(Originally posted on FetLife April 2015)
I remember the day in the 9th grade when my English teacher was talking to us about social classes. There were the lower or working class, the middle or *bourgeois* class, and the uppper class, which was split into old money and nouveau riche, or new money.
“These are new money people,” he said. “They’re the ones with the decorative towels you don’t use, and the bedspreads you don’t sleep on, and they drive BMWs and Mercedes and have nannies that drive their kids to and from school and to soccer practice and dance class and piano lessons. They go on cruises and all-inclusive resorts for vacations.”
He said all of this like they disgusted him. And, in fact, members of the elite upper class are known to look down upon members of this rising class who made their wealth doing such things as business.
He was describing my life, right down to the decorative hand towels and cars.
I was really upset. Why was my family a target for that derisive tone?
There’s another way to describe what my family had accomplished – it was the so-called American Dream.
My grandparents all immigrated to the United States in the 1960s. Both sides separately, but with the same story. Grandfathers who arrived with little to no money – one with a wife and two children in tow, another with a wife and four sons.
They worked. They saved. They started their own businesses. They became entrepreneurs. They succeeded.
Two separate success stories.
My parents met here. They got married. They worked. They saved. They started their own business. They succeeded.
It continues. My brother barely graduated high school. He got to work. Started a business with his friends. They have all succeeded. He has his white picket fence and 2.5 children and married his high school sweetheart.
Somehow this is a bad thing? This fun little scapegoat in the middle for the elite to look down upon and the working classes to hate on because we have stuff. And things.
There’s a point here.
I’ve heard people talk about the “Old Guard” in BDSM and the “New Guard.” Then there’s a group that’s probably something along the lines of a complete “Disregard,” I’m sure.
I don’t care if you have been in this scene 5 minutes or 50 years; if you’re in a high protocol leather family or you just created your fetlife account yesterday because you finished reading *50 Shades* and can’t wait to find your very own Christian Grey or whatever the girl’s name is in that book: I think we’re all in this together and we can all behave with civility and respect toward one another. (Until you disrespect me, and then I will just ignore you. I won’t even give you the satisfaction of disrespecting you back.)
I was at a play party last Saturday during a Leather conference where most of the play happening was not what I’m used to watching or participating in. It was different. It was fascinating. It was not any more or any less BDSMy than what I’m used to.
A few weeks ago I was at a different play party where there were mostly newbies in attendance. The play there was different. It was fascinating. It was not any more or any less BDSMy than what I’m used to.
We were all new to this once. I mean, maybe there are some “old money” BDSMers where the Gospel of Kink has been passed down from generation to generation; but for many of us, we’re still building our wealth of knowledge from scratch – learning what we can from those who came before us, and modifying it to suit our wants and needs as we travel along this journey.
And there are, of course, those who only have an inkling still. Those who do not have much to go on other than a fantasy that makes them question their sanity because they haven’t figured out that this thing we do is a thing with a name and a community behind it.
I’d love to stop being reminded how it felt sitting in class with Mr. M talking shit about the *nouveau riche* without realizing that sitting in the 2nd row was 14-year-old girl sinking into her seat and feeling like shit because she dared to be born to a family that succeeded.
I’d like for all of us to stop feeling that way.
I came into this scene only knowing that my fantasies were not like other people’s fantasies. I figured out how to make it work for me. I’m still figuring it out, and I think that’s respectable.
And I’ll respect the newbies who are just getting started on this fantastic trip, because I was them once.
And I’ll respect the Old Guard who have been doing this since before I was born, whether or not their way is one that interests me in the slightest.
And above all, I respect the Right Guard, because people who smell good are definitely worth my respect.