BHD or Big Hard Dom is not always the colossal male domination problem you might think it is. The kink community is small and is often times the only place where someone can feel normal. We explore why BHDs shouldn’t just be kicked out and ostracized after their first offense…
Nobody Likes A Big Hard Dom
The Case of Failed Male Domination
Most people who have been knocking around the community for a while will have met a couple of Big Hard Doms. There are a few archetypes. There’s the relatively inexperienced young man in his early twenties who wears a nasty-looking whip hooked to his belt. He is also incredibly keen to tell you his BDSM anecdotes without ever once seeming to consider how those subs felt, for example. They’re not all young. Another common model is the middle-aged pillar of the local kink community. Who will proudly boast at munches about his consideration collars, and the beneficent way he fixes the lives of the much younger women he deigns to play with.
You can spot them out in the wild pretty easily. By looking for the largest collection of male domination cliches you can see all in one place. They get their submissives to capitalize pronouns that refer to them in writing. Insist on being introduced as ‘Master So-and-So’ to anyone who asks their name. When you get them talking in more detail about what they’re into and what turns them on – a feat that is not in the least difficult to accomplish. You’ll usually notice that they’re never really talking about what their partners’ wants and needs are. It’s generally all about the pain they want to inflict. The boundaries they want to push at, and the reactions they want to get.
The BHD is almost always male. Almost always dressed in black leather. And almost always in it for themselves.
There are probably people who tick lots of these boxes in one way or another without truly being a Big Hard Dom. I don’t mean to imply that any of the things I’ve listed above are bad things in and of themselves. Cliches are cliches for a reason, after all. The whole reason we’re here in this community in the first place is because we like that sort of thing.
So why are these people so much of a problem?
There are a few stories of negative experiences in fetish clubs and kink spaces that seem to come up again and again. This type of male domination assumes that a female sub’s submission is their right. Rather than something that is given to them, which is often the cause of these problems. People who don’t consider the nuances of consent. Or who push at someone’s limits right from the off with no negotiation. I know a lot of subs who have tales of times someone has plowed straight through their pain threshold without warning. Then when they’ve used a safeword or been upset afterward, have behaved as though it’s the sub who is at fault here for not being able to “take it”.
Missing a step?
Sometimes, these dominants are missing stairs: people who the community are aware are a problem. But have become so used to coping with it, they’ve started making excuses for them. I’ve written here recently about the links between the geek and fetish communities. Perhaps a tendency toward the now-infamous Geek Social Fallacies is one of them; see GSF#1: Ostracizers are Evil.
Even when they’re not missing stairs, they can be irritating and troublesome. They can put new people off becoming more involved in the community. These male domination fakes can lead inexperienced subs, who don’t know how to spot them, into dangerous or damaging situations. They can sexualise spaces that were not intended to be sexualised ones (Big Hard Doms who LARP and play other RPG games are often particularly guilty of this). They’re also generally just not a lot of fun to hang around with.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that only new submissives fall prey to their charms. My most major BHD experience was some five years after I first turned up on the scene. It lasted for a surprisingly large number of months before I came to my senses.
What should we as a community do about them?
We’re not always in a position to just throw people out on their ear. Not all BHDs deserve to be discarded, either. The two most important things we can always do, those, are:
- Get someone they trust, admire or look up to, to talk to them about the things they do that are problematic. Don’t let them get away with pushing limits and boundaries. Call them on their bullshit every single time it comes to light.
- Keep an eye on the people they’re playing with, and anyone new to the scene they seem to be making a beeline for. The community should make sure that they’re safe, happy and supported. If your local BHD has missing stair tendencies, let them know about the problems other people have had with them. Be pretty gentle about this at first. You might find that the subs in question don’t want to hear it. Just make sure they know there are people around to support them if they want it.
Most BHDs aren’t dangerous. Your average 21-year-old with a bullwhip and an over-inflated sense of his own importance and male domination will grow out of it before ere long. Frankly, the best thing you can do about him is to laugh a bit at how ridiculous he looks. Then wait for him to mature a little. It’s worth keeping an eye on examples of the genre in general. For the good of your local community and for the other people in it. Because if they do turn out to be a problem, we need to deal with it better than we often do now.
HELP! I think I might be the Big Hard Dom…
If an uncomfortable number of the things I’ve touched on here ring true for you: I’d like to both thank and congratulate you. No, really. The fact that you’ve spotted it. That you have a strong enough sense of self-awareness to let this post hit home is a sure sign that you’re actually, at heart, a decent person.
The best advice I can give you is this: listen. Listen to yourself, and to the people you’re playing with. Do you really want to sleep with people who can take superhumanly intense beatings without complaint and never forget to capitalize Your trousers in writing? Or have you just got swept up in a whole bunch of stuff from books and porn clips? Have real, honest conversations with your partners about their fantasies. About what they want to get out of a BDSM relationship. Try to put their needs first while you’re playing, even if that’s not how it looks from their perspective.