switching


(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.

So, after my turn on top making T. have to ask for each stroke, I got my just desserts, and found myself on the bottom end of that scenario last week.

It was the first time that I had been the bottom in that particular mindfuck-y scene, and I have to say, I really loved it. Partly because I have a wimpy ass that can’t take a whole lot of intense pain, and partly because I just love a good mindfuck, whether I’m giving or receiving.

Being able to control how often I get hit, by asking “More, please, ma’am,” (which, by the way, is a MOUTHFUL, and feels like it takes about 5 minutes to say!) helps me to take a longer scene, because if any given stroke really hurt, I can wait as long as I need to before the next one. T. and I also worked out a way to ask for a specific implement, or even ask for a certain number of strokes with a given toy (like, “Ma’am, I can take 5 more with the crop, but then I need a different toy,”). Brilliant.

As for the mindfuck-y aspect — it’s almost like I’m mindfucking *myself,* because I got to a point where I was making deals with myself, like “Okay, just one more; I only have to take this one more, and then I can stop,” but then after T. gave me that one more — theoretically one *last* — stroke, I’d decide that no, I could take more, really I could, and I’d ask for another.

I found myself asking for more than I thought I would, and asking more quickly (i.e., not much time between swats) as well.

I assure you, my ass really hurt the next day. In a good way.

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.

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…. 

In a welcome contrast to the party at which I called red during a scene and then had a meltdown, T. and I went to a play party this past weekend that turned out to be a delightfully switchy little event for us.

T. flogged me — first my backside and upper back, etc., and then had me turn around so that he could use his riding crop on my breasts, which I LOVE. It was a great scene, partly because we were in the same general area as another impact-play scene that was just really, really high energy — there was a constant back-and-forth of conversation between the top and the bottom that was just as lively as their actual impact play.

And because they were already playing when T. and I started, we knew that was the kind of general energy that was going to be present — meaning, if we wanted a quiet, intense, trancelike scene between the two of us, we’d have to go in another room. But we decided that it would be fun to play near the other scene, and it worked out great.

After T. and I were finished with that scene, and we had something to eat (man, I seem to ALWAYS crave beef after an impact-play scene), T. decided that he wanted to do some self-bondage. Which is fine by me, because I can be a lazy top and just watch him go to work. Which I did. And he did.

T. is very good at self-bondage, and has actually done presentations on the subject for different lifestyle groups. So watching him tie himself up is (1) fascinating, (2) kind of amazing, and (3) hot hot HOT. Once he was as securely tied as he could get, including a rope gag, I decided to start teasing him and fucking with him. (Not fucking *him* — fucking WITH him.)

I tugged and yanked on various ropes, trying to create some friction to his general crotch area, since he had also tied rope around his cock and balls CBT-style. Judging by his reactions, I succeeded in doing exactly what I wanted to do, which was create *some* stimulation, but not *enough* to get him off.

I tormented him in various other ways — pinching his nipples, pulling my shirt up and dangling my breasts in his face (since he had a rope gag in, he couldn’t do anything to them…though he certainly tried). And then I told him to untie himself so that we could go home.

Heh. I’m good. And when I’m bad, I’m better.

A true conversation between T. and myself:

Me: “I’ve been thinking we should do a role-play scene soon. Like, I could be the stern teacher, and you could be the errant student who didn’t do his homework and copied off another student and then lied about it…. What do you think?”

T.: “Role-play? I get to roll around on the floor?”

Me: [pause] “No, you have to dress up like a giant dinner roll. Maybe sourdough.”

T.: “Ha! If you get me excited, I could be a hard roll!”

Me: “Oh my god, you giant DORK.”

T.: “….or if I’m *really* excited, a baguette!”

Oh, yeah. The uncensored conversation between 2 utterly dorky switches. The truth is out.

I’m loving Bitchy Jones’ latest post, on why switches are hot. (Okay, to be fair, she’s talking about male switches. But I’m egotistical enough to take my imaginary compliments where I can.)

But really — she’s right. Bitchy says, “…it is just a lot of fun to hurt a man who knows just what I’m doing. Who can tell me what to do.”

Sweet Lord YES. He knows exactly the rush I get when I’m the one wielding the flogger, because he gets the same rush when he’s on top. He knows what his submission does for me (GUH), because he knows how it feels when someone subs to him.

I’m a HUGE proponent of the flip side of this, as well: when T. is the dom and I’m the sub, I know that he knows what a singletail feels like on a bare ass, because his ass has been there. He knows how a rattan cane feels, and why swinging it too hard is going to get me to end the scene immediately, because he’s been on the receiving end of an overzealous cane.

I’m not saying that everyone, deep down inside, is a switch. I don’t believe that everyone is. But I do think that everyone has it in them to switch roles once in a while, which doesn’t change how you see yourself — you are still a Big Bad Dom even if you sub for a night. You are still a service-oriented slave even if you pick up a flogger from time to time.

There is enormous value in experiencing the other side of your normal role. A dominant who subs once in a while gets a much better sense of what exactly his sub is giving to him in their power exchange. A submissive who doms occasionally can understand what it’s like to be the recipient of all that trust, and what a rush it is, and realize how their submission affects their dominant.

And I firmly believe that — at the very least — a dominant should always test her toys out on herself before she ever uses them on a submissive. The dominant doesn’t have to actually be in a scene, doesn’t have to actually be submissive to someone else, but she does need to know what that rattan cane feels like on bare skin.

Because it’s just utter jackassery to learn how much is too much by observing what it takes to make your submissive bleed.

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