Tag Archive: submission


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!

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.

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.

Now that you’ve had an introduction to the concept of kink from our wonderful guest blogger, I think it’s only fair to delve a little deeper into one aspect of that which is near and dear to my heart: power play.

Power play has a lot of baggage to unpack, because of the associations we make between gender, identity, and the practice of domination.  For example, we generally think Male Dominates, Female is Dominated, or in the case of a same sex relationship, Butch = top, Femme = bottom (butch being a more masculine man/woman, and femme being more feminine).  But of course this isn’t always the case.

This article from Carnal Nation gives a good primer on the subject:

“In fact, sometimes people who are larger, because they are larger, like being able to surrender, to turn their bodies and their size and their stature and their presence over to someone else, appreciating the temporary release of their own control. I know some people who are dominants, and who are smaller in size, and who love topping people who are larger than they are, because it takes more than just physical strength in order to dominate them. It takes psychological or emotional strength, the will to induce someone else to surrender.”

This concept of giving and receiving of power- of playing into the dominant/submissive dichotomy willingly- is an amazingly complex one, but it has the power to build incredible intimacy.

…It takes great strength to be capable of giving up power.  It takes the strength of discernment, being able to choose a lover with whom you will be safe when you give up your own power to them. It takes a certain fearlessness, knowing that your power will come back, even if it’s frightful at times to experience physical surrender, physical and emotional vulnerability.”

Upon relinquishing power, you leave yourself vulnerable, and the ability to do so demonstrates and builds immense trust between partners.  On the other side of this, though, is the potential for hurt on both sides of the equation- the submissive being pushed too far or the dominant being uncomfortable with the role s/he/ze has taken on.  I wish I could link you to the Sugarbutch article which does such a good job talking about how hard it can be as a dominant, but sadly, it is a protected post.

Nonetheless, let’s try to illustrate.  If you are deeply, romantically and/or sexually involved with someone, the incorporation of D/S can mean purposefully abusing them, causing them pain or discomfort (of course, this is what a sub wants- to be used, to abdicate control of their desires).  But even if you personally KNOW that this is what your partner wants, that he/she/ze has explicitly said “Do not stop when I say it hurts, when I say ‘no,’” there is still an immense psychological boundary to leap over in continuing when your partner actually says that.  Even if the rules have been established, you still feel like you are hurting your partner, doing something completely unacceptable.

This is something doms have been dealing with for a long time, but it doesn’t apply exclusively to such heavy D/S play.  Many vanilla couples have probably encountered it when it comes to that contentious but desirable practice: dirty talk.  The Canadian paper Globe and Mail did an entertaining piece about the hesitation to use dirty talk in the bedroom, which echoes the same problems that dominants have in topping their submissives:

“Part of talking dirty can involve theatrically using the language of degradation. For the generations of men raised by feminists, this can feel problematic, but Stacey May Fowles, publisher of Shameless, a Toronto-based feminist magazine for young women, says this shouldn’t be the case if it’s what a woman wants to hear…

“Early on when she was experimenting with her sexuality, Ms. Fowles says, she requested that a former boyfriend call her a dirty name. His response, she tells me, was, “I won’t call you that because I don’t want to think of you that way.” Fair enough – a man is allowed to have his boundaries – but what struck me most was this guy’s confusion of fantasy and reality. And if your sex partner can’t tell the difference between the two, you may have bigger problems on your hands.”

With dirty talk as with D/S, practices involving degradation or humiliation end up confusing how we truly think of our partner and how we desire to “play” with them.  And even for the most prepared of us, this can be a hard line to navigate.

Another Carnal Nation writer, Madison Young, touches on how her personal fetish- rope play- can fit into this challenging dichotomy.

Why do we engage in rope bondage as a tool within D/s? Why is it fascinating and erotically stimulating to engage in power exchange and to disassemble power structures that have been put in place by a social normative? We are breaking the rules. As queers, as feminists, as kinky persons, and sexual outlaws we have always been breaking the rules. Going outside of the designated sexual norms as we search for connection, community, and fulfillment in our sexual lives and identities….

“In the relationship with one in which I serve, rope is used as a treat or a reward for good behavior. In this way rope is largely used to gain power of me as a submissive and to motivate my behavior. I know that if I do as I’m told I will be rewarded with rope.”

In her relationships, rope is the manifestation of a D/S relationship- the object which controls the power struggle.  The same elements of domination and submission are still present as in relationships without a fetish- the abandonment of control, inherent trust in her dominant, and a deep understand of what she personally wants from a sexual interaction- but the rope provides the additional element which is most erotic to her.

So what does all this D/S talk add up to?  A better understanding of who we are as sexual beings, what we want from our interactions, and the challenges of both abdicating and taking on power for another’s sexual experiences. These practices can encompass everything from how we talk to one another to the use of restraints and physical punishments in sexual play.  These things can be scary and intoxicating and incredibly powerful; but used properly, the can take a sexual relationship to whole new levels.

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