SWIPE-Waukesha – Recap of Labels – Sun, Oct 25

WAUKESHA, Wisc. – Thank you to everyone who came out to the SWIPE-Waukesha discussion on “Labels” on Sunday, October 25th!

Thanks to everyone who shared their personal stories! Those stories are really what make the meetings worth coming to along with the laughter and camaraderie! We will not recount the personal stories here. Thanks to @girlofmyst for taking notes! If some key points of the discussion were missed or you want to add some additional thoughts, please feel free to do.

NOTE FROM THE NOTE TAKER: Much of the discussion on labels centered on labels within FetLife, but most of the comments below are true about labels beyond FetLife and apply to situations beyond kink.

What are labels?

  • Labels – there are many of them and they can be confusing.
  • Labels can put you in a box/category.
  • Labels set expectations.
  • Labels are a starting point for a discussion/for meeting people.
  • Labels are not just roles – orientation, gender, relationships, etc.

How do labels make us feel?

  • Being labeled something may cause shame.
  • “My labels are mine, not yours.”
  • Some take pride in their labels.
  • When people force labels on you that ring counter to your own identity, this can cause shame.
  • Damage is done by labels that you don’t choose, but others give you.

Why have labels?

  • Human nature tells us to assess others by labels.
  • Labels help to narrow down who you are interested in.
  • A label is a starting place to others when you are un-partnered.
  • Labels help bring people together.

Choosing labels for yourself:

  • So many options for labels; however, many leave them blank versus putting themselves with only one label.
  • Labels are hard if you don’t understand them.
  • BDSM glossary – Profile Drop-Down menus (Roles+)
  • People should ask others how they want to be addressed. This allows people to choose their labels. There are some that make strides to do the opposite of this in order to meet people without predisposition from labels.
  • If you want to clarify your label, write about it in your FetLife profile and understand that some people need the label as a starting point.
  • Labels are what you make them – not what anyone else makes them.
  • Relationship labels are about honoring those relationships – they are intimate and meaningful.
  • People need to define labels for themselves and be able to effectively communicate what those labels mean to them.

Evolving and changing labels:

  • What happens when you choose to change your labels? You have to do some self-searching.
  • Labels are hard when you decide to change them.
  • How do labels effect you versus what they do for everybody else (example: as one evolves but runs a submissive group, can changing their label away from “sub” effect how the group is perceived?)
  • The issue with “evolving” and being a leader – If you don’t know what you want, why should someone else follow you?
  • “Evolving” is a good point of inquiry to start conversations.
  • Why is it anyone’s business if you do something outside of the general concept of something you are labeled?

Pitfalls of labels:

  • People will perceive you how they want to regardless of what you call yourself.
  • Human nature predisposes us to label others consciously and sub-consciously.
  • Accepting behaviors that don’t fit our identity is where we get into trouble. Be true to yourself, not others perceptions of you.
  • Do you care what others think? Should you care what others think? We need to go beyond what others think and just be ourselves.
  • What if you are new and you have others tell you that you are a (insert label here). It comes back to people telling you what you should be but leaving no room for you finding yourself. Finding yourself is more important than others imposing labels on you.
  • We have negative views of ourselves. We should not let this drive how we label ourselves. We do ourselves a disservice by being our own harshest critics. For example, see the Dove Real Beauty Sketches.
  • Labels shouldn’t be the ending part of the conversation, they should be the beginning.
  • Language is an incredibly ineffective tool; this is why you may have to explain what your labels mean to you.
  • We have to be careful not to exclude each other because of our labels.

Other comments:

  • Labels may be a suggestion but not necessarily a definition.
  • Keeping an open mind is important.
  • Labels are really on a spectrum rather than a binary system.
  • When in doubt, you could call yourself a “kinkster”.
  • At X age, I knew who I was but it’s hard to express that. Trust someone to label themselves until proven otherwise.
  • Labels are not necessarily interchangeable. (ex: a bottom does not equal a submissive)
  • It’s easier to be you and be understood in small groups then in the general vanilla world.

Our next Waukesha discussion – Sunday, Nov 22nd @ 6:30pm – Support in the Lifestyle – How/Where do you find support in the lifestyle? If you are single or in a relationship, who do you turn to for a support network? Where do you find can you find a support network? Do you look within or outside of the lifestyle?

Our next Madison discussion – Friday, Dec 11th @ 7:00pm – Negotiations – How do you negotiate a D/s relationship? Do you need a written contract? What do you need to include while negotiating a scene successfully?