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Archive for the ‘Kink and Healing’ Category

I’m still seeing clients here and there, if I meet someone I like and feel that the fantasy is something I can fulfill with integrity and a sense of fun. Plus, the money’s good. What can ya do.

The type of client I seem to keep coming back to is spankos. Not because spanking fantasies are particularly un-problematic to me; if anything, I often find the types of activities that spankos seek somewhat disturbing. But in the interest of being non-judgmental and promoting the sexual health of all individuals, I think I probably keep coming back to it because it’s problematic for me, and the problem inherent is one that is not the fault of the spankos themselves, nor even of the professionals they sometimes visit in order to indulge their fantasies. It’s a tweak I have about the rhetoric that often forms around the spanking roleplay.

The sexy idea of “I’ve been baaaad and need to be punished” is probably as old as time; the kinking of punishment into pleasure isn’t what troubles me (much, more on that later), though it’s not really what I go in for personally. Professionally, though, I’ve often found it to be a hoot to play the strict aunt or headmistress or Victorian lady doling out paddlings and canings to irrepressible “young boys.” It’s a chance to do some acting, to stretch my roleplay capacities and hone my quick responses, and often, it’s hilarious.

But what bugs me is what many of these men are wanting to be punished for. Sometimes it’s sassing an elder, sometimes it’s violating someone’s privacy, usually a girl or woman and usually involving a panty drawer or curtains carelessly left open of a summer evening. But more often than anything else, they want to be punished for masturbating.

As a staunch supporter of masturbation (stand tall and salute!), I find this a troubling trend. I think that the healthy habit of pleasuring yourself is the first step of exploring and loving your body, getting to know what you like, and being able to share a healthy sexuality with others. Granted, there are all kinds of things that people fantasize about and enact that would be horribly unhealthy in “real life,” things that they wouldn’t want to happen: rape fantasies are an excellent example, and many people fantasize about being kept as slaves in a cage in someone’s basement, but would hate it were it to really happen, even in an erotic context.

But the fetish for being spanked as a response to natural pubescent impulses troubles me because a lot of the time, it stems from true experience – an experience in which a child was punished for trying to know himself. This fantasy has the tendency to expand, too, into talk about the need for a strong female authority to control men’s wild sexual urges – which in turn recapitulates an irresponsible and misogynist narrative about how men are just beasts who can’t control themselves, and women are the moral, moderating influences who must rein them in, lest they go out and rape every woman they meet. (See also: maybe the way to prevent rape is not to stop women from wearing short skirts and drinking alcohol, but for men to STOP RAPING WOMEN.)

One of my favorite longstanding clients enacts multiple versions of this fantasy with me, and given our relationship and our lunches post-factum, I often have discussed this problem with him. Over time, his detailed fantasy letters began to shift: it wasn’t masturbation he was being punished for, but inappropriate, non-consensual attention to women, or being a cocky, misogynist 17-year-old asshole (one of his more entertaining incarnations), or the classic: going into a female classmate’s room and stealing panties from her drawer. We developed a story over several visits which wound up with the young man masturbating under the caring supervision of a slightly older female intern, which I thought was strangely sweet. In earlier versions of the fantasy, the boy’s ongoing discipline and recidivism ultimately ends in castration. In a later version, over lunch one day, he told me that he imagined that young man finally settling down with one of the imaginary young women we wove into our scenarios, having a healthy, female-led relationship with her. My sessions with him, to a certain extent, mirrored my own attitudes about my work – and, I like to think, began to heal that boy inside him.

I still have trouble with some of these punitive scenarios: for myself, in kink, punishment is a bad thing, so much so that it’s something I don’t really play with as a bottom. Punishment, as in the real world, is something to be avoided. For spankos and some others, the punishment is the kink, is the pleasure. There’s no teasing and denial, no finishing themselves off afterwards. It’s chastisement, smart-mouthing, face-slapping, and butt-reddening with fast, hard strokes meant to cause real pain. It’s something that I don’t fully grok, as it’s not about the pain being transformed into pleasure, or the pain being endured as part of a trial by fire, or even the pain as atonement, though I’m sure that’s part of it. And unlike a lot of kinky activity in the more leather side of the scene, it almost always seems to stem from childhood. As with foot fetishists, it’s something they knew about early and have sought for much of their lives (or began to kink on later in life).

As with the sessions with my old client, with this new client I chose to punish him for looking in his little neighbor girl’s window while she was dressing, rather than for masturbating. I always have this strange need to punish for something I feel is just, rather than for something I want to encourage. I just can’t reinforce that idea that masturbation is bad and sexuality is immoral and wrong – even in the context of a session that’s clearly sexual for the person receiving it!

There is, of course, the possibility, as with some kink, that enacting these scenarios is in part about re-framing and healing the wound. But I just never hear about that from spankos. It just always seems like a somewhat compulsive, likely ultimately harmless, and usually pretty playful thing that got kinked for them at an early age. And probably there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m always bemused by my own reactions to these things.

What are your thoughts?

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Saw a wonderful, sweet client today. He was terribly nervous, for all the usual reasons: not wanting to get found out, worrying that his desires were strange, not believing that he could broach the topic with his wife, constantly window-shopping pro domme websites.

It amazes me how needed the services I’m now offering seem to be. I find myself, these days, in this wonderful space of healing: of validating, of normalizing, of bringing people more into themselves.

What kills me, though, is how much I talk to people about stuff that is freely available on the Internet and in books. How little people actually research, and how much time they instead spend looking at porn, or trawling pro-domme websites for gems that only very rarely exist. They’re seeking answers for what they find hot, what keeps drawing them back, in places that are designed to draw them in commercially, take their money, keep the closet door locked and avoid self-analysis.

It’s amazing how many people come to me just because they need someone they can talk to about their fetish, or because they just want to hear someone say that what they’re into is okay.

I’m thrilled to provide this service, don’t get me wrong. And when it’s appropriate, I will still recommend some of these people to particular service providers. After all, I’m not going to get everyone to ask their wives to dress them in women’s underwear and peg them. For some people, it’s just not going to be possible.

But it continues to be my ideal. The thing I strive for: to bring people’s desires out into the light, to offer them a space where it’s even possible to explore those desires with someone they love, instead of with a stranger.

It’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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Friends, kinksters, countrypeople,

Tuesday Advice has been on hiatus for a bit, mainly owing to nobody sending me questions of late. It is my hope that the launch of my new site will begin to remedy that, as well as bring me new opportunities to see people who would benefit from the kind of help I can provide.

To all of those ends, I present to you: Transformative Kink!

I advise you all to go check it out. 🙂

Seriously – it’s mostly worksafe in terms of pictures, though your office’s servers may record you visiting a domain with the word “kink” in it.

But I hope you will take a look and let me know what you think.

(Also: send me your questions. 🙂

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Dear Delilah,

I had an ex girlfriend in a quad relationship that we parted ways with because while she identified as submissive, you could not get her to reveal any of her desires. She didn’t know what they were. Tied down, being rubbed with fur and pricked with a Wartenberg wheel, flushed with pleasure, and you’d still get no answer to the question, and very little response other than involuntary physical indicators.

I didn’t understand the behavior, and there’s so many bad places you can take a sub’s head when you don’t know what’s going on. And that behavior carried over into other parts of the relationship, too. We wound up splitting up over her self-avoidance and our unwillingness to screw up.

How do you get around this kind of lack of self-knowledge for sex/play purposes? What do you do to get important information from someone who avoids themselves?

I don’t want to be glib, but in this situation I have to say: you did the right thing in breaking up with her.

It seems like what you’re talking about is different from the simple (and very common) problem of a new submissive not knowing what they like yet.
Rather, it seems like this was someone who was completely out of touch with her own body’s responses, and was unable to communicate the most basic of feelings. The old adage that you can’t love someone else until you love yourself – well, I think it has exceptions. But it’s very difficult to know someone else until you know yourself.

Now naturally, none of us knows ourselves completely – maybe not ever. But the basic information of What I Like or What I’m Into or just What Feels Good is essential for any sexual relationship to be at all successful. If someone doesn’t have access to that information about herself, then it’s really tough to engage in any type of sexuality with her.

What do you do to get information from a person who avoids themselves? Well, you did manage to gather some data from her physiological responses – flushing and other involuntary indicators – but those aren’t any good if the person experiencing them is completely unplugged from the experience – and may even decide later that what you did was not okay.

It’s possible that this person has some neurological issues around sensory integration, and I certainly don’t want to deny such people the opportunity for sexual pleasure with a partner. But if this is the case, she needed to get help around it. Even if it’s not the case, and she experienced continual avoidance around all these aspects of her life as you say she did – psychological and/or physiological help should have been sought.

If you had decided to stay with her and help her on the road to self-discovery, I would have recommended something like this in addition to whatever therapy was appropriate: don’t do BDSM-type play until she gets in better touch with herself. Even gentle, loving sexuality of the vanilla variety seems like it could be risky with someone like this, but entering into roleplay, where self-expression is ritualized and restricted, would be much more of a minefield.

The thing to do is work up to it. Talk a lot. Ask how it feels when you’re touching a particular place. If you see her getting all up in her head, tell her to breathe into the place you’re touching, to bring her attention and awareness to it. Tell her she doesn’t have to use words if it’s too difficult. If you can elicit genuine sexual response that reaches her face (smiles, moans, joyful eye contact, etc.), then that’s progress.

On the other hand, if someone does have sensory integration issues, it’s possible that nothing will get through but rough touch. I know people who experience anything lighter than what most would consider painful as tickling, and BDSM has allowed them to experience their sexuality more fully. So going for harder contact might be the answer, especially if the person already identifies as submissive.

But in this case it sounds like she was more out of touch with what she was experiencing – not just in bed but in general – than like she was having trouble integrating feeling. In which case I again recommend therapy, and patience.

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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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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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Dear everyone,

I quit. The end.

But seriously, folks.

This is the part where I let you all know that I’m moving on. I’ve known for a while that I’m done with this work in its current incarnation, and that it’s time for me to do something that’s more in line with my values and desires.

So this is me, letting you know that no, I won’t spank you so hard that you cry and not give you a safeword. I won’t make a video where I humiliate you by treating you like a dog. No, I won’t pretend to be the nurse to your twelve-year-old boy, take your rectal temperature and then beat you for masturbating. I won’t let you worship my feet, nor will I trample over your body with stiletto heels. Not anymore.

But I will answer your questions about kink and sex. And I will offer personal coaching for singles and couples to help you learn how to be safely kinky together, in your really-real life. And I will still do limited types of sessions that are about atonement, transformation, and healing.

I have decided that I am done having sex with strange men. And yes, I know: according to strict legal definitions, I am not having sex with my clients. But it would be disingenuous for me to suggest that what I do isn’t a type of sex, or isn’t about sex. It is, most of the time, almost entirely about sex. It’s about power, yes. And control. And sometimes about peculiar fetishes that most people wouldn’t recognize as sex.

But the men I see get naked, and get hard. They breathe hard and become excited. Sometimes I enjoy what I’m doing, and I breathe hard and get excited, too. Sometimes I get wet from the screaming. At the end of 95% of sessions, the man jerks off until he comes.

We are having a kind of sex. And I have finally realized that having this level of connection with virtual strangers is too intimate for me.

Watch this space. My new website is coming, and with it, I hope, a new era of doing the kind of work that I feel will make a difference in the world, and in people’s relationships. No more compartmentalization. It’s time to become more fully ourselves.

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