Tag Archive: BDSM


50 Shades of WTF

50 Shades of Grey book jacketI know I’m only a million years too late on this, and every blogger worth his/her/hir salt has already said their piece on 50 Shades of Grey, so I’ll try to make my thoughts brief.

Without much ado…

Things which are troublesome about 50 Shades of Grey:

  • The implication that dominant people are dominant both in and out of the bedroom:

Christian Grey is the consummate 24/7 Dom.  There is no ON/OFF button– he is controlling, manipulative, dark, and masterful every moment of the day.  In his business, his family life, his love life, Christian is in the driver’s seat.  Now there’s nothing wrong with this mode of dominance, persay, but being that 50 Shades is one of the first books to bring BDSM into the limelight for the general public, I take the view that its cultural responsibility is to show as much discretion towards its subject matter as possible.  There is no other D/s couple in 50 Shades (at least not the first book– I really couldn’t stomach the whole series), so Christian’s portrayal of dominance holds a lot of weight.  By putting him at the farthest end of the spectrum, as a dominant who sublimates his own hardships, remains isolated, and controls situations inside and out of the bedroom, 50 Shades simplifies the complex varieties of dominance that exist in the BDSM community.  There are highly insecure, shy, and vulnerable people who take on dominance in the bedroom.  There are also very strong, confident doms that relinquish their controlling persona outside of the bedroom.  We don’t see any of this in 50 Shades- only a very clearly delineated dichotomy of Strong, Successful and Dominant vs. Naive, Clumsy, and Submissive.

  • Christian’s possessive, jealous regard for other men in Ana’s life

Regardless of who the love interest is, the way Christian reacts to men he sees as a threat to his monopoly on Ana’s affection (and he sees ALL

Also, You Killed My Father…

men as a threat) is totally out of line.  By idolizing him, 50 Shades reinforces the idea that men should be possessive towards women, viewing them almost as property.  It also erases the potential for homosexuality’s existence, for either Ana or Christian, as this jealous possessiveness is fiercely heterosexual. For instance, Ana’s male best friend Jose is instantly marked as a threat by Christian, and is the subject of constant tension during the book. But Kate, Ana’s roommate and female best, who exhibits a much greater degree of closeness to Ana, is never even mentioned as a concern, specifically because she’s a woman (and therefore not a sexual threat.)

  • Ana’s obsession with “storybook-like” men

Ana has a yen for (in my opinion, rather maudlin, uninteresting) 19th century English literature.  She idolizes men who have bizarre mood swings, who speak in cryptic quotes, and who frankly, cause a lot of drama.  It reminds me of Thought Catalog’s “You Should Date an Illiterate Girl”

She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied.

Like in Thought Catalog, Ana cannot possibly be content with a mere mortal boyfriend– she needs the dramatic, sweeping climax of a storybook plot twist and the anguish of true love shunned by society that comes back at the last moment to save the day.  While it makes for a great book, it’s pretty unhealthy in terms of a real relationship, which is, unfortunately, what draws her more and more to dark, brooding, difficult, enrapturing Christian Grey.  ((also, an interesting metacommentary on realistic fiction…but we’ll save that for a literary blog, yes?))

  • Further stigmatizing edge play like knife play, fire play, scat/urine play

Conspiracy Keanu says, "What if "50 Shades of Grey" is a good story and we just don't get it???"I’m sorry, but why the fuck is it necessary to hate on edge play in a book about BDSM?  Whatever, it’s not your kink, fine.  But 50 Shades grabbed at such low hanging fruit with Christian’s “hard limits.” When the pair are going through Christian’s hard limits (including fire play, scat/piss play, etc), Ana self-narrates “Why would a sane person do those things?”  This comment in particular struck me as unnecessarily hurtful.  Especially when scat and piss play are already so stigmatized inside and outside the BDSM community, it seems just cruel and unnecessary to make them the subject of acrimony within the book, since they have absolutely no plot purpose.

  • Perpetuates the idea that women bleed when they lose their virginity

This is pretty simple.  It’s just not a thing 99% of the time.  Especially when women in the Middle East are scared to death that their husbands will question their virginity because this myth hasn’t be eradicated, why do we need to perpetuate it?

Not familiar?  I’ll break it down.  *ahem* When a person with a vagina has sex for the first time, the understanding is that the penis “breaks” the seal of the hymen and a small amount of blood issues forth.  Not so.  First of all, the hymen is not a seal across the opening of the vagina, but a bit of tissue that covers a portion of the vaginal opening. This tissue is often pushed to the side by tampons, masturbation, or even general physical activity like swimming long before the person owning the vagina has sex.  Therefore, most women do not bleed their first time because this tissue has already been pushed aside and the blood discharged.  Again, there are women who lose their lives, their livelihoods, their marriages, and their social standing because people still believe this myth.  Perpetuating the “all women bleed their first time” myth is one of my biggest pet peeves.

  • The domineering, controlling aspect of casual conversation; the sense that Grey already owns and directs the people he interacts with and the conversations he participates in

The interesting thing about this observation is that I only find this behavior troubling specifically because Grey is a white, heterosexual, Privilege Denying Dude said, "Have you tried not being in a vulnerable population?"cis-gendered man.  Coming from a place of incredible societal privilege, this nonchalant control and dominance over everyone he interacts with is a sinister reminder of the oppression that minorities of all varieties face.  Christian has the ability to be confident, cocky, and domineering without a second thought because of the social cache he earns as a socially legitimate member of society.  Were he a transgendered man, a black woman, a disabled queer man, a poor Hispanic lesbian—any combination of unprivileged identities, then perhaps his attitude could be re-contextualized and seen as a kind of strength coming out where it is warranted and should be celebrated.

But Grey is… The unspoken.  The default. White. Able-bodied. Male.  Straight.  Cis-gendered. And that he is THE MOST POWERFUL CHARACTER in the book, the most cocky, the most admired character, is frustrating as fuck to anyone who has ever felt less than because of their identity.

That’s all for now, queer kids.  Share your thoughts on the book in comments!

In Pursuit of Good Porn

For those of you who don’t want the down-and-dirty details of my sex life, you should probably skip this one.

Last night I was lonely and in search of a good wank, so I went to my trusty friend the internet and found a free bondage-themed porn clip to use as an aid.  The clip was provided by Tied Virgins, a site that proclaims “We take amazing beautiful girls and introduce them to Bondage! All so that we can fulfil all your kinky bondage desires.  Every New Tied Virgin is given a full bondage lesson. From simple ballgagging to full suspension bondage we leave no stone unturned for you. Bound, gagged and made to feel like true slaves, these girls are never the same again after a trip to Tied Virgins…”

I had some serious misgivings about this video from Tied Virgins, and as a consequence, my use of free porn in general.  In the video I found, a girl was tied, both hands above her head, one leg to a bedpost, and had a ballgag in her mouth.

Throughout the video, there were shots of her struggling to get out of her bonds and move away from the person who was using a vibrator on her.  This disturbed me, not so much for the content itself (I’m all for introducing more attractive women to rope bondage!) but for the lack of context provided to me about its production.  With both hands immobilized and her mouth gagged, it would be difficult for the actress to call off the scene if it truly became too intense for her.  While her struggling was probably choreographed to add to the aesthetics of the video (or perhaps were simply a natural element of the scene), there’s no way for me to know that for sure.  I don’t know anything about the company that made this film, except what I can glean from their personal website.  I don’t know how they treat their actresses, what kind of dynamics occur behind-scenes during the filming of these videos, or if any of the cast members are coerced or hurt by the company’s practices.

Of course, this can be the case with non-BDSM porn videos as well, but it is not as immediately evident that there is potential for abuse in filming them.  Now this is not a disavowal of porn as inherently abusive—in fact, far from it.  It is, however, an endorsement for a more critical approach to porn viewing.  I’m sure to most people, it seems indulgent to pay for the porn for you watch when so much of it is available free, but there are certain things that I can say with certainty about pay-for porn sites like Crash Pad Series, Burning Angel (Joanna Angel’s site), and Kink.com:

  1. They are fair and trustworthy porn producers
  2. They treat their actors and actresses with respect, and all scenes are consensual

I can’t promise that the free clips on Redtube and Pornhub are going to fulfill those requirements.  And while they may be free, and they may suite your tastes just fine, isn’t it worth seeking out non-exploitative work to perpetuate the things you enjoy?  I don’t buy products from Proctor and Gamble because they test on animals, so I’m not going to patronize porn sites that hurt their actors.  Maybe that doesn’t mean buying a subscription to a porn site, but it does mean looking around and doing some research.  There are plenty of bloggers who have the scoop on free sites that are equally ethical (I personally know that Kink.com puts up compilation videos on some of the major porn sites to drive traffic to their site and encourage subscriptions- I’m sure others do too).  So don’t sit around wondering if that actress was ok after you’ve satisfied yourself with an orgasm or two.  Find new sources for your pleasure that you KNOW treat their performers well.

And if you’re too lazy to do that?  Erotic literature is a sure-fire way to avoid exploitation all together.  There’s no shortage of that on the web, it’s free, and far more varied than most of the porn videos you’ll find anyway.

I’m A Slave For You

One of the hardest things for us equality-driven feminist-ish types to wrap our heads around is the BDSM idea of the master/slave relationship.  These relationships can take on a lot of different forms, but for a lot of people (myself included for quite some time), the idea that sticks is that of a woman caged against her will by the domineering of an aggressive man.  Never mind the numerous gendered assumptions made in this model (which are equally problematic)- I always believed that you couldn’t be a slave without giving up some inherent part of yourself in the submission, that you lose WHO YOU ARE when you become a slave.

Which is why it’s always so refreshing and exciting and hot to read The Perverted Negress, a blog about being in a master/slave relationships, from the slave’s perspective.  Mollena (the blogess herself) has a great snarky, sometimes even biting way of discussing things with her master, while simultaneously writing very evocatively about the emotional and spiritual journey that being a slave puts her through.  She is very much her own person, and anyone who is interested in a master/slave relationship, but afraid of the way the dynamic might cage their own sense of identity, should read some of what she’s written.

Today I want to link to a great advice column Mollena wrote giving suggestions for dominants.  Her unique viewpoint as a (particularly articulate) slave humanizes dominants and masters in a really wonderful way.

Yeah the big tough dominant thing is a hot and sexy image. But knowing about your process and emotional state

From Mollena's site- Copyright Michele Serchuk

creates intimacy and lets us trust you with our intimate thoughts and feelings as well. When you are involved in an intimate relationship, sometimes you don’t even have to hear the emotions of another spoken aloud to know when something is amiss, or when they are simmering with joy. Regardless? Letting those in service to you or owned by you in on your emotional state is absolutely necessary.

Too often dominants/masters are looked at like giant, looming, unquestionable figures without flaws or misgivings.  And that can be part of the appeal.  Being able to give yourself over to someone you trust completely and know will unconditionally be able to handle you with strength, authority, and grace.  But that’s an incredible expectation for even the most poised of dominants, and it is worthwhile to acknowledge that they are people with weaknesses and doubts too, who may even need comfort, who aren’t afraid to say “please” and “thank you.”

Celebrating dominance is not something our society is conditioned to do.  We have culturally encoded equality as (at least the hypothetical) objective, and so master/sub relationships come across as abusive and scary.  But they don’t have to be.

The sex-positive and BDSM blog circles have done an amazing job of bringing to the fore the voices of submissives who celebrating their desire to be dominated.  A great example of this is a recent post by Alyssa Royse, who owns the women’s sexuality company, Not So Secret.  She writes:

As usual, the woman who approached me after my TEDx talk wanted me to tell her that it was demeaning to see women tied up and spanked. And as usual, I told her I didn’t feel that way at all. I told her that I am a woman who likes to be tied up, blindfolded, spanked and devoured. And that it takes an enormous amount of strength to stand up and say that. To ask for it. To  be good, giving and game sexually and get what I want. It takes courage to trust so completely that I can get what I want.

Sometimes, the strongest decision you can make is the decision to not control things. To trust.

This is one of the most eloquent arguments for the beauty, honesty, and positivity that can come out of BDSM relationships.  But there are a lot of voices still missing from this conversation.

Where are the submissive men to dominant women?

Where are the lesbian, genderqueer/fluid, trans couples- monogamous and non- engaging in BDSM?  (a nod to Sinclair of Sugarbutch for being on this train and talking about it eloquently)

Where are the gay men talking about masculinity and dominance, the contrast between being seen as a bear and liking to be submissive, being effeminate and liking to dominate?

Where are the LGBT people talking about the way suburbia, marriage, and assimilation-ism is changing how we relate to our BDSM identities?

Where are the kittens?!

Where is low-income kinky people talking about how they find BDSM relationships in a world where $30 entrance fees and expensive toys exclude them from traditional venues?

Where are the people with disabilities who are talking about making BDSM work for them in an able-bodied world?

If you guys know of high-quality bloggers talking about this stuff, throw a recommendation my way.  I’ll put them on the blogroll for everyone to know about, and we can all learn.  Because there are so many viewpoints- so many ways of interpreting BDSM, master/slave, etc that we should try our hardest to hear them all.

Stay cool, queer kids, and hit me up with any questions.

 

 

Click through to buy these Lavish Nipple Clamps at Babeland.com

It’s been a while since I’ve done a toy review because I’ve been waiting for something awesome enough to post about.  And now I have it!  These lavish nipple clamps from Babeland are both classy and secure.

These claps are tweezer style, which initially made me nervous, because they often don’t have very good hold, but these babies are perfect.  There’s a ring that sits at the base of the tweezers which you can slip up towards the tip to increase pressure.  The pinch that the lavish nipple clamps provide is probably too light for many enthusiasts, especially people who identify as masochists, but they’re just right for the “causal user” and have a good range of adjustability because of the sliding ring design.  For me, they felt just right at about ¾ up the slide, but once I’d had them on for a while, I could have easily tolerated more.

The metal tweezers are fitted with hard plastic ends to make the pinch softer and smoother, and I haven’t been daring enough to remove them, but that might add enough concentrated pressure to work for someone with a higher pain tolerance.

Though it hasn’t been an issue yet, the plastic ends to the clamps come off very easily and might get lost in your toy chest.  I highly recommend a plastic baggie for keeping everything together.

And darn are they pretty!  The beaded tassels swing freely and are a beautiful accent, so that these clamps can be accessories as much as play toys.

At a $20 price point, these are among the better clamps you can get.  I’ve never gone for the industrial look, so these are a lot more appetizing than alligator clamps or something more “chrome and steel-esque.”  They seem durable and they hold to your breasts very firmly, even when swung or tugged on.  And because they aren’t as intense a pressure as other types of clamps, they are more versatile and useful for pinching other, more sensitive areas!

Pick them up at Babeland today for yourself, or as a titillating Christmas gift.

Aging and Kinky

I’ve spoken before about how uncomfortable most people are when it comes to viewing their parents and other people from previous generations as sexual beings, and the numerous societal problems that stem from that taboo.  Well, here’s one more to add to the list.

The bias against kinky old people is not one that’s commonly talked about, but as social services and even home-care providers become part of the mix for the elderly (but still active!) population, it’s an important one to understand.  Amy Marsh from Carnal Nation writes:

A Citizen’s Guide to Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse” …presents the warning signs of elder abuse, including those which are physical: “physical assault,” “unexplained bruises or welts,” “injuries that are incompatible with explanations,” and “any injuries that reflect the outline of an object, for example a belt, cord, or hand.”

For a kinky elder, all of the above might simply be the traces of a fabulous night of play. But for a social worker or other mandated reporter, such signs will indicate severe abuse and the necessity to report immediately to Adult Protective Services. That is unless the kinky elder feels comfortable enough explaining these “signs” to a (possibly tight-lipped and judgmental) social worker. And are there any guarantees that the worker will buy this explanation? Not necessarily. The results will not be pretty.”

Don’t think it’s that big of an issue, because “older people aren’t generally kinky?”  Think again.  The over 50 community is increasingly getting involved in the BDSM scene, either as they reinvent themselves after a partner dies or a long-term relationship ends, and/or as the internet opens up new opportunities to seek like-minded individuals.  One of my new favorite bloggers, Rachel Rabbit White, wrote this awesome article called “The Old Masters,” which takes a look at how the older generations are enjoying the freedom and experimentation of BDSM, and considers both the peaks and pitfalls of age in this “erotic version of high-impact sports:”

“When I ask Master Z if the aging bodies makes him nervous he replies, “Hell no.” In his opinion, it’s the kids that get into trouble with hurting themselves, the newbies. The older people tend to know what they are doing, they are the ones who will stop a dangerous scene, and show you how to do it.

But sometimes older people are the newbies. Peaches’ hair is gray, her face sloped with age. In a voice shaky and warmed by southern twang she tells me she got into BDSM seven years ago.”

But she also touches on the troubles associated with seniors who attempt to “come out” to their children and grandchildren, who, more often than not, want nothing to do with such confessions:

“Both Peaches and Master R have tried coming out to their adult kids. Peaches’ kids didn’t want to hear about it, shutting her up with a quick, “Mom, if you are happy, we are happy.” Master R opened up to one of his children, who did not approve. “I know if one of them knows, then they all know, but no one mentions it,” he says.”

This problem compounds upon itself.  The less we talk about elder sexuality in general, the more awkward these conversations with care providers get for older kinky people, and the more awkward the conversations get, the less we have them, and thus, the less we talk about elder sexuality in general.

Personally, I think it’s a huge shame on two fronts: first that we, as the generation that thinks we invented sex, are too cowed by our own personal prejudice against the elder generations to talk openly and without judgment about their sexuality; and second, that the medical establishment has such a huge blind spot in terms of care for the aging population (and if we’re really being honest, for people of all ages- when’s the last time you told your doctor about how much you like piercing play?).

To remedy this, my homework for you all is to start following Joan and her lovely blog, Naked at Our Age/Better than I Ever Expected.  Her writing is humorous, honest, and beautifully emotionally open as she looks at all aspects of sexuality in the aging population.  READ IT!  And get comfortable with it, because someday, you’ll be the raunchy grandparent that makes your kids feel awkward.

Submission and Other Drugs

I’ve delayed posting this article because I found that every time I tried to write about it, I ended up talking in circles around the article’s original content.  That’s probably because “Adult Toy Story: Romance vs. Reality in Air Doll” is so complete in itself that it needs little (if any) commentary at all.  So before you start reading my ramblings, please take a minute to scan this incredibly well-written post. Air Doll is a remarkable movie by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-ada that tackles some intense philosophical and sexual questions.  And the article above, by columnist Greta Christina (who is another great resource!), does an amazing job talking about the movie and how it’s characters struggle with their own desires for intimacy and the give-and-take which comes from a real, honest connection.

Rather than trying to summarize or expand on what Greta Christina already tackles so eloquently, I want to take this conversation in another direction, to talk about sub-space.

No, that’s not like deep space or cyberspace; sub-space is a place inside your head that many submissives in BDSM scenes go.  It’s different for every person who experiences it, doing everything from blurring the outside world to magnifying every detail of a particular moment, to some messy, beautiful combination of the two.  And what does that have to do with Air Doll and the article I linked you to?

Honestly, very little.  But what struck me about the plotline in Air Doll was this particular description, when the doll (who has come to life) becomes lovers with a video store owner who has recently saved her life by breathing air back into her from a puncture wound.

“The two become lovers, and she—still thinking of herself as an air doll—offers to be whatever he wants her to be, and to do, sexually, whatever he wants….

In offering herself to be, as she puts it, a “substitute,” to be and do any sexual thing Junichi wants her to be and do, the doll herself fails at intimacy. If she had an active, erotic desire to be his fuck toy, for him to use and abuse however he likes—if she was getting some genuine kinky thrill out of this—that would be one thing. That would be a path to intimacy. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t see herself as a sexual agent at all. She still sees herself as an air doll: an object of desire, not a generator of it. She sees herself as having nothing sexual to offer but her passive willingness to be the recipient of her partner’s sexuality.”

This is a brilliant distinction to be made between submissives and the kind of sexual persona that Air Doll represents.  For the doll, sex is not something she is ENGAGED in, but something that happens TO her, which is incredibly unfortunate- both for her own sexual self and for the relationship she attempts to form with her lover.  For submissives, on the other hand, the offering of one’s self to another for the fulfillment of their desires is a desire in and of itself.

Sadly, a lot of people don’t understand this distinction, and it makes feminists kind of cranky.  Feminists tend to accuse submissives of compromising their strength as women (ignore the fact that, of course, there are male submissives too) by allowing men to dominate them (again, a gender distinction that doesn’t hold up if you’re looking at the whole collection of sub/dom practicioners).  From that point of view, being a submissive looks a lot like what Air Doll was doing: unequivocally offering ourselves up for the pleasure of others, without any concerns or desires of our own.

But that’s what sub-space is all about- going so deep into our own desire to give that we lose track of where we are.  We become crystallized in moments, in sensations, in physical longing embodied.   And the act of being submissive is fulfillment of our own sexual desires, at once giving us the agency to decide what we want, and then relinquishing it to a dominant who will control how it is expressed.

And I think there are plenty of people out there who can benefit from understanding sub-space, from drawing distinctions between active submission and passive submission, which I think a lot of women (and maybe some men) are familiar with.

Passive submission is Air Doll.  Passive submission is the teenage girl who agrees that she’s ready for sex because her boyfriend wants to, but is nervous and doesn’t really enjoy it.  Passive submission is acceptance of what is coming.  Passive is this explanation from Scarleteen:

“ Once he asked if there was something else he could do that she liked. She said no because it was something she just didn’t have the answer to: she didn’t know what she liked or might like just yet.”

Passive submission is letting sex happen, rather than taking it by the horns.

And passive submission will never get you to sub-space.  Passive submission doesn’t create intimacy (although I know that romantic love can exist without it, but that is something for your own contemplation, not for me to tell you), it only creates complacency.  Sub-space, on the other hand- genuine, whole-body submission, can be one of the most beautiful, mutual, and intimate places a person can go.

There are places like sub-space in vanilla sex, in D/s relationships, and in non-sexual ones, even, so don’t despair if you aren’t kinky.  If you’ve ever had a moment, where your heart pulls so hard that your body tries to melt right into your partner, where you can’t stand the idea of being two separate people for a second longer, you’re in something like sub-space.  If you’ve ever cuddled up next to someone and felt time pause for a second and focus on just the sensations of your skin on theirs, you’ve found your sub-space.

Sub-space is different for everyone.  It’s kinky, it’s D/s, it’s intimate, it’s loving, it’s mutual.  It doesn’t matter what form sub-space takes for you, as long as you can find it, or its equivalent.  If you can tap into your own organic form of intimacy, rather than just submitting to sex, becoming passive and inanimate, then you and your partner can grow as sexual people.  And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?           

 

I’ve waited long enough now that I think it’s fair for me to comment on Rhianna’s S and M video which caused so much media fervor when it was released.  I’ve seen many different critiques on the video and the responses to it, ranging from the mainstream arguments about perversion and the degredation of women inherent in BDSM practices to the feminist counter about male vs. female privilege in addressing sexual issues in music to those who simply hailed Rhianna as visionary and daring.  But what I want to look at the self-awareness in the S and M video which I find so impressive, and attempt to deconstruct its ideas in a way that makes sense to be people who watched the video and simply thought “WTF???”

So, for those of you who haven’t seen it already, Rhianna’s video is available here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xgu906?theme=none
Rihanna – S&M by jimihubabua

First and foremost, I want to breakdown the references that Rhianna used in the video, because she did a fabulous job of showing diversity of expression within the BDSM community.  For simplicity (and because I’m a bit Type-A), I made a list:

  • Submissive roleplay

Rhianna’s video actually starts out with a fairly common role-playing scenario, both within the self-identified kinky community and the rest of the world: the office submissive.  Rhianna holds a press conference and is surrounded by dozens of office underlings following her every word, nodding along to her singing, silenced by ball gags.  It’s really a brilliant opening image because of the more universal aspect to this kind of roleplay.  Many people have thought about how wonderful it would be to force that uppity Executive Vice President in their office to sit down, shut up, and start taking notes from them.  There isn’t necessarily a sexual relation to it, but the element of power play in the reversal of office roles is definitely an S and M dynamic.

  • Mummification (plastic wrap)

In the same scene as the office submissives, Rhianna is displayed behind a barrier of plastic wrap, reminiscent of the S and M practice of mummification.  Mummification, as explained by Wipipedia, is “a BDSM bondage practice involves restraining a person’s body in a non-damaging way by wrapping it head to toe in materials like clingfilm, cloth, bandages, latex or linen sheet, rubber strips, plaster bandages, sleep sacks, or strait jackets. The end result being a person completely immobilized and looking like an Egyptian mummy. They may then either be left bound in a state of effective sensory deprivation for a period of time, or sensually stimulated in their state of bondage, before being released from their wrappings.”

  • Puppy play

More than anything, I like S and M because Rhianna gets to walk Perez Hilton (that pretentious little snot) around on a leash and treat him in the condescending manner he deserves.  This is her nod to another kind of roleplaying relationships, wherein one partner takes on the mannerisms of a dog (although variations of this exist for many other kinds of animals) and the other is the owner.  Sometimes these scenes are based on a loving, affectionate interaction between owner and puppy, but others manipulate scenes primarily with the objective of giving their partner orders, as one would “train” a puppy.

  • Leather girls/boys

Leather fetish is probably the most established trope about the BDSM community in the books, probably because it establishes such a strong visual image and there’s such a large commercial market for leather gear.  Thankfully, Rhianna touched on leather fetishism without dwelling on it too long, allowing time in the video to explore other, less well-known aspects of S and M.

  • Robot/futuresex fetish

Who doesn’t want to see Rhianna dressed up in white latex robot costume, taping her underlings to the wall and doing whatever the heck she feels like?  This scene was a great incorporation of robot/futuresex fetishism with dominant and submissive undertones and….

  • Bondage!

My favorite!  Bondage shows up a couple of times in S and M- not only in the dark context of Rhianna the robot and her helpless future-world slaves, but also in the lighter, more playful scene where she is bound up in a bubbly, pastel-colored Japanese manga-esque dress and jokingly bites at her restraints.

  • Daddy/girl play

That same dress may have also been a nod to another kind of roleplaying relationship with a similar dynamic to puppy play- daddy/girl relationships.  Rhianna, dressed as a bratty little girl in her infantilizing dress, illustrates the kind of “punishment-style” daddy/girl interactions that stand in opposition to more caring, loving, incest-play.  (This is a style of roleplay that many people outside and inside the BDSM community have trouble with because of its undertones of incest and child abuse, which is why I will once again take this time to note that this is first and foremost a form of PLAY.  If you want examples of how a healthy daddy/girl relationship works, I implore you to read some of the writing on Sugarbutch)

So, having semi-dissected the video, let me tell you why I really think it’s interesting and useful relative to the BDSM community.  First and foremost, S and M is a form of exposure to the community that most people would otherwise never have.  That being said, a lot of people don’t understand the video and/or are offended by it, so this can often be a two steps forward, one step back approach, but I appreciate Rhianna touching the issue at all.

Second, I am so happy, as another blogger- Vanilla Edge– brought up, that S and M doesn’t focus exclusively on the “dark images” associated typically with BDSM (chains, whips, leather, etc.).  Her video is colorful, playful, and exposes people to a spectrum of BDSM practices, which is awesome!

At the same time, however, the video is very self-aware of the way it would be perceived by the general public.  There are a few quick cut-scenes of Rhianna with newsprint running behind her questioning her sexual ethic, calling her a whore, etc, which is a very ingenious way of breaking the fourth wall with her audience.  She is acknowledging both the practice of S and M as taboo while simultaneously noting the fact that her own video will then incur those same taboo associations.  In a way, such an approach pre-empts any negative press the video would receive and makes a very eloquent artistic statement.

Last but not least, I want to look at the content of Rhianna’s video as a composite piece.  Whether she did so intentionally to make a statement or simply to avoid further censorship by the media, there’s no ACTUAL SEX in her video.  I’ve heard this used as a critique of the video because for men, it’s no problem to include much more provocative images that Rhianna utilizes and this double standard caused her to shy away from any explicit images, but let me offer an alternative explanation: the lack of sex in S and M was a purposeful statement about the manifestation of S and M relationships.  Not all BDSM scenes involve sex.  Many people get off on S and M practices exclusively, such as spanking, roleplaying, or electrical play.  There doesn’t need to be sex for something to qualify as BDSM, so the absence of sex in Rhianna’s video can be interpreted as an acknowledgement of that fact.

As you can probably tell, I really like this video, and I honestly didn’t expect to.    I expected it to feed the popular misunderstandings of the BDSM community, vilify it moreso, other it even farther so that it becomes one step more removed from “the normal world.”  Lauren Berlant wrote in her article for the Nation about sexual scandal a few words which I think are intensely applicable:

“..when a sexual scandal happens, people indulge in projections of what makes them uncomfortable about sex: its weirdness (I was just standing up and talking and now I’m doing this?), its sloppiness, its awkwardness, its seeming disconnection from so many other “appropriate” drives (to eat, for example). Then there’s the fear of becoming a mere instrument of someone else’s pleasure, in a way that one doesn’t want.

Nonetheless, I’m just saying, I really like sex. We have no idea what sex would be like in a world that saw it basically as a good. A weird good. A good that can tip you over and make you want to do strange things. A good that can reveal your incoherence, your love of a little disorder, your love of a little control (adjust the dial as you like). A good that can make you happy, for a minute, before the cat starts scratching the corner of the bed, or the phone rings, or the kids mew, or you’re hungry and sleepy, or you need another drink or the taxi comes.” (You should also read the whole article, because it’s excellent)

This is what Rhianna has done for the BDSM community, in a highly literate and entertaining way- made BDSM and those weird, awkward, uncomfortable parts of sex a little more connected to the world we know.  If a popstar can sing about them, can’t we at least acknowledge them?

I would never go so far as to say that the world will take Rhianna’s S and M video as a justification for experimentation with BDSM- in fact, I highly doubt that it truly swayed many people’s opinions at all.  But it did provide exposure, and S and M did so in an impressive and balanced way.  To get people talking is the first step towards changing opinions.

So get talking, queer kids.

*NB: More information about any of these BDSM activities can be found at http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Main_Page.  Furthermore, a must-read for anyone interested in practicing BDSM is this safety manual from  ACT Toronto.

Sex Resources

I originally started this blog as a way to provide resources for LGBT youth and to help sift through the derth of information available on the internet about the confusing issues surrounding sex and sexuality. As the scope of the blog expanded, I realized there was just as much to say about sex-positivity for people of all orientations and viewpoints, AND that I actually had a lot to say personally about some of the more “contentious” topics in the world of sexuality. Today, I’m returning to the root of my goals with this blog, and simply offering a few sites that have significant resources available regarding questions I probably haven’t answered in the course of my blogging.

A great place to start for LGBT resources is Sex, Etc.org , which boasts a very comprehensive list of organizations which work on LGBT issues. Some of them I’ve mentioned before, like PFLAG, Campus Climate, and the It Gets Better Project, but there are also many demographic-specific sites worth looking at, such as the Deaf Queer Foundation, Prism Comics (which supports LGBT comics), and Trans Youth Family Allies (I highly recommend this site- their resources for educators are OUTSTANDING). Take a look and see if anything resonates with you. Many of these organizations have centers or offices in multiple major cities, so it can be a good way to reach out to the community, and they also have brochures, newsletters, and packets which are great educational materials.

Second on my list is Pucker Up.com. Written by sex educator, public speaker, and blogger Tristan Taormino, most of the site is about her speaking tours and personal work in blogging, podcasting and the like. The link above, however, is a comprehensive list of resources related to everything from BDSM to Swinging to Trans Issues. If you have a question about a specific sex-positive community, this list has the appropriate source, I guarantee it.

Finally, Felice Newman (who is actually listed as in the LGB section of Pucker Up) has a great website here which talks about sex and healthy sexuality as whole, including how to be a good lover, how to negotiate sexual differences with a partner, as well as a compact list of smaller articles under the Whole Lesbian Sex header, which talk about women’s sexuality and what it means to have sex on your own terms. They’re funny, easy-to-read, and thought-provoking, so this is a brilliant place to start if you’re looking to explore what sexuality means to you personally.

Let me know what you think! And expect a heavy article sometime soon about being a sex blogger, life plans, and Africa crises.

Stay cool, queer kids.

Coming Out Day!

Geeze guys, why didn’t someone remind me?  It’s National Coming Out Day!

While this event is usually a celebration of open acknowledgement of sexuality and sexual orientation, I’d like to broaden the scope a bit and let you all think about the different ways one can come out.  The idea of coming out actually reminds me a little bit of (I know this will sound cheesy, but…)m High School Musical.  I know, I know, bear with me here.  So you remember the scene in the cafeteria where the one basketball kid tells his friends how he likes to bake, and then a nerd tells her friends that she loves doing hip-hop and suddenly everyone breaks out into that song “Stick to the Status Quo?”

Well, that’s how it goes with a lot of things.  We are children of societal expectation, and there are a lot of non-normative things that require “coming out.”  That can be anything from loving to knit to being gay or trans, to loving BDSM and kink.  There are a million practices and identities that society points fingers at, claiming that they are wrong or at the very least, not normal.

Which is why I love this article  by Asher Bauer and this video by Brown U. alum Marty about coming out  (which, of course, encompasses coming out to yourself) as kinky

http://vimeo.com/9310463

http://carnalnation.com/content/58326/1067/kink-coming-out-story?utm_source=CarnalNation&utm_campaign=232b2b8fe5-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

Marty, the courageous soul, came out on his Law School Applications as polyamorous, queer, and kinky, sparking an interesting conversation with his dad and society in general about which spaces allow us to be open about who we really are.

I hope you take a look and comment on both, but in honor of Coming Out Day, I’d really like to hear from you all about your coming out stories (or if you are an ally, about a friend who has come out to you).  Please share the love!

As a special treat, I’m pulling out two of my favorite sites from my collection of sex-positive/philosophical/borderline erotic articles and videos so that I can talk about gender roles and submission.

I think I’ve talked before about false dichotomies, but this bears repeating: society likes to pair certain attributes together, especially when it comes to sex.  If you’re a top, you’re dominant and usually butch; if you’re a bottom, you’re submissive and femme.  This is TOTALLY LAME AND INCORRECT.  Now that is not to say that these pairings cannot be fun, interesting, and worthwhile- I identify as closer to femme and frequently play the submissive bottom.  HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that the roles should be restrictive.

Cherry Bomb, a webcast by these 4 incredibly awesome lesbians who sit around, drink wine, and talk about sex, did one of their vlogs about gender roles in the bedroom, which you should totally watch so you can laugh with them.   But it also makes you think.  They touch on the concept of the “pillow princess” and the “stonecold butch” as terms for only feeling comfortable or aroused when giving or receiving.  This is an especially interesting concept to discuss because I think one of the greatest misunderstandings about sex (espcially lesbian sex!) is how both partners can be getting pleasure when only one of them is  “receiving.”   That kind of understanding of sex, I think, leads to bargaining and guilt when it comes to giving/getting head or fingering/handjobs, as if because the one person is acted upon, it is a chore for the other.  Silly.  Specifically silly because it assumes that there’s nothing to be gained erotically from seeing your partner happy, which makes no sense in any context, not just the bedroom.

Think about it… If you give your partner a Christmas gift and she throws her hands up, squees, and runs around in a circle with happiness, you probably feel pretty good too.  Because you like to see him/her/hir happy.  Same thing goes in the bedroom.  Feeding off of your partner’s energy is a HUGE part of having sex.  There are so many other dynamics that go into all of this, like when you consider one-night stands and other non-monogamous forms of intimacy.  Which is why you should watch the video!!

The other linky-link is an erotic piece by Sugarbutch about submission.  For context, the writer is a butch lesbian who is almost always the dominant in her relationships, and in this instance she is writing about being topped by her new femme “lover.”  Actually, she writes about that whole context thing here.  Yeah, read that first.  In the second article, she talks about being a butch top who has played submissive, which is actually rare in a lot of circles, but it isn’t her “default mode.”  The second piece is much more of a mental landscape- how it feels to submit (whether you’re normally a dom or a sub).

You can have me. My body is all nerve endings and convulses at every touch: your hands on the backs of my thighs. No need to open me further, this is all there is, this is all there is. Take me so I can only ever be taken by you. Take me so I wake inside myself screaming your name. Take me to where I feel again, where I feel anything, all of it, open, receptive, receiving, submitting.

That’s pretty much the best description of heavy S/M (from the submissive point of view) that I’ve come across to date.  I think its most indicative because it takes you right to the primal-ness of submission and sex in general- the desperate, unquenchable need that can be awoken within us.  Which is also, of course, why trust and aftercare are so important in S/M relationships or scenes.

This podcast from Realm of Bliss talks about the roles and duties of a dom and sub in BDSM relationships (although through the lens of hypodomination), and is a very interesting listen for anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic.

Enjoy!  Stay cool, queer kids.

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