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30 Days of Kink: Day 11

January 20, 2013 9 comments

What are your views on the ethics of kink?

There are, again, a couple of ways that I read this question. The first is practical: how does one engage in kink without entering into the realm of abuse or harm? Consent and communication are important, obviously, but not sufficient: a couple of inexperienced, uninformed kinky folks can consent enthusiastically and communicate their plans in detail, but if they don’t learn how to do activity X safely, create a controlled environment, and prepare for things to go wrong, someone’s going to end up treed by an angry alligator.

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Not that I’d know. . .

I’m a fan of RACK (risk-aware consensual kink) because hey, BDSM entails certain risks to both physical and mental health. It would be irresponsible to engage in fire play without a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket, for an obvious example. Humiliation can create vulnerability and (at least for me) comes with elaborate and sometimes contradictory aftercare needs. But what about a simple mistake? Say a top is practicing with a new belt and misjudges, hits a few inches away from where she intended? It’s an honest mistake, one that doesn’t do any damage, but it’s frightening. Trust can be shaken. And handling it wrong, by blaming or being overly defensive or otherwise not being completely calm and caring will make it worse.

Not that I’d know that either. . .

In an ideal world, the risks can bring the need for consent and communication to the forefront. When talking about sex is non-optional, it gets done. Sometimes awkwardly or shyly or not as well as it might be, but it’s at least a given within the kinky subculture that the typical vanilla pattern of just trying to slowly escalate physical interaction until your partner objects will not fly. You can’t just start whipping someone if a date goes well. You have to talk about it.

The other reading, which I do think about quite a lot, is: Is kink inherently immoral? How does one reconcile the desire to harm and be harmed, to take even a part of one person’s will or autonomy and give it to another, with such basic philosophical tenets as “suffering is wrong” and “man’s free will is sacrosanct”? Is it self-deluding to believe that consent and desire are sufficient to bring the facts of BDSM into a moral framework? Are we all in fact Sadean and fatalistic, unconsciously resisting the fear of suffering and mortality by choosing to master pain and risk in a way we can control?

Ethics are not nearly as simple as many people seem to think. Several aspects of kink run into problems if you run them by e.g. Kant, even if we choose to ignore his extraordinarily conservative views on sex generally. So let’s set aside his belief that sex is dehumanizing. Good, glad that’s out of the way. Now can we universalize the maxims central to BDSM? This probably depends on how we express them. Let’s try “It is acceptable to respect another person’s consent.” This looks good to me; universalize it and no one gets violated in any way ever again. But when you specify D/s it gets harder. “It is acceptable to act according to another person’s will” would express submission pretty benignly (Kant would not call it benign: it violates the autonomy of mind), for instance, but if that statement is universalized then no one’s actions are according to his own will and society falls apart. On the other hand, this could be a semantic issue caused by my inability to correctly formulate the maxims to describe the relationship.

Or to put it more succinctly, I need a t-shirt that says “I majored in philosophy and all I got was this crippling sense of doubt.”

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30 Days of Kink: Day 10

January 15, 2013 1 comment

What are your hard limits?

There are hard limits, and there are hard limits. That is, there’s the list of things that I find objectionable on principle (either moral or personal) and would never consider under any circumstance. Then there’s the list things I’d never do without an extremely high level of trust in my partner. I don’t trust people easily or often, so I list these as hard limits with essentially anyone other than my husband.

The first list begins with the please-God-tell-me-these-are-obvious: children, animals, any play in which any involved party is not not explicitly and soberly consenting.

Knives and/or blood play of any kind. Not under any circumstances, ever. Frankly I’m not all that comfortable with the safety shears we keep on hand for bondage.

Consensual nonconsent. I have seen people turn this into what looks like fun roleplay, but I just can’t do it. I don’t want to play or sleep with someone who would prefer to imagine that either of us isn’t eager and excited to be participating.

Non-standard bodily fluids. I don’t find many things irredeemably, viscerally disgusting. Scat, urine, vomit, phlegm, etc. though, are things I want to never see or think about, let alone bring into a sexual context.

Unsafe sex. It’s unsafe. Enough said.

Pain aimed at my feet. I will safeword so fast it’s ridiculous because (1) it is not a good pain and (2) I am embarrassed of my weird monkey toes.

The second list is a little more complicated. These things carry a risk of panic attack and/or spiral of self-hate, so I don’t engage in them lightly.

Bondage. I had great fun being tied up as a teenager, even if it required more patience than I like. These days knowing I wouldn’t be able to move or escape if I needed to is panic inducing. There was no traumatic experience involving rope, I just gradually became less comfortable with it.

Gags. I need to know that if I do need to say something, I can. As for gagging a partner, if I do that I don’t get to kiss them or hear them talk. These are two of my favorite things.

Fellatio. Giving a man a blowjob involves far more emotional commitment than intercourse. He’d have to be completely nonthreatening and someone I care about before I’d even consider it. This is the only limit I have that’s sex-specific and it does make me feel a little sexist.

Humiliation. I can handle being humiliated and even made to cry, but I need a lot of reassurance afterwards, sometimes even days later. It could all too easily lead to paranoia that partner X really thinks I’m worthless or unintelligent or ugly or whatever, and even more paranoia that they’re right, and then I’d just have to never speak to them again. I’m just as reticent to humiliate anyone else, because I’d hate to see anyone go down that same paranoid spiral. Teasing and sexual objectification, on the other hand, are lovely from both sides, and it can be a bit difficult to toe the line between them and humiliation.

That’s pretty much it, aside from a more nebulous attraction/compatibility rubric. If someone is not attractive to me in terms of appearance or hygiene or attitude, we won’t be getting involved. If someone thinks that BDSM is ultra serious, no laughing or smiling allowed rather than playful and fun, we obviously aren’t on the same page and should not play together. And most importantly, if I catch someone in a lie and/or they make decisions that clearly show a failure to understand the importance of boundaries and consent, that someone is moved immediately to my list of people to never ever get involved with.

30 Days of Kink: Days 8 and 9

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

These are quick and rather go together, so here goes.

Post a kinky image you find erotic.


Post a kink related song or music video you enjoy.

You get two:

Proof that vicious can be silly and adorable.

…of course it can also be intense to the point of terrifying.

 

 

30 Days of Kink: Day 7

January 7, 2013 3 comments

What’s your favorite toy?

Tooth and claw, lips and hands. Other things are lovely, obviously, but if I’m inflicting pain I want to be as close to the reactions as I can. I want to feel the impact in my own hands and see every twitch and flinch and widening of pupils.

I don’t have all that many toys though, so I can run through them quickly. The weighted motorcycle gloves (ahem, sap gloves) are new, and great fun. F=MA, so the extra weight from the lead shot is helping some with the I-dont-hit-hard-enough issue. The knuckles are padded, which I’m not sure how to feel about. It’s nice for knuckle protection, but also absorbs some of the impact. The pain is definitely duller when they’re used on me, which leads simultaneously to feeling like I can take more and like I’m cheating.

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I have been told I’m too adorable to look threatening in them, but we aren’t going to talk about that.

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Here’s a lovely leather strap. It’s ridiculously loud, stings a good bit, leaves quite nice marks, and fits in my purse. I have nothing but praise for this little thing.

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I adore my boxing wraps. They aren’t really necessary, but putting them on is a very calming little ritual that (as an added bonus) gives a bottom an extra couple of minutes to build anticipation. Also they look really cool, and could likely be used for arm binding in a pinch.

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Those are the ones I tend to wield. We also have (in order of frequency of use) a bamboo switch, a long walnut paddle, a 2-foot length of PVC pipe that does double-duty as an impact tool and spreader bar, about 100 feet of rope, and a very heavy cane.

30 Days of Kink: Day 6

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

 Describe your weirdest/most interesting sexual fantasy.

I’m going to assume these are two different questions.

My weirdest fantasy involves seducing (and sometimes psychologically breaking in the process) Søren Kierkegaard. The man was sexually repressed, had some disturbing ideas about women (and even worse ideas about men), but the way he wrote about desire is irresistible. Then he resisted it. Essentially, Kierkegaard thought that whatever he wanted sexually was the most messed up want in creation (which makes me think it might have been kinky. Or that at least he wouldn’t think adding kink would be any worse.), built an elaborate moral framework to prevent himself from ever giving in to his desires (this is unabashedly an ultimate conquest thing–any woman who could seduce Kierkegaard would have to be both the  pinnacle of seductive power and at least Kierkegaard’s equal as an ethicist.) and wrote such sensuous, painful works that it’s impossible not to want more of the mind that created them.

Plus he was a very  pretty man, despite the crazy hair.

Yep. Søren Kierkegaard. Go ahead and judge.

“Most interesting” is harder to pick. I fantasize a lot, and the fantasies are quite varied. There are some about pain, about a hard beating in a cold room until I start to lose the struggle to smother my screams, about a sudden transition to rough sex, intense enough to set the pain aside somewhere it doesn’t matter, about being pushed away and beaten again. Or maybe I should talk about electricity; conductive gloves hooked up to a TENS unit, a woman’s face (all poise and perfect lipstick)  watching mine, laughing when I jump from some shock or slap or pinch. Or maybe I’m feeling violent and vicious. Maybe I want to kiss and bite and steal breath, to slap and punch and see eyes wide in shock. Or maybe I should talk about a gentler cruelty, setting out cuffs, a blindfold, a gag, and say “pick one not to use,” and of course there’s a right answer but I’m not telling. Or any of a thousand others. If they weren’t interesting to me, they wouldn’t be fantasies.

30 Days of Kink: Day 5

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

What was your first kinky sexual experience? If you haven’t had one yet, talk about what you hope to have happen.

My first wasn’t all that exciting, actually. B was obsessively into bondage, and his family had a small sailboat that gave him a great excuse to practice all kinds of knots. We were in high school, though. It was awkward enough to find somewhere to make out without being stumbled upon by parents or brothers and sisters, and we both felt that being discovered doing something kinky would be the End of the World.  So the act was planned probably about two or three weeks before I suggested a neighborhood under construction. The houses were set back from main roads, the whole community was being built at the same time with no workers present at night, and there were plenty of skeleton homes.

It was twilight when we got there, but we sat in his car being nervous and awkward (a lot of “are you sure?” and “I can take you home if you want. Or to a movie.”) for a while. I asked if he’d be able to see what he was doing, and he went into Eagle Scout mode, showing off lanterns and blankets and a whole host of other stuff he’d brought just in case. So we went inside. It was a skeleton house, so “inside” still felt fairly exposed. He set down a blanket and had me kneel while he set up two lanterns and arranged rope and looked at diagrams. I was dressed normally for a casual night in South Florida (which is still probably half-dressed most anywhere else) in shorts and a cutoff halter top, if I remember correctly.

He got started, referring to his book often, pausing to ask if a position was uncomfortable or a knot was too tight. After a while he stepped back and looked pleased with himself. He tried to take a Polaroid shot so I could see how it looked, but there wasn’t enough light for it to come out. Then things got awkward. He had me all tied up but didn’t know what to do with me, and I couldn’t move at all. We had a too-long conversation that essentially boiled down to me saying “so. . . now what?” and him saying “I don’t know.” After a bit I said the mosquitoes were biting pretty badly, and he apologized and untied me. We packed up and went back to his place and played Super Smash Brothers (the original. This happened that long ago. Oy.) with his brother. It was all very anticlimactic. Later on we had more confidence and better planning, which improved things a great deal.

 

 

30 Days of Kink: Day 4

January 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Any early experiences that, in retrospect, hint at your kinks?

The short answer to this is no, my relevant early experiences were explicitly kinky, no hint about it. I’m not referring to childhood experiences, because although “childhood behavior x1 is clearly related to kinky behavior x2.” makes a compelling narrative, I don’t buy it. Kink is intensely sexual. Any behavior I participated in before being a sexual person I just can’t relate to kink.

As I said last week, I was introduced to BDSM very early in my first relationship. I got to skip the angst-filled stage of not knowing how to get what I wanted, though figuring out what I actually enjoyed vs. what looked exciting on paper took longer. I learned early to be blunt and direct when asking what I wanted, rather than hoping my partner would magically guess. I got used to hearing “no” a lot, too, but having had a kinky partner first and having read a kink book or three as a young teen helped mitigate the feeling that being kinky made me some kind of freak.

That said, there are certainly factors that led to my being more open to kink when I first learned of it. I know B expected a bad reaction of some kind when I found his copy of Screw the Roses, and most girls probably would have. It wasn’t just that I especially liked him, either. He was very pretty, athletic, and popular, so when we started going out I assumed that he’d get bored and move on to a prettier, more outgoing, or sportier girl rather quickly. I had no intention of getting attached. Finding that book was a big deal for several reasons. First of all, I knew a secret of his. I’m sure he worried that I’d tell people, but even when we broke up (twice) that was never a temptation. Knowing it made me feel closer to him though, like a co-conspirator. Second and more important, kink was something we had in common at a comparable skill level. We both enjoyed surfing, but I wasn’t strong enough even to paddle out on days when the waves were good, and even in low surf I wiped out most of the time. We played Scrabble quite a lot, and I would wipe the floor with him. BDSM was something we could learn and do together. Finally, I was always an outcast as a kid and a teenager, so I knew better than to reject a new idea just because it wasn’t mainstream.

Kink is certainly compatible with a lot of aspects of my personality. I  like to push boundaries and try new things, and kink certainly provides an avenue for that. I’ve always been willing to go to great lengths to prove I’m tough–I loved showing off bruises and stitches as a kid. Again, this carries over nicely to BDSM. I have some compulsive tendencies. Structure and planning make my life much easier, and the typical vanilla model of not talking about sex seems a lot more stressful to me than the ideal BDSM model wherein we always at least discuss a vague outline (who’s hitting whom, and with what, and where) before getting started. [Note: I know vanilla sex can and should be discussed, and that BDSM sometimes is not. The dichotomy presented here is meant to outline differences in socially prescribed behavior in mainstream vs. kink culture, not to suggest that the described behavior is universal in either case.] That said, it’s possible to push boundaries and be tough without kink, perhaps by taking a boxing class, and my compulsive behavior is if anything diminished in sexual contexts. The bottom line is, kinky stuff is fun, and there’s no way I could have known it was fun without trying it first.