Archive for September, 2009

I’ve been behind on my current events, in particular reading the sex blogs I generally frequent, since my move. But I’m starting to catch up, so let the outrage begin.

Exactly one month ago, Maymay posted about a This Week in Kink podcast in which the following statement appeared:

I firmly and strongly believe that it is a woman’s role to be submissive to a man. I believe that submission in men is taught at conception because as soon as women realize that they’re pregnant, they start planning that child’s fucking future and quite often that the mother is definitely the beginning of the emasculation. That said, I think that women in the past couple of hundred years have gotten entirely too high on their own power and eventually need to be slapped in the fucking head and put in their place.

I’ve been sitting on this for a while because it’s hard for me to think of much else to say besides “Wow. Just fucking wow. Like, seriously?”

Being blinded by rage makes rational argument difficult. Must be the estrogen.

What troubles me most is not that someone said something like this; there will always be assholes and idiots who espouse this kind of garbage, whether it is about women, African-Americans, queers, or submissive men. But it disturbs me greatly that in the BDSM world, where we’re meant to be playing with power, subverting some traditional norms and amplifying others to erotic effect, there are people who still truly believe this kind of outright nonsense. Even worse, that someone with such opinions is such a strong voice in the community.

I love some male tops very much, and as I’ve made quite clear on this blog, I’m a switch. (And this kind of shit is one of the reasons why switches are some of my favorite people to play with.) But I’m disgusted by the tendency in a certain type of male dom to believe that they are simply bringing back the good old days by making women subservient the way God intended. Aren’t we supposed to be progressive? Isn’t the point of alternative sexuality to explore, well, alternatives??

And get a load of the comments over there. Don’t get my started on the whole “I have a right to my opinion and you have the right to yours” crap. Free speech is free speech, and this fuckwad has the right to say whatever he likes, just as I do. But to hide behind free speech, to say that you will “fight to the death” next to me to defend my right to have an opinion, too, when in the same breath you’re saying that I’m a second-class human being, is completely disingenuous. It wasn’t so long ago that women didn’t have the right to an opinion – whether in matters of state or in the home. You can’t have it both ways, asshole.

Does this homunculus mongoloid even understand what he is saying? “That’s cute that you have opinions – here, let me help you have them, even though they’re so clearly wrong – you’ll need me to help enforce your rights, since you’re less than human.” What fun.

It burns my ass, too, that this guy started Fetlife. I was just starting to enjoy myself over there a little bit.

EDIT: It actually wasn’t John, who runs the podcast, who made the comments, it was Rob, who is a DJ on some adult radio thing called The Oh Team. (From the page, I gather that he has “twelve years’ experience as a full-time Master.” Ooooohh, my panties are moist.)

Much more of this, and I’ll be as bitter and angry as people seem to think darling Maymay is. Nice job, kink community.

Huh. Guess I still can’t say much more than “what the fuck.”

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I have a sweetie with whom do a lot of (scorching) “non-consensual” play. We sometimes have difficulties negotiating in scene.

It works if I come out of subspace enough to chirp a campy “Oh no! Not that! Please don’t make me come. That would be too humiliating!” But, I have to tear myself out of a very happy headspace to do that. And, the over-the-top tone necessary for this to work makes both of us a little giggly.

What suggestions do you have for negotiating within a non-con scene without completely coming out of headspace and losing the flow?

A fascinating question this week. “Nonconsensual” play is one of the more challenging rows to hoe within the BDSM scene, for the reason you bring up here and for any number of other reasons. I could go on and on at dick-shriveling length about all of the ways it can go wrong, how to mitigate against that, and how to do non-con play safely.

But from your question, it sounds like you’re playing very safely and happily, and you just need a little bit of finessing to take it to the next level.

I will say here that if your biggest problem in non-con scenes is that you’re giggly, you’re doing pretty well. But I also fully understand the urge to make it more real. It sounds like you want to go to a darker place with this, and that perhaps you’re a bit stuck in the “damsel in distress,” melodrama version of nonconsent.

Not that damsel in distress stuff can’t be hot.

But if you want to get to a place where you’re able to say no and he’s able to ignore your no and you can keep it serious, one way to start is with him “forcing” you to say yes. Part of the deal with nonconsent play is that you have to talk, right? And as I’ve discussed before, talking while in subspace can sometimes be difficult. In my own sub play, I’ve often found it easier to repeat what the top is telling me to say than to generate spoken content on my own. If s/he tells you to beg for it, or to say how much you want it, or other suchlike things, it may feel humiliating in and of itself to beg or to say you want it. Your top might choose to make you say other embarrassing things, too. The result, hopefully, is twofold: you’re being made to talk when it’s difficult to talk, without having to come out of subspace too far. And you’re playing with doing something you don’t want to do for the top’s amusement. It’s only a short leap from getting used to that kind of dirty talk (“please, yes, please make me come,” “I’m a little slut,” or whatever) during play to saying, “No, no, please, no…” without it having to be melodramatic and “chirpy.”

Whew. Okay, now you’ve got me all excited. I hope this is helpful; I’ll be in my bunk.

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Hello, those of you reading:

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and recommend it to others. I’m looking to build my readership and get more plugged in to the sex blogger community; please help!


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Dear Delilah:

I have a very easy safeword with any play partner where safewords would be needed – I say their name. I don’t really say much during sex-or-kink anyhow, so the push of speaking at all plus the push of specifically saying their name makes it a useful safeword, in my opinion.

The problem I’m having is, that’s all academic, as I can’t seem to use my safeword. As in, I don’t think I have ever used my safeword, even though I have run into situations where things went further than I wanted them to go. The only way I can explain it is I don’t want to nonconsensually end the scene, I suppose. It feels like I’m damaging the scene, like I can’t suck it up and deal.

(I hasten to add, this is all self-directed. No partner has made me feel this way.)

Would you happen to have any advice on how I can get to a place where using a safeword doesn’t feel awful and jarring?

First off, let me say: you’re not alone. What some kinksters don’t like to talk about is that during play, sometimes submissives enter such a deep space that they can’t safeword, or they feel like safewording would be “cheating,” or they get stubborn and refuse to safeword even if their limits are being reached, or they don’t want to disappoint their partners, and in their submissive headspace, doing so seems like it would be catastrophic.

However, we who have had those experiences know that it is far more catastrophic to need to call your safeword and not be able to. Because if you’re getting to a place where you feel you can’t escape a scene that’s going wrong for you, you are harming yourself and your partner as well. It might help to remember, in those moments, that your partner doesn’t really want to harm you, and that not stopping the scene is ultimately going to make them feel worse than stopping it while it’s still kind of okay. So what’s the answer?

To start with, I think you should back up and play without safewords for a while. Yes, I said play without safewords. Not because I don’t want you to have an out, but because I want you to have a better out. I also recommend that at least for a little while, you only play with people you know well and trust.

Tell your partner you want him or her to check in with you – frequently. Now, I know there’s nothing more annoying than a top who keeps going “Is this okay? How about this? Am I hurting you darling?” But there are ways of doing this without killing the mood. (You can turn it into a game: “Does this hurt? How about now? How about NOW?”) The point is that your top, at least for a while, needs to be in constant communication with you, so that he or she gets to know what your reactions look, feel and sound like. Also, if you don’t have a safeword for a little while, your top will be more conscientious and will probably stop short of crossing your limits.

Your part of this bargain is that when s/he asks, you have to answer, and you have to answer honestly. “Yes sir, that fucking hurts.” “Yes ma’am, I’m okay.” “No mistress, my hands aren’t going numb.” Or maybe it’s just nods and shakes of the head. Make sure your top’s questions are specific, too: “Can you take thirty more seconds of this position,” not “You doing all right?” It sounds like you want to be challenged by your toppish partners, so let them challenge you – but let them do it much more explicitly, with your cooperation. Even if they still have trouble getting yesses and noes out of you, they will observe your breathing, your eyes, your muscle tension, and other clues to how you, specifically, react when you’re in bad distress as opposed to good distress.

After, say, a few months of regular play in this way, your partners should have a better sense of how you react, what no looks like, what yes looks like, what “I’m starting to dissociate from pain/psychological trauma” looks like. This is the time to start bringing safewords back. When you bring them back, have your top give you more than one. Use a “yellow” as well as a “red;” that is, have a safeword that means “Hey I just need to slow down and check in,” rather than “This entire scene needs to stop NOW RIGHT NOW.” This should help with your fear that if you call your safeword you’ll be “ruining” the scene.

If you still find that you’re having a lot of trouble with verbalization, come up with non-verbal safewords, such as what people use when gagged. Hold an object that you will drop if you want things to stop, or nod your head three times.

Finally, I would recommend against using your lover’s name as a safeword. While you may not say their names during sexual activity under usual circumstances, using their names may feel too intimate, and I can imagine where it might feel wrong to say someone’s name when something bad is happening. Contrary to what you’re thinking, their name may not be a very easy safeword at all, given how much effort it takes for you to say it. If you have trouble calling your safeword, the answer isn’t to make the safeword difficult. Say something you wouldn’t ordinarily say (like “flugelhorn” or “Biz Markie”), but don’t make it something that maybe, in your lizard brain, feels like you’re blaming your top for making you feel bad.

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I’m just about settled into my new place and I couldn’t be happier with its extreme peachyness. I’m sitting here at my quiet desk and finally ready to answer some questions again.

Fucking *phew*.

This week I watched the 2002 movie Secretary with my lover of 10 months, who is the first person with whom I’ve really explored any power exchange. He’d seen it before, but I hadn’t; I had heard that the kink community had some issues with the movie, and having now seen it, I can kind of understand why: I wasn’t thrilled myself with some of the connections it made, issues it glossed over, and so on. Still, since it does pick up themes of integrating one’s kink into one’s overall psyche in service of greater coherence and fulfillment — taking two people who are clearly pretty broken at the start of the movie, and moving them a fair distance along the path to wholeness — I’d be interested in your professional opinion and better-informed insights (personal or cultural). What was your take on it?

This isn’t so much an advice question, but I have such a love affair with this film that I had to take the opportunity to answer it anyway.

Secretary is by no means a perfect movie when it comes to portraying healthy kink, it’s true. The complaints I’ve heard include that the lead characters never talk about their desires, never negotiate, and that they’re both pretty severely damaged people.

When I hear these complaints, I have to think of Secretary the way I think of democracy: it’s the worst movie about kink, except for all the others. Yes, the film has problems of consent and agency and conflation with mental illness. But it also has something no other movie about kink I’ve ever seen has: compassion, love, acceptance, and a happy ending.

Besides: how boring a fucking movie would it be if it were full of happy healthy characters who talked about their feelings?

There’s always a difficulty when we attach political significance to a piece of art. How well, we ask, does the piece of art represent a particular culture? Does it break away from common stereotypes of marginalized people? Does it present a realistic view of their lives? Does it, in essence, make us look good?

The problem with this is that conflict is the essence of story. In my view, Secretary chooses a fantastic conflict for a couple of kinky characters: they’re both closeted and fearful about their kink, and unable to talk about it or exercise it healthily. For a while, they engage in the type of relationship I imagine many people engage in: one that is fraught, entirely without discussion, and filled with ambivalence. It has some healing effects, but is mostly Extremely Fucked Up. Only when one of the characters lays down the law in the form of an ultimate sacrifice does the other character see what responsibility he has taken – and picks up that mantle with pride and love.

At the end – which I think is what a lot of people miss – she tells him all of her stories, all of her scars, and he tells her about his. It’s touched on briefly, in voice-over, and it’s hard to hear because Maggie Gyllenhaal is lying there all naked and everything – but it’s there, and to me it’s the heart of the movie.

I also love that essentially, it’s a movie about a submissive who saves a dominant – by forcing him to stand up and be who he is.

I don’t think that Secretary is a great movie to show people whom you want to introduce to kink as a concept: it doesn’t portray the healthiest relationship (until the end), and it suggests that kink is, if not the result of a mental illness, at least a substitute for one. I think this is more of an advanced-class type thing: it portrays a particular couple with particular histories, and gives one example of how kink might work. But then, I don’t think the filmmakers made it to be a guidebook.

What it is to me, above all, is a beautiful love story, and an idealization of service. When he tells her that she will never cut herself again (one of the hottest scenes in film, in my opinion), she takes him seriously – and holds him to the responsibility he’s taken for her life. When he orders her to put her hands on the desk and not move, she enters a realm of sanctity in service that few submissives ever have the opportunity to experience – and at the same time, continues her challenge to him: can he stop being a furtive, noncommital, self-hating dominant and actually care for his submissive?

Of course we’d all rather they worked all of this out by talking. But would you watch that movie?

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Hey, Delilah,

So, just wanted to follow up and say that I’ve moved, and now I’m in my new place unpacking and it’s just so much more awesome than packing was.

So what can you tell me about the process?

Sees Evidence of Light, Finally

Dear SELF,

Nice to hear from you again. Here’s the story of my last few weeks, in a top 10 list.

The Top Ten Things You Hoped You’d Never Have to Do When You Were Already Undergoing the Stress of Moving

10. Having your friends come over with circular saws and cut your good bedroom furniture into bits so that nobody would take it from the curb and spread bedbugs.

9. Spraying the component parts of a Violet Wand with 91% isopropyl alcohol.

8. Driving an hour each way to rent a vapor steamer.

7. Cooking your leather corset and most of your shoe collection in a 200 degree oven for half an hour per item. Again.

6. Finally tossing out your old vinyl ballgown, which you ruined anyway during the first wave of the infestation by spraying it with Steri-Fab.

5. Spending at least $100 in quarters to put your entire wardrobe through the dryer in your basement.

4. Ruining your perfectly good Merrell sandals by baking them in your new oven (which is too hot) after wearing them at the old place.

3. Worrying absently that any of the hundreds of books, which were not in the infested room but You Never Know, might be infested, not to mention that they’re all standing in cardboard boxes in the living room, where one bug or egg might have gotten, and and and…

2. Putting your Bose alarm clock/radio/CD player in the oven.

1. Invoking Kali in a pagan ritual in an attempt to get her to eat some of her beloved children and send them back to potentiality.

So, the worst is over. The new place is awesome. And Monday Advice will be back next Monday, 9/14. Comment here or email me with your kinky questions!

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