Tag Archives: musing

Winnowing

There’s an art to hearing input from confidantes, on private things. It’s a challenge to hear past familiar thought patterns and feelings to accept what wisdom they can add. It takes a fair bit of finesse to tease out the words that come from their own histories, experiences no less valid than your own but perhaps not relevant when spun into advice for you. I…won’t pretend to be an expert.

The Chef and Chi have plenty to say. I told them I’ve only had a couple of dates in the last several months. Felt no excitement after either. “I don’t think I’m looking to start any Relationships right now. Something, sex for sure, but the thought of dating exhausts me.” While we’re together, I let conversation flow, save the critical part for later. There’s a winnowing process, which for me takes some time and quiet.

Wheat. “You should keep in mind what you will want, when you are feeling it. Every now and then evaluate whether you still aren’t interested in a relationship, or you’re just avoiding taking any risks.” Anxiety does tell me to keep myself curled up, treat any hint of intimacy as a threat. My gut is unreliable. I have to untangle the thoughts and feelings I’ve generated whole cloth, or out of association with a past that has nothing to do with now, from the ones that match current experience. I’m not always good at it. I don’t always–ever, really–feel that it’s fair to ask someone new to understand. So much easier to spin a cocoon that never admits someone new. I know better than that, but still, it does help to be reminded.

Wheat. “You have some good friends. You sleep with some of them, it works, maybe don’t be afraid to feel out whether that’s an option.” After I’ve known someone a while, if we haven’t had sex, I tend to assume it’s not on the table. I might be down for it but 95% of the time I’ll assume they aren’t. Of course, the most recent exception has become a particularly excellent (if infrequent) source of sexy fun times. There are tiring things about this–friends-with-benefits situations with monogamous people put me in the tenuous position of playing side-chick with people who are single, knowing I’ll be set aside when they find a partner. I accept this at the outset and I’ve chosen it more than once because I’m avoiding risk of intimacy, but it does get hard not to feel disposable at times.

Chaff. “People cheat. They just do, if you don’t keep them interested. You can’t expect that people will tell you who they’re screwing, I don’t care how open the relationship is.” I can. I do. I will. I have no interest in being lied to, and refuse to just accept that this is The Way People Are.

Wheat. “It’s not about what you need. Fuck that, you don’t need anything. What makes you happy?” I can’t answer that. It’s probably the best indicator that I don’t need to be pursuing anything right now, the fact that I can’t answer that. What makes me happy? Fuck, I don’t know, ice cream? Ask me again when I feel like my housing/income/job situation is a little more solid under my feet. It’ll probably be a while.

Chaff. “You can’t tell men what you want. They won’t believe you. Drop hints. Let them think they figured it out. Otherwise they won’t believe it’s real.” This is too often true. I have no patience for it. I say what I mean. I expect to be believed. It’s not a standard I’m willing to lower.

Chaff…I think.  “Jealousy means they care. You always want to work through jealousy, soothe it away, but you should try cultivating it sometime. the right kind. I got jealous as fuck when he made you scream, but it just made me want to do it to you, too.” I don’t trust jealousy to stay in the realm of healthy competition. Maybe she knows how to keep it there, maybe it works for her, but I’ve seen it get ugly too many times. I don’t know. It’s hard, this one. I don’t know.

Wheat. “Date your friends. Date your lovers. We’re not the same people we were three years ago. I still think of you as my girlfriend but that means something different now, doesn’t it?” It does and I’m flattered and she’s right. Relationships, friendships, all of it stays fluid. People stay fluid. We entwine first branches, then roots. Grow closer some places, have to draw back where we damage each other in other. Sometimes we grow apart. The Chef and I have–there’s so much distance, neither of us reaches out often enough to keep us close–but so far we learn each other again and fall into a new pattern that works. I like this. I like that I don’t feel any pressure to expect that it’ll work out again next time.

It was a long evening of talk, most of it simply sweet and fun. We don’t always agree. It’s something I love about them both, that we can feel safe that not-agreeing won’t devolve into fights. Only more to process. I’m still processing some of it.

Being Single Sucks

My housemate is gently offering to set me up with approximately every guy she knows because “no one wants to be single.”

People used to tell me it must be a perk of polyamory: “At least if you have a breakup you still have someone else!” At the time, this irked me because it implied people are interchangeable, that as long as there’s some relationship in the tank, life goes on, and if there’s none, you’re stalled on the side of the road.  And then you can’t afford to be picky. You do what magazines say is attractive to “men”/”women” as a whole and the very first person who’ll stop for you is worth traveling with. The standard becomes “probably not a serial killer” because even obvious incompatibility is worth it for now, just to get on the road again.

Now, I’m single (Hey non-poly people: we can have All The Breakups at the same time, and end up single! How’s that for a perk?). And yeah, it’s not fun. I miss kissing. I miss the text messages that put a Cheshire-cat grin on my face. I miss having someone special. I miss being someone special. And dear God do I miss kissing.

But not enough to accept advances from a myriad of straight male friends I feel pretty much unexcited by. And what gets me is that this shocks people. I’ve heard “beggars can’t be choosers,” “but he’s not bad,” and “but isn’t it better than being alone?” Thing is, I’m not begging. “Not bad” isn’t the world’s most stellar recommendation. And if I couldn’t stand my own company, I don’t see how it’d be any good to inflict it on someone else.

I stayed in my last several relationships too long, for a lot of not-very-good reasons. They weren’t healthy. I wasn’t stable in them. Right now, aside from leveling up in the crazy cat lady class, I am stable. I can say, definitively, that alone is better than the wrong relationship and that pressure not to be alone makes leaving the wrong relationship that much harder. For the moment, single works.

Life goes on. I’m not stranded and I’m not particularly worried about it. I figure if my motivation for starting a relationship is to avoid being single rather than to create a good connection, it’s already failed.

That said, a delivery service for kissing would be nice.

For the best

“I never lost interest. You were the one who disappeared for months without a word.”

“Yeah, I know. It was probably for the best though.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, if I’d been distracted all the time–not that you’re a bad distraction–I’d never have been able to patch things up with Z.”

I see. I don’t have anything to say to that. I’m bruised from calf to shoulder, constellations of tiny black marks shining over my hips. My fingers probe them absently. I want to feel this as pain but I don’t; the beating went on too long and all I can feel now is a dull ache.

It was probably for the best.

I wonder if this is the first honest thing he’s said to me. I wonder why I’m not angry. I wonder if he has any idea what he just said.

He lied for so long. He may not even know how many lies he told, if it’s as automatic as it seems. He stopped talking for so long. He wasn’t here to see the panic, how easily I was reduced to hyperventilation and fear, how every word, every glance is chased by distorted shadows of ulterior motive. It was probably for the best for him. Not for me.

It takes a moment to parse how I feel. Pythons uncurl from defensive knots in my gut. Nausea, and a frightening sense of vulnerability. Except I’m not; for now, anyway, there’s nothing to fear. He’s just let me know he doesn’t care. He looks at me and I don’t know what he sees but it’s not human. I can be discarded, and he’ll sleep well. I can hold that close. It will keep me from doing anything stupid. For the first time in a long time, I can relax.

I don’t say anything. I unfold to rest in a long sprawl with my head on his shoulder. Nothing’s changed. I’m still unhappy, still care too much, still thinking thinking thinking as though it will do any good. But I’ve remembered how to move under my own power rather than succumbing to the whirlpool of his, and that’s something.

Cock Shot

Everybody scorns the cock shot.  There’s no denying that guys who use ill-lit photos of their dicks as profile photos or send them unsolicited to women on the Internet have some issues. Honestly, given the overwhelming negative response to this sort of behavior, I find it a bit baffling that it continues to occur at all.  The complaints I see about the cock shot start reasonable: “I don’t even know this guy, what makes him think I want to see what he keeps in his pants?” Then they take it a step further–“no one wants to see your cock,” or “male genitals just aren’t attractive.”*  And I agree that seeing a strange man’s dick is pretty much never going to hit my to do list. My response to random messages containing them is usually to roll my eyes and block the sender, on the theory that whatever he was thinking when he sent it, it probably wasn’t something I’m interested in.

But.

That doesn’t mean the cock shot is never welcome. The keyword above is “unsolicited.”

The new guy–let’s call him the Techie –and I text a lot. We throw in pictures sometimes. Photos of dinner if that’s what we’re talking about, or his latest “look what I picked up at the hardware store” project, mostly. I’ve tossed in a few self-portaits in fetishwear or nude when we flirt. When I sent him a proud shot of chicken enchiladas, he responded with beer brats. When I send him a racy nude, he sends back his own.

I fucking love it.

You have to understand, I’m a complete reaction junkie. If I send a partner or a friend an erotic picture, I want a response. The polite that’s-nice-but-I-shan’t-comment-lest-you-think-I’m-objectifying-you responses are less than desirable. Frankly, I find them rather ego-deflating. Comments of enthusiastic appreciation–“My mind keeps wandering to you in that corset, it’s making it difficult to focus at work,” “The next time you make that face, I want to be there.”–are better, though I get flustered and shy about them. How am I supposed to respond? “Gee, thanks”? It kind of ends the conversation.  My favorite responses are descriptive. I want specifics, details. What exactly are these fantasies, did I cause blushing or goosebumps or a moment of quickening pulse? A photo does one better. I get to see what reaction I provoke, I get a lovely bit of sexiness of my own to look at, and the whole exchange gets amped up that much more. Responding in kind helps create a lovely feedback loop of desire that can keep me smiling all day. So yeah, sometimes a picture of a cock is exactly what I want to see.

So what makes the naked pictures desirable? Relationship, for one. A sexual partner or sexual interest who expresses desire to see one’s nudity is someone it’s appropriate to send a nude photo to. Without consent, it’s just a bit creepy. Creepy does not make a good first impression.

Second, consider context. Sending a racy picture cold or in the middle of another conversation creates a bit of a WTF? moment. With the first, there’s a higher risk that the image preview will be seen by someone else in inappropriate context. (My phone is ALWAYS either in my hand or in my purse or pocket, but some people will set theirs on a desk or hand it to someone to show them a picture or website.  It’s worth being careful of.) The latter would just be bit jarring. When flirting, though? I’ll always say yes to an added dimension. Words are great. Words with visuals are better.

Third there’s the photography itself. This is true for female nudes as well, by the way: I have just as much disdain for a poor quality photo of a woman’s body or any of its parts as I do for a man’s, and most people’s attempts at erotic photography of themselves are pretty abysmal. There’s this ridiculous idea that men’s bodies are inherently unattractive and lacking in artistry, while women’s bodies are beauty personified, which I think contributes to lazy photography among both.** After all, if men can’t be sexy, why worry about poses, framing, lighting, or anything else? It’d just look farcical, right? And if a woman’s body is conventionally attractive, why bother cleaning the bathroom mirror or keeping rumpled castoff clothes*** out of the shot or anything else? No one will look at the background if there’s a naked chick in the foreground, right? I don’t expect studio quality work, but a bit of care is nice. Mr. DIY is pretty brilliant behind the lens, which makes our current game lots of fun for me.

The point is, naked pictures–even anatomical close ups****–are fantastic when created and used responsibly. They’re worth having fun with.

*That’s just not true. Our species is not in fact divided into “yum” and “dear God keep your pants on” based on SRY activation, okay?

**No, I’m not addressing folks who don’t fit the gender binary. Yes, they’re people too, but someone not part of the traditional gender binary is less likely to indulge in self-referential behaviors determined by social gender expectation.

***Dear every woman who makes K&P and is not being photographed in a studio: do your damn laundry. Make your damn bed. If you can’t, at least don’t include the mess in the shot.

****I have a thing for hands and wrists. Just tossing that out there, in case anyone reading this has a particular desire to show off his/her/insert-preferred-gender-neutral-possessive-pronoun palmaris longus or any of the visible carpal bones. Swoon.

30 Days of Kink: Days 26-29*

What’s your opinion on online BDSM play?

I think it’s the natural extension of combining a long-distance relationship and the Internet. It can be intimidating (or in smaller communities simply difficult) to find a local partner with enough overlap of interest to play with. Online play comes with very little attendant risk: inexperienced partners can’t do physical damage, anonymity can be maintained, fantasy can be indulged tonight with no worry about bruises tomorrow. That said, I don’t do it. Generally I’m very tactile- and olfactory-oriented; I doubt I could properly feel like I was playing with someone whose skin I couldn’t feel or whose hair I couldn’t smell. I enjoy flirting with one lovely boy over IM, but it’s just that: flirting. It can definitely leave me swooning or vicious or full of want, which is a lovely form of torment. Still, it doesn’t feel like play so much as foreplay that can’t go anywhere unless one of us wants to fly across the Mason-Dixon line. It’s worth it, because I know this boy rather well and he’s such a delight that I’m frankly addicted, but I don’t see even that level of Internet-based play happening with anyone else.

I know there are some erotic roleplaying options such as Elliquiy out there, and I’ve considered joining. I love to write, erotically and otherwise. However I’d hate to start something and get bored by a story moving in a direction I don’t care for, or rambling on too long, or (horror of horrors) a roleplaying partner with poor spelling or grammar.

Do your non-kink interests ever find their way into your kinky activities? If so, how?

Tangentially, I suppose. Shared interests are at least as important as physical appeal in finding a partner, so things like playing board games or discussing books/science/theology/philosophy can lead to a connection. My husband and I have played board and card games with stakes: winner gets to determine the night’s kinky activities. But mainly, no, there’s not much overlap.

How do you dress for kink/BDSM play? What significance does your attire have to you?

At home I don’t. It’s underwear or nothing. I do like to dress for play parties. High heels and short skirts are typical. I can go for any look from sweet Southern girl to leather librarian depending on the impression I want to make at a given party: a leather pencil skirt and crisp blouse advertise “domme,” hair under a pageboy cap with a boyish shirt and jeans say “lesbian,” &c. It provides a hint at least to folks who might be considering approaching for play. I also adore any excuse to dress up (My Halloween costume collection is starting to look like a DC rogue gallery. It’s awesome.), so getting fancy for play parties is just fun, even if I know it’s all coming off for a scene. Attire doesn’t have any greater significance for me; I don’t have a collar or other signifier of ownership by or of anyone else.

Do you have a BDSM title (e.g. mistress, master, slut, pig, whore, princess, goddess, ma’am, sir)? What is your opinion of the use of titles in general?

I do not. I generally prefer to use my name.  The occasional well-placed “ma’am” can snap me from feeling tentatively dominant into a very focused predatory/protective state, but I imagine it would be annoying if overused. I don’t mind being called a slut or whore for a scene, but it has to be pre-negotiated or I might flip out.

The thirtieth item was “whatever BDSM/kink related thing you want to write about.” I’m pretty sure the entirety of this blog counts as that, so I’m not going to try to come up with a mini-post for it here.

30 Days of Kink: Days 21-25

  • Favorite BDSM related book(fiction or non-fiction)

Non-fiction: I’ll always have a soft spot for Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns, even though my copy was culled when we downsized the library to move after college. SM 101 met the same fate, but I’m very glad to have had it available as a beginner. These days I read a lot of BDSM related blogs, but don’t really feel the need to acquire more books on the subject.

Fiction: I don’t read much erotic fiction, BDSM or otherwise. It tends to disappoint. Seduce Me by Dahlia Schweitzer has several great erotic short stories. Some are kinky, some vanilla. She describes desire well, and reactions. There’s one story that I find intolerably creepy, but the rest are all more than good enough to make up for it. Bonus: it includes both straight and lesbian stories, and both seem to come naturally to the writer.

What do you think is important in keeping a BDSM relationship healthy? How does it differ from a vanilla relationship?

I don’t think it’s different per se. Vanilla relationships are just running Windows, and kinky ones run Linux.  We’re more customizable at the cost of ease of use.

That probably needs  unpacking. So, the relationship paradigm that we’re meant to understand as ideal based on media is all kinds of messed up. It’s something we’re shown from such a young age (think classic Disney movies and many fairy tales). It persists everywhere romance is to be seen in the mainstream, from Cosmo to Nicholas Sparks’ novels every TV drama ever. Some commonalities to this paradigm are: everyone has One True Love, communication is unnecessary or gauche at best,  men are always the sexual/romantic aggressors, it’s more useful to learn what women (or men) want generally than to ask what your partner specifically wants. It’s pre-packed with really unhelpful features and failsafes intended to stop you from accidentally crashing your system, but they do work for many people. The system says hitting is always bad, monogamy is always good, &c., and you never have to discuss when, how, or why hitting is okay or what exactly constitutes cheating now that you’re poly. To be clear, I’m not criticizing people who prefer default settings no matter how much I personally hate those settings. They’re functional.

If you’re into kink, you’ve got the advantage of having already rejected this paradigm on some level. Those of us who watched Sleeping Beauty and thought Princess Aurora was a useless moron and that there were worse thing for Prince Philip than being chained up by a pretty (if green) sorceress weren’t exactly primed to accept passive femininity. Most kinky folk understand that communication is absolutely vital, even if we’re not all stellar at actually communicating. But there are risks, extra precautions.The high degree of overlap between the kink and polyamorous communities means that many kinky people also need to think more about jealousy and issues affecting multiple relationships, partners’ relationships, &c. A healthy BDSM relationship can look like abuse. An abusive relationship can hide behind BDSM. You can set criteria for a scene or a relationship and not realize that it’s been interpreted a certain way or doesn’t cover a certain situation. You have nothing to fall back on when things go wrong but your own relationship skills. If those are sub-par, if you’re prone to tantrums and need to win every argument (we’re talking about me here, sadly) then it’s going to be a lot harder.

Since you first developed an interest in kink, have your interests/perspectives changed? How so?

God, I don’t know. I was fifteen. I’ve learned a lot, and surely still have a lot to learn, but how much of that is kink related, how much is just growing up?

I’ve gotten over the obsessive need to prove myself. I still love pushing boundaries–my own and others’–but I’m willing to say “stop, not fun anymore” instead of biting my lip and forcing myself to get through something just to prove I can.  On a related note, I’ve stopped believing that more kinky meant better kinky. I used to feel like I was being too vanilla if I didn’t try or like basically any kink activity. So even though intricate bondage bores the hell out of me, I did it. A lot. ‘Cause that’s what badass BDSM types do. (I know. Shut up.

I’ve stopped assuming that being a masochist required being submissive. I like pain. I am bossy and demand it. The more I talk about this with submissive friends, the more I realize our experiences of the same scene are completely different. I am okay with this.

I’m getting better at saying “no” and standing behind it when I’m not in the mood for something I sometimes like. I’m better at

What qualities do you look for in a partner?

I don’t really go out looking for partners. When there’s a rapport, when flirting comes easy and is reciprocated, when a person isn’t put off by my forwardness, my brain goes “look, potential partner. Go fix your hair.” My favorite people are the ones that make me feel predatory. If I steal more than a couple of glances, or orbit a conversation looking for a way to join, I’ve likely found someone interesting and am entering Socially Awkward Shark mode. See, I’m not really good at wordplay or sensual conversation or normal flirting. So I’ll up and say things like “I’m sorry, your cleavage is really amazing. I just want to bury my face it it.” (Yes, this has worked. More than once.)

There’s not a single “type” of person that gets me into Socially Awkward Shark mode, but there are some common factors. A little shyness is appreciated–it’s easy to get the attention and conversation of an extrovert, but an introvert has to really want to talk to you to approach. Almost everyone I’m attracted to is a nerd, but that’s partly because those are 90% of the people I meet socially. I hang out in gaming shops and the sci-fi sections of bookstores, as well as at BDSM events, which are full of nerds. Shared interests–cooking, nutrition, science, books, philosophy–help a lot.  A sense of responsibility is appreciated–members of the BDSM club who join in to help out when the play space is moving or step up when needed to organize an event or something get a lot of extra points.  Anything that’s conducive to forming a rapport is a bonus towards potential play or relationship.

As for physical type, I’m not very picky. Without regard for gender, I’m drawn to people shorter than me, gingers always preferred. Any striking feature–unusually green eyes, extremely black skin, scars–will grab my attention. I care more about how people move than how they look. Graceful movement and good posture (neither of these are features I can claim) are far more attractive than body type to me. I’ve never met a fencer I didn’t fancy. It’s the wrists. Finally, I hunt by smell. Oppressive perfume or cologne, the smell of smoke and especially marijuana are complete deal breakers. If I can’t comfortably breathe near a person, I’ll avoid being near them.

How open are you about your kinks?

It’s binary. I am completely open with:

  • people I meet via the BDSM community
  • a very few very close friends
  • my therapist and my gynecologist. If it ever seems relevant, other medical professionals will be included.
  • strangers on the Internet who don’t know who I really am (hi, y’all!)

I and completely closeted with:

  • family (my sister could become an exception to this, maybe)
  • any potential or past employers or employees (let’s be professional here.)
  • any potential or past academic connections (ditto)
  • anyone with whom I volunteer. Double extra careful when I’m working at the women’s shelter.
  • those acquaintances or friends for whom it is either irrelevant (because our association is e.g. limited to gaming, not personal) or who would most likely disapprove (the deeply religious or conservative)
  • strangers I meet in person. It’s personal.

In an ideal world kink would be something I could mention if it came up, but wouldn’t have to make a big deal out of. I’ve tried to do this in reference to bisexuality in the past: I’m not shy about telling stories that start with “my ex-girlfriend. . .” if it relates to conversation, and I refuse to let it be an issue (I respond to shock with “yes, I like women and men. Anyway. . .” but female bisexuality is a minority generally accepted, if misunderstood, by the mainstream. Non-monogamy and kink really can’t be mentioned to most people without conjuring images of cheating and abuse. In an ideal world I’d have the mental fortitude and patience to work through that with people, to educate and advocate &c, but kink is not my whole life. If I did that I would never have time to do anything else.

30 Days of Kink: Days 16-20

What are the most difficult aspects of having a sexuality that involves kink or BDSM for you personally?

It’s not easy living in a society where sexual repression is the norm, and being kinky, non-heterosexual, or non-monogamous are so deeply misunderstood that even fairly open-minded folks come with a truckload of misconceptions all of which have to be disassembled before a real discussion can start. I’d love to be able to say “my girlfriend feels unappreciated, what do I do?” or “My husband is out with this boy he likes and said boy’s girlfriend and I’m lonely.” when I call my mother, because she gives very sound relationship advice and I like involving her in my life. But since she’s amazed that I “let” my husband have female friends without supervision, I sense that conversation is off the table.

I don’t like being in the closet. It’s not that I think everyone needs to know about my sex life, but people do ask about bruises or joke about my “dominatrix shoes.” I’m really bad at lying, though less particular about telling the truth. . . from a certain point of view. This means that I say things like “oh, I’m getting into boxing. Turns out my partner is great at MMA. He sort of uses me as a human punching bag.” All of those sentences are true, but the phrasing implies a completely vanilla sparring match, not me holding on to a cross while getting beaten for an hour.

Being kinky isn’t particularly difficult or stressful for me other than that, though. I think having kink from my very earliest relationship prevented a lot of the emotional issues that seem to crop up for some people. I have emotional issues, of course, just none that obviously spring from BDSM.

What misconception about kinky people would you most like to clear up?

People are not defined by their roles. Within the community, I’ve heard people express shock that someone identifying as submissive could organize events or provide useful advice. (It’s almost as though they can think just like people!). I watched a man shake his head and say a couple obviously doesn’t have a “real” D/s relationship because when the sub asked for a drink, her dom brought one to her. Your identity is what you make it. Your relationship likewise. I’m not saying people are bad at kink if they fit neatly in a certain prepackaged definition of BDSM, but if they think that their way is the only way, they suck. They also suck if they don’t understand that no identity or relationship should ever be dehumanizing. (yes, I know people kink on that. There’s a difference between objectifying someone consensually for a scene and not respecting him as a person at all. The first is kinky. The second is sociopathic.) There are many assumptions and preconceptions that seem awfully common in the scene. I’ll get to that in the next question.

Outside the community, there’s the idea that we’re freaks. Maybe that’s true. We like some freaky things. We desire and indulge in the stuff of nightmares. But we aren’t evil or broken (at least, not in any greater proportion than the general population). We’re different, and difficult to categorize, and worth getting to know.

Any kinky/BDSM pet peeves? If so, what are they?

Oh, so many. So, so many.

The assumption that switch=confused or in denial. Stop it. Just stop it. Yes, that guy just beat on me for an hour. No, that doesn’t prove I’m a “good little sub.” Keep grinning when I roll my eyes and I will prove it by kicking you so hard you can’t say “safeword.”

The default assumption that male=dom, female=sub. See above. I will hurt you. It will not be sexy.

The default assumption that top=dom and bottom=sub. Sometimes these correlate. Sometimes not. Stop assuming already.

The assumption that sub=your sub. Even if you correctly identify a submissive person, you don’t get to just start being Mr. Domly Dom at them. This is just as insane and creepy as assuming that you can walk up to a girl at a bar and just start being her girlfriend with no conversation, building of rapport, flirting, seducing, or. . . oh darn, what was that last one? Oh, right: consent.

The assumption that doms>subs. This one just. . . grr. I wish all the Subby Subs would just up and disappear for a bit so the Domly Doms would have to realize that they need someone to be the dom of.

The assumption that males>females. This comes out in odd ways. Like forced feminization and sissification. I’m sorry, but you want to show how sick, worthless, objectifiable, submissive, or sub-human you are by dressing or acting the way I do every day? See the problem yet?

The assumption that het male subs<everyone else. Guys? There are dominant women out there who want to do wonderful, terrible things to you. I promise.

The assumption that female doms=male sub fantasy delivery services. Guys? I know you’re excited, but if you want a woman to be Ms. Domly Domme for you, could you maybe not start by burying her under a fetish list, calling her “mistress” when she hasn’t asked you to, or cheerfully announcing your worthlessness? As an alternative–and I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out–start by finding out what she wants.

The assumption (not kink-specific) that no=maybe, later, keep asking, keep asking some more, maybe try whining next, etc. Seriously, stop it. It’s creepy. If I tell a man I’m not up for beating him at a party because it conflicts with a scene I planned a week before, he has a few choices. He can say “okay,” and move on. This is a good choice. He can say “but you could do something real quick right now, your scene hasn’t started yet.” I will take a deep breath and say “no,” again, because he’s really new, but it’s a not-so-good choice. Then he can go around the party and whine to everyone who will listen that I’m a mean meanie head who won’t play with him. This is a bad choice, unless the desired result is to be added to the mental list of people I will never, ever play with.

The (related) assumption that anyone with the correct kink orientation who is single or poly is obligated to play with you. Yes, I did cane Midas Boy. No, I won’t cane you. Maybe I’m not in the mood, or don’t find you attractive, or think you’re a snotty, whiny child because of the way you acted last time I said no. Maybe I got put off when we tried to negotiate and you said you’d do anything. Maybe you just plain creep me out because of that thing you said about your wife. Maybe I just left the canes at home tonight. It doesn’t matter. I don’t have to play with you if I don’t want to, and I don’t owe you an explanation either. Go away. I’ll respect you more if you’re graceful about it; it’s pretty much the only way to improve your odds next time.

The assumption that kink events have to be all kink all the time. Some people get this. It’s fun to hang out in the social area of a play party and talk recipes or linguistics or board games. Some people think this is weird and want to interrupt by shouting “why are you talking about peanut butter? Look over there, that girl is on fire!” Yeah, we know she’s on fire. She was on fire last time, and the time before. It’s kind of her thing. These cookies are new to party repertoire. Also, interrupting is rude.
Any unexpected ways kink has improved your life? If so, what are they?

Er…no? I mean, I like kink, doing kinky stuff makes me happy, therefore my life is improved. That’s not so unexpected. It’s not like I exercise more or better to improve my kinky skills (I should, but I don’t), or have more confidence outside of a kink context because of it. This is a strange question.

Talk about something within kink/bdsm that you’re curious about/don’t understand.

Two questions in one! Whee! I am really quite curious about fire play. I’d like to learn to do it. Not sure there will be an opportunity any time soon, but I’ve told the fire top I know that I’d be interested if he has the time.

I don’t understand quite a few things. CNC–consensual non-consent–outside of certain intense roleplaying scenarios just freaks me out. I’ve read about an intense CNC Nazi torture scene, and witnessed a kind of cute Salem witch trial one. I get that. I can’t imagine doing it, but I get it. That isn’t a dom pretending to rape a sub, that’s a group of people acting, a semi-improv theater of torture that ends with things being okay because the tormentor is not really an evil Nazi. The role is discarded and both parties know that the things that were said and done in the scene are gone with it. CNC without that element of roleplaying just scares me. How can someone want to even pretend that his partner’s consent doesn’t matter? Why would either party want to? How at the end of things can either of them be sure how much of that was real? It’s just too frightening for me to think about.

30 Days of kink: Days 12-15

I’m going to knock a few of these out at a go here.

Tell us about a humorous BDSM/kink experience you’ve had. If you haven’t had one, talk about aspects of kink/BDSM you find funny.

I’m a switch married to a switch. Sometimes this works out perfectly, when he feels sadistic and I want pain or vice versa. Others, less well. Mostly when this happens it’s because we both want to top. We have various ways of deciding in these situations, from grappling to playing board games with stakes. And then there was last time. Which is only funny if you play D&D. This conversation occurred in D&D 3.5.

 

Let’s settle this.

 

Me- “Of course I get to be in charge. I’m charming.”

Him- “So? I’m charming too.”

“Nah. I have like 18 charisma. You’re just cute.”

“I don’t think you can be the domme of me just because you have a high Cha. Unless you’re trying to use Bluff?”

“Maybe I’m a sorcerer with a school specialization in Enchantment. I cast Dominate Person!”

“Well maybe I’m a dwarf and have a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells.”

“You’re too tall to be a dwarf. Anyway, your wedding ring is actually a cursed item that gives you a -5 penalty to resisting me.”

“What? I thought we looked at the crafting rules when you were making your sea witch and couldn’t find any for cursed items.”

“That’s your objection?”

“Also you shouldn’t give your husband cursed items or be casting mind affecting spells on me.”

“Well if you’d just let me be on top I wouldn’t have to.”

“Hang on, I think we need to roll and see if you can do this.”

I’d say this was an anomaly, but really we talk like this pretty often. So yeah, hi, my name is Nicole and I’m a giant nerd…

 
Explain as best you can what the appeal of kink/BDSM is to you? Why are you drawn to what you’re drawn to?

I hate this question. The appeal is that it gets me off, from the fact that I can literally orgasm from pain alone to the amazing sexual rush of bringing someone to his/her knees. No one would ask “but why do you like redheads so much?” or “what’s the appeal of New Mexican cuisine?” because these are fairly common things to like. BDSM is less socially accepted, so people feel the need to explain it and have it explained. Sure, you could probably get into a variety of psychological bases for the appeal, but unless someone is just using BSDM as some sort of therapy it’s really not a useful thing to do. I’m drawn to it because it’s fun and exciting and sexy as hell. End of story.

How would you say real life BDSM/kink varies from fantasy BDSM/kink? If you haven’t experienced real life BDSM/kink how do you think it might differ?

Nothing goes wrong in a fantasy. No one ties a knot that cuts off circulation or lands a hit too hard or two inches to the right of where they meant to. No one misinterprets a word or a gesture, hardcore non-negotiated rape fantasies can be played out with zero risk of crossing an actual line. Fantasy is completely safe.

No one touches you in a fantasy. There’s no hot breath on the back of your neck, no sting of leather on skin. In a fantasy two people don’t close off the rest of the world and open up to each other, and can’t kick off that exquisite feedback loop of trust and arousal and connection. Fantasy can’t anticipate the unexpected, not just things gone wrong but little moments, a chuckle under someone’s breath, the tingling taste of a hard kiss, the shiver when your partner says “I want–” and you don’t know yet what’s coming next.

I’ll take real life every time.

Post a BDSM/kink activity you’re curious about and would like to try.

Oy. Do you know how many different activities are out there? It’s insane. No really, look. So much kinky kinkiness! I’ve tried a substantial chunk of the landscape, cordoned off a number of areas to never ever try, and then yes, of course there are some things that look interesting but who knows. At the moment I’m looking for a really heavy impact scene. I play pretty heavy with impact already, so this may seem like cheating. The difference is, I’d like to do some limit testing. I want to get beaten until I have to safeword. Not because I want to be punished or badly hurt, but because I want to know where my pain limits are and want to end a scene without the mild frustration of thinking “I could have kept going.” There’s something delightful about being completely tapped out.

There are some considerations that make this difficult. First of all I can take a pretty heavy beating, so the top would have to be quite strong and have a lot of stamina. Second is trust. This goes both ways: obviously I need a partner I can trust to play safely and stay within other limits even while trying to break this one, but my partner also needs to know that doing this wouldn’t be a problem later. I don’t see using a safeword as necessarily meaning a scene has gone wrong (though obviously sometimes it does) but not everyone sees it that way. Third, noise. This can’t be done at home. There will be screaming, cursing, crying, and audible impact. Neighbors would call the police if they’re even halfway responsible people. So it’s a scene that would have to happen at the club and should probably include a heads-up to the DM. Fourth, I volunteer with battered women. Yes, really. Location of bruises is going to become more restrictive as the weather gets warmer.  It can–and likely will–happen, but the planning will have to be more careful and more heavily negotiated than usual.

30 Days of Kink: Day 11

What are your views on the ethics of kink?

There are, again, a couple of ways that I read this question. The first is practical: how does one engage in kink without entering into the realm of abuse or harm? Consent and communication are important, obviously, but not sufficient: a couple of inexperienced, uninformed kinky folks can consent enthusiastically and communicate their plans in detail, but if they don’t learn how to do activity X safely, create a controlled environment, and prepare for things to go wrong, someone’s going to end up treed by an angry alligator.

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Not that I’d know. . .

I’m a fan of RACK (risk-aware consensual kink) because hey, BDSM entails certain risks to both physical and mental health. It would be irresponsible to engage in fire play without a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket, for an obvious example. Humiliation can create vulnerability and (at least for me) comes with elaborate and sometimes contradictory aftercare needs. But what about a simple mistake? Say a top is practicing with a new belt and misjudges, hits a few inches away from where she intended? It’s an honest mistake, one that doesn’t do any damage, but it’s frightening. Trust can be shaken. And handling it wrong, by blaming or being overly defensive or otherwise not being completely calm and caring will make it worse.

Not that I’d know that either. . .

In an ideal world, the risks can bring the need for consent and communication to the forefront. When talking about sex is non-optional, it gets done. Sometimes awkwardly or shyly or not as well as it might be, but it’s at least a given within the kinky subculture that the typical vanilla pattern of just trying to slowly escalate physical interaction until your partner objects will not fly. You can’t just start whipping someone if a date goes well. You have to talk about it.

The other reading, which I do think about quite a lot, is: Is kink inherently immoral? How does one reconcile the desire to harm and be harmed, to take even a part of one person’s will or autonomy and give it to another, with such basic philosophical tenets as “suffering is wrong” and “man’s free will is sacrosanct”? Is it self-deluding to believe that consent and desire are sufficient to bring the facts of BDSM into a moral framework? Are we all in fact Sadean and fatalistic, unconsciously resisting the fear of suffering and mortality by choosing to master pain and risk in a way we can control?

Ethics are not nearly as simple as many people seem to think. Several aspects of kink run into problems if you run them by e.g. Kant, even if we choose to ignore his extraordinarily conservative views on sex generally. So let’s set aside his belief that sex is dehumanizing. Good, glad that’s out of the way. Now can we universalize the maxims central to BDSM? This probably depends on how we express them. Let’s try “It is acceptable to respect another person’s consent.” This looks good to me; universalize it and no one gets violated in any way ever again. But when you specify D/s it gets harder. “It is acceptable to act according to another person’s will” would express submission pretty benignly (Kant would not call it benign: it violates the autonomy of mind), for instance, but if that statement is universalized then no one’s actions are according to his own will and society falls apart. On the other hand, this could be a semantic issue caused by my inability to correctly formulate the maxims to describe the relationship.

Or to put it more succinctly, I need a t-shirt that says “I majored in philosophy and all I got was this crippling sense of doubt.”

30 Days of Kink: Day 10

What are your hard limits?

There are hard limits, and there are hard limits. That is, there’s the list of things that I find objectionable on principle (either moral or personal) and would never consider under any circumstance. Then there’s the list things I’d never do without an extremely high level of trust in my partner. I don’t trust people easily or often, so I list these as hard limits with essentially anyone other than my husband.

The first list begins with the please-God-tell-me-these-are-obvious: children, animals, any play in which any involved party is not not explicitly and soberly consenting.

Knives and/or blood play of any kind. Not under any circumstances, ever. Frankly I’m not all that comfortable with the safety shears we keep on hand for bondage.

Consensual nonconsent. I have seen people turn this into what looks like fun roleplay, but I just can’t do it. I don’t want to play or sleep with someone who would prefer to imagine that either of us isn’t eager and excited to be participating.

Non-standard bodily fluids. I don’t find many things irredeemably, viscerally disgusting. Scat, urine, vomit, phlegm, etc. though, are things I want to never see or think about, let alone bring into a sexual context.

Unsafe sex. It’s unsafe. Enough said.

Pain aimed at my feet. I will safeword so fast it’s ridiculous because (1) it is not a good pain and (2) I am embarrassed of my weird monkey toes.

The second list is a little more complicated. These things carry a risk of panic attack and/or spiral of self-hate, so I don’t engage in them lightly.

Bondage. I had great fun being tied up as a teenager, even if it required more patience than I like. These days knowing I wouldn’t be able to move or escape if I needed to is panic inducing. There was no traumatic experience involving rope, I just gradually became less comfortable with it.

Gags. I need to know that if I do need to say something, I can. As for gagging a partner, if I do that I don’t get to kiss them or hear them talk. These are two of my favorite things.

Fellatio. Giving a man a blowjob involves far more emotional commitment than intercourse. He’d have to be completely nonthreatening and someone I care about before I’d even consider it. This is the only limit I have that’s sex-specific and it does make me feel a little sexist.

Humiliation. I can handle being humiliated and even made to cry, but I need a lot of reassurance afterwards, sometimes even days later. It could all too easily lead to paranoia that partner X really thinks I’m worthless or unintelligent or ugly or whatever, and even more paranoia that they’re right, and then I’d just have to never speak to them again. I’m just as reticent to humiliate anyone else, because I’d hate to see anyone go down that same paranoid spiral. Teasing and sexual objectification, on the other hand, are lovely from both sides, and it can be a bit difficult to toe the line between them and humiliation.

That’s pretty much it, aside from a more nebulous attraction/compatibility rubric. If someone is not attractive to me in terms of appearance or hygiene or attitude, we won’t be getting involved. If someone thinks that BDSM is ultra serious, no laughing or smiling allowed rather than playful and fun, we obviously aren’t on the same page and should not play together. And most importantly, if I catch someone in a lie and/or they make decisions that clearly show a failure to understand the importance of boundaries and consent, that someone is moved immediately to my list of people to never ever get involved with.