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.

Among many, many other activities, Fetish Diva Midori writes a column, “Diva’s Debauchery,” for ErosZine. Her newest column is about gender fuckery/fluidity/switchery, and the whys and wherefores and oh-hell-YEAHs of it.

In her column, Midori describes a man who, in day-to-day life, was drab and unassuming; not shy, exactly, but not noteworthy or attention-getting, either. And then this man began cross-dressing, and in this femme persona, became the center of attention, outrageous, and one hell of a power domme.

I recognized the description immediately. Because, while Midori isn’t writing about my boy, she could be. At least, I seem to think so.

I really dig Midori. She kicks ass. She’s the bee’s knees, as the kids say. I love the way she views genderfuckery/role-playing: “Role playing of any sort, whether sexual, gaming or historical reenactment, offers a momentary relief from the daily roles we are confined to.”

People are multifaceted creatures, no matter how one-note they may seem. There’s no reason we should only ever be one variation of ourselves. Yeah, from 9 to 5 I’m Teppycat, good worker bee and (mostly) productive citizen. But my 9-to-5 self doesn’t allow for my messy, bratty, gleefully sadistic side to come out (though some days, I swear to god, my co-workers don’t know just how close they are to getting a serious ass-beating). Or my quiet, I-am-your-object-to-do-with-as-you-please, passive side to come out.

Or my inner pony.

It’s utterly important for all of our facets to shine, at least once in a while. I’ll quote Midori once more: “Through this vessel the person emerges and animates, enjoying newly visible facets of them selves. This new discovery is heady and potent like elixir served from the gods of the subconscious. Some people are frightened of this intoxication while some seek to drown in it. Most people, however, drink what they need, enough to give strength and quench the parched soul and imagination.”

And that’s exactly it, isn’t it? I don’t have to be a good pony all the time. Or a gleeful sadist. But because I can be those versions of me, sometimes, the result is that all my other facets — even the day-to-day ones — shine a little brighter.

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.

DAMN. Now I know what it’s like to be dommed by T.’s cross-dressed persona. So. Fucking. HOT.

I think it lasted about 3 hours — afterwards, people were commenting on how long it was — but it seemed like no time at all. It was THAT good. Lots of nipple play/torture, which I love. I was blindfolded the whole time, which helps me to tune out the rest of the party — it’s like, if *I* can’t see that there are other people there who might be watching me, then even though I can hear them, it still doesn’t *really* register. Which is a good thing.

It was all power exchange and bondage and other assorted pain play, but no flogging/beating. Which was fine with me. It’s the power exchange that I love so much. I’ve never gone into subspace — at least, not the way I’ve always heard it defined — but the fact that the rest of the party just receded into the background and I was able to simply experience the moment really did feel like a completely different headspace than I’ve experienced during BDSM play yet.

I was talking with T. about what his cross-dressing persona is like, and he said that she’s a very very strict, almost sadistic, domme. And I told him I’d love to see him do that, get his domme on and really let loose. He asked if I meant with me as the sub, and I said sure, if you want me. So we talked for a long time about what we might do — my big thing is the power exchange, and the thrill of handing over my power to my dom(me) — and he came up with quite a few scenarios that would…melt my brain.

Guh. Maybe at the next party. We’ll see.

Sunday was the monthly BDSM group meeting, and the discussion topic was, as the subject line says, Fetish 201. Basically, it was a presentation on 3 different — I don’t know what to call them — aspects of kink, I guess, that are more elaborate, and less commonly seen, than your basic Rack ‘Em and Whack ‘Em.

(1) T. did a presentation on crossdressing, and what it means for him, what kind of mental/identity changes he undergoes; (2) a couple did a presentation on their 24/7, full-time Daddy/little girl relationship [both are adults, to be clear]; and (3) a couple did a presentation on pony play.

It was way too much information all at once for me, and I don’t know if my reaction comes from the fact that I’m still more-or-less new, or if it was legitimately too much. I was a little overwhelmed by the end, after hearing so much detail about more than one kind of extreme(ish) play. I can’t hold that much intimate information, psychically. It’s hard when it’s from just one person, so Sunday’s presentation was too much. At least for me.

That said, it was very interesting. At least, 2/3 of it was.

I don’t even know what to say about the Daddy/little girl relationship. Obviously I don’t understand it, but more than that, it’s the subversion of such a strongly defined relationship — a relationship that’s one of the core relationships of a society (as in, the family is the basic building block of society) — that making it sexual just squicks me severely. I will say that the Daddy explained very thoroughly his point of view, emphasizing that this relationship is NOT a sublimated desire to have a sexual relationship with an actual child. He explained it in terms of “the inner child,” saying that there’s such a freedom in being able to let the inner child out, and for him, he gets to be nurturing and caretaking for someone who’s full of that wonder of the inner child.

I absolutely don’t want to judge. My kink is not others’ kink. Some people are squicked by the idea of *any* kink, no matter how tame (i.e., your basic silk-scarf-tie-to-the-bed scenario). Squick is entirely relative, and since they’re two consenting adults, what they do and how they relate is up to them. I would never tell them that what they do is wrong (because it’s NOT wrong). But just the idea of *me* being in that type of relationship gives me serious heebie-jeebies.

T.’s presentation on crossdressing was….enlightening. Just in terms of learning new stuff, hearing about what it’s like, mentally, to crossdress and to be in that persona — and he was clear that he’s not just T. wearing a dress, he *is* a different persona — was really interesting. And….also weird. And also hot.

And the pony play couple — just….GUH. I’ve said before that, when I joined the BDSM group in February, the LAST activity I’d EVER have expected to do, let alone enjoy, was electric play. And now I really really dig it. Well, the second-to-last activity would have been pony play. But tonight’s presentation….yeah. Really REALLY hot. I’m very intrigued by it. When I was leaving after the meeting was over, one of the guys asked me what I thought of the presentations. I said that I was really intrigued by pony play. A different guy said “I could see you as a ponygirl….” Which made T. say, in that pensive/devious/dangerous voice, “Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing.” So, uh….yeah. I don’t see me doing pony play any time soon, but I’m really intrigued by it.

I feel like, the more I learn about, the more I want to try. And I guess I can. Huh.

(To that end, the group’s Halloween party is Saturday — the invitation said fetish wear or costumes [though those are the same for some people], and I opted to go as a 1950s housewife — cherry-print dress, pearls, white gloves, apron, fishnets, patent-leather Mary Janes, retro makeup, and my hair in pin curls if I can pull it off. And I just realized that my outfit might seem more “fetish” than “costume.” Heh.)

I had an interesting conversation last night with T., about cross-dressing. It’s one of the (many) areas of the kinkosphere that I really don’t know very much about. I mean, I know *facts,* but since I’m not inclined towards cross-dressing, I don’t understand the mental aspect of it — how much of it is a *mental* transformation, as much as the physical aspects.

When T. cross-dresses, he identifies as a woman, and goes by a woman’s name. So I asked him, when he cross-dresses, what mentally delineates between his everyday personality and his cross-dressing personality. Like, where/how does that mental change kick in?

The way he described it, what it sounds like to me is that the outside affects the inside. Like with feng shui — the way you have your home/office organized is supposed to have an effect on your energies and so forth. And it sounds like, for T., it’s the whole experience of being dressed in women’s clothes, right down to 5-inch heels, is what brings about the mental change.

It’s certainly not like he’s a completely different person, but more like bringing out a latent side to his personality. He said he’s more fearless when he’s cross-dressing, that there are things he would do that he wouldn’t do when he’s not cross-dressed. And I think I understand that, even though cross-dressing isn’t my kink.

We talked a little bit about how BDSM gives a person so much more room to play with identity/transformation/image than adults can get away with in the vanilla world. Maybe some people are drawn to BDSM because they think it’s ridiculous to give up playing dressup when they become adults. It’s kind of amazing what a vast range of potential for personal expression there is in the BDSM lifestyle. Though perhaps that’s an obvious statement.