90 Degree Mistake

Non-Fiction  Tutorial: 

90-Degree Mistake

A common misapprehension on the part of many newcomers to the BDSM scene is what I’ve chosen to call “The Ninety Degree Mistake.”

Everyone recognizes that there are continua in almost everything we do in life. The same is true in the scene. However, the confusion comes when people come to believe there are correlations between unrelated continua. The two that concern me most are intensity and quality. To illustrate this, let’s consider the continuum between a good and a bad

bad                                                            good

Naturally, few scenes reach the end points, but most of us try to keep our activities as far to the right as we can manage… occasionally we succeed.

A similar continuum lies between mild and intense.

mild                                                       intense

Some people like to play on the left; some, on the right.

However, I become concerned when I hear things like “I’m not a real player; I’m a real wuss” or “Now, he’s a great player; you should see how intense his scenes are.”

What the people who say things like this are doing is placing the two continua side by side as if they were related.

bad                                                           good
mild                                                      intense

In reality, they should be seen at 90 degree angles to each other.

90 degree
90 degree


This gives us four domains with which to describe a scene, from bad intense to good mild. This is not only more accurate, but it prevents the construction of a false hierarchy.

It may seen like silly nitpicking to belabor this point, but a moment’s reflection reveals that this is no minor matter. In fact, paralleling the two continua is a subtle form of YKINOK (Your Kink Is Not OK). When people who prefer their play light or occasional are told that they aren’t doing quality scenes, there is a temptation to extend play to levels where neither of them are comfortable but are doing it because “they should.”

It has taken enough soul searching and courage for any of us to have stepped into this most politically incorrect way of expressing our sensuality without having another set of restraints non-consensually imposed.

Follow your heart’s desire and your soul’s needs. Don’t let anyone impose a hierarchy where there is none.