Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘newbies’

I spent a delicious part of an afternoon last week (Independence Day, in fact; nice way to celebrate…) being sort-of practice-topped, sort of actually-dominated by a new, switchy lover. He is about to have the opportunity to play with someone he’s had his eye on for five years now, and I always like to help a brother out.

(Insert inappropriate incest fantasy remarks here…)

It turns out that he’s not lacking much at all in the hard skills department; while I have yet to show him how to work my four-foot singletail, I received a very delicious flogging. What I found myself dipping in and out of subspace to do was to give him ideas about what might be called soft skills.

Now naturally, I was working from a place of what I was wanting in the moment, what was going to make me feel more desired, sink me deeper into trance, bring me more under control. And yes, it was a very interesting and fun dance – working from my experience to instruct, while simultaneously letting myself surrender to the experience itself. When we were planning it, I joked that he’d know he was doing well if he could keep me from instructing him.

But some of the things that came up seemed to me to be fairly generalizable for newer tops or doms, especially those playing with new partners. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Keep in control. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to this and aren’t really sure what you’re doing. Faking it – in the confidence sense – can really go far. I’m not saying you should do something that you don’t know how to do – please don’t suspend someone, or cane them, or poke them with needles, if you don’t know what you’re doing! – but rather that assuming an air of control and confidence can go a long way toward making the submissive partner’s experience more fulfilling. In my case, I have a much easier time letting go if I sense that the person topping me has the situation in-hand.

Some ways of doing this, practically speaking: use occasional sudden, sharp movements (push me down, slap me harder than I expect after lulling me with sensuality, grab me by the hair); inspect/appraise me; tell me what to do without too many words; restrict my choices; correct my mistakes with calm harshness.

There are going to be moments of hesitation and doubt, of course. The trick is to have the mini-panic-attack inside your head, then find a way to either change the activity that’s causing you stress, or express your doubt in a dominant way. Which brings me to:

2. Keep in touch. The corollary to the above is that, especially with new partners, checking in frequently is important. Some subs go non-verbal (hello!), and many don’t respond well to questions in the moment, unless the answers are a simple yes or no. Even then, sometimes the sub will be in a space where he doesn’t know what he wants; some subs go into a kind of thrall in scene and get deeply into surrendering their will.

Especially for people like this, keeping in touch is key. I mean this in two ways:

-Physical. Touch them with your hand. Check the temperature of their extremities. Press your body into them, feel their reaction, then pull away again. It all performs the triple function of teasing, cherishing, and checking on them. Watch their breathing. Is it slow and deep and trancey? You’re probably okay. Is it rapid and shallow? This could mean several things – panic, extreme excitement, about to faint. This is where the second way comes in:

-Verbal. It’s sad, but true, that the last thing a sub wants to hear during a scene is “Are you okay?” But maintaining the illusion of dominance, non-consent, or whatever you’re playing with doesn’t mean there’s no way to find out what’s going on if you’re confused. Say you’ve been hitting them for a while, and it’s escalating, but you reach a point where you’re not sure if their reactions mean they’re near their limits and might safeword, or that they’re about to have an orgasm. Stop. Put your hand on them. Make them look you in the eyes, or loop your arm around their chest and growl/whisper in their ear. “You had enough? Or do I need to beat you some more?” There are a thousand variations of this, of course. Generally, you’ll know pretty quickly. If they’re in a “wanting more” space, you might even get some begging out of it. (I love both saying and hearing “please, PLEASE…”) If you’ve hit their limit, this will be a good chance for them to breathe, collect themselves, come back to earth a little, and receive some tenderness. They may still be non-verbal, but if you’re unsure, wait for an answer. Consent is a continuous process.

3. Close the scene clearly. Not knowing whether a scene is over or not, or whether the dominant’s attention is still on me, or whether I did okay, or whatever is one of the most demoralizing things that can happen to a sub. I know I’m not alone in being extra-sensitive when I’m in subspace: everything is magnified, everything the dominant does has meaning, and very small slights can make me feel completely abandoned. All of these skills I’m talking about are about maintaining clarity, but this might be the most important one. When you feel the scene is over, let the sub know. This can be done in many ways. One thing I recognized the other day is that I really like praise and tenderness afterward, especially if I endured something difficult. “Good girl,” “It’s okay, it’s over, you did soooo well,” “You pleased me very much,” and so on. Petting along with this also helps. Some subs aren’t like this at all – some prefer to be abandoned as part of their kink; some want some alone-time to process their feelings, but many will want some kind of aftercare. And regardless of aftercare needs – which you can talk about in advance of the scene – making it clear that the scene is ending is critical. Take the collar off, start untying ropes, tell the sub how well they did, that it’s time to come down, or whatever. The clearer you make it, the easier it is for the sub to return to normal headspace.

*
What do you think? How generalizable are these? Can you think of others?

Read Full Post »

I recently did something I should have done ages ago, which is turn on Google alerts and make it tell me whenever certain key words or phrases are mentioned in the news. Doing this for “BDSM” has garnered some interesting results, not the least of which is a continuation of the trend that Bitchy has noticed of a rift between professional dominatrices (as she likes to say) and more ordinary folks doing kink. Her main beef was that the professionals seem to be creating the world of female dominance as it is seen by most people, and it is a world that she reviles. But another question is arising from my own reading: a question of elitism, of experience versus education, and the potential de-fanging of kink.

The story starts with Lera Gavin, a young dominatrix in Miami who writes a column called “Ask a Domme.” In an August 11 article called How to Enjoy Extreme Smothering Without Fatally Suffocating Your Boyfriend, she advises a man who would like for his girlfriend to try smothering with him to “con her” if she doesn’t agree at first:

You also said you’re unsure how to approach your girlfriend. There are two ways you can handle this matter: You can ask her or con her. If she says no to your request, don’t frown, just trick her into it. But start easy. You want her to be relaxed. The best way to get a woman into smothering is by worshipping her body, especially her ass.

So next time you see your beloved chickadee naked, compliment her gorgeous bottom. Most women go gaga for praise. Call her a goddess and then ask if you can admire her hot ass. She won’t be able to say no.

No question, this is phenomenally bad advice. Not just because breathplay can be extremely dangerous and should only be done with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved, but because dude, consent! Trick her into it? “She won’t be able to say no”? Welcome to rape culture; here’s your complementary beer bong.

Theresa Ikard of Carnal Nation responded to this moron with some dismay. The angle she took, however, struck me as a bit oblique.

Her piece is titled Why It’s Important for Dommes to Go to Dominatrix School, and while it briefly addresses the consent and safety issues, in larger part I think it misses the point and comes off as condescending. In pertinent part:

BDSM is way more a mental game than a physical one. What I mean is that “hard skills” like flogging, caning, cock and ball torture, rope bondage, etc. are easier to learn than the “soft skills” like communication, awareness and responsibility for interpersonal dynamics, and respect for the power of their craft…

The only way to master these skills is to be educated properly and practice consistently. Just like a young therapist or doctor in training, a fresh Domme needs mentoring and feedback. The author of this article has a bio online in the form of a feature article and I gather from what she has written that her training to become a Domme centered primarily around financially driven motives. Now, don’t get me wrong: the business end of sex work training is essential, but is hardly sufficient knowledge or motivation in itself and it certainly does not foster development in either soft skills or hard skills.

Now granted. Lera Gavin is 21 years old, and in said feature article she says things like, “The mistress explained the client was a sad, older man still mourning his recently deceased wife. I knew it was a difficult time for him and that seeing a mistress was a way for him to cope with pain and loss. Of course, I put all of that out of my head. Sensitivity isn’t part of the job.” [emphasis mine] I would no sooner put myself in her hands than I would let my dog use the stove.

But suggesting that because this woman has for some reason been given an column in which to propogate bad kink advice that she should have gone to “dominatrix school” is a little off the mark. Suggesting, too, that experience as a pro domme does not foster the skills needed to be a good dominatrix is simple madness. When I was going into the business, I trained by reading books, throwing whips at willing stunt bottoms, playing with people I liked and watching others play. I barely knew anything when I had my first paying client except for how not to actually damage him. I was lucky to have some natural ability in the “soft skills” and a background in theatre and in healing, but I had to learn nearly everything on the job – how to use my voice and what words to choose, how to read a client’s reactions, how to establish rhythm and pace for maximum effect, and once, how to get a guy out of standing bondage when he’s fainted.

What’s wrong with this whip-wielding youngster is not that she didn’t go to dominatrix school – nor even that she didn’t receive mentoring. She seems to have had an older domme as a boss and guide; mentoring is no guarantee, especially in the less populated parts of the country. What’s wrong is that she never learned that the first rule of kink is consent, and without it, there can be no ethical BDSM play, or in fact sex play of any kind. What’s wrong is that she doesn’t seem to have learned that actually, sensitivity is 95% of the job; whipping and tying and torturing and having your feet worshipped is the rest.

She responded to Ms. Ikard’s article with a vicious and infantile rant full of ad hominem venom in which she calls Ikard “some humorless lipstick feminist,” refers to Carnal Nation as “an obscure online magazine about ‘sexuality,'” and derides the opinion of “a lowly bottom,” as if submissives were allowed no dignity or opinions even when they leave the dungeon. (She makes a further fool of herself by fluttering “Midori who?” when someone mentions Midori in the comments. At least do your homework.) Then she tries to back away from the criticism by suggesting that her column is meant to be humorous and the advice shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Yet later in the article she does raise an interesting point. “The true art of BDSM is all about power, fear, and suffering,” she writes, adding:

Scary? Well, it’s supposed to be. No professional dominatrix wants to seriously harm a client, but if you don’t see at least a hint of real fear in your submissive’s eyes, you’re not doing your job right. In a way, old school feminists were right, S&M does eroticize power and violence, and all the PC jargon such as “sex positive,” “personal empowerment,” and “energy exchange” are just a way of avoiding this inconvenient truth.

Don’t get me wrong; I still think she’s mostly talking out of the wrong end of her corset. Claiming that sex-positivity is simply PC jargon is wildly ignorant, and BDSM play isn’t always about fear. But what are we doing, exactly, when we seek to take the teeth out of kink by making it a subject of academic study? How are we bullshitting ourselves and our clients when we claim to be healers, priestesses or therapists rather than sex workers? I specifically took up training as a type of therapist and began seeing clients in a counseling capacity because I felt that the work I was doing was not healing work but bandaging work.

BDSM is dark – it has its ugly sides and its deranged desires. These things need to be acknowledged, not just because they are true but because our desire is so intimately linked to our freedom. Read Pat Califia’s introduction to Macho Sluts sometime, if you want an excellent breakdown of this topic, but the point is: we want what we want, and sometimes, it’s not pretty.

None of this, of course, removes from Ms. Gavin the responsibility to stop telling people to do nonconsensual BDSM with their partners. Like it or not, she is something of an authority, even at her age and level of experience, by virtue of having such a strong interest in this work and having a column in which to share her supposed expertise. Part of her ongoing education, hopefully, will be recognizing that she has a responsibility for the community she represents, and that passing off her column as humor after the fact is buck-passing of the cheapest sort.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the continuing marriage of intellect and heat that seems to be churning over at Carnal; pieces like this one on a potential parents-of-kinky-kids support group, and this thoughtful piece by Clarisse Thorn give me all kinds of hope.

Submit to FetSpank.com :: add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

Read Full Post »

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.

Submit to FetSpank.com :: add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: :: :: post to facebook

Read Full Post »

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!

Submit to FetSpank.com :: add to del.icio.us :: Digg it :: Stumble It! :: :: :: post to facebook

Read Full Post »

Good morning, perverts!

I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend; I certainly did, especially since the gods decided to finally stop doing nonconsensual watersports with us. The timing of their reprieve couldn’t have been better, and I spent the weekend walking in the sun, sitting around a fire, eating far too much grilled meat and rolling around with two of the hottest people I know. No, not all at the same time. Well, except the last part. The two people were at the same time.

Anyway!

This week’s question is short and sweet, but a big issue for a lot of people. Let’s get to it!

So what do you do if you really want to be dominated by your partner but since your partner has no experience and you have read more you wind up topping from the bottom which is not satisfying for you but you appreciate his being GGG (Thank you Dan Savage)?

-GW

I’ve got good news for you, GW: you’re already halfway there. It doesn’t sound like your partner refuses to dominate you or thinks that it’s icky; he just doesn’t know what he’s doing yet and you have to give him a little guidance.

This can be frustrating for a submissive, since of course the whole submissive fantasy is about wanting someone to do things to you that s/he wants, without you having much say in the matter. But if the submissive in the relationship is the one with the stronger interest in kink, then there’s going to be a learning curve.

Why not pass along some of your reading material to him? One excellent and very non-threatening book I like is The Topping Book, which has a companion book (called, predictably, The Bottoming Book) and which you could read together and start taking suggestions from.

If your parter is truly GGG, GW, then I bet s/he wouldn’t mind putting in a little extra effort to build some proficiency in domination, since it seems s/he already is happy to at least humor your fantasies. It may be awkward for a little while as s/he learns, but after some time you should be able to get to a place where s/he can do stuff to you without you having to spell out what it should be.

In addition to the reading, you might also try doing some practice sessions. It’s hard to get good at something without low-pressure practice time, and that includes knot-tying, flogging, and dirty talk. Make some time together where the pressure to satisfy you is low, and where the idea is for you to help your partner skill-build. You might make yourself the target for a flogging, for example, and play a game of hot/cold with the location of the strikes. The really fun part of this is that after a while, as your partner gets better, practice time will double as playtime.

Sitting down with a bottle of wine and talking about your fantasies together is also a great exercise. You may find out that your partner is what some derisively call a “service top:” your partner’s pleasure is really about giving you what you want. There’s nothing wrong with that, and again, with practice, your partner will be able to know what you want and give it to you the way you like it.

You might also make a game out of you telling your partner what you want: s/he might “force” you to say it out loud, to beg for it. This is a great way, novice tops, to get information out of your subs and still keep a scene going.

However you decide to proceed, GW – have fun!

Read Full Post »

It’s advice time again, and I’ve got some nice juicy questions this week. Spring is struggling into being here in Massachusetts, but I do feel the stirrings…so before my mind races off to the horrible things I’d like to be doing to various people, let’s get right to it.

Dear Delilah,

Any tips on deprogramming a guy from the message “Men must be sweet/nice/polite to women”? I’m female. My boyfriend was mainly vanilla when we started dating, and I’m a seasoned submissive with a lot more sexual experience than him in general. It’s been 2.5 years now, and he’s been quite open-minded and accommodating. He learned to dom me because it turns me on (which in turn, turns him on), has gotten better at it, and even enjoys it for its own sake sometimes. But he keeps getting the “WRONG! BAD!” message from his primitive brain when it comes to causing me pain, calling me names, etc, and he holds back &/or falls out of role. I tell him how much I like this play, and believe me, there’s plenty of other proof, so it’s not a problem at the cognitive level. So I think it’s a combination of societally-imposed PC guilt and the fear that, as he’s told me, he’ll like it too much (and maybe lose some control?). Any ideas?

Besides losing control, what does “liking it too much” mean to him? It sounds like you need to unpack some of his fears. Is he afraid that he’ll like it too much and then not want to do any other kind of sex? That seems unlikely, given his reluctance to do it in the first place. If it really is just about losing control, talk about that. What would losing control mean? Does he know that he’s capable of losing control, or of committing violence? Is there any history to back that up? If you can get to the bottom of his fears, you might be able to go further.

If he does have a tendency to lose his temper or is prone to rage, you probably do want to keep treading carefully. Remind him that hitting doesn’t have to be done in anger. You might want to do scenes that are more ritualized, or add roleplay where you’re “in trouble;” punishment scenarios can be very controlled and very severe at the same time. You also could take the punishment aspect out of it altogether sometimes, and make whatever beating he gives you completely erotic in nature – a reward, rather than a punishment, accompanied by loving words.

Another step might be to practice using a safeword. Set up a scene where his goal is to make you call the safeword. This will hopefully achieve two things: it will let him see how far he can really go without actually harming you, and it will help him see that he can stop if he needs to.

Dear Delilah,

I’ve known for a long time that I am into kink (if we’re going to be honest, probably since I started to be sexual at all). The few experiences I’ve had have made it clear that kink turns my crank in ways that plain ol’ regular sex doesn’t, and recently I’ve been dating a sweet switchy guy with whom I’ve been experimenting a bit. So far, so good, right?

The thing is that I keep reaching personal boundaries very quickly. Simple stuff is ok (say, light bondage and spanking, maybe some gentle breathplay) but anything more serious and I need to stop immediately. I don’t want to force myself to cross boundaries, and my friend is supremely respectful of limits (I wouldn’t be playing with him otherwise). However, I do want to go further than we’ve gone. My fantasies aren’t terribly logistically or anatomically difficult- is it an issue of time, experience and trust? Are there ways of slowly easing into kinky sex?

Thanks for your advice,
Novice Eagerly Wants Booty

There are lots of possible answers to this, NEWB, but your own answer is probably the most truthful: kinky sex requires a huge amount of trust, and if you still don’t know your partner very well, it’s going to take time to go to deeper places. It may be easy to admit you’d like to be tied up and spanked a little – it’s almost a mainstream thing at this point. But some fantasies, though they may not be “logistically or anatomically difficult,” may be emotionally difficult. It requires a lot of vulnerability to let someone take control of you, and it’s a tremendous burden of responsibility to take control of someone else. Without knowing more about what your fantasies are, I can’t tell you how to get into them more deeply, but almost any opening of this type requires, as you say, time, experience, and trust.

And yes, there are ways of slowly easing into kinky sex. If you keep running up against a barrier when you try things, try stopping and dirty talking about what you want to do instead. If that seems too difficult, write letters to each other about it. Try introducing one piece of a fantasy at a time and seeing how each component feels: in a schoolgirl/professor fantasy, for example, you might start just by wearing the outfits, then peeling each other out of them and having sex. If that works, next time add some naughty roleplay. Then a spanking with a ruler. You get the idea. With each successful piece, your bravery will increase.

Read Full Post »

Seeing as my most recent advice column mentioned safewords in both answers, I figured it was time for me to do my philosophizing about safewords – mostly for future reference.

Some of you may be familiar with Jay Wiseman; his SM 101 is a great book for those starting out in BDSM, and his near-paranoia about safety in the scene is legendary. I’m a bit less paranoid, but I do have concerns about novices starting out, especially with stories like this and this.

So first things first –

A Primer

For nearly every novice who comes and sees me having fantasized and scoured the Internet for kinky porn but never experienced the real thing, there’s a novice who’s never heard of safewords. It’s always amazing to me, probably because I learned about kink from people and how-to books, not from porn and kinky novels. Not that there’s anything wrong with porn and kinky novels, but in general they don’t provide a realistic view of how BDSM works. In the real world, cruel yet alluring and fantastically wealthy women don’t abduct unsuspecting tourists, feminize them and keep them locked to the floor by a chain around their balls. Except in my own dreams, when hot leather daddies pick up girls pretending to be boys and find out they’re actually girls, they don’t let them move in with them. And in real-life scenes, most of us use safewords.

A safeword is simply a word, usually but not always assigned by the top, that either/any party in a scene can use to make the scene stop. As soon as one of you says Wienerschnitzel, for example, everyone comes out of role, any potentially hazardous bondage is rapidly undone, and we all check in and find out what went wrong and what needs to happen next.

It’s smart not to pick a word that you might say in the course of a scene: “more,” “harder,” and “ouch,” for example, are poor choices. Something as simple as the word “safeword” itself is a popular choice.

Some also like to use what’s called the “traffic light” system for more nuanced communication, particularly between new play partners. “Red” means everything stops. “Yellow” means “slow down” or “let’s check in.” Some people like to choose a word that fits for the roleplay: a spanking client of mine likes to use “red,” not as in the traffic light but as in, “Ohhhh! It’s getting too red!” This lets him stay in role while differentiating between his usual squirming and crying and when I really am spanking him too hard. This is an important point about safewords: they’re especially useful when the bottom may want to play with resistance or non-consent.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful in other places. I, for one, always play with safewords with my professional clients, in part because they are often new to me, and I don’t know what their reactions look like. While there are many common physical signs that help me to know whether someone is enjoying a flogging (low moans/shouts, tensing followed by relaxation of the muscles, deep breathing), it can be tricky to know how far to go with someone you’ve never played with before. Psychology can also be very different for different people: one person may want a sensual flogging; another may want to be made to truly endure, and their shrieks, rapid breath, and protests are all part of the scene for them. If I didn’t give them a safeword, I very likely wouldn’t push as far.

It’s also worthwhile to know that safewords aren’t just for bottoms; tops can use them, too. Tops carry the majority of the responsibility in scene, and it’s key for them to have a means of stopping the scene as well. The causes tend to be different, though: once I called “red” on a client who was a landscaper by trade; when I had him turn his back to me to tie him up, I realized he had a tick in his back. I stopped the scene to take care of it, then continued.

It’s my official recommendation that all players use safewords; even when you get to know someone well, sometimes you can be surprised, and having that safety net in place helps maintain trust. Nonetheless, there are also some myths about safewords, and I’ll address some of them: expect Safewords 201 – Not for the Faint of Heart – tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »