Control Tower

Nerds Are a Big Hit in the BDSM Scene

A social tip for those considering a first foray into the Seattle BDSM community: It is ruled by nerds. Oh, one might say some of us are former nerds. But let's face it, the identities with which we are tagged in adolescence never completely leave our psyches, do they? So if you go out looking for someone to do flogging or pegging or piercing in this town, chances are strong the partner you find will be someone who either was or still is a nerd.

What do I mean by nerd? I don't consider it an insult, given that I was a nerd in high school and I still retain many nerdy traits. One might define a nerd as someone who has low social status in a random peer group (classmates or coworkers) because he/she intensely pursues unfashionable hobbies or interests, is uninterested in activities more valued by that group, and—either by accident or design—is noncompliant with group mores about appearance and manner. (Note: A nerd may also be a geek, but those categories aren't precisely synonymous.)

Why are nerds so omnipresent in the BDSM scene? Because being a nerd—especially if one participates in nerd culture around things like comic books, science fiction/fantasy, RPGing, etc.—is excellent training for becoming an active member of the BDSM community. The young nerd, shunned by the elite, perforce becomes accustomed to hanging around other nerds and social outcasts of all types. Nerds thus develop a high tolerance for socially nonconforming people and come to feel that such individuals are, by definition, nicer and more interesting than the Cool Kids. They embrace being weird, in other words.

Plenty of non-nerds like BDSM—in private. But they're unwilling to make the cultural leap into a stigmatized social group. I've seen non-nerds who I knew were as kinky as Caligula walk into a BDSM party, look around, think "Oh no, these people are way too weird," and leave. But when the grown-up nerd goes to his first BDSM social gathering, what does he see? People wearing unusual costumes, calling themselves made-up names and titles, having conversations rife with obscure jargon. Why, it's just like a Star Trek convention! So the nerd takes it in stride. He and his friends have been called weird for years, so that doesn't bother him. He understands that just because someone has a fetish you don't share—be it feet or X-Men action figures—that doesn't mean he couldn't potentially be a friend or lover.

So the non-nerds cut and run, the nerds stay, and a critical nerdy mass builds. Soon, nerds completely dominate the scene and become, in an odd twist of fate, the Cool Kids. The BDSM community is the sexual Revenge of the Nerds. So those awkward folks with pocket protectors and taped-up glasses? Be nice to them. One of them might be standing behind you with a paddle someday. recommended


Comments (31) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
MM hit one outta the park on this one. Haw haw haw! Funny as hell and right on the mark. I was president of the AV Club in my HS!
Posted by Larkshead on February 23, 2011 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Too cool. I can't decide if I prefer the phrase "as kinky as Caligula," or "a critical nerdy mass builds."
Posted by Timory on February 23, 2011 at 6:40 PM · Report this
"nerds completely dominate the scene"

But what about the nerds who are subs?
Posted by Leigh Sabio on February 23, 2011 at 7:45 PM · Report this
@1: Yeah, she is right on the money. Also, I'd say more broadly that nerds make far more interesting lovers. Something about being an outcast that makes one think outside the square, perhaps?
Posted by melbzig on February 24, 2011 at 1:18 AM · Report this
@3 ftw
Posted by melbzig on February 24, 2011 at 1:19 AM · Report this
@3 If you think people who are subbie in a scene are all submissive in social situations, then you haven't been around the BDSM scene much, lol. Subs run the community, we doms are just here to give them what they want. (And get what we like along the way, heh heh.)
Posted by Larkshead on February 24, 2011 at 1:28 AM · Report this
@6 you might be too cool to understand 3 was being funny.
Posted by Rainboibrite on February 24, 2011 at 7:47 AM · Report this
Wasn't 'Revenge of the Nerds' the sexual revenge of the nerds?...
Posted by righton on February 24, 2011 at 9:05 AM · Report this
"Why, it's just like a Star Trek convention!"

This comment made my day. Thank you.
Posted by Arcturus1966 on February 24, 2011 at 1:14 PM · Report this
MarkA 10
And when they realize they are now the Cool Kids in this context, many to most of them start acting like Cool Kids: manipulative, falsely elitist, exclusionary, and intent on popularity games.
Posted by MarkA on February 24, 2011 at 1:55 PM · Report this
I heard that Dr. Seuss created the word Nerd.
Posted by thelovingwarrior on February 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM · Report this
@10 exclusionary?! oh noes not that! (looks like #geeksocialfallacies strike again!)…
Posted by polykinkybiandstillwon'tfuckyou on February 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM · Report this
#10, just like Star Bellied Sneeches?
Maybe #11 is right!
Posted by timbeecharmer on February 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
@12, I think you were trying to link to this but failed. Five Geek Social Fallacies:…

Posted by Larkshead on February 26, 2011 at 1:02 AM · Report this
Danrilor 15
Well, aren't we lucky that the comic book convention is coming into town next week :) Ahhhh... kismet.
Posted by Danrilor on February 26, 2011 at 6:44 AM · Report this
There's also the fact that we nerds of a certain age grew up on Robert Heinlein and Heavy Metal magazine--lots of kinky sex and fancy leather outfits . . .
Posted by AnathemaT on February 26, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Ugh, I still dislike Heinlein, despite my kinkiness. I think you had to read it in the 60s, or before the age of 20, to be susceptible to it, especially if you're female. Some writers you need to be exposed to at a formative age (for example, I have a soft spot for McCaffrey, but that is entirely because I read her Dragon books in my early teens).

As for Matisse's comments, I think they may apply to those of us who ID as "queer" rather than just gay/lesbian as well, or perhaps those who say that being queer is a central part of our identities rather than "I'm just like everyone else except who I sleep with."
Posted by Trix on February 26, 2011 at 9:42 PM · Report this
Heinlein had a lot of swinging (and occasional adult incest), but nothing 'kinky' in BDSM terms. He thought people who would bring whips and chains into bed were crazy (re-read To Sail Beyond the Sunset). But he was very big on pulling the curtains shut and doing what you wanted to behind them, and telling Mrs. Grundy to mind her own business.

Heinlein's probably my favorite author, and I'm female, but I read most of his books in my teens and early twenties, so I guess I was still pretty impressionable. McCaffrey's books were entertaining, but Heinlein's shaped my philosophy and politics immensely, leaving me a libertarian-socialist. Kind of. I'm still waiting for a new -ism.
Posted by TheMoonIsAHarshMistressToo on February 26, 2011 at 10:35 PM · Report this
I think that large parts of the 'typical' BDSM scene are dominated by the type of nerds that Mistress Matisse describes. I've also known large numbers of open, out kinksters who don't fit that definition of nerd that focuses on "comic books, science fiction/fantasy, RPGing..." Perhaps they are nerds in the rejecting norms department, but not in the activities that they do.

I just want to meet and play with people with the socials skills to be awesome, nerd or not. I happen to not be into comic books and role play games, and I find I click best with people who share my interests. Luckily more people who are kinky are out as kinky (at least in certain cohorts and places). I have a feeling that as more people are willing to be out as kinksters the more some of the traditional images of who is a kinkster are going to break down. All the same, screw the cool kids (or don't).
Posted by t_in_pdx on February 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM · Report this
How about 'Techno-atheo-anarcho-communist immortalism'?

Ken Macleod. Charles Stross. Iain M. Banks...they don't all seem to analyse those sorts of cultures.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on February 27, 2011 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Well, I think she is pretty much right on, except for the ending. Truth is, in many cases, the cool, or more socially adept, attractive, popular types come around, say "my god, this place is full of nerds, socially maladaptive people and not so attractive people" and then they leave. It isn't like they can't handle the nerds. It is that they don't want to be around them in the kink scene any more than they wanted to be around them in high school. It is kind of like the computer lab, a comicon, or a dungeons and dragons game. There are a bunch of nerdy guys, a few not so attractive girls, and one or two hot girls who kind of don't realize how hot they are, but at the same time realize that in this world they are the real prize, rather than just another kind of pretty girl in the real world, and they are the rare few that most guys in the scene are chasing or wishing they could chase, while settling for the rest. But she is spot on about everything else.
Posted by guy22 on February 28, 2011 at 1:39 AM · Report this
BedlamBabe 22
@17 I adore Heinlein... except for that time where Lazarus boned his own mum. That still squicks me.

And yes! Yay for kinky nerds and having a Dragon Con group on FetLife.
Posted by BedlamBabe on February 28, 2011 at 7:45 AM · Report this
So true! I'm a complete nerd and have been getting into my local scene for a few months. One of the casual meetings, I was surrounded by men and we were all talking about Monty Python and Star Trek.

Posted by blah on February 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM · Report this
@18 ditto on the libertarian-socialisim, although RAH would have been appalled at the latter half of that phrase.

I'm a female red-headed over-sexed mathematician come engineer so what else but Heinlein was I going to read in my late teens? Although the 'over-sexed mathematician come engineer' part is probably at least partly his fault. Not kinky at all though, prefer my sex straight up, just lots of it with as many men as I can lure my way.
Posted by HazelStone on February 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM · Report this
*sigh* I can't wait to wear my subbie heels, corset and thigh highs to the SciFi convention when I go! YeeeHaw, nerds are sexy!

She missed a point that the best Doms are SMART and creative...! Two nerdly/super-sexy attributes :). Nothing like getting on my knees for a guy with brains!
Posted by badgirl on February 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM · Report this
So if I, a former nerd with body issues who bulked up through exercise and could now make a passable jock, were to go to one of these things looking like a fratboy, would I get the everloving fuck beat out of me (in a way that I would enjoy)?
Posted by Nonya Bidness on February 28, 2011 at 7:23 PM · Report this
The problem with the BDSM "scene" in many places (perhaps not Seattle) is that the majority of the people at munches and play parties are, quite frankly, very unattractive. Not a good hookup scene.. That's my elitist two cents.
Posted by Cody on March 2, 2011 at 9:24 AM · Report this
I always thought geek= weird interests (ie star wars/medieval weaponry) and nerd = socially awkward (picks boogers in public/mouth breather).
Posted by Caralain on March 2, 2011 at 9:27 PM · Report this
Actually, I kinda avoid BDSM scenes for that reason.

I've got nothing against nerds, I just don't really want to be be a party to this weird universe where suddenly I have to pretend that they are hot and dominant Alphas, when the people they are pretending to be during club hours are doing all that stuff and more everyday in their normal lives.

But hey, if some spectacled, human-interaction-uncomfortable IT maven gets a kick out of a buck-toothed daytime research assistant/librarian/whatever calling him master/beating him with a whip, who am I to judge?

That said, I do remember when the Goth scene was pretty much ruined overnight when all the LARPers turned up.
Posted by Jackalopism on March 3, 2011 at 4:14 PM · Report this
this is so true, I can't tell you how many munches I've been to that we all got into a huge Star Trek debate!
Posted by Sita Ironclaw on May 20, 2011 at 6:25 PM · Report this
The one problem with the Revenge of the Nerds connection is there's a scene of sexual assault perpetrated by one of the Nerds in that movie - the scene where the nerd pretends to be the jock and has sex with the jock's girlfriend.
Posted by Dg on May 14, 2013 at 11:23 AM · Report this

Add a comment