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May 9, 2013 | by Sassafras
A Little This, A Little That: What is Age Play?

Last month I wrote the first installment of my new column “a little this/a little that” focused on age players, and specially those of us who self identify as littles. When I approached Leatherati with the idea for the column I hadn’t know what the response would be, but much to my delight they were excited and day to run with it- even more exciting, has been the response from readers! I’ve gotten comments, as well as private messages on Facebook and Fetlife from other littles filled with encouragement and ideas for topics they would like to see covered in future columns.

One piece of feedback I got was uncertainty about what exactly age play is, who age players are, and then more specifically who littles are. At first I resisted the idea of including that in this column, because I don’t especially like definitions and I really don’t like creating them. That said, first and foremost I want to respect the requests of readers- and I can’t deny there is a lot of misconception and misunderstanding about who we are, which was part of creating this column in the first place. I don’t especially love any of the definitions that I’ve seen of age play, so here is mine:

Age Play:
A subpopulation of leather community comprised of individuals who consensually play with age. This can manifest in numerous roles or identities including but not limited to: girls, boys, babies, daddy, mommy etc. for some age play is part of negotiated scenes, and for others
It is an identity that is part of how one always relates to the world. Age players may (though not always) be engaged in D/s dynamics, sometimes in Big/little dynamics, sometimes little/little dynamics. Age play can be both sexual and non-sexual depending on preferences of the individual(s) involved.

Really though, the main issue I have with definitions is that I don’t think they are complicated enough to actually encompass all of the axis points that go into making up an identity- and so I’ve come up with this age play spectrum which I think is a more inclusive way of understanding age play. The idea is is riffing off of the Gender Gummy exercise that many of us who do genderqueer and transgender education have been using in different configurations for many years.  I came up with the idea for the Age Play Spectrum, and it really helped me to organize what I’ve spent the last decade trying to explain.  Disclaimer, there are numerous spectrums that could be included in this chart- for example: Who you play with (big/little, little/little etc) but I think these eight areas are a good place to start:

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The way it works is that you go through and plot yourself on each of the different spectrums. Remember you can put yourself anywhere along that line – whatever feels most accurate to you in the moment. Identity is constantly changing and evolving so where you might plot yourself today could look different tomorrow or next week etc.

Want an example? Here’s how I would plot myself:

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Explanation: Bio age is in my late 20′s, I identify as a little, but not a baby, I like to say I’m 5 so I put myself on the little side of the spectrum but not all the way at the edge. I’m really public about being a little and will be little around groups of friends. I live in a full time Daddy/boy dynamic and little is my primary leather identity. I am queer identified, and despite my gender presentation I am boy identified. For me, at this point, age play isn’t sexual (this would have looked very different if I’d plotted myself several years ago), and for the year or so have really been exploring my own relationship to asexuality, and then I’m submissive identified (though not all littles are!).

What does your chart look like? Let me know what you think either here in the comments, or if you’d rather, on twitter or Fetlife!  Next column ill be diving into more of the topics that have been suggested by little readers!

As Tigger would say, TTFN! (That’s Ta-Ta For Now)

Sassafras Lowrey is an internationally award-winning author, artist, and educator who has been involved in Leather community for over a decade. Sassafras is the editor of the two time American Library Association honored, and Lambda Literary Finalist Kicked Out anthology. Sassafras' American Library Association honored debut novel Roving Pack (www.RovingPack.com) was released in autumn 2012. Roving Pack is set in an underground world of young homeless kinky queers searching for community, identity and connection. Sassafras is also the editor of Leather Ever After an anthology of BDSM fairy tale retellings. Sassafras regularly lectures and facilitates LGBTQ and Leather storytelling workshops across the country and believes in the transformative power of storytelling for marginalized queer communities. Sassafras lives in Brooklyn with hir Daddy two dogs of vastly different size and two bossy kitties. To learn more about Sassafras and hir work, visit www.SassafrasLowrey.com

5 Comments
  • OHHHHHHHHHHHHH i love this chart!!!!!!!!! how fun!!!!!!!!!!!! i think this is such a wonderfully inclusive definition of age play.

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