Savage Love: Spank U 

Is this even Dan? Probably not, probably an assistant, but maybe this will eventually get to him. I have a spanking fetish. I love to be spanked. I live in Oakland, California, so San Francisco is 10 minutes away. Seems like I'm in one of the best places in the country to have a kink, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where I can find a spanking community. I know there are BDSM clubs, but is there another way I can connect with spanking people? Any suggestions or resources?

Sincerely Panicked And Needing Knowledgeable Mentorship, Edification

This is Dan, SPANKME. I read all my own mail. And I found someone for you—all by my lonesome—who is more qualified than I to answer your question.

"This lady sounds like she needs to be severely punished," Jillian Keenan joked when she read your e-mail. "I'd love to help her get what she deserves!"

Keenan is a very serious journalist who writes about very serious subjects—climate change, economic policy, nuclear proliferation—but she's also a very serious spanking fetishist. She came out about her kink in a Modern Love column in The New York Times ("Finding the Courage to Reveal a Fetish," November 9, 2012), and she's written a series of pieces about kink, consent, and stigma for Slate and other publications.

So, SPANKME, where can you find your kink community? Where everybody finds their kink communities these days: online.

"FetLife.com has profiles of more than 300,000 spanking fetishists, including several groups specifically for people in the Bay Area," said Keenan. "FetLife is a good way to chat with people online and ease into the scene. On FetLife, she can also learn about where local spanking enthusiasts go for parties and munches."

Munches are informal get-togethers where kinksters meet to talk, not to play. You might connect with a potential playmate at a munch, but you won't be pressured to play right away.

"When she starts to meet potential playmates, the most important thing I can recommend is to be as detailed and honest as possible," said Keenan. "What are her fantasies? Does she want to be spanked with a hand, hairbrush, belt, paddle, or something else? Does she want to call her partner 'sir' or 'ma'am'? Would she prefer a punitive dynamic, or does she fantasize about erotic spankings? Is she excited by any of our kink's side dishes, like standing in a corner, writing lines, being scolded, or getting her mouth washed out with soap? What implements, activities, words, or pain thresholds are absolutely off-limits? Such specific details can feel embarrassing at first, but if she talks about them honestly with a potential partner, it's much more likely that she'll find a good match and have a great experience!"

A safe, responsible, and trustworthy kinkster—the only kind of kinkster you ever want to play with—will agree to meet you in a public place to talk about your kinks and limits before setting up a playdate. If you find yourself talking with someone who refuses to meet prior to playing, SPANKME, they're not a responsible or trustworthy kinkster.

"But great dominants are not rare," said Keenan. "It won't take long to find someone else—someone with whom she'll feel safe. And no matter what she and a potential partner agree on before a scene, she can always change her mind later if something feels uncomfortable. And there is absolutely no shame in using a safe word. So pick a fun one!"

Follow Jillian Keenan on Twitter at @jilliankeenan.

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