kinky identity


I have an impending dilemma that’s pretty common among kinky folk.

I’m getting together with my old college roommates this weekend for a reunion (not a *college* reunion; just the 4 of us who shared a suite many many years ago at a college you may have heard of), and we have a LOT to catch up on. It’s been years since we’ve gotten together in person, and it’s been nearly as long since we’ve really caught up via phone or e-mail. Life happens, people have kids, you get busy flogging your boyfriend…you know how it is.

Anyway. It’s a situation straight out of some Lifetime movie: 4 college roommates reuniting, no spouses/SOs, no kids, just a girls’ weekend. And lots to catch up on.

They have no idea I’m kinky. I mean not even a teeny tiny clue.

In college, I was more vanilla than vanilla. Very very very good girl next door. Practically asexual. I mean REALLY. I can’t really remember ever talking about sex with anyone (and that includes people with whom I had sex).

Now, let’s be clear: I had kinky fantasies for as long as I can remember. Since before I was really aware of my sexuality, or the possibilities therein. So in college, I was still just as kinky as I am now; it was just all inside. Really, really, really far inside. If I was embarassed to talk about sex in general, you can be DAMN sure I would have died on the spot to talk about kinky sex, let alone my interest in it.

(In retrospect, it’s a miracle that I managed to get past my hangups and get kinky. I was lucky enough, some years back, to have a seriously, wonderfully twisted friend-with-benefits who casually said, “I’d love to tie you to my bed all weekend.” I was so caught off guard that I blurted out, “Oh my god, I would LOVE that!” And thus a kinkster was born.)

So, yeah. I *know* that not only do they have no idea I’m kinky, they would be shocked as hell to find out that *I,* out of all of us, am a cheerfully enthusiastic pervert.

I don’t know whether to tell them. I don’t anticipate disapproval; they’re fairly laid-back women with healthy sex lives of their own, and even if *they* aren’t kinky, they’re pretty laissez-faire with the whole idea of getting down with whatever gets you off.

(That last sentence is one of the most convoluted, slang-y things I’ve ever written. I love it. I think I must marry it.)

But on the other hand, I honestly don’t even know how any of them feel about kink. Like I said, it was never a topic I even considered bringing up.

I’ve known them for a long, LONG time. There’s a lot about each other that we didn’t always agree with, but we always respected each others’ viewpoints, and above all, loved each other.

I guess I’m going to play it by ear. They might be cool with me mentioning that I’m into kinky sex, but not so cool with the idea that I belong to several groups that have regular play parties, at which I undress and beat my boyfriend or get beaten by him. But then I wonder, is not telling them the full extent being dishonest and not true to myself?

Gah.

Watch this space for updates after the weekend.

(The subject line isn’t actually a joke, although it sounds like one. I just think there should be a collective noun for kinky folk, like a flock of birds, a pride of lions, a [___] of kinky people. You know?)

Yeah, I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything. It’s been one of those summers. T. and I went away on vacation, and I returned to face a shitstorm at work (which is still continuing, alas), and that’s been pretty much all that’s consumed my energy and brain power for the past few months. Not very exciting.

However, T. and I recently went to a weekend-long kink event, and I thought that maybe I should drag the blog out of the mothballs and talk about it. (Hence my subject line — there were more than 100 people there [at least, it sure SEEMED that way at the play party!], but you get my point and my crappy attempt at a joke.)

The event offered 23 classes, in 5 time slots (so you could go to as many as 5 classes throughout the day) loosely arranged into tracks — i.e., you could attend all classes on rope, or all classes on lifestyle issues, etc. Because I’m a dilettante, I just jumped around and took classes on a few different themes.

I went to 2 classes that Graydancer taught — military-style bondage as well as his pretty well-known The Defining Moment class. (Completely unrelated to the class material, I’m in awe of how quickly he can tie. It’s really impressive, and just fun to watch.) The classes themselves were really helpful in giving me a new way to think about my kink, and how to create scenes that work for T. *and* I.

(And if that last bit doesn’t make sense — you may be asking yourself, “Why *wouldn’t* a scene work for both the top and the bottom?” — then I envy you your relationship(s) with your partner(s). There are quite a few scenes — mostly when I top — where I feel like I’m the one serving T., and *he’s* the one in charge, even though he’s the one tied up and being tormented.

And that sentiment deserves its own post, honestly. The bottom obviously deserves enjoyment out of a scene; I’m not saying that he doesn’t. But when I, as the top, feel like I’m not in charge, there’s something wrong.

I also realize that there are scenes where the bottom is *ordered* to tie up/torment the top; sometimes a top just wants to be beaten. And that might be the way we need to shift our view of our scenes. But that’s not what this entry is about, dang it!)

(Yes, the previous 3 paragraphs were a parenthetical. I’m verbose.)

Anyway, back to the classes I attended. The 2 that Graydancer presented were great. I should send him an e-mail to tell him that.

Another class I attended was “The Primal Self” in BDSM, presented by Jack Rinella. It was exactly the kind of nerdy, intellectual topic that I love, but it was also really relevant to life as a kinky person.

There was also a class on switches! This isn’t always the case at a kink event, no matter how large, although it seems like more and more, the bigger events at least have a “switches’ roundtable.” Anyway, this class was presented by Coral Mallow (that link is NOT from the event I attended), who is, as her bio states, a force of nature. She talked about the myriad ways that a person can be a switch, including gender, and how that might play — and/or change — at any given time.

The last class I took was for “novice” doms. At this point in my life as a switch, I still don’t have the kind of experience or confidence I’d like when I’m the one on top, so I figured that this class would help me, or at least point me in the right direction. And it did. (Side note: I’m always tickled by doms who are soft-spoken and unassuming, because they’re a delight compared to the loud, overbearing folks who seem to think that being loud and overbearing is what makes one a dom.) (And the dom who presented the class was a soft-spoken, unassuming guy, definitely. And yet his entire demeanor made it clear that he had a spine of steel. Metaphorically.)

The play party was one of the most well-planned ones I’ve ever attended. The venue where the event was held had enough space for there to be a HUGE main room for the party, as well as a side room and a separate “sensual space” play area. (I thought that “sensual space” was code for “lots of fucking on the floor!” but my cynical side was proven entirely wrong, and I am chagrined that I made that assumption.) The “sensual space” was MUCH quieter than the large play area, even though it had the same kind of play equipment that the larger space had (meaning, there were a lot of similar scenes — suspensions [including a self-suspension that BLEW ME AWAY], flogging, rope bondage, etc.); the difference was just in the intent of the space. It was supposed to be quieter and more intimate, and the people who played there adhered to that.

The large play area was like a CARNIVAL. I mean, really. There’s no other word for it. It was full, but not so crowded that it was hard to walk through. All the equipment was constantly in use, with a lot of really creative, high-energy scenes.

Since I don’t want to give away detail that isn’t mine to give, I’ll just list some of the types of play that was going on in the large dungeon: suspensions, takedowns, fire play, flogging, single-tail scenes, foot worship, rough impact play, spanking, caning — and that’s just what *I* saw; I’m sure there was lots more.

T. told me before the event that he wanted to be the top for the party, which was fine with me. The only problem was, there was so much going on around us, plus the music and all the other noises one hears in a playspace, that he just couldn’t concentrate enough to really top me. He gave it his level best, and tied me to a cross and flogged me a little bit, but he just couldn’t get his head into the game. (He started on my front side, and when he turned me around and immediately started Florentine (double) flogging my ass, without warming up, I *knew* he couldn’t concentrate.)

Honestly, I was okay with the premature discontinuation of our scene. I was exhausted after getting up at 6 a.m. to drive to the event, and a full day of classes. Don’t get me wrong; when we walked in to the party, I was fully on board to get a beating. But I was fine with stopping, too. I got to watch some amazing scenes I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to see, and I got to socialize with people I hadn’t seen in months, so that was all good, too.

And now that we’re home, I’m fighting off a cold. Honestly, every time I go to a large event, I bring home some sort of plague.

But other than the plague, it was a very good event, and I’m glad we went.

My astrological sign is Cancer, and while I don’t put any serious credence in astrology, one of the strong characteristics of people born in Cancer is that they’re caretakers. And that’s “caretakers” in whatever way it manifests — I tend to feed people. Come through my front door, cross my path, sit next to me on the bus — I’ll offer you food. More than once. When I have guests in my home, I make every effort to make sure they’re comfortable (as well as well-fed), and sometimes I have to stop myself and just say, “Okay, I get obessive about making sure everyone has what they want, and that makes me ask ‘Do you need anything?’ WAY too often, and it’s been suggested that this drives people nuts. So…if you need anything, please tell me, or help yourself.”

But even after I say that, I still keep my eye on glasses that need refills, empty plates that are in the way, etc. It’s what I do. Caretaking is a tangible way for me to show love to people.

Which is why I think I’d be a splendid service submissive, given the right dominant and the right circumstances. I enjoy taking care of those who I love. It pleases me to make sure they have everything they need before they even have to ask. And when I know that they’re aware of what I’m doing, they never need to thank me. It’s when people take it for granted that I’m disinclined to lift a finger for them.

Sex Geek has a recent post on entitlement, and how that plays into D/s relationships that touches on this. It doesn’t focus on service submission specifically, as much as the larger issue of how a sense of entitlement plays into a power exchange. On the face of it, entitlement sounds like taking something for granted, without any appreciation. At least, that’s how I’ve always thought of entitlement.

But Sex Geek explains it much better than I can — in a power exchange, entitlement is not taking something for granted; it’s expecting something that the other person wants to give, and expecting it with the knowledge that the other person wants to give it, and, more specifically, give it to YOU.

An example that Sex Geek gives is this:

Boi L once told me that if I were to take off my jacket and let go of it without even looking behind me to see if she was there to take it – if I assumed her to be paying attention, without feeling a need to check and make sure – that would be a high compliment, because it’s an indication of my trust in her service.

In that situation, that relationship, Sex Geek isn’t assuming from a place of arrogance that Boi L will take her jacket because that’s what she deserves. No, she’s aware that Boi L wants to serve in that capacity, and therefore Sex Geek can meet Boi L’s need to serve her by taking off her jacket and let it go, expecting Boi L to take it.

I guess I wouldn’t have called such a dynamic “entitlement,” but I see what Sex Geek means when she uses it.

In any case. I am, as always, switchy to the core, but there are times when — and people with whom — I know I could be a splendid service submissive. At the right time, and with the right person, who has that attitude that Sex Geek describes, I actually crave it. There’s something about caretaking that, for me, is deeply satisfying.

The other day, I was listening to the Ropecast (Graydancer’s podcast about shibari and other kinky things), and much to my delight, Midori was a guest. She and Graydancer talked about a variety of topics, including her “Elements of Suffering” performance.

In describing “Elements of Suffering,” Midori talked about the Japanese cultural virtue of enduring. She didn’t elaborate on the reasons that enduring is a Japanese virtue; she just explained that it’s a common theme. And then she related that back in to her “Elements of Suffering” performance, talking about the idea of enduring hardship (or suffering).

When I first started reading books about BDSM (thank you, Amazon.com, for making it easy for shy kinksters to get their hands on good reading material!), one of the first books I read was Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton’s New Bottoming Book. In it, they tell the reader to think about what it is that he or she wants to get out of bottoming. In other words, what are you looking for, what do you want to achieve — why are you doing this?

It wasn’t a question I could answer right away; certainly not until I got involved with other kinky people and started playing at parties. Even then, I was just trying to learn everything I could, experience everything I could (or what I was willing to experience), and see what I liked.

Figuring out why I liked it could come later.

And, eventually, what I realized was that, when I bottom, what I want is to endure. I want to take the flogging/beating/pain and get through it, get past it, and see what’s on the other side. (I also want to be praised for taking the pain, to be told I’m a good girl, but that’s not my primary motivator in bottoming.)

This is very much in contrast with T.’s goal in bottoming; he very often wants to be broken, to be pushed to the point where he can’t take the pain any more. And as much as I’ve gone there with him, as his top, it’s not something I want to experience as a bottom.

Neither way is “right,” of course; when it comes to kink, there’s only what’s right for any given person. And it’s endlessly fascinating to me to see just how many permutations there can be, how many different ways people have to embrace and express their kink.

Bitchy Jones has a recent post describing the stereotypical asshat male dom (it’s pretty accurate, IMO). Here is her take on the attitude that asshat male doms have about switches:

“there is nothing worse than…

“Switches! Switches are worse than mansubs, because like bisexuals in straightland, they look normal….

“But, really, switches! That lovely M/f couple with him all puffy chest and her knowing her place and then, OMG, he says he switches. Ew. Ew!. EW! Switches are all wrong because being submissive (if you are a woman) or dominant (if you are a man) is something you ARE, not something you try on for fun. Goddamnit. When will people understand. This is not about sex!”

I would accuse Bitchy of shortsighted stereotyping, but the thing is, I encounter that attitude All. The. Fucking. Time. And not just from male doms, but from female subs, female doms, male subs — at some point, my existence as a switch has been met with incredulity by people in pretty much any role other than switch.

That, in and of itself, pisses me off, because *I* don’t doubt others’ self-proclaimed roles, and I’m not known for being (1) a liar or (b) schizophrenic, so I haven’t given others any reason to doubt *me*.

But what pisses me off more, what this entry is about, is the assumption that, because I switch roles when it comes to BDSM, I also switch how I interact with the world outside the dungeon. Uh, no. Who I am is who I am.

An example: I was at a meeting of the local BDSM group, and we were splitting into small groups to get some administrative crap done. It was like herding cats, and, because I’m bossy and anal and would have made an excellent dictator of a small island nation, I took charge and directed the groups to where they should sit, made sure everyone had pens and paper, etc.

The president of the group (who happens to be a male dom) snarkily commented, “Well, I see which way *you’re* switching today!”

Uh, no. My whole life, I’ve been bossy and pushy and anal-retentive and really good at organizing things and people. I’ve never been shy and retiring or too timid to speak up, EVER. Just because I’m being outspoken doesn’t mean that I’m “being toppy.” If I *were* taciturn, that wouldn’t mean I was “being submissive.”

Seriously, that pisses me off more and more just thinking about it. I switch when it comes to kinky shit. That’s it. How hard is that for people to grasp?

It’s the same line of reasoning that gets trotted out to sneer at submissives who speak their mind — just because someone identifies as a submissive, sexually (and let’s not forget that this is really what it’s all about, okay — SEX), doesn’t mean that she’s a timid shrinking violet who can’t speak up in a social situation. The other side of that coin, of course, is that just because someone identifies as a dom definitely doesn’t mean he’s a good leader. I’m sick and fucking tired of seeing doms put in leadership positions of BDSM groups, just because they’re doms — yup, it happens all the time — only to have them step down from the leadership position because it turns out that they’re crap at actually, you know, LEADING.

The role a person chooses when it comes to BDSM has nothing to do with how he or she acts in the rest of his or her life. It *can* match up — see also, timid submissives, loud-mouthed doms — but it doesn’t have to, and, frankly, is insulting when people assume it does.

Because where does that leave the lowly switch, the spork of the BDSM world? Getting pummeled with asinine assumptions about things that have NOTHING to do with our switchiness, that’s where.

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.

In a recent post, Bitchy Jones talks about service submissives, and how the cliche of the sissified male sub in a French maid’s outfit, doing housework or some sort of work that falls in the category of “chore,” is not a kink for her.

A woman I know who is very much a dom is the type of dom who is always looking for male subs who will do housework/yardwork/handyman-type work around her place. She’s not inclined to inflict pain on them, or tie them up, or carry out any other type of nefarious deed upon their submissive asses. She makes no bones about the fact that she’s gathering a stable of service submissives.

And I tell you what, I have been at her place and seen them working for her, and they work HARD. And look properly adoring towards her while doing all her yardwork, etc.

The thing is — I just don’t get it. I don’t get what the erotic thrill is, for her (or any dom) in having a submissive come over and…clean the house. Or mow the lawn. Yes, I understand that service submission emphasizes the power exchange between dom and sub. And you have never seen as big a fan of exchanging power as I am. But when it comes to housework, well, I’d be grateful and all, but it’s still not erotic for me.

Which has led me to ask, more than once, isn’t it just a way to get your house cleaned by someone else without paying for it?

Maybe it’s just that chores like housework seem too impersonal to me. Because I *do* get a thrill from direct, personal service, like serving me a meal, massaging my feet, attending to my every whim. But that’s something that the sub is doing *directly* for me. Serving me via cleaning my house puts the chore in between us. Like he’s actually subbing to my apartment, or something.

….and of course, it’s possible that — as always — I think about these things too much.

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