kinky navelgazing


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.

Dev, of Devastating Yet Consequential, has a post up titled “bdsm is not safe”. I agree with pretty much every word of it. She’s definitely NOT saying that BDSM is a minefield rife with tragedy lurking around every corner. Not at all. She’s just saying that we can’t guarantee that what we do is going to be harmless every single time we do it.

Kinky folk often use the “safe, sane, consensual” label for what we do, and I think the label is useful as a reminder of what we should always be aware of. We should always do everything in our power to be safe, but, frankly, shit happens. Shit happens all the time. Even the safest person in the world can get caught in an unexpected problem (power outage, submissive has a panic attack, dom’s allergies flare up).

Many kinky people have moved from using the “safe, sane, consensual” label to “risk-aware consensual kink,” which is, I think, more accurate. But notice what part of SSC is missing in RACK — we’ve gone from safe, SANE, consensual, to risk-aware consensual kink.

Sanity is nowhere to be seen.

And, honestly, BDSM is not sane. At least, it’s not sane to the degree that it’s also not safe, in the way that Dev described. I’m 100% serious about this. I let someone staple me in the arm, not with a medical stapler, but with a big ol’ Home Depot industrial electric staple gun. At the same event, I let someone take a baton that was soaked in alcohol and then LIT ON FIRE and run it — still ON FIRE — over my unclothed skin.

That? Not sane. At least, not entirely.

But the thing is, that’s okay. In fact, it’s even good. We all need moments of craziness in our lives, the chance to step away from our workaday lives and the predictable routines that are a part of them.

The crazy moments are exhilarating. They’re fun, and scary, and not entirely rational, and often exactly what our hearts and souls need.

Sanity is overrated.

(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.

If I scene with someone who isn’t T., it’s only ever at a play party, never in private. That’s simply because, the way I’m wired, whenever I play with someone other than T. it’s a casual, less-intimate interaction to me. Enjoyable, but casual. And I think that playing in “public” (at a party) helps it to be more casual — for me, at least.

I’ve done electric play with one dom at parties, and I’ve done some impact play with another dom at parties, and it was really just about the sensation itself — the objective of the scene was just about giving and receiving pain/impact.

T. and I play differently than that with each other, because we (obviously) have a different relationship than I have with other play partners.

I guess the best way that I can explain it is that there can be, for me, different goals when I scene with someone. And I can have a scene that’s only about the pain/impact/sensation/etc. with a casual partner. We both have to know that from the start, but that’s the point of negotiation.

Or, to put it even more simply, sometimes I just need a good flogging. And that’s all it is.

T. tends to like harder impact play than I’m used to doing as a top, and so he’ll bottom to other people once in a while, and it’s just about getting his butt seriously kicked by someone who’s really good at it. He and I had to decide “ground rules” about what type of play we were comfortable with the other one doing with other people, but fortunately we have the same point of view, so it was easy to agree on what type of play was okay with other people and what type of play was not okay.

And it definitely helps if I know who he’s bottoming to (or vice versa). That makes things much more comfortable in my mind.

I know that there are countless ways for people to decide who they’ll play with, and under what circumstances, and what limits they have, etc. My way is no more “right” or “wrong” than anyone else’s — but it IS right for me.

There are many other people in the BDSM world who have written about manners, and done so far more comprehensively than I’m about to. (And whose writing is undoubtedly better than mine, also.) Still, what’s a blog for, if not to spew forth one’s own opinions and crackpot theories?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced some surprisingly bad manners at munches. This morning, when I read Mistress Matisse’s description of some truly appalling behavior that happened to a friend of hers at a munch, I decided to offer up my 2 cents.

Honestly, people? I just don’t understand when people show up at a munch or a party and can’t even behave with the most rudimentary of manners. I’m talking the kind of manners that anyone, in any situation, whether vanilla or kink, should know and be able to actually USE. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big scaredy-teppycat when it comes to new situations and meeting new people. I totally understand that being in a new situation can make people feel awkward, and that can lead to some social gaffes. I totally get that. Hell, I’ve totally DONE that.

But I just don’t understand what thought process leads people to abandon even the facade of politeness in a situation where they are the newbie (meaning, yes, because you’re new, you’re being evaluated, since we don’t know whether you’re a kink god or a registered sex offender). It’s just common sense to bust out the good manners in order to make a good impression, no?

At one munch, I recommended a particular dessert to the people sitting around me (and, okay, by “recommended,” I actually mean “raved and swooned and extolled its virtues with terms befitting the food of the gods”), some of whom were new to the munch. They ordered the dessert, as did I, it was served, we ate, I made sounds of gastronomical bliss.

One of the new people, who had ordered the dessert on my recommendation, was sitting silently, having finished his dessert with no comment. Feeling flush in the postprandial glow of one truly kickass dessert, I leaned across the table and asked, “So? What do you think?”

The guy responded with an expression devoid of any reaction, save for his curled lip, and said, “Eh. I wasn’t impressed.” And so I just chuckled, hoping that he was trying to make one of those jokes-by-way-of-saying-the-opposite-of-what-you-mean.

He repeated, “Really. That wasn’t anything special.”

Okay.

No one has to share my opinion of dessert (or any other topic, come to that). And anyone who disagrees with my opinion shouldn’t lie to me if asked. But I just feel like maybe, just maybe, sneering at me and dissing something that I had praised to high heaven isn’t the best way to make a good impression on me.

There’s always a tactful way to indicate that you don’t agree with someone. Sure, I’m not known for being the queen of tact (or even possessing one iota of tact, actually), but I know how to behave with strangers upon whom I might wish to make a good impression.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too judgey, but when I have a very limited amount of interaction with someone as the basis for forming my opinion, I’m going to be feeling less than warmly towards someone who sneers at me and my choice of dessert.

It might be silly, but there it is.

One of the most comprehensive Web pages I’ve read on etiquette in the BDSM scene is by Ambrosio, who I also have linked in my sidebar. His page on protocol/etiquette covers a wide variety of situations, ranging from basic good manners that everyone ought to know for all venues, both kink-related and vanilla, all the way to etiquette at play parties, high protocol, and even the protocol surrounding the hanky code. It’s an excellent resource, and I highly recommend it.

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.

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