"There are men who have themselves whipped simply to increase their sexual pleasure. These, in contrast with true masochists, regard flagellation as a means to an end."
Labels can be a useful shorthand for communicating complex psychological concepts about yourself or others, but they can also be damaging to one's self expression. When it comes to labels and kink, the damage is almost immediate as soon as the label I applied.
There are so many labels in the world of kink; one would think that there is a label that comfortably describes everyone, but the problem is that for every label, there is an ideal. Also, almost every label has a counterpart. For a dominant there is a submissive, for a master there is a slave, for a sadist there is a masochist, but these labels and relationships become restrictive very quickly.
When my boyfriend and I joined our local kink community, there was a lot of labeling. We expected it because we had been around kink communities before. I called myself a switch while he labeled himself as a sadist. It was the closest thing to the truth from the common options.
The problem arose that after people saw us play, they started to call me a masochist. There was a problem. I'm not.
I shrugged it off, but after months, the label weaseled its way into my brain. I started to doubt my worth as his submissive because I didn't get off physically or mentally from the pain he inflicted. I stopped enjoying our kink because I felt that I couldn't please him. After all, a sadist has to be with a masochist.
It's not true. The labels were negatively impacting my identity and my enjoyment of expressing my own sexuality. The predetermined expectations of labels were dictating what should and should not get me off.
Labels can be helpful, but they can also go too far, so I want to warn my fellow kinksters to be aware and don't let labels say too much about you.