube tutorials and talking to other people who have been doing BDSM much longer than (or as long as) you have. Sure you may still not know everything, but you know plenty enough that you’re confident in your ability to teach and guide other people.

2. You’ve Got Plenty Of Practice

Reading is one thing, but doing is quite another and you know that BDSM is much, much more than just fluffy handcuffs and rough sex. You’ve tied up countless pieces of furniture (and willing friends), you’ve spanked and flogged countless pillows and you can whip a piece of tissue paper off of the bed without even thinking about it. You know and understand your STI’s and your STD’s, you know how to avoid pregnancies and you understand safe, hygienic play, toy care and aftercare. BDSM experts don’t just fuck their way to the top and they don’t just read about it either, they make it happen, and consistently.

3. You’re Not Afraid To Learn Something New

Do you think you know everything? You almost certainly don’t. Being a BDSM expert doesn’t mean you know everything, it just means that you know quite a bit more than some other people, and that people can look to you for advice and guidance. It’s also okay to not be an expert in everything kinky, and to only have areas within BDSM that you have more expertise in instead. For my husband and I, that’s predominantly in accessible kink, sensation play, wax play (my personal love!), fun-filled BDSM relationships and making BDSM work in everyday life. I couldn’t tell you much about trampling or pegging though – other than the basic safety elements – but that’s okay because…

4. It Isn’t All About You

No, really though, it’s not. Real BDSM experts aren’t here for the ego boost that comes with being called an expert (though admittedly it’s quite nice!), they’re here here to make sure that everyone plays safe, stays safe and knows what they’re doing. They’re here because they want to be, because BDSM is a passion for them and they’re passionate about making sure others enjoy it, too. As above, real BDSM experts can admit that they don’t know all there is to know and while they don’t, they’re also not afraid to refer you to someone else who they feel can better help you instead. Not knowing everything doesn’t threaten their ego, so if a BDSM expert tries to discredit other BDSM experts to make themselves shine brighter, watch out.

5. You Know & Believe That You Have Something To Teach

Listen, I’ll probably get a lot of flak here, but the way that I/we BDSM is probably a lot different to a lot of other peoples’ perceptions, and that’s okay. Really it is! A lot of people like strict structure and discipline in BDSM, and that’s totally okay if it’s for you. For some others of us though we prefer things more lighthearted and fun and we need to make sure that one voice is not allowed to quash out the other. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting or having a more casual, fun BDSM relationship – rather than one with lots of structure and rules – it’s all about what works for you. I make it my goal to make sure that message is never, ever forgotten and to help people find what works for them, not just what the textbooks say they need to do!

6. You Know That BDSM Is Much More Than Just Good Looks

Sadly and thanks to social media, what you look like often matters much more than what you have to say. Make no mistake, your worth in life is defined by much, much more than whether your foundation really matches your skin tone, or whether your setting powder is Maybelline or Elf. Real BDSM experts are undettered by whether or not they’re a three or a ten and they couldn’t care less about rocking the latest TikTok trend, they’ll show up and teach kink anyway.

7. You’re Not A Pro (Though You Might Be)

Making money from your BDSM play should not define whether or not you get to call yourself an expert. There are plenty of other ways to make money in BDSM and without engaging in BDSM play with someone: writing, publishing, coaching, fashion accessories, carpentry (constructing BDSM furniture), even constructing and renting out BDSM play spaces. If you make money in BDSM, great, but remember that the real definition of an expert is how much you know, not how fat your wallet is.

Expert: a person with a high level of knowledge or skill relating to a particular subject or activity.

Cambridge Dictionary

And Finally…

8. Others Refer To You

When others refer to you, this is the moment at which you can probably start calling yourself an expert in your field. Assuming the title of ‘expert’ for yourself is one thing, but when it’s given to you because of your knowledge of that subject? That’s when you’ve made the grade. I’m deeply honoured that both Bill and Ben (not the flowerpot men!) refer others to me, though nothing has ever taken me back quite as much as when I was approached by Gawker.com for my thoughts for a piece. When the big names refer to you for your thoughts? That’s when you know you’re up there!

Conclusion

Even if I probably do make the grade to call myself a BDSM expert, it still sits uncomfortably with me. I will accept it and extend my eternal gratitude to those who refer to me, either as a BDSM expert or just a writer in BDSM. Whichever title you decide to ascribe to me, I thank you for reading me and I hope that long may you continue to enjoy my work!

That’s it from me for this post! Do you refer to yourself as an expert? What do you think makes someone an expert? Why not share your thoughts in the comments?

Until next time!

Stay safe & have fun,

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