BDSM club seeks to build community, encourage safe practice

By Sarah McDonaugh/// Staff Reporter

Lewis & Clark’s BDSM club is looking forward to a productive semester. Founder and president Kim Lantz ’18 has multiple plans for outreach, on-campus engagement and intra-club support and community.

BDSM is an acronym with overlapping meanings. The typical interpretation is any sexual act or relationship characterized by the practice of consensual sadomasochism. Technically, it is a composite acronym consisting of the practices of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Domination and Submission (DS) and Sadism and Masochism (SM). The breadth of the acronym’s terminology is intentional. There are a variety of opinions about what qualifies as BDSM in practice, but the community seeks to provide a large umbrella under which many people can unite to encourage safe practices and community.

“It’s weird to be so into something that you can’t even tell anyone about,” Lantz said. Part of the club’s goal is to provide a place on the LC campus for dialogue about BDSM practices and to dispel misconceptions about what BDSM really is.

The club is not officially recognized by LC and does not receive funding. Any events or meetings are planned entirely by club members. However, Lantz said that the club has considered applying for a faculty advisor in order to elevate the organization’s status.

Though Lantz admitted that students might feel anxious about starting or joining a club united under such a controversial topic, she has hope that mainstream culture’s acceptance of BDSM practice will make establishing the club easier.

“After ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ became so popular I definitely think BDSM started to seem a little more acceptable,” Lantz said.

The club is not only concerned with correcting misinformation about BDSM. The BDSM club also aims to provide a safe space for students to practice BDSM on-campus.

“We also want to create a place to go or an outlet for those who are interested in BDSM but don’t feel as though they have any place on campus where they can express that,” Lantz said.

Currently, Lantz estimates that the club has around 10 members. This estimation is based on interest and attendance at the club’s first meeting last semester.

Although the club met only two times last semester, this semester Lantz’s goal is to have weekly meetings and to expand membership. Lantz plans to make the BDSM club more visible on campus, primarily through social media.

Aside from LC, the club also has plans to arrange meetings with other BDSM groups in the Portland area.

“There is definitely an active BDSM community in Portland,” Lantz said. “It’s just difficult to coordinate with them because of transportation, and a lot of the events are 21 and over only.” However, Lantz is also considering the possibility of arranging meetings between other colleges.

“I’m not sure if other schools in the Portland area have official BDSM clubs, but collaborating with them would be great,” Lantz said. Lantz plans to investigate and attempt to promote conversations and potential community meetings between similar groups at other schools.

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