May 2007


My partner, T., cross-dresses. Before I met him, my experience of men dressing as women was limited to (1) playing it as a joke (Bosom Buddies, anyone?) or (2) in the context of sex/BDSM, as an act of humiliation for the man.

Let me tell you, I don’t appreciate it when characteristics of my gender are used as an example of something humiliating. Fuck that shit. Or, to quote from Bitchy Jones’ blog, “If you use feminisation for humiliation, or punishment, equate it with submission, lowliness, powerlessness, sexual powerlessness, lack of sexual control, being used sexually then you are insulting me.” HELL yeah.

When I met T., his concept of cross-dressing turned all of that upside-down. Because he’s a switch, I assumed that he took the submissive role when he’s cross-dressed. Uh, no. Emphatically no. When he’s cross-dressed, he is a power domme from hell. A force of nature. And he doesn’t submit, not when he’s cross-dressed. And GOD, is he ever sexy in a tight skirt and heels (heels which, I don’t mind saying, I am more than happy to kiss).

T.’s cross-dressing doesn’t insult me at all. In taking on characteristics of my gender, he accesses a power and control that he doesn’t ordinarily feel when he’s in “guy clothes.” It flatters me that he sees power in my gender.

I was listening to an older podcast episode by Graydancer (Ropecast, which is a kick-ass podcast, and I highly recommend it) that featured an interview with Instant Expert, who talked about how NOT to be a dominant; that is, bad behavior that doms (or wanna-be doms) exhibit. One of the things he mentioned was the touchy-feely, “everybody hugs!” atmosphere that many BDSM groups seem to have, and how that can be an area in which people end up violating others’ boundaries.

I have really narrow boundaries. I don’t like it when people assume that my physical space — and my physical body — can be impinged upon freely. I’m not anti-hugging, but I’m also not the type of person who self-describes as “Oh, I’m a HUGGER!” I will happily hug people to whom I feel close. I’m not, however, very keen on hugging someone who I just met. (Sometimes, when I have an obvious, instant connection with someone new, then a hug when we part is something that feels right. But, for the post part, I don’t like hugging new people.)

Frankly, I’m uncomfortable with giving up my personal bubble to people I don’t know. I won’t go so far as to call it a violation, but it sure is an imposition.

Back to the touchy-feely BDSM group. I understand why BDSM groups might be more physically affectionate — there tends to be more acceptance of bodies of any size, obviously there are genuine friendships and other relationships between group members, and, well, what we do *is* very physical and very revealing. If someone is brave enough to literally bare it all at a party, and is willing to engage in extremely intimate activities in front of other people, a sense of closeness with that person can develop, which might naturally be expressed via hugs and other physical contact. (I think, however, that that sense of closeness can be artificial, particularly if it’s based solely on “I’ve seen her get flogged while she was nekkid! Whoo!”)

I went to a play party a couple of weeks ago, thrown by a BDSM group that I was meeting for the first time. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and the party was a great time. When we were leaving, however, and saying our goodbyes, I said goodbye to a male dom who had been part of a larger group of people I was making idle chit-chat with. We didn’t even talk one-on-one, and, in truth, I don’t think we were actually introduced to each other. Anyway, I said goodbye to him, standing 4-5 feet away, and he immediately threw his arms wide, stepped forward, and hugged me, while saying, “This is a huggy group; we all hug here!”

I wanted to step on his toes.

I’m aware that I tend to have a larger personal bubble than many people do (is 50 feet too much? what?), but I’m still tired of people getting annoyed when I sidestep physical contact that *I* didn’t initiate. If someone comes up behind me and starts massaging my shoulders, I am going to flinch. I guarantee it. And 9 times out of 10, I’m going to step away, and politely decline. (This massage-your-shoulders thing seems to be almost exclusively the domain of male doms. Sorry to generalize, but I’ve never had a femdom or a male or female sub come up and try to rub my shoulders.)

When I do that — when I choose to maintain my boundaries — the person inevitably looks wounded. And I just want to say, “Give me a break! *I* wasn’t the one who violated *your* personal bubble!”

One of the rules of BDSM etiquette (such as it is) states that You Do Not Touch Other People’s Stuff Without Permission. And “stuff” includes toys, rope — and *people,* as in, don’t touch someone else’s sub/slave. But that rule seems to be broken frequently when it comes to single female subs, perhaps because they don’t “belong” to anyone (which is bullshit, but I think that might need to be a whole other entry). And because I’m a female switch, I seem to fall into that category, too (though I’m not single, which brings up another passel of questions).

Bah.

There are several BDSM organizations within a 2-hour drive of my fair city, and I’m discovering that it’s well worth the gas (even at over $3/gallon — ouch) to check them out.

T. and I went to another group’s party last night — a group that he had been to before, but I hadn’t, although I’d met some of the members at various BDSM events over the past couple of years. It was a fantastic time. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and warm, which managed to ease some of the jitters I get with new people.

Almost everyone was having such a good time being social that T. and I were one of only TWO couples who actually played in the dungeon. I got my ass beaten well and thoroughly — it’s definitely sore today. But good sore. Oh yes. When we came back to the social area, someone said, “THERE you two are — we thought you’d already left!” And I said, “Yeah, we were playing in the dungeon, because this is a PLAY party!” Fortunately everyone laughed, which is good, because I had intended it as a quip, but as soon as it left my mouth, I was afraid it would sound snotty.

After the group’s official party hours ended, “house rules” apply, which generally means that people can engage in types of play which aren’t allowed during the official party hours (bloodplay, etc.), and that people who are finished playing and who aren’t going to drive are welcome to have an alcoholic beverage. Well, no one else was playing, so there was no extreme play going on, but one fellow had brought some very good beer, and offered it around. As I’m not known to pass up good beer, I had just one, because even though I had eaten after playing, I was still a little endorphin-buzzed and didn’t want to make myself sick with an overload of intoxicants.

(Seriously, the kind of endorphin buzz I get after a serious flogging is akin to — and sometimes stronger than — a few glasses of wine, or a few beers. So more than one beer would have been tantamount to getting bombed. NOT what I wanted. So, just one beer.)

Between the excellent flogging I got, and having one tasty beer, I slept extremely well last night. It should be a prescription for insomniacs: take one flogging and one beer, and call me in the morning.

A few weekends ago, T. and I went to a 3-day convention (is that the right word for it? “gathering of kinksters”?), which was a lot of fun and pretty educational. There were classes/workshops offered all weekend, on everything from fire play to flogging. I attended a class on breath play (which is something that I’m not ready to do or have done to me, but I think more knowledge never hurts), one on CBT (which gave me some wonderfully wicked ideas), “Care and Feeding of Your Submissive” (which, despite the lighthearted name, was about how to maintain a healthy relationship when your relationship has a deliberate imbalance of power), and BDSM and the Law. Interesting stuff, all the way around.

The vendors’ area was dangerous — at least, to my bank account! I bought a huge amount of 3/8-inch MFP rope (purple!), some smaller lengths of skinny cord (about 3.5 mm, I think) that will be perfect for CBT, and a gorgeous bullhide flogger from MT Leather.

There was a fetish ball Friday night (not a play party, though some people were dressed in full fetish wear — and pony gear….YUM!) and a play party on Saturday night. I often get to see some truly amazing scenes/play/technique at play parties, and this one was no exception. Watching others’ scenes is (almost) as good as participating in my own. I love the group gestalt and energy that can get generated at a play party. It doesn’t always happen; sometimes play parties just feel like a series of isolated scenes, with no real group cohesiveness. But when it does happen, it’s a rush just being in the dungeon and watching, let alone the thrill of playing in the middle of all that, aware of all the energy around you even as you’re focused intently on your partner(s). This play party was like that, and it was fantastic.