What is it with names? In the world of BDSM we have the opportunity to choose our own names, something rare in the rest of our lives. The names we choose speak volumes. Yes there are photos, art, and other creative ways to describe ourselves, but our names come first. We choose scene names to give us a layer of privacy, to identify ourselves, to express needs, and to be our chosen role when socializing in kinky space. Sometimes though, people pick scene or screen names that say more than they might’ve intended. While everyone in kink has to choose their own public face, it is my hope to offer some ideas on how to choose names that are effective and comfortable.
How many times have you logged onto a personals site, checked your email and had that sinking feeling before you even read the first line? The user name in the ‘from’ line is something like ‘SirCocksaLot” and you know that what’s to come will not be good. Even if they write well, are interested in similar kinks, and are local to you, a username that says they want the one thing you don’t is a distraction. It skews how you perceive everything that follows. That is how a name put on something sweet can end up stinking to high heaven.
Implications like these are often invisible to the person who picked the name. They go blithely on; unaware of waves behind their kinky presence on the web until some horrifying real life experience stops them short. I’ve heard the firsthand accounts from folks in my own social crowd. Call it the law of unintended consequences as applied to kinky socializing. The horrified newcomer at a munch hears from across a crowded bar “Hey SPANKY!” While we all want to be known to our fellow kinksters, that might not be the type of ‘knowing’ you had in mind.
When it comes to identifying ourselves in the day to day world, we have lots of choices. We can change our wardrobe, hair color, accessories, and even the car we drive in order to make a statement. The internet is a little different. Frequently there are no face photos, for good reason no doubt. Without our faces shown off to the ‘net we need a way to carve out a bit of style for ourselves. We want to fit in online, to immediately convey something about our kinks perhaps, and certainly to stand out. Names like John or Sue? They’re completely out of the question for the kinky pilgrim. We want to be known. Wouldn’t it also be nice for it to be ok to get shouted out at the mall? With a little time and effort, you can make a choice that can make the leap between vanilla and kink as needed.
There are two basic theories I’d like to offer on naming choices. The first is a basic reliance on real world first names. This is ok for those who are comfortable with it. It’s important to recognize that some of us need more of this separation of social space than others. If you don’t need as large a buffer between the two worlds, or have no problem handing out your regular first name to folks when you first meet them in the scene, then you’re good to go. You can meet new people and introduce yourself by starting with the name you want to be called, and just tacking on a reference to your kink identity: “Hi my name is John, but on Fetlife you can find me under ‘spanksalot’. This identifies you as your vanilla self, and also gives your new friend your kink identity. Now they have a way to learn about all the fun things you posted on your kinky profile. After all, you shared those things on purpose!
If you’re not eager to put your first name out there, what is your alternative? The following is my personal philosophy, and while I think it is effective and sensible, your mileage may vary.
Names shouldn’t be primarily actions. Naming yourself after a fetish could mean being associated almost exclusively with that action. For example, “luvz2spank” is a name that says the person is a top and that they love to spank someone. It puts the cart before the horse when it comes to getting to know them though. What else are they into? What do they like in others? All you know is their fetish off the bat. If you loathe spanking with a passion, you may not get to know them beyond that first blush. So, perhaps leave the action words to the comics and let your actions speak for your character.
If you are looking to run under the radar when in public, choose a name that sounds like a name. Now if you’re ok being called Spanky at the local bar, go for it! But I don’t know how that would come across to the other patrons. What if you’re not in a bar, but a mall, and maybe your coworkers stopped by to do some shopping while your munch was in progress? Then you might really benefit from something that sounds safe. If you love your online name and don’t want to give it up, go with initials based on your kinky identity. If someone says “Hey, TF” and in your head that means “Tough Flogger”, then rock on with your bad self. In that case, put some time into communicating to others that your initials are how you prefer to be called. The short version of this guideline is: if you don’t want to be called by a name in a public place, don’t use it.
Many in the scene add a title on to their chosen names such as Sir, Lord, etc. , to indicate that they are on the top side of the power equation. When choosing how to be addressed in general public, don’t make it all about your title. If your sub is going to be required to call you “LordUberDom” that’s great! Your dynamic is yours to own. But don’t expect the rest of the world to address you as Lord anything without a sideways look or a snicker waiting in the background. Asking people who aren’t part of your power dynamic to call you by a title is a bit pretentious.
There are a lot of don’ts on the list so far. Here are some ‘do’s’ you might consider.
Do pick a name that has personal meaning for you. Maybe there was a book character that resonated with you, a long lost friend or relative you respected, or a mythic figure that has deep meaning for you. You can go with a spiritual source, a mundane one, or even manufacture a name.
Do be creative. Choose something that feels comfortable and connected to your sense of self.
Do accept your instincts. If you like being called Joe, just go by Joe. You aren’t obligated to spell it Geoe and expect folks to pronounce it or hand out phonics cards. It’s ok to go basic.
Do be consistent. There’s no need to rush the process, so once you do choose a name, try to hang onto it. Changing your scene name can be confusing when trying to stay in touch with connections on or offline.
This is something most people never get to do, to choose their name that will be used in day to day living. You are building your personal ‘brand’ as it were. Rather than attempting to identify the whole range of your kink in your name, let your actions define you. Build your identity around your name, and your reputation will take care of the rest. As you create your kinky identity, enjoy the process, dig deep, choose wisely, and no matter what you go by, be true to yourself.