Building an Alternative

On Friday night, I went to screwup, a trans/genderqueer BDSM group in San Francisco. Open to all genders, screwup is non-hierarchical and staunchly DIY in its philosophy; there’s no elected board, and workshops are put on by anyone who wants to do one. It’s all done on a volunteer basis, so workshops are free, with donations requested to cover the cost of renting a space.

Needless to say, I found all of this incredibly exciting and refreshing. I talked to one of the organizers at length about why screwup was formed—both as a response to BDSM spaces that didn’t really understand the specific needs of the trans community and as an alternative to a scene focused on traditional top-down power structures, for-profit workshops organized by “professionals” and “experts,” and expensive toys and fetish wear.

The topic of the evening was play piercing, something I felt was sort of beyond my reach without thorough training and instruction. I came away from the workshop realizing that it really, really wasn’t, and that there were probably a lot of things I’m currently afraid of trying that I could learn to do myself or with friends, with the appropriate safety measures and risk-awareness. At the end of the evening, we were encouraged to try piercing ourselves or others, and being too nervous to stick someone else, I did a simple piercing in my forearm. I was shocked: it was absurdly easy, and didn’t hurt a bit. (Obviously, having four or five of them probably would have started to hurt a lot more, not to mention having them inserted somewhere a bit more sensitive…)

But the point of this post isn’t really to talk about play piercing; the point is that there are people out there creating alternatives to the mainstream BDSM scene, that there are people who think that the best way to teach and learn techniques is through peer skill sharing and personal practice, not expensive classes and extensive training. It’s all very inspiring, and makes me more hopeful than ever that my friends and I can start something similar within the anarchist scene.

2 comments so far

  1. Gabe on

    DIY, nonhierarchical kink? Oh my, I may have to move to California. Not that the local kink group here isn’t wonderful, but to have that ethic built into the group is just so awesome.

    Oh, hi. I’m Gabe. I don’t think I’ve commented here before, but I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks. I’m a vegetarian and an anarchist, and it’s very cool to find like minds out there.

  2. Meer on


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