December 2007


A recent question at Fetish Meme asks, “Do you require a safeword? Did you always? Would you refuse to play with someone who refused to either adopt or allow one?”

T. and I have been in this relationship for almost 2 years, and have been playing together for almost 3. We’ve always used — and still do — safewords. They function mostly as a failsafe, at this point; by now, T. and I know each other and know each other’s responses well enough to differentiate enjoyable distress from end-this-NOW-you-asshat! distress.

However, when I top, I’m still getting used to playing as hard as T. often likes it. Despite knowing that he wants me to play that hard, despite knowing that he likes it and needs it, I can’t entirely quiet my inner worrier who keeps exclaiming, “Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, that’s too much too hard too painful!” So knowing that he has a safeword, knowing that he’s perfectly willing to call yellow or red if he needs to, makes it a lot easier for me to go hard on him and not hold back.

When I bottom, I always have safewords available, and I don’t hesitate to use them. I haven’t had to use them often, but I *have* used them. And knowing that they were available for me to use didn’t take *anything* away from the power exchange-y-ness of the scene.

Safewords are there to prevent harm. Because if someone gets hurt — physically or mentally — even if it’s unintentional, it’s not a power exchange any more; it’s a problem. Safewords help avoid problems.

I know that there are submissives who don’t like safewords because they think it means that they aren’t totally helpless. But all I want to ask them is this: Is being “totally helpless” worth getting injured or emotionally traumatized because you can’t stop something from happening that you *could* have stopped with a safeword?

I know that there are dominants who don’t like their submissives to have safewords because they like the feeling of being in Total And Utter Control(TM). All I want to say to them is this: When you have to take your submissive to the ER with second-degree burns, tell me how great that Total And Utter Control is, okay?

Frankly, I don’t trust people who won’t use a safeword with me. [Please note: I said “with ME.” If you really want to forgo safewords amongst yourselves, that’s up to you.] If a dom/top won’t give me that failsafe so that I can protect myself, then I damn well don’t trust them. Because unexpected shit happens, and if I’m tied up and I notice it first, I want to be able to call attention to it and get out of those ropes before I get permanently hurt.

If a sub/bottom wants to play without a safeword with me, I won’t do it. The person who I have tied up knows if their hands are getting numb, and they will likely know a hell of a lot sooner than I will, even if I do regular check-ins. I don’t want my partner getting hurt; as a top, I am absolutely vigilant during a scene, but, like I said, there are some things that a restrained person will notice sooner than their top will.

Safewords are absolutely NOT antithetical to power exchange. They’re smart. We’re all human, we’re all breakable, in a million different ways, and sooner or later (usually sooner) the unexpected happens. Safewords are just a way of breaking glass in case of emergency.

Over at Fetish Meme, Richard asks, “Do you — bottom or top — ever or always require aftercare at the end of an intense BDSM experience? What elements are important to you for good aftercare?”

I had this conversation with T. just the other day. Back in the days before I ever did any sort of kinky activity with another human being, back before I joined the local group and started playing at parties and in private, I read a LOT of BDSM-related books. I’m a big bookworm wordnerd, and the wonders of online commerce meant that I could order all the books that are commonly recommended to newbies, and then hide them under my bed (even though I lived alone….shut up) and read them at my leisure.

Due to all my reading, I knew about aftercare — what it was, why it was important, why it should be included in pre-play negotiation, etc. And based on everything I had read, combined with what I know about myself, I just assumed that I would be the type of bottom who would need a lot of squishy, snuggly, attentive aftercare. (I tend to be emotionally needy, although being in a relationship with T. has reduced that to almost nil; however, in the past, I could be a giant sucking black hole of emotional neediness.)

Turns out that, no, I *don’t* need much in the way of aftercare. (At least, up to this point in my kinky travails I haven’t needed much — if any — aftercare.) We’re done, I’m good, I could use some water and help in finding my shoes, but that’s about it. I’ve been that way with T. as well as with the small handful of other people I’ve played with (people who are my friends, but with whom I don’t have a close emotional relationship).

I’m not really sure why that is. If I had to guess, a lot of it probably comes from the fact that I’m a control freak and I’m — “standoffish” isn’t the right word — very guarded when it comes to how emotionally close I let anyone get. And since bottoming is a very vulnerable state to willingly put myself in, I think maybe I don’t *want* aftercare because once the beat-y, ouchie part of the scene is done, I want control of my vulnerability back *right now,* thankyouverymuch.

That’s just a guess, though; I haven’t really given it any thought until right this moment.

T., on the other hand, needs/wants/likes lots of snuggly, attentive aftercare. When he bottoms, he likes to play hard enough that he either is (1) broken (in the sense of “I will break your fighting spirit!”), or (2) exhausted from struggling. After a scene like that, he just wants to collapse and be snuggly and wrapped up in a blanket and be cuddled. And then he gets water, and later food.

I don’t think that either one of us is “right,” because what you need (or don’t) is just…what you need (or don’t).

While I’m always curious about the search terms that led people to find this blog, I’m particularly amused by this recent one:

“brain + crossdressing + selfbondage”

All I can picture is a grey, squishy brain, wearing black lace lingerie, with red hemp rope wound around it.

Perhaps this is a sign that I need more caffeine….

Over at Fetish Meme, Richard talks about titles and honorifics.

I have really complex feelings about using honorifics with people in the lifestyle with whom I don’t have a power exchange relationship (i.e., I don’t play with “Sir Geoffrey,” and never have, which makes me much more inclined to call him “Jeff” when we’re hanging out, but what it he’s That Type Of Dom who wants to be addressed by one and all as “Sir Geoffrey”?), and I’ll save all those musings for a different post.

For now, I just want to talk about How The Switches Do It. Or, rather, how T. and I do it. (No way in hell could I try to speak on behalf of all switches. Besides, how T. and I handle titles doesn’t have anything to do with the fact we’re switches; it all has to do with, well, what we like.)

I’m not “Mistress.” I can’t carry it. I don’t feel like a “Mistress,” even in my most kick-ass, I-rule-the-WORLD moments. I dislike “Lady,” and “Goddess” — while I know of women who use that honorific and carry it off well — makes me giggle helplessly. And I’d prefer my title, such as it is, to not make me actually snort with laughter *while* I’m using it.

We settled on “Ma’am” for me, and T. uses it only within scenes. (Occasionally at home — or elsewhere — if I ask [or, okay, TELL] him to do something, he’ll reply with “Yes, Miss [lastname],” which I think is cute as hell, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with our power exchange-y-ness.)

I think “Lord” is as silly as “Lady,” and “Sir” would never work for T. In fact, when T. tops, he’s always cross-dressed, and, somehow, “Mistress” suits T. perfectly at those times. And it feels *right* when I say it.

We don’t *need* the titles, but they do serve a purpose within the scene: they underscore the power exchange. They’re a simple way to add that emphasis: Right now, you’re MINE. And it works.

Saturday night, T. and I went to the party I mentioned earlier. There was Christmas-themed merriment, and even a low-budget kinky gift exchange (we got a bag full of wooden clothespins, embroidery floss [good for CBT], and thick black rope, all of which we will put to good use [and by “good,” I mean “devious and evil”]). 

One of the other guests was a femdom who plays pretty hard, and that’s what T. was really wanting. So that’s what he got. I helped a little, but mostly I watched, which was fucking HOT. I forgot how much of a voyeur I am. (Voyeuse?) 

I secured T. to a St. Andrew’s cross — his wrists were tied with rope, but his legs were secured to the cross with pallet wrap (green for one leg, red for the the other — holiday cheer abounded). He asked for a blindfold, because he likes to wallow in the beating and not be distracted by anything else in the room. 

The femdom told him that, since they had never played before, she was going to start off pretty hard, to see at what point he’d call yellow, so that she could get a sense of his limits. Heh. She worked him over with a vast and vicious variety of floggers, from a soft thuddy deerskin one, to one made of WIDE strips of leather (about 2 inches each), and some nasty ones that sting like hell. The only time T. called yellow was when she used a riding crop with a cat-shaped end (not the exact one in the link, but close) on his ass. He can take canes and crops and such, but has to warm up to them, and that’s not really what she did with him. So she went back to flogging with a mesmerizing force. 

Seriously, it was hot as hell to watch. First of all, her form with the flogger is really lovely — fluid (but controlled); in fact, so fluid that you don’t really realize just how fucking hard she’s hitting until the poor victim yelps and yowls and screams.  

Mostly, though, watching T. react to each blow, trying to twist away but unable to, yanking on the ropes around his wrists and pulling his legs away from the cross as much as the wrap would let him — yeah. So hot. He’s so beautiful like that, and I admit that part of it is purely aesthetic, because I love watching the muscles in his back work as he struggles in the ropes. But I also like the struggle itself. 

After about 15 minutes, the femdom paused and came over to me and said, “You’ll have to tell me when he’s had enough, because I’m not familiar with his reactions.” I chuckled and said that I would, but that T. has a wide masochistic streak and probably wasn’t close to having enough. And I went over to T.’s side, and stroked his back and told him what a good boy he was being, and adjusted his blindfold, and asked him if he wanted more. He immediately nodded and said yes. I rolled my eyes and gestured to the femdom to keep on beating. She handed me a flogger and told me to join in if I liked. (Of course I like!) 

I flogged T. a little, but it was a little difficult with an unfamiliar flogger — you get used to the weight of your own floggers, and their length, so that you know how far away to stand to get the desired impact on a naked ass. But I adjusted decently, and flogged a little bit. 

Then I picked up the kitty riding crop (yeah, the one that had made T. call yellow earlier), and started just tapping him lightly with it, all over his back and shoulders. Tapping very very quickly, though, with the flat of the cat end, which stings, but in a brief, staccato way. He didn’t call yellow, but it made him squirm and struggle mightily (though futilely). 

Then we tag-teamed on the flogging for a little while, and then I let her finish up. I could tell that T. was getting tired, although he was doggedly hanging in there, not wanting to be finished. I could ALSO tell that the femdom was getting tired — beating on someone for that long, that strenuously, is WORK! So I asked T. if he was ready to be finished (rather than asking him if he wanted more, because he probably would have said yes to more), and he nodded slowly and said yes. 

I got him down from the cross and gave him water and a blanket and super-snuggly aftercare for a while. And then he got dressed and we rejoined the party.  

I felt a teeny bit guilty later, that I got so much enjoyment from so little (comparatively) work on my part. But, really, not *that* much guilt. 

T. and I had the following conversation last night (we weren’t doing anything prurient at the time):

Me: My feet are cold; maybe, since I just took off my boots, my socks are slightly sweaty and therefore damp.

T.: Uh-huh.

Me: I’ll take off my socks! Because if they’re damp, they would be getting cold in the ambient temperature.

T.: Uh-huh.

Me: [takes off socks, checks to see if they’re damp

Me: [sniffs own socks, repeatedly

Me: Surely there’s someone out there whose fetish is smelling his or her OWN socks!

T.: . . . .

Me: Well, there MUST be!

T.: Is it YOU?!?

 

(No, it isn’t.)

Last weekend (1 week ago today, actually), I got moved in with T. It went well, though it took much longer than I had anticipated; it had been 7 years since I’d moved, and I either accumulated much more stuff than I thought I had, or I disremembered how long moving took. Perhaps a combination of both.

Now both I and my stuff are happily ensconced in T.’s little house, and we’re currently trying to find places to put everything so that the house doesn’t resemble one of those “My Loved One Is A Hoarder” houses on Oprah, where there’s just one itty-bitty, teeny-tiny pathway from the front door to each room, bordered by towering piles of Useless Stuff. 

(Right now there’s one medium-sized path from the front door to the dining room and through to the kitchen, but we’re gradually putting stuff where it belongs, and intend to have the living room actually resemble a living room by the time the weekend is over. I forsee many trips to Goodwill to ditch duplicates of everything but the coffeemaker [because when the primary coffeemaker breaks, you want the backup coffeemaker RIGHT THERE and ready, man!], as well as ditching other stuff that we never really needed in the first place.) 

(I’m getting a little obsessed with paring way down and living much more simply, with way less stuff, but this blog isn’t the place to discuss it.) 

Having everything all ajumble and askew has had us both kind of discombobulated, and I realized the other day that I was just tense as hell and wishing firey death on the other drivers on the highway (while I occasionally swear at the other drivers, I don’t wish that they would burn in hell, and that’s what I was doing the other day, when they weren’t doing anything other than trying to merge).  When I’m tense and snappish like that, what often makes me feel much, MUCH better is getting my ass beaten well and thoroughly. When T. came home from work, I told him, “I think I need to be beaten…are you up for that?” He was, let me say, MORE than up for that. 

He had me lie on my stomach across the bed, tied my wrists together over my head (but didn’t tie them TO anything, since I’m still dealing with some intermittent pins and needles from my wrist tendinitis), and  beat my ass, legs, and upper back/shoulders with a variety of things, including a couple of different floggers (I love love LOVE the soft deerskin flogger, because I don’t like it when a flogging stings, but I do love hard, thuddy impact), a yardstick (ow ow OWIE), and a big huge paddle (the kind that’s intended for some sort of game — not ping-pong, because the paddle is even bigger than a ping-pong paddle, and all wood). 

The last time that T. used that paddle on me was probably a year ago, and it hurt so badly that I almost stopped the scene (instead, I just asked him to not use the paddle, which he readily complied with). So when T. pulled out the paddle this time, I muttered about not liking it and it hurt too much (I’m so very NOT a pain slut), but I didn’t ask him not to use it.

He was kneeling on the bed next to me, and he swatted my ass with the paddle, not hard but not lightly (medium, I suppose), and I yelped, and so he kneeled up and whacked his own ass, HARD, with the paddle. He looked at me and said, “That’s not bad,” and swatted me again — but still only medium. 

After a while, he told me to roll over onto my back, and then he tied my wrists to the bedframe so that I wouldn’t use them to protect my boobs. He flogged my boobs, belly, and my legs and whacked them lightly with the yardstick. I don’t remember him using the paddle on any part of my front, and I told him later that he could have used the paddle on my boobs (because they can take a lot of rough treatment).

Eventually we were finished, and I was all endorphin-addled and delightfully sore. There was sex (yay, sex!), and we fell asleep, waking up in a panic two hours later, because it was 10:30 p.m. and we hadn’t intended to sleep that long (or at all). Dinner was had, and I shuffled back to bed while T. stayed up later, doing his night-owl activities. 

I slept SO well that night, and was in a great mood the next day. Ah, the wondrous powers of a good beating. 

Tonight there’s a play party, held by a recently formed local group, and we’re planning to go. We’ve talked about doing a scene tonight where another femdom and I co-top T., because he really enjoys bottoming to someone who plays HARD, and I still am not totally comfortable playing as hard as T. likes (although I’m getting more used to it). And this other femdom loves playing hard, and rarely gets a chance to do so, simply because she doesn’t know any subs/bottoms who like it that hard.

So if she wants to co-top T. with me, it sounds like a win-win-win.  

(And *that*, in a nutshell, is how I would define my switchiness, if asked. Thursday I got a good beating, and tonight I’m dishing one out.  Life is good.) 

Now to unpack more boxes….