Marina – Struggle at stigma level 5

Author: Marina
BDSM & Society | Stories

In this series, on International Women’s Day, the members of the Deviance team introduce themselves and tell us what drives them. This time: initiator and founder Marina, how fun became serious and why she didn’t dare to tackle her heart’s project for a long time.


“When I don’t work with food anymore, I’ll build a Tinder for BDSM!” I said that as a joke at a BDSM meeting in Munich in the summer of 2018. It took eight months for this spontaneous statement to become the beginning of Deviance. The main thing that held me back was clearly the topic. But also the fear of not being taken seriously as a woman in this area. I would like to tell you why in this text.

The idea never left me. In every spare moment, I found myself thinking about it—often unconsciously—developing a concept in my mind. Yet, I kept pushing it aside. When I talked to friends, they always said, “Go for it! The topic is totally in! Do you know Lea-Sophie Cramer from Amorelie?” When I talked to people from the BDSM scene, it was more like, “Pff, many have tried that, better not.” But often, it was also, “Yesss please! How can I help you?”

Deep black. Not pink.

Of course there are these star founders from the start-up world like Lea-Sophie Cramer who are celebrated as courageous because they started erotic businesses as women. And yes, I am very grateful to her and many other female founders for paving the way for further projects in recent years that address sexual or taboo topics. Femtasy, Beducated, TheFemaleCompany to name just a few.

Nevertheless, I soon couldn’t and couldn’t hear the comparisons anymore. I didn’t want and don’t want to jump on this bandwagon. Yes, BDSM is about empowerment and self-determination. But, people, it’s also about dangerous practices, pain, humiliation. About things that are viewed as violence. It’s about people being considered disturbed or sick if they like things that go beyond Fifty Shades of Gray scenarios or if they like putting on diapers. It’s about ideas and concepts of sexuality and relationships that the majority of society cannot reconcile with their own. And that’s all very far away from the pink world of Amorelies and Femtasys.

The fact that these concepts are rejected by the majority of society is of course due to the superficial view and the cliché-laden knowledge of the different varieties. But that’s another topic. Likewise, other female-founded projects like Lustery and Ohlala, which also operate at higher levels of stigmatization.

The cold water of exposure

Entering this field and potentially putting myself out of society was therefore not an easy decision. As described above, it took eight months to make this decision despite external encouragement.

Because alongside these concerns, there was also the fear of what would happen if I, as a woman, spoke up about the issue.

A lot of bad things are assumed about women in BDSM in particular: If they are dominant, it’s because they actually hate men. If they like to be subjugated, beaten, or humiliated, then it is due to low self-esteem, so-called “daddy issues” or they want to deal with some kind of trauma. And fair game, because they are so dirty and have no taboos, they are independent of the style of play anyway. And so far we’re only talking about heterosexual cis women.

It was therefore clear to me that I wanted to remain anonymous. But doubts soon arose: How can I use a platform to encourage people to stand up for themselves if I don’t do it myself? How are people supposed to find our mission to educate and destigmatize credible if even the two founders are hiding? After all, women in particular lack sex-positive role models.

More than you think

BDSM is and has always been part of our society. While the data on the prevalence and inclination of BDSM and fetishes is quite thin and quite unreliable due to questions that can be interpreted, one number has remained constant over the decades: Five percent are committed to BDSM as a lifestyle. That’s not so little.

On average, it is believed that a person has about 150 contacts with whom he or she regularly interacts socially. That means each of us knows at least seven people who do a lot of mess behind closed doors.

The people who like to experiment, who give themselves slaps on the bottom, who have ordered the Shades of Gray Beginners box or who play strict teacher with a cane are not there yet. These are also not the ones who secretly enter pissing, pegging and bondage on porn sites. And there are certainly not those whose heads keep flashing BDSM fantasies, but which they quickly push aside because they themselves consider them “sick” because of their beliefs.

No more loneliness

Because as much fun as we have, our species is unfortunately also lonely. Unlike other lifestyles that were considered repulsive a few years ago but are now becoming more and more accepted, our inclinations are still a social taboo.

We don’t know who the 20th person in our circle of acquaintances is because these types of preferences are not discussed. We don’t know how to label our fantasies because no one tells us it’s okay to have them.

We only live out our lives when we can 100 percent rule out rejection. Not only is this tedious, but we also miss a lot of opportunities without even knowing it.

We want to change that. We want all these people who are unknowingly hiding from each other to find each other. We want to advocate for education and safe living. Because if BDSM isn’t talked about, a lot of things are being done wrong. Nevertheless it is done. We also want society to learn from the BDSM community, which is far ahead in many things – just think of communication and consent. And if I actually put myself out of society and am discriminated against as a woman because of my coming out, then that only shows once again how important and urgent this work is.

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