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Archive for July, 2009

As if by magic, this week I’ve had a question dropped in my lap that touches the root of all the discussion that’s been going on here triggered by that old post about not asking why. This one takes it away from the radfem discussions and the political questioning of desire that so often leads to self-loathing and into the more fertile realms of the self. That is: what if I’m not worried about whether my kink is influenced by the patriarchy, but I am worried that maybe it’s a bit sick?

I just hope I can answer it in fewer than a thousand words.

In thinking about kink and fetish and alternative sexuality, how important do you think it is to understand the root of a person’s kinks? If you derive mental and physical joy from, say, being flogged or filling your socks with pudding, how important is it to know why that is? How useful is kink as a tool for self understanding and how risky is it to expose the root? Does understanding remove mystery and passion?

Obviously this varies with the kink/fetish at hand. More historically problematic areas, rape fantasies for example, prolly merit a more exhaustive investigation. On a personal note, I have a recurring kink that is hugely arousing to me and socially taboo. In my case, it’s also not even possible but nonetheless, it troubled me until I figured out the root.

The root of it is that trust is really my kink. (veiled cleverly under several guises)This was a hugely instructive thing for me and has not, so far, rendered the fetish in question less effective. It’s just…less troubling now.

Whoa nelly. Where do I start? So, just to get this digression out of the way: if I were Dan Savage – and even if I weren’t – my first response would be, what’s the fetish?? Dude, I so want to know, don’t you?

But putting that aside: it seems, gentle reader, like you’ve come to terms and a kind of peace with your particular kink, and from your own experience, knowing what its root is didn’t kill its erotic charge for you.

Now, for you, this is a pretty nifty way to have it both ways: here you have this kink that was super hot for you but a bit disturbing, and now that you know better what it’s really about, it’s less disturbing but still super hot.

I can see situations where that might not be the case. I can imagine, for instance, a scenario where someone finds out that their kink really does originate (in that classic sense) from some past trauma that he has been repressing, and in digging up the trauma, he both re-traumatizes himself and loses the power that the kink had to gradually heal it in his own subconscious.

On the other hand, I’ve known cases where knowing the root of the kink made the kink more powerful and made the healing of the old trauma more profound.

I think the short answer is the one you already have given yourself: if your kink is troubling to you – not to your friends, not to your community or people on the Intarwebs, but to you – then it’s worth investigating its roots. Does your kink cause you to feel shame and guilt? Part of this might be alleviated by finding a community of people who share your kink and knowing you’re not alone. But if your shame and guilt goes beyond the typical “I’m a freak” worries that many closeted kinky people have and into “I think I might be sick,” then it’s probably time to sit down and think about where this is coming from. Automatic writing is a great tool. So is dream journaling. So is hypnosis. (Speaking of fun kinks.) If you have a kink-friendly therapist, you might want to explore it there. Or even better: with an understanding lover who knows you deeply.

There are dangers, of course, digging into that well. Opening old wounds can be counterproductive, even harmful. But if a kink is powerful for you and you can’t accept it for what it is, then that’s a choice you have to make.

Nobody knows for sure where kinks come from, but the one thing that does seem clear is that practicing those kinks does not make them go away: they are not demons that need to be exorcised. If anything, they’re demons that need to be exERcised. So long as you’re doing no real harm, the best thing for kinks is to let them out to play now and then and get all tuckered out so they can sleep for a bit. Just know that they’ll wake up refreshed and ready to play again. In general, this is probably the best thing we can do for ourselves: let our kinks out for some light and fresh air. It’s amazing how this simple act can burn away the shame, pain, and doubt so often associated with kink.

So that’s a pretty squirrely answer to a pretty squirrely question, I know. But here’s my recommendation, to those of you with kinks that cause you distress. Start by doing them more. Write stories about them. Perform them with a partner, if possible. If they’re impossible, do dirty talk about them when you’re in bed. Masturbate to them. See if exposure doesn’t take away some of the problematic parts.

If it doesn’t, and if in fact it makes it worse, then you have my permission to dig. Just make sure it’s in a safe space. It’s possible you’ll fall into something deep and difficult, but I bet it’s more likely that you’ll find it’s something simple, like the writer of our letter did.

Made it in under a thousand.

Send me your questions!

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So it may come as a surprise to no one that now that I’ve quit the pro-domming business, I’ve been having wicked fantasies about doing terrible, terrible things to lovely boys and men. I mean, it’s like the old joke about the gynecologist, right?

Well, sort of. See, I’ve had a thing about Not Doing Strap-On Sex At Work for the entirety of my tenure as a pro. It was just something I didn’t do. Now, part of the reason I didn’t do it was because it crosses the line into sex: in the state of Massachusetts, if you penetrate an orifice with anything, it’s defined as sex. Good law, for a lot of reasons: it was developed in order to make rape cases where some Neanderthal fucks stuck a shot glass into a woman prosecutable. But problematic law for people doing domination, where one of the most popular items on the menu is being fucked in the ass with a dildo.

For the most part, though, the legal thing was more of an excuse for me not to have to address the real issue, which was that doing strap-on sex was too intimate for me. It was one of the boundaries I set for myself early on, because I didn’t want to be having sex with my clients. I was aware that the other things I was doing were sexual, but I didn’t realize until later the subtle effects that it would have on me. I was prescient enough to know, however, that having strap-on sex with clients would be too much for me.

Why, you might ask? Well, here’s where I break from the crowd completely. I fully appreciate Bitchy’s complaint that strap-ons are not only weird because they imply that power and sexual dominance = having a cock (which I agree is a crock of shit), but that they don’t provide any pleasure to the wielder. I also am pleased with Eileen’s reply wherein she sings the praises of strap-ons as separate from gender identity and recommends them as a tool of dominance comparable to a singletail, a needle, or a fist. But nobody I’ve yet stumbled across (except for, perhaps, Sinclair, but the butch perspective there isn’t one that gets a lot of play in BDSM circles) has gone into anything resembling my own experience of the act.

That is, I fucking love it and it makes me come, in a way that nothing else can.

Because get this: I have a cock. I always have a cock, whether I’m strapping one on or not. It’s non-corporeal, of course, but it’s part of, if you will, my energetic anatomy. Without getting too deeply into spiritual experience, it is a simple fact that at times, I can feel myself penetrating another human being, even when I am not physically doing so. And yes, they feel it too – the force of my will and intention pressing into their bodies, invading them.

For me, the energetics of topping someone will sometimes bring out the hidden masculine in me. I suppose if I wanted to be all Jungian about it, I’d call it my animus. I become more aggressive, my voice deepens, and the desire to possess rips through me. When I strap on a cock, it becomes a very real extension of my body, and when I fuck with it, I don’t want a vibrator inside the harness or anything penetrating me – I just want to fuck. It’s usually not too long into the action that I start to come and come, in a way that even feels distinctly masculine: unlike the internally focused waves that thrash through me when, say, I’m being fisted, I feel energy shooting out from me, into the other person, as white lightning shoots up my spine.

Now. I’ve been reluctant to talk about this, in part because it seems a bit woo-woo, but also in part because I don’t want to give the impression that I think dominance is essentially male, or that penetration is essentially dominant, or any of those bugaboos that come up when we talk about female dominance and try to separate it from gender.

But I do want to record my experience here, because I don’t see a lot of women out there talking about how intensely pleasurable strap-on sex can be for the woman wielding. I also know that my experience is not every woman’s experience – far from it.

But I am out here, feeling this, experiencing this genuinely as part of my rather complex sexuality. For the record, I also often come sympathetically when fisting someone. But this experience is entirely different, separate. It is, at least in part, about awakening my masculine self, my butch self, which is buried deep in a seriously femme facade.

And this is why I didn’t do it at work. I couldn’t fuck men I didn’t know any more than I could let them fuck me. And there weren’t many men (not any, by my last count) that wanted me to fuck them while I wore jeans and a leather vest and boots.

But incidentally…if you are such a man, comment here. I’ve been having the most remarkable fantasies lately…

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A few weeks ago, I had a letter from someone who wanted her partner to top her, but she had more experience and wound up topping from below. This week, we have the flip side of that issue.

I recently declined to get involved with a close friend of mine. I’m an experienced domme, he’s just beginning to explore kink as a submissive. I would prefer that he explore with someone else — if he started with me, I think he’d end up shaping his desires to my tastes out of a desire to please me rather than finding out what he actually independently likes. He doesn’t understand my position, but respects it. I’ve seen this happen too much to want to be a part of it, even/especially with someone I like. How do you think these sorts of situations should be handled?

This is a tough one. You see, on the one hand, I’m all for subs finding out what they independently like; I think it’s generally a good thing for people to explore their own sexualities and find their ways in that fashion.

On the other hand, when I started out as a submissive, I only found out what I liked by playing with people I liked and seeing what they did that I liked.

It is sometimes a feature of being submissive that if you find someone hot and want to play with them, you will probably like what they, specifically, do to you; it’s even possible that that’s why you’re attracted to them to begin with, because you sense that they have something or are capable of something that you want. However, it’s also true that most subs like certain things especially, and some will seek out acts more than people.

For someone who’s new and isn’t sure what he likes – as opposed to someone who’s new and has been fantasizing about sock puppets since he was 7 – I think the best possible thing is for him to play with an experienced top who has range. If he’s not sure what he wants, then he should find the buffet and try a little of everything.

I’m not precisely sure what your concern is in this scenario – or even how it can be avoided. Isn’t it possible that he’ll shape his desires to the taste of whomever he plays with first, not just you? And isn’t part of discovering submission the thrill of finding someone you want to serve and please? I may be with your friend here: I don’t really understand your concern, but I respect it. If you don’t want to play with your friend, obviously you shouldn’t! What I’m reading as implicit in your question, though, is something else: if he shapes his desires to your preferences, then you’ll be responsible for him – you might even “spoil” him for other dommes – and I’m hearing that you don’t want that. I don’t know what your specific reasons are – you say you’ve seen this scenario many times – but I can think of any number of ways that a rookie sub, particularly a close friend, could become a problem for an experienced dom – especially if he gets very attached. He probably isn’t prepared for how intense kink can be, and how much it can bond together the people who engage in it.

It sounds like he needs to explore with someone who doesn’t have a lot of emotional investment in him, and vice versa, with whom he can have fun and make some discoveries about what works for him and doesn’t. The ironic thing, of course, is that he’ll likely find that he doesn’t like some things in casual play which, if he falls in love with a domme, he may endure or even enjoy for her sake. But sexuality is so flexible and fluid that he’ll probably discover that on his own, and starting slow is probably the best way to minimize harm.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about why I stopped doing professional domination per se, and the more I talk about it with friends and loved ones, the clearer it becomes.

So I thought I’d talk about it here a bit.

When I talk about this, I talk about a number of different reasonings for quitting: the work was no longer serving me, the work was subtly harming me, I was concerned about the effect I was having in the world. But what it all comes down to is one concept that permeates all the smaller reasons: I seek greater integration.

In the world. Reading Bitchy started it for me: an increased awareness, or rather putting words to the awareness, that the world I was involved in is fucked up beyond belief. While I often disagree with her categorical statements (which, to her credit, she spends a lot of time qualifying by reminding readers that they apply only to her), I felt something huge come together in my head when I first started reading her. I’d always had the feeling, since I started the pro work over four years ago, that there was something that felt vaguely wrong about it to me. I watched other pros interact with their long-term slaves and felt uncomfortable. I was unassuaged by those dommes’ assurances that the slaves “loved it” when they got bitched out, yelled at, treated like indentured-servant dirt. At the time I figured, “hey, not my kink” and resolved not to do things that way. But I continued to be creeped out by what I saw: pro-seeking submissive males’ total deference to all women, whether earned or not (so-called “female supremacy;” I came to call it “pedestalizing”); many pro dommes’ senses of entitlement and ungluedness from the real world (my mentors in this business were rare exceptions, which is possibly why they wanted to help me to begin with); and the overall unsexiness, to me, of the whole thing. It’s worth noting that I got fewer clients, both in-person and on Niteflirt, because I wasn’t willing to be a total bitch.

The world of pro dommes and paying submissives was severely un-integrated, it seemed to me. As a marketplace, that world divorced for me what was sexy about female dominance and male submission and consistently revealed itself to me as chiefly a monetary exchange, in which the woman received monetary gain, and the man received a simulacrum of the pleasure of true submission to a loving partner. Just another aspect of the world’s oldest profession, I suppose, but I was never fully comfortable moving in that world. I didn’t travel much, found going to parties geared toward pro relationships uncomfortable, and only really dipped my toes into creating femdom porn. I’m still wondering if I’ll ever make videos again; if I do, I’m curious to see what would happen if I did them on my own terms, rather than trying to cater to the market. Which brings up another point: it’s curious to me that the biggest market for femdom porn is also the world of forced feminization, heavy humiliation, and female supremacy. Where, I wonder along with Roberta Flack, is the love?

In my sessions. Once in a while I would have a real connection with a client – a feeling of mutual attraction resulting in a really fun session for both of us. When this happened I was often left feeling a little sad: here was someone I’d happily play with for free, in “real life,” and I’d never even be able to tell him my real name, and he probably wouldn’t want to know it.

And that was the best of times. Most of the time, I felt kind of like a jukebox. Men I mostly found unattractive would pay me to enact various scripts in the standard femdom canon, and I would enact them well and spiritedly, but leave sessions feeling drained. I’m always amused when I read memoirs that include the subject doing pro domme work, and they talk about how easy it was. Sure, if you don’t have any feelings, I guess. The sessions I had with men I wasn’t attracted to left me with various feelings: the worst was feeling totally creeped out, which luckily didn’t happen often. But most of the time I again felt sad: many of these men were afraid to reveal their kinks to their partners, were in essence cheating on their wives, or had told their partners about it and it had made them sick. While I was happy to be able to provide a service that these men could not have fulfilled elsewhere, I was frustrated to be contributing to a culture of dis-integration, to be essentially putting a band-aid on the gaping wound of self-hatred these men were often bearing. Again, the woundedness of the pro world impressed itself upon me: the availability of pro dommes props up the idea that being a submissive man is shameful and needs to be hidden away from real life.

It was always a great joy when I saw the rare client who was brand new to kink and wanted to try it out safely, or whose partner knew what he was doing and approved but was uninterested herself, or who was clearly at peace with his submissive desires and only sought a professional because it was what was practical in the moment. If only these were the norm.

But in myself. I found my true desires becoming decoupled from my actions. Things I used to enjoy: dressing up in fetish gear, receiving foot worship, flogging someone – became associated with work and desexualized. Contact I had with people at work was in fact intimate, but I knew the boundaries of that intimacy and cut it off from my heart and head. That leaked over into my personal life, where I started finding true intimacy more difficult to engage in.

Integration. Connecting the heart, the crotch, and the head. Connecting sexual desire with the rest of life. Connecting sex to intimacy, submission to respect, domination to desire.

Someone I love dearly said it outright the other night, in a way I never could have myself: “Essentially, you were doing something that was against your nature.”

Yes. I’ve never been one for casual sex. I’ve had whirlwind romances, but I’ve never been much for sex with strangers, particularly if it wasn’t going to be followed up on. I have a general rule: if I don’t think I’ll want to do it again, I don’t tend to do it the first time.

I knew the danger of this going into this work, which is why I had very strong boundaries about not having sex with clients. But I didn’t realize to what extent I was having sex with clients: this work is a kind of sex, too, at least if you’re doing it right.

And that’s why I’m taking the work in the direction I’m taking it: I want to truly help people, not just keep them limping along. I never wanted to be a triage doctor; I wanted to be someone who helps the mostly healthy achieve optimum health.

And I no longer want to have sex with strangers for money. I want to help strangers have better sex with each other.

Help me help you. 🙂

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Does anyone else, when commenting on BDSM blogs, find it only slightly but consistently amusing when they finish their post and hit the button marked “Submit”?

I swear, it gives me a little chuckle every time.

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I realize lately that I’ve been feeling an uncomfortable internal conflict over two major lines of thought I’ve been reading in the blogrolls.

One: the argument that those of us who are kinky and whole have been having with the radical feminists over whether submission is okay for women (In case you’ve been sleeping: the kinkyfeminists say yes, the radfems say you must be brainwashed by the patriarchy).

The other: why is the general image of male submission, and for that matter, female dominance, so fucked up that both truly dominant women and truly submissive males almost don’t want to identify as such and feel that their sexualities are being hijacked?

Now, it’s certainly true that one of the reasons I stopped doing professional domination is because I wanted to stop contributing to the mainstream image of what female dominance and male submission is. With a few lovely exceptions, it was hurting me to be involved in a business that consistently objectified both the client and me, without allowing for true sexual fulfillment for either of us.

I made a post recently about the wacky ignore lines that are available on Niteflirt. I came to the conclusion that ignore lines, along with financial domination, have the same ethical problems for me as heavy humiliation play, only with the added bonus that I would feel like a schmuck for taking their money for doing nothing. Ignoring seems like the end result of the kind of humiliation play I don’t like to engage in: the “you are a worthless disgusting pathetic small-penised worm beneath my queenly notice” variety. It hurts me that this type of request is so popular for certain submissive men, particularly those that seek professionals. Especially since many of the men who want financial domination include a very scary real-life aspect of wanting me to financially destroy them, which I could definitely never do. It’s not too large a distance between “i’m a worthless piece of shit beneath your heel” and “I want to be actually destroyed,” and so I was never comfortable going down that road with my clients.

Yet the thing that keeps itching at my brain is this: if we decide that (as Tom Allen puts it) “sissified sissy maids who insist on talking about their sissy clitty,” men who want to be treated like dirt, and even men who want to have their money taken from them and to be ignored by the object of their worship are all suffering from the delusion that their sexuality is not okay and so they are punishing themselves for it, then are we not invalidating what may be their true desires just as cavalierly as the radfems invalidate the desires and agency of submissive women?

It’s a stretch, I know. And I think the answer lies in how one separates a kink from a pathology. If you are, say, an insensitive prick at work and you treat women like shit, and you go to a dominatrix who treats you like shit for an hour, and then you go back to work and at least for a while you’re a little nicer…well, maybe that kind of domination is doing some good in the world, and maybe those desires are healing. If instead, however, you’re that same prick and you pay a dominatrix to expunge your prickitude so you can go back and be a prick some more, then that seems control-freaky and pathological to me. By the same token: if you enjoy buying a dominatrix gifts and sending her money because you have a lot of money and enjoy showing your admiration in that way without asking anything in return, then that’s cool (these, I must advise those who are considering pro domination, are definitely the unicorns of the paying male submissive world). If instead you send a dominatrix gifts without clearing it with her and then start demanding a bunch of her attention in obsessive ways, or if you send your entire paycheck to a dominatrix each week and are therefore living in a cardboard box, there might be something wrong with you.

But what about the place of the desire for being made to feel less-than in a non-monetary D/s relationship? I don’t want to play make-fun-of-the-small-willy, but I’m sure there are people who truly do. While I find the entire sissy-maid thing distasteful and sexist, I know that there are dominant women out there who do not find it so, and believe it is their prerogative to play with sissy maids. And while I got sick of wearing corsets and heels all the time, I used to get a lot of enjoyment out of decking myself out in traditional fetishwear (until I was obligated to, which is the issue, of course). After all, there are sexist dynamics reflected in male dom/female sub SM play as well, and while I think it’s important to beware of abuse, I also will fight tooth and nail to defend the right of healthy submissive women to do their thing.

I want to reclaim the masculinity and power of the submissive man as much as anyone. But might there also be room for the stereotypical submissive man in there, a way to reframe his desires without destroying them? That is: I’m sick and tired, too, of there being only one idea of what a female dominant is, of what a male submissive is, and that being representative of those entire sexualities. It’s a huge and monolithic image to do battle with, and I want to do my part to encourage greater diversity. But I also think it’s dangerous to decide that the people who really want those things can only be either pathological or participating in a monetized script.

Your comments wanted.

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Dear Delilah,

Lately, I’ve found myself fooling around — let’s say somewhere in the between-second-and-third-base range — with two different women who, while seemingly very different, are very alike in a couple of very specific ways. Mainly, they’re both extremely subby.

I have nothing against their subbiness, per se; I’m very much of the “do whatever works for you” philosophy. But while I can be assertive in bed, it’s frequently within more of a power-sharing context — I’m certainly not a dom. I’m not used to being the only one really doing anything. Both of these women tended to just kind of…lay there, as if I was supposed to be telling them what to do, and that’s just not really my thing. I enjoy feeling like whoever I’m with is into what we’re doing, too, that they’re enjoying being with me as much as I’m enjoying being with them.

I suppose it’s not impossible that neither of them were enjoying themselves very much, but I’ve honestly never had that problem with any of my previous partners. And both of these women openly identify as very submissive. I don’t want to have to tell either of them everything I’d like them to do — I’d like to see some initiative here, y’know? But I think I perhaps don’t understand the submissive mindset well enough.

Help me, Delilah! You’re my only hope!

But no pressure, right? Like I’m the goddamn Obi-Wan of kink over here.

Nice boots.
Nice boots.


It sounds like you’ve got a couple of things going on over here. One is that you don’t feel that you’re dominant, and don’t want to do the things a dominant does. And that, my friend, is totally fine.

The other thing is that it sound like your submissive friends are of the passive type: more commonly known as “do-me queens.” Now, there’s not anything wrong with that, either; I’ve certainly been known to be one from time to time. But it works best with a dominant who is very interested in controlling all of the action, and it sounds like you are Not That Guy. If one of you is submissive identified and the other is an egalitarian lover, then you’re going to wind up with a case of Submissive Sheep Syndrome – similar to Lesbian Sheep Syndrome, in which two women, each of them used to having someone else initiate, make like female sheep in heat by standing still and bracing themselves.

Another thing I noticed here: even with you having to do everything, it sounds like you weren’t even getting the benefit of responsiveness. Were they not giving you any indication that they were enjoying themselves? Sighs? Noises? Flushing of the skin? Verbalization? It sounds like their lack of initiative wasn’t the only problem here: you didn’t feel like you were making a connection.

So you have a couple of options. One is simple: don’t play with them. If they’re the type of people whose sexuality is defined by a dominant partner taking control of them and directing every move (and if they “openly identify as very submissive,” then they might be), and you’re not into that, then they’re not appropriate partners for you, and neither of you is going to have a particularly good time.

The other is: talk to them. Are they able to do something other than “lie there”? Let them know you’d like to try something different: a playful wrestling match, for instance. If they have a hard time getting out of the sub/slave mindset, then tell them that what would please you would be for them to be more proactive during play.

As I write that, I’m not convinced it will work, and you may find that these two simply aren’t the right play partners for you. But it’s always worth having a conversation before simply dropping someone.

As always: let me know how it goes!

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