Association

Why an Association?

Why do we do public relations for "activities" that people do at home in their bedrooms?

Seeing SM from the public eye still has a bit of a No-No attached to it. It's being talked about in a hush-hush way, always careful as to who might overhear. 

This needs to change. People want to be open. And we want to encourange newcomers to come out and experience their way, our way. It is not easy being sexually open, and even if you are, acknowleding that you are different than many others, in a field that is often stil a taboo, does not make things easier.

What we do NOT want, is to try to convert everyone to write the BDSM logo onto their flags and go out and protest for the recognition and freedom that we all want. What we want is to just ensure that BDSM becomes that what it should be: a socially acceptable norm, with the same rights and the same respect than any "vanilla" sexual act. A legitimate presence in the media, as well as being presentabel in the open. This will allow newcomers to not be shy, to come out, meet the right people and talk about what we all love. And that is one of the goals of this association.

 

But BDSM has already become mainstream...don't you read newspapers or watch TV? 

The argument as to: "Why do you guys even bother? Isn't it already normal what you do?" is one of the biggest problems that we have to fight against.

Especially for newcomers, the experience they want and what they want to know, is often not normaly presented. Added to this is what the media presents is often not the way we want to be portrait.

Nicola Doering writes in "Sexuelle Hilfe im Internet" (sexual help on the internet)

"Marginalisierte Formen sexueller Betätigung werden wegen ihres Exoten-Charakters in den Massenmedien (insbesondere in Talkshows und Reportagen) zunehmend vorgeführt, wobei die Medien tendenziell eine quotensteigernde Dramatisierung anstreben (z.B. professionelle Dominas treten im Outfit auf und bieten eine kleine Vorführung ihrer Praktiken), während es den politisch engagierten Angehörigen der Spezialkulturen in ihrer defensiven strategischen Selbstdarstellung eher darum geht, den Eindruck von Problemlosigkeit und unspektakulärer Normalität zu erzeugen, um dadurch der verbreiteten Kriminalisierung (z.B. Verdacht, Menschen mit aktiver sadomasochistischer Präferenz seien gewalttätig) und Pathologisierung (z.B. Unterstellung, Menschen mit passiver sadomasochistischer Präferenz seien selbstzerstörerisch) entgegenzuwirken. Die massenmedialen Darstellungen bieten potentiell Interessierten zwar einerseits die Möglichkeit zur Identifikation mit der nun sichtbaren Bezugsgruppe; andererseits wird durch die Popularisierung einer verzerrten und verkürzten (z.B. an Äußerlichkeiten wie Kleidung und Utensilien orientierten) Darstellung erneuter Stereotypisierung Vorschub geleistet (z.B. alle SM-Leute sind in Lack und Leder gekleidet und peitschen sich ständig gegenseitig aus). Schließlich führt die starke massenmediale Präsenz marginalisierter Sexualitäten auch zu der verbreiteten Fehlannahme, es wäre mittlerweile geradezu chic, im Lebensmodell und in der Sexualität vom Mainstream abzuweichen. Wenn wir die massenmedial inszenierte sexuelle Tabulosigkeit mit der Wirklichkeit verwechseln, laufen wir jedoch Gefahr, reale Ausgrenzung und Diskriminierung aus den Augen zu verlieren."

This quoted text basically explains the combination of the exploitation of the media in the sense that they are putting us into the wrong light, or just doing a portrait of one trait, that is not an overall projection of what it is that we do. Our more politically involved BDSM friends are trying to counter act this, showing that we are not a bunch of violent thugs with psychological disorders. The media itself gives newly interested people a view that is not complete, as it only shows a small part of what is really happening behind the courtain. They basically throw us all under the same wagon...all dressed in leather, all whipping each other and so on and so forth. This seems to lead to the development of a mainstream society, that has really not much to do with the reality. Looking at this from the media staged "sexual permissivenes" brings with it the dangers of loosing sight for real discrimination and ostracism.

For journalists there still only seem to be two ways of handling the topic of Sadomasochism. Its seems to be either: "Oh how bizzare and exotic!", or "They are even more narrow minded than the rest of us.".

 

What can we do as an association, that we couldn't do without one?

One of the big points is simply money. Everything we do these days cost money. Ancouncements in the paper, flyer, web pages, phone bills, the information booth and so on and so forth. Even considering that most of the hours and hours of work that are put into all of this are sponsored by volunteers, the costs dont vanish.

By having the structure of an association, we at least make a bit of money through the membership fees and dont have to go begging as much. 
Everybody knows that public relations cost money and if we want to do what we think needs to get done than that is the only way for us. One other point is that only as an association we are eligible to recieve funds from the government.

But thats only one of the points of why it is good to have an association. It also allows for a better coexistence with the press and thus the influence of the public oppinion. It would be really hard to state an oppinion, if at all, if the press would only interview local munches. These are not really interconnected and so just not really relevant in the public oppinion. The existance of an association changes that. For example, there was an article in the "taz Ruhrgebiet" (newspaper). They made a survey of 1998 members of the "SMart Rhein-Ruhr e.V." about a porn topic. It was very well written and the reporters were well informed because of the cooperation with the association involved. This would not have been possible if there wouldn't have been an association like this.

Trustworthyness is another big point. Being a known association with a high profile makes it easier to trust. This helps people that are more on the scared side get involved, because a reputable association is available instead of having to go to a relatively unknown munch. Especially women seem to me more comforted in knowing that this is trustworthy and monitored and the chances that something bad can happen to them are lower than going out on a night dancing.

 

Why do Germans always have to have an association for everything? This is way to burocratic for me!

There is not much to say about this, except that this is the only option we have. Yes, it is burocratic, and yes, there is a lot of paperwork to be done. But overall, would you rather just stick to your munches, have no idea whats going on outside of your own little world, dont know where parties, events, information or workshops are? Yes, it is a pain in the..., but if no one does it nothing happens (even if it has to be through burocracy). 

 

What's my incentive to join this association?

Sadly we are not able to offer you a printed journal or other flashy things. We would love to, but we just dont have the time, money or manpower to indulge you. You become a member, because you want to help change something. You want to make sure that you get the best out of your lifestyle and this association is there for you, to educate, inform and/or be there for you when you are in need. 
Plus, lets be honest, the membership fees are not that expensive. But they are worth this small investment.