13 August 2011

Some thoughts on cultural shifts in leather

Leather is a culture, like any other culture, and I studied anthropology & sociology before I ever discovered psychology.
Cultures change. They adapt and grow.

Catholic mass is no longer commonly spoken in Latin, but in the native tongue of the worshippers, making it more accessible to Catholics of lower income & education.

Biker culture is no longer primarily the demense of those seeking to outrun 'the law' (no matter what you may think from watching certain stupid tv shows), and in fact now includes- and welcomes- such groups as "Bikers for Jesus" and does runs like JustLizzy's particular project, "Bikers for Babies".

Marital rape is no longer legal, and recognized as rape despite the marriage vow.

Gay bars are no longer illegal and Texas v Lawrence (finally!) struck down state sodomy laws by declaring them unconstitutional, and bath houses full of unprotected sex are no longer the most common method of getting laid for most gay men.

Guess what, everyone? Social norms change, even within subgroups and subcultures.
Yes, leather was once confined to bars and intensely vetted private parties and focused heavily on dirty, raunchy sex above all.
But leather culture is no more sacred than wider Southern American etiquette (I still write thank-you notes... but I don't have a reasonable expectation for you to), gay culture, biker culture, catholicism, etc etc etc and has changed right alongside all of those other cultures.
Is dirty, raunchy sex sill awesome? Hell yes.
Do you still have the right to vette your private parties and groups? Of course.
Are there still a ton of great leather bars around the country? Oh yeah.

But do all leatherfolks have sex as part of their leather? Nope. My sex is private, and sometimes it's even vanilla. Sorry.
Do I feel obligated to vette people for my TNG group because you used to have to? Nope. It's important to me- and the other group leaders- for us to be accessible as a safe place for young folks to learn about their kinks.
Are leather bars now the only way for folks to meet, cruise, learn, and get together? Nope. There's an amazing selection of dungeons, events, parties, munches, and gatherings in my city alone.

Does that frustrate and upset some people? Of course! Does the decline of 'hostess gifts', thank-you notes, and the understanding that one does not watch TV when one has a guest present upset me? You betcha!
But guess what? My culture is changing. Your culture is changing. OUR culture is changing. And all that we can do is to try and pass on the norms that are important to us and that benefit those around us, while appreciating and accepting the good parts of those changes.

Sorry, guys, but my sympathy for those upset about the changes in leather culture is pretty slim.
I've watched, in a short 20-some-odd years of actually paying attention, as traditions I hold sacred have disappeared from my peers' lives, and I've mourned that, but I've also had to rejoice at some of the changes that have come as well. (Um, gay marriage in NY- hell yes!)

....and you know what? The things that are important to me, I've kept doing, and in doing so kept those traditions alive. My friends may not usually send thank-you notes, for example, but after receiving a few from me, they often then send me one for something- and through that sending, discover how pleasant the practice is. Do I have to whinge about the fact that they don't usually? Nope. I just keep quietly going on about my life, upholding that which is important to me and showing by example that some of those old traditions are worth keeping.

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