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Archive for the ‘Philosophizing’ Category

This week’s question is a doozy, and it comes at a time when I’ve been thinking about the topic of identity a lot. A big post is in the offing about shifting identities, switching, genderfuck, orientation, and a whole bunch of other shit that I found myself navigating this past weekend. But now, to the question.

Dear Delilah,

In the kink scene, we tend to get attached to certain identities – top, bottom, dom, switch, sub, master, slave, crossdresser, straight, bi, queer, and on and on. Sometimes these labels start to feel confining over time, though. What advice would you give to someone who is starting to feel that an old label might not be fitting them so well anymore, but isn’t sure they want to embrace a new one? How related are identity and behavior? How do you communicate the right information to the right people?

Boy, did you ask it. A snarky part of me wants to say, “You sure that’s enough? Anything else??” Because jeebus, this is a big question, and it’s probably going to take me several posts to address it with anything approaching completeness.

But I’ll take a first stab at it.

Others might disagree, but I tend to think that identity and behavior are very strongly related. I just happened to listen to an episode of Dan Savage’s podcast today, on which a lesbian called him out for saying that anyone can identify any way they want, even if they are a woman in a relationship with a man who wants to call herself a dyke. The caller said that such a person “doesn’t get” to call herself a dyke. Dan respectfully disagreed and said that yes she does, but the caller of course has the right not to believe her.

I for one think it’s absurd when someone is so attached a particular identity that they insist on hanging onto it for dear life even when their actions indicate a different identity. If it’s an exception to a general rule, that’s one thing: I would never say that a butch who femmes out from time to time shouldn’t call herself butch, or that a straight man who wants to touch someone else’s cock once in a while must identify as bisexual. But I don’t think that a woman who is happily married to a man can really sincerely continue to say that she’s a lesbian. Or rather: she can feel free to do that, I’m just not going to believe her.

On the flip side of this, though, is the closeted gay man who’s married to a woman and has fourteen kids. His actions strongly indicate a straight identity – which, after all, is what he is desperately trying to promote. That doesn’t mean that he is not gay. However, it once again shows the strong relationship between identity and actions.

Identity, after all, is mutable, and it’s a tool. People talk about and use identity as a way of presenting themselves in the world: I have a bisexual identity, you have a black identity, he has a gay identity, she has a Latina identity, and so on. Your identity is a combination of who you are, and how you want to be seen. Some aspects of identity cannot be changed: an African American person is 99% of the time visible as such, and so will be seen as such regardless of how deeply that person decides to embrace and promote that identity. Some racial identities must be more actively constructed: not every Hispanic person “looks” Hispanic, and not every person of Latin American descent identifies as Latino. Sexual orientation can also be immutable, as in some gay people who knew from the time they were five years old. Or it can shift over time, as the bisexual who later realizes she’s functionally a lesbian, or the lesbian who gradually opens to the possibility of male partners.

And so on. But another part of identity is decided upon by the individual. That visible African American may grow up in an immediate culture that is mostly white, and grow up queer and kinky. That person may feel more resonance with a queer kinky identity than he does with his black identity. This doesn’t mean he stops being African American (and dealing with all that that brings in this culture); just that it’s not the part of his makeup that he emphasizes. That closeted man from the example above may finally come out, at which point he had traded his straight identity for a gay one.

One of the dangers of shifting identities within the kink scene, of course, is that people will just think you’re flaky. If you’ve been in the scene as a straight female submissive for like five years, and suddenly you demand to be addressed as Mistress McToppyDomme by all the women you’re hoping to fuck, that can cause some spinning heads, and like Dan Savage’s caller, you might not be believed. But one of the advantages of the kink scene is that you can enact those aspects of your identity you want known in public, so that over time, people who may have seen you one way will begin to see other possibilities.

Which brings me (finally) to my advice: if you’re tired of a given label, if you feel your identity is shifting, then simply act on it. Be the change you want to see in yourself, to paraphrase. If you want people to know that you’re not just that one thing that everyone thinks you are, then do other things in front of those people. Even better: suggest that you might like to do those other things with those people. Start with people you already trust, who know you well and will have your back. And if you don’t feel the need to take on a new label, but simply to softly shed one you’ve outgrown…then go naked for a while. Humans are great at labeling – too good, in fact – and if you need a new one, I’ve no doubt it will appear.

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Sorry for the long hiatus; holidays, Martian death flu, and all manner of other drama have kept me from this page. Hoping to remedy that and crank out more regular material.

Ages ago, a friend asked me how I manage privacy online. See, I have a few online identities. Some things I write are public, some aren’t. Some are under my real name, and some under this one. Some I write in a place where anyone can see it, unless I lock the post so only friends can see it. But what made this question interesting for my questioner was the fact that sometimes, I write under my real name about the same topics I cover here.

So what’s the deal? How do I decide which parts of me are public and which aren’t?

It’s probably telling that I received this question in October and still haven’t answered it.

Recently, I kind of figured out the short answer to this: as my real name, I write about topics pertaining to sexuality and relationships; as Delilah, I write about topics pertaining to my sexuality and relationships. There’s a third problem, too: there are aspects of my relationships that I consider so private and precious that I don’t even write about them here – particularly because I know that so many of my readers know me in real life. I’ve therefore published erotica under still another name, and blog in total secrecy (nobody knows the username but me) about the deepest stuff.

It’s probably also telling that I feel the need to have all of this material out there, even if nobody ever reads it or knows that it’s me writing it. What can I say: I’ve been a journaler and a maker of stories for as long as I can remember, and when I don’t write down what’s happened to me, the intensity of my experiences (which often, surprise surprise, are in the sexual realm) slip from my consciousness quickly. It’s long been important to me to have a narrative of my life, something to look back on so I can see where I’ve been and remember what’s happened to me.

My friend asked whether it ever gets weird when worlds collide: like if people I know socially start buying videos from my site, or people who have seen my writing assume things about me before meeting me. The answer to this is “sort of.” This has actually occurred a couple of times just in the past weeks. Someone who knows me socially contacted me in my capacity as Delilah for some kink consultation in person. And someone who found my writing under my real identity contacted me and seems to be assuming, because I’m poly, that I would want to meet him.

Neither of these things is “weird,” per se, but it has been and continues to be a kind of tightrope walk, figuring out what I want the whole damn world to know and what I really would rather only my friends know and what I need to write about so that someone will read it, but nobody needs to know that it’s me writing it.

I’m a great admirer of Maymay in this regard (as in many other regards), in that he has the flaming gonads to be completely out online and in every other area of his life. But even he remarks that he doesn’t write very much about the literal ins and outs of his own sex life. He’s about half a generation behind me in age, and I’m sincerely hoping that his bravery and forthrightness is a sign of things to come. For my part, though, I still can’t deal with the idea of my family finding out that I was a sex worker. I’m not sure what that says about me.

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I saw The Slutcracker a couple of weeks back, for its second annual run. For those of you unfamiliar or reading from your RSS feeder at work (naughty, naughty; I love it), The Slutcracker is a burlesque version of the classic Nutcracker ballet; a filthy fantasia of dirty old grandmothers, vibrator princes, stripper queen fairies and Bacchanalian beauties.

Burlesque has seen a massive revival in the past ten or so years, and has been widely hailed as a celebration of sex-positivity and expressive sexuality on women’s terms. In its original days, burlesque was home to women of all shapes and sizes, and big girls were all the rage. These days, the nouveau-burlesque troupes are tooting that horn again: the women in this production are thin and flat chested, fat and curvy, athletic and supple, and everything in between. The big things they have in common are talent, and an enthusiastic engagement with the work they’re doing that you’ll rarely see on a stripper bar stage. One of my favorite moments was watching a bevy of women do a Busby Berkeley move, forming a circle facing outward and spinning. I could not believe the incredible variety of breasts that passed my eyes, all wearing identical pasties. Not to mention the massive, genuine smiles.

All this being said, I find myself somewhat discouraged by the burlesque revival as I’ve so far experienced it. I’ve not seen many shows, but the ones I’ve seen have a major thing in common that I find distressing, and yet which largely explains the revival’s mainstream success: male sexuality is still wildly underrepresented, and the female sexuality presented is largely for the benefit of the male gaze.

It must be difficult, I imagine, reviving an old form, comedic and sexy as it is, and changing too many of the rules. But I couldn’t help but notice that in The Slutcracker, the first year I saw it, the few men involved either kept all their clothes on, or, if they stripped at all, did so only to comedic effect. This year, there was a nice concession to those of us who might want to see something different: two tango couples emerged, then switched partners so that the men danced together and so did the women. This, to me, was the sexy highlight of the show this year: the two men were both masculine and beautiful, shirtless with pasties (fairness!), and their plain sexual tension in the dance was not played for comedy. (It is notable, however, that they also put a female dancing couple on the stage so that the straights wouldn’t be too put off.)

Every other moment involving a man, though, was: even the romantic Slutcracker Prince – essentially a life-size Rabbit Pearl vibrator in a tacky pink tuxedo, complete with ruffles – never got down to skivvies or did anything other than present Clara as the object of the gaze, just as in classical ballet. And the other men were basically buffoonish – if very funny – stereotypes of straight guys ogling the women.

Now, granted, these stereotypical characters are shown as insensitive, and only are rewarded in the end when they are able to open up to their women’s broadened sexuality. But as yummy as the huge pile of women of all sizes and shapes (with a few guys) at the orgiastic curtain-call was, it was still frustrating to see the same tropes play out as they have for centuries: women are for looking at, men are there to look. (Men who are there to be looked at, of course, are meant to be looked at by men.)

The few moments of queerness in burlesque that I’ve seen, other than the tango described above, have been disappointing: I was very put off when I watched an apparently butch/femme duo perform in a Boston showcase not long ago, and they both stripped down to identical femme underwear. Why not a jock for the butch, and bound breasts or pasties matching her butch attire? Or, why not flip the femme as well – have her strip to butch nethers? Something, please, other than defaulting them both to the endless burlesque finale of the frilly breast reveal.

I know that this is one of Maymay’s big hobbyhorses, and it’s one of mine, too: I want to see men’s bodies sexualized more. I want to see real queer sexuality, and I want to see the variants on straight sexuality, too. It’s rather unsurprising that the burlesque revival is so successful under these circumstances: for the most part, it’s entirely unthreatening to the status quo. It’s likely I’m showing my ignorance, though, of the larger picture: can anyone point me to burlesque that showcases more than heteronormative sexuality as a matter of course, or that showcases male artists without being directed specifically at gay men?

Do TraniWreck and All the King’s Men count as burlesque?

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I just know I’m going to get it for this, but here goes.

The ever-erudite and thought-provoking Orlando has got me thinking again. In an ongoing series of posts, he is examining privilege, entitlement, and the concept of slumming in the context of sexual power dynamics.

I recommend reading the series (though he charmingly and inaccurately calls them “tedious”), but the short version goes something like this. “Susie,” a traditional housewife profiled in the 1970’s conservative Baptist psychology book Sexual Sanity, is having a libido mismatch with her husband that is distracting her to the point of neglecting her duties in the home. The prescription is, of course, giving up the romance novels, soap operas, and masturbation, focusing on her marital duties, reading the Bible, oh, and maybe incidentally the husband should think about paying more attention to her.

Orlando points out that while these are people whose options were limited by their culture, lifestyle, beliefs, economics, and so on, he and Murre enact a kind of reversal of that traditional dynamic deliberately – in essence, slumming in a traditional provider/housewife arrangement. One of the going critiques of BDSM is, in essence, that we are performing a parody of relationships and power dynamics in which people have no choice: Orlando is at the laundromat writing his post while doing the household laundry because it is part of an elaborately negotiated D/s agreement; his neighbor, Rosa, is doing the laundry because that’s what’s expected of her by her husband, and what is simply done.

While these musings were interesting to me, it was really his last post that got me going. In it, he brings up the above point and adds commentary that he has collected from some radical feminist blogs: to wit, Nine Deuce’s tongue in cheek but extreme comment that males into BDSM dominance should kill themselves, and FactCheckMe’s analysis of MtF transexuals as merely men slumming as women.
(Don’t read that post, by the way, unless you want your head to explode. You have been warned.)

Orlando quite rightly points out that the telling people to renounce their privilege is pointless at best, dangerous at worst, if you give them no other options:

Radicals in general (I am not just speaking of radfems)…have focused on creating an elaborate critical literature to uncover the ways that privileged classes abuse their power in concealed ways, including the “inverted” abuse of slumming. Sheila Jeffries, to take a local example, is not simply critical of male dominance and male submission, she is critical of all male sexuality. Usually these sets of critiques are deployed to make people who deny that they are privileged realize that they are. But once someone acknowledges this privilege, the analyses remain underfoot, blocking any sort of coherent suggestion for further behavior.

At least, that’s the best version. In a darker version of things, the condemnation of all options becomes the suggestion. When 9/2 suggests that kinky men should kill themselves, she is sort of joking. When FCM tells MtF transexuals to “ke[ep] your dick and STFU,” she is not joking at all. But both authors arrive at their conclusion by systematically invalidating everything that the target class might do, either as entitlement or slumming or both. Behind 9/2’s suicide hyperbole is a genuine void left by her critiques: there is no course of action left for those men that she considers acceptable, and yet it is clearly important to her that they take her advice.

And this is where my frustration really sets in with the entire discussion – not with Orlando’s continued analysis, which you should totally read. But with what we talk about when we talk about privilege.

I am a white, Western, middle class bisexual cis-female. As such, I benefit from white privilege, cis privilege and class privilege, but not from male or heterosexual privilege. Honestly, I don’t think about that lack very much – not because it’s not important, but because I largely don’t feel my lack of that privilege in my day to day life.

I do frequently feel my own privilege, though: the ways I’m able to spend my days, the people I spend them with, the things I spend money on, hell, the money I even have. My education, my freedom, my ability, in short, to make choices.

In the endless and horrific comments to that made-of-fail post by FactCheckMe, she points out that what makes privilege privilege is the ability make choices.

I want to know exactly what’s wrong with that.

Hear me out. It seems to me that the radical movements that seek the destruction of the patriarchy and the liberation of women, minorities, and other oppressed people are missing the goddamn point, which is this: privilege is good. Power, for that matter, is good. Orlando writes, “We absolutely do not want the most privileged classes of humanity to exercise their power to its full, raw, extent.” And that is where he and I part ways.

You know what I want? I want everyone to be able to exercise their power to its full, raw extent. I don’t think that the way to empower some people is to take power away from others. I agree that pointing out privilege and making people aware of it such that they gain a greater understanding of the positions of oppressed people is an essential step for breaking down the monstrous inequalities that exist.

However. There is, as Orlando points out, nothing you can do once you’ve been made aware of your privilege. All you can do is understand that you can never understand.

So what next? Am I to go through life feeling constantly guilty that I can enjoy power dynamics and physical violence in a consensual way when there are so many people in the world who are abused? Am I, like some radical feminists, to give up penetrative sex entirely, even if I love it, because some women are raped? If part of male privilege, as FactCheckMe says, is being raised to believe that whatever you want or desire, however trivial, you can have it – does that mean I must never follow my own desires, especially not the frivolous ones?

People, this is backwards. The path to addressing privilege and ending oppression is not to remove even more choice from oppressed people. It’s to work to ensure choice for everybody.

Now, it’s facile and privilege-soaked to say such a thing, I know. But seriously? The only way to make sure that the subsistence farmer really wants to be there is to give him the opportunity to go to college and do something else. The only way to know that a woman is truly choosing stay-at-home-mom-hood is to open other possibilities through education and at-work childcare.

Which brings me to my next point, which is about the values we place on various types of life work.

Looking at, say, the subsistence farmer above and saying, oh, look how much better his life would be if he could go to college – that’s class privilege talking. But turning around and telling that college-educated person that he’s not allowed to become a subsistence farmer himself because that’s slumming – that’s ridiculous.

The problem here is partly one of choice, yes: in order for equality to truly exist, the presence of choice is paramount. But it’s also partly a problem of values: as a society, we automatically place a college education, a career in business, law or medicine, and the “earning” of vast amounts of money above learning a trade, raising children, keeping house, telling stories and growing food.

Which is to say: it is deeply problematic to pity a farmer because she never got a college education and became a doctor – even if that person had every opportunity to do so. Seeing someone’s lack of choice in the world and seeking to help correct it is a good thing. Seeing someone’s deliberate choice and deciding it’s wrong because of some misguided idea of wasted potential or perceived insult to those who do not have that choice available – that’s insanity.

Of course, if everyone had privilege, we couldn’t call it “privilege” anymore, as the word implies privilege above someone else. But “power”? There’s an entire philosophy around that. To borrow a phrase from Starhawk, what is desirable in this world is to increase everyone’s power-with rather than power-over. To help others, as best we can, to come into their own power – and express it in the ways that make the most sense to them.

The way to do this is not to take power away from others – power is not a zero-sum game, any more than love is. I submit to you that it is impossible to smash the patriarchy, to destroy white power, or to crush heterosexism. These are systems that are so entrenched, and belong so much to the majority, that they cannot be destroyed using force. But they can be phased out, little by little, if we fight to increase the power and agency of all people. The more people know, the more people are aware of and have access to all the opportunities and possibilities available in the human experience – the fewer people can be recruited to the dark side, brainwashed, or swept under by the tide.

I’m not saying that people won’t make bad choices, or be manipulated, or even – dare we say it – not be smart enough or strong enough to do the right thing. But that’s not the point. If we don’t allow people to choose – if we don’t even give them the benefit of the doubt that they have agency – then we’re totally screwed. If the patriarchy or whatever cultural force that’s like the water the fish are swimming in is so pervasive that we can’t trust human beings to have free will, then it’s going to just be one paternalistic ruling class after another telling us what’s right.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the world I want to live in, however imperfect my current world is. Here’s what I’m working on: being the change I want to see in the world. I’ll skip the post-patriarchy and take a world where a poor man can choose to be a doctor, an orphan girl can grow up to be president, a university-educated person can choose to become a dairy farmer without ridicule or judgment, people across the gender spectrum can choose to play with power dynamics in intimate relationship to another person if that’s what turns them on, and in short – anyone can pursue their kind of happiness in peace, so long as it harms no one. (And by “harm” I mean “non-consensual harm,” not some goddamn cane marks.)

Maybe I’m just an idealist. Or soaking in privilege. I don’t know. Have at.

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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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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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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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