Decoding Your Kink by Galen Fous

Decoding Your Kink book cover

(source)

{This is the text of the book review from episode 52.}

This episode’s book review is Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous. Whose name I hope I am pronouncing correctly.

I received this book for free, but that has never stopped me from being honest about what I read. Episode 31 or 48 should be proof enough of that.

The author puts right out there that this book is from the point of view of cisgender, heterosexual male in the dominant role. It was still inclusive and recognised the existence of an array of other people—including asexuals. So, points for that.

He recognises that people do kink for a variety of reasons, saying:

No matter how dark or perverse, or light and spiritual you seek to be, there are new maps being created and older ones resurrected, that offer the opportunity to express your authentic sexual desire in a healthy, conscious manner.

Fous starts the book talking about his personal journey to becoming comfortable with his kinky side—and it wasn’t an easy one—then talks about how this influenced his decision to help other people become comfortable with who they are. He says:

Exploring our personal Eros fully, discovering all that has been hidden in the shadows all these years, can lead to a state of greater self awareness and confidence. Confronting and resolving old shame and guilt can lead to psychological breakthroughs personally.

Which is absolutely true—it’s why I started doing what I do. When you suppress and deny a core part of yourself it negatively impacts everything in your life. There is nothing more central to a human than how they relate to other humans intimately—whether that intimacy is expressed sexually, emotionally, mentally or any other way. Well, except perhaps how a person relates to themselves, I suppose.

When a society, government or culture tries to define the acceptable way for people to relate to themselves and one another that society, government or culture are attempting to control what it means to be human.

All a person has to do is get up in the morning—you’re human. You’re you. Complete as you are. Ta da!

The phrase the author uses for what we think of as typical sex is ‘friction sex’. Which I really, really liked. Because we have mindfucks, right? So why can’t we have mind sex? I’ve had conversations with people where you’re right on the same page—it’s exhilarating.

There could be emotional sex, mental sex, what Erica Jong would call the zipless fuck—there are all sorts of profound ways to merge with another person, which is what kink is all about. Finding unconventional ways to connect with someone.

The phrase he uses at one point is ‘straight-up friction sex’. I can hear some of my friends now with that one.

‘I really need some straight-up friction sex right now. So much friction my hair is standing straight up and entire florist shops full of balloons float towards me.’

I want this phrase to make its way into common parlance so I can say, ‘I’m not really into friction sex. Other types—absolutely. Not so much with the rubbing.’

Something the author has created—or conceptualised—is the Personal Erotic Myth. It’s all the things that set your brain (or other parts) tingling. Props, power play, costumes, atmosphere, phrases, all that. The bag of tricks your brain opens up when it’s time to get intimate with someone else or yourself. I’m going to talk more about this later, but wanted to introduce it here, because it’s a big part of his philosophy.

Later in the book the author discusses the physical consequences of holding down or holding in the emotional responses we’ve been taught are wrong. So, if you’ve been told you’re not supposed to express your emotions by your family and society, you’ll close yourself off emotionally, but also physically—you’ll hold yourself more stiffly—cross your arms more, clench your fists and so on—as a way to physically hold back your natural response. And that’s why white men can’t dance, basically.

I’m simplifying greatly because the section is long, but it was quite interesting—in the example provided, he talks about a patient who had been repressing a lot for decades and how he usually used music therapy to help people get in touch with a natural rhythm.

This guy just could not find it. If you repress and repress and repress some things some people will never be able to get it back.

When he was talking about how our emotions affect our physicality it reminded me of how easily I stopped biting my nails once I was out of an awful situation. Bit them for years—until they bled—tried everything to stop. Once I was out of high school—school had always been a living hell for me—I just stopped. Without trying or noticing.

As I was working on the review I realised that since I’ve moved to England what I thought was TMJ has cleared up. My doctor said he couldn’t find anything wrong with the actual joint, but my jaw popped like hell when I ate anything chewy—loud enough to hear it across the room. It seemed like that’s what I had. It doesn’t do that now. I think the muscle in my jaw was very tense—maybe I was clenching it a lot. I had never been happy where I grew up or in the general area where I lived. Liberals aren’t meant to be born and raised in the American South.

They say you can’t move away from your problems, but apparently you can. Some will just go away if you get away from the stressors. Either way—it’s nice to be able to eat chewy bread and yawn without my jaw popping again.

In this book—there’s a lot of talk about archetypes, rituals and symbols and how to understand and use them to your advantage. I particularly liked this bit:

A couple in a D/s relationship could create the mutual intention, for example, to aspire to the highest ideals of their respective positions as Dominant and submissive and bring these qualities to the relationship.

He goes on to talk about how, obviously, people aren’t going to achieve perfection—it’s about intent and commitment, though.

While we’re on not achieving perfection—everything was not perfect, because when is it ever. And you know I like to cover the pros and the cons.

There was more repetition than necessary—several repeated paragraphs. I don’t mean publishing errors, I mean bits that were repeated intentionally.

In a similar vein, the author had a tendency to overstate his case. I understand—it’s hard to kill your darlings. You have twelve paragraphs that are beautifully written, but if you’ve covered everything you need to say in six then the six will suffice. The people reading the book, they get it… you’re preaching to the choir.

I was hoping for more actual exercises on how to work out your personal interests. The book is called a ‘guide’ and at times it felt more like an ad for the author’s personal brand of therapy.

There are some recommendations, and quite a bit of advice for other things, but that could be overshadowed by the overstating of his case. It’s also understandable that you can’t write down exactly how therapy works because it’s going to be tailored to each individual. The title just didn’t seem quite apt. You guys know how much I love my homework.

When he was talking about your Personal Erotic Myth it reminded me of Meg-John Barker’s class, which I attended at Eroticon. The session was about learning about yourself through your fantasies. It included a zine—a pamphlet that was quite a few pages long and had many exercises. We only got through a couple or three in the class and my mind was blown. I learned things about myself just by examining my fantasies for forty-five minutes—and I think we did, like part of three pages of the nineteen pages in the booklet.

This book—Decoding Your Kink—made me want to break that back out and really sit down with it. The zine is available on Meg-John’s site, which is megjohnandjustin.com—the actual document is here. It’s £2.50, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re a writer and are looking for inspiration or just want to learn more about yourself or your partner or how your brain works when you’re not looking (because your brain is doing stuff when you’re not looking)—it’s totally worth it.

I was also reminded me of Madison Young’s homework assignment from her DIY Porn Handbook, which I reviewed in episode forty, where she talked about just having a conversation with your desire.

Just:
Hello desire.
‘Hello.’
What do you most crave?

Then letting your desire guide the conversation from there.

I took the Personal Erotic Myth Survey on Fous’ site (link in the notes, if you’d like to contribute your info) and it’s a fairly blunt tool and really not scientific—which the author admits to. Participants are self-selected from sex and kink-positive communities, which will skew your results like mad. There have been over 2,400 respondents, though. I’ll be writing a separate post about the survey itself that will be up in a couple weeks, hopefully.

It’s just about paying attention to who you are in those private moments and accepting those sides of yourself.

Now I’m going to put on my Pedantic Pants because I cannot help myself. If it drives you crazy, pretend they’re made of your favourite fetish material.

There are flocks of possessive apostrophes when words should have been plural. Including in a paper that had been submitted to a professional journal which was a little…oof

Some people enjoy making up words for things. Sometimes that’s useful—because we don’t really have a word for that thing and when we don’t have a word for something it can be easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. Other times it can come across as precious—it depends on the words chosen.

Other times people come up with new words for things we already have words for (that’s not really the case here—it’s just one of my peeves—‘We already have a word for that’).

The author invented a few new words and phrases, is what I’m trying to say.

Like, Sex Creature. This is described thusly:

Most people have a complex authentic sexual persona, as distinct as a fingerprint and inherent as their eye-color…

Then he goes on to say these sexual personae are ‘distinct and independent from our outer social personas.’

While this phrase is useful—to help people who are ashamed say, ‘Oh see, this is a part of myself, but a separate part and it has a name’—I feel like trying to get the psychotherapy community to embrace the term ‘sex creature’… it’s very Freudian, isn’t it? It sounds like something someone with a German accent would ask you about. ‘Are you in touch with your sex creature?’

‘Sure, his name is Ralph and he sounds like Elmo. Looks like Sweetums, though.’ Sweetums was that giant Muppet on Sesame Street.

Sweetums the Muppet

My sex creature (not the guy in the hat). [source]

Love the concept. The name, though… it’s like English food. Not so great with the naming.

The last thing is Fetishsexuality. Or what Jillian Keenan—who wrote the outstanding Sex with Shakespeare—calls Alternasexuality—I believe that’s her word for it. Something like that. It’s based on ‘alternative’. Both authors are trying to do the same thing, which is establish that kink is an orientation for some people and should be recognised as a valid, separate orientation like being gay or straight.

Keenan had a great article on Slate about kink being an orientation, actually—it’s something she writes about a lot—anyway… the idea would be a huge step forward in terms of legal issues. If kink was recognised as ‘just the way some people practise intimacy’ then taking children away from parents who are kinky, forcing morality clauses on kinksters and so on would go the way of the dodo.

So I do think a word is useful in that it helps validate the group to the people outside—who are the ones passing laws and making judgments against us—but it also lets people who might be uncomfortable with that part of themselves know they’re not alone. ‘No, you’re fine. There’s a word for that. Welcome.’

And if you think there are too many labels out there—people only started to use the word ‘gay’ to mean exclusively ho-mo-sexual in the 60s. Not that long ago. If you complain about there being too many labels, that usually means you’ve never had a difficult time working out who you are or your place in the world. Congratulations. Not everyone is that lucky. Have some compassion.

So. A word is good. I’m not in love with ‘fetishsexual’ though. I know what it means and it sounds like it’s exclusively for people with abnormally high attachments to textiles or clowns or something. It’s sort of specific sounding. It feels like I’ll be explaining what it means to everyone if I describe myself that way.

‘Alternasexual’ … Sorry, Jillian. I love you, but I feel like Winona Ryder is going to show up and we’re going to listen to a mix tape while wearing flannel… That doesn’t sound so bad, actually. It’s a little 90s, is what I mean, though.

But I don’t have a suggestion! I know! I’m terrible!

However, if either of those caught on and the mainstream started to get it, accept it and defend it—I’d happily explain what it meant to everyone. I don’t care what you call it, just give me my rights and dignity.

I suppose, though, ‘whateversexual’ (maybe that’s what we should call it—since people can literally be into “whatever”)—‘Whateversexual’ would be the technical term and ‘kinky’ would be the slang. Like homosexual and heterosexual are technical terms for gay or lesbian and straight.

I’ve only just realised, bisexuals are only ‘bi’. They don’t have an informal name. Huh. We got really lazy when naming the bis.

Anyway, those are my thoughts and this episode is long. Wrapping up:

Overall, I enjoyed it. Fous has some thought-provoking insights and useful advice. If you are interested in the psychology of kink maybe give it a look.

I’d give this one a 4/5.

Episode 052: Decoding Your Kink

Episode the fifty-second; Wherein the Pageist seems to have become an adult at some point, meditates on the importance of finding your place and learns about her personal erotic myth. The book reviewed is Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

9.50 My Submissive Life:

  • ThePageist.com is two years old. When I started the site I could have never forseen where it would take me. I’m so grateful for what I get to do.

12.39 Book Review:

Decoding Your Kink book cover

(source)

35.55 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing Graydancer of Kink Sex Culture about consent.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
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Sub Journal 008: Constancy to Purpose

The secret to success is constancy to purpose –Benjamin Disraeli

My third year in the scene begins this week and this is the motto for the year. I’m applying it to both my business (the podcast and website) and my own submission. A person can only advance so far allowing life to happen to them. At a certain point—if they want to advance further—they have to intentionally work on themselves or the particular thing they’d like to improve.

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes and can be applied to every aspect of one’s life. (Benjamin Disraeli was one of Queen Victoria’s prime ministers, if you’re curious.)

No matter what your aim is—whether it’s something practical like improving your health, learning a new language or taking a wood-working class or less easily measurable things like trying to be kinder to yourself or others, practising patience or learning to let go of the things you can’t control—if you keep at it, you’ll improve.

This quote can also be applied to being the best M/D or s-type a person can be. Or the best top or bottom.

The meaning of ‘success’ is fluid

‘Success’ is a sticky word, though. Success doesn’t mean ‘perfect’. It doesn’t mean ‘better than everyone else’. It doesn’t mean reaching a certain point, hearing a DING! and being finished like an expertly cooked ham.

Success means different things depending on your goals. If you’re learning French—it’s possible to learn it fluently, eventually. If you’re trying to have the patience of a saint—that may be a life-long process depending where you’re starting from.

‘Success’ in power exchange

Of course, trying to be the best D or s-type… What’s the definition of ‘success’ there? Knowing you’re improving yourself. Knowing you’re not stagnating. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and working to eradicate those weaknesses as much as humanly possible. Making yourself worth leading or worth following. Not feeling like you’ve fooled someone into leading or following you.

‘Constancy’ =/= rigidity

‘Constancy to purpose’ can sound like being rigid in your thinking, like a battering ram is constant to its purpose of getting through a door. If the end goal is to be the best version of yourself (at whatever it is you’re trying to do), then occasionally it’s important to look at your tack and deciding if it’s getting you where you want to go in the healthiest way to get there.

Find your purpose

I like this one because it reminds me of the Stoic philosophy of not going in for complexity when it’s not needed. ‘Find your purpose and don’t get distracted.’

If your purpose seems overwhelming or impossible, break it into smaller steps. No amazing person got to amazing overnight. Cut yourself some slack. Use the S.M.A.R.T. system. There are endless resources out there—find the ones that work for you and what you’re trying to accomplish (I’ll be posting apps for s-types once a month beginning in a couple weeks).

What’s your purpose? How do you keep your focus? How do you define success at your purpose?

Dominance is Not About Being an Ass with undressedl

This week’s mentor post focuses on something we instinctively know but may not put into words well. That dominance isn’t about shouting or calling attention to how incredible you are.

If you have to tell others that you are [nice/trustworthy/dominant] it means you aren’t confident in your ability to demonstrate those qualities with your actions. You’re probably trying to convince yourself of whatever you’re saying about yourself.

The original post is here.

Did you know you don’t have to be an asshole to be dominant?

I work with this guy named Bob (if you’re thinking “this isn’t going anywhere good”, you’re damn right). Bob is a newer manager who I have strong feelings on. Let’s get this out of the way: you fucking hate this guy. I don’t even need to know you to know that. If we wanted to create world peace by first all coming together on one issue, it would be hating this guy.

There are so many reasons why he’s worth being the most hated person in existence. But nonetheless, someone decided to sell him a suit and allow him a place to make decisions and the world’s only been a worse place for it.

One day, I made a decision Bob didn’t understand. So instead of coming into my office to ask about it like some semblance of a normal person, he called a meeting in the conference room. Just for me and him to sit at a big table (Bob LOVES being at the big table). I walked in, he opened his notepad and clicked his pen like a proper asshole and started talking and taking notes. Probably on himself. At some point I stopped him to clarify his confusion, and he started yelling not to interrupt him. This meeting didn’t last long. He continued, and all but stood up, unzipped his pants, laid his dick out on the table and said, “LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT HOW BIG IT IS”. I responded with the professional equivalent of, “motherfucker, we’re lateral in position and I have no obligation to entertain this” and left.

This is what we call shitty leadership. And I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t detest a shitty leader.

The thing about Bob is, there are a lot of Bobs in this world. The guy with the raised pickup and shitty exhaust driving around in northern New Jersey like he’s ever put anything in the back other than his friend’s mattress when he helped him move…is Bob. Your Facebook friend who flexes in mirrors for selfies and posts their crossfit reps/weights…is Bob. And a lot of the dom(mes) on fetlife… are also definitely, definitely Bob.

We don’t have a lot of models for dominance that are kinky, and we have a lot of shitty ones. So it’s no surprise that some people on here feel the need to call everyone they talk to into a conference room to have a casual conversation or have a fit if their projected power is challenged. It’s insecure or misguided leadership. Here’s the thing: a few people might be impressed, some might tolerate it because they really want to bottom, and the rest of the world thinks you’re an asshole.

Be cool. Just be yourself. People recognize powerful people.

A short list of things you can do as a dominant: cry. Have feelings. Want to please your partner. Bottom. Have a sense of humor. Have a sense of humor about yourself. Admit you don’t know a skill. Admit you’re new and learning. Be polite. Be warm. Adore your submissive(s) and love them fiercely. Apologize. Ask for help. Need the support of others. Listen. Not fucking feel like being dominant sometimes. Not have to always project dominance to everyone always. Not ask people who aren’t your submissive to call you by a title (highly recommended).

I think the most dominant thing I’ve ever done to date has been to do whatever I want and not give a shit about upholding some projection of dominance. That’s dominant because it’s authentic and willful (and honestly, completely self-serving).

Whatever your style is, don’t fucking make your model of dominance Bob. We all know when you’re not swinging a whip or have your dick in someone, you’re a multifaceted person. You don’t need to have a fit over yourself to convince everyone you’re the bossiest boss.

*note- Pros, I get why you have to uphold a certain image and create personal boundaries. I’m so not knocking the hustle.

Submission and Dominance Are Not Gifts

This post is by someone on Fetlife who did not wish to be credited. It addresses the oft-repeated phrase, ‘submission is a gift,’ and introduces a different philosophy of power exchange.

Submission and dominance are not gifts. Let’s everyone GTF over ourselves.

Yes you gave me your submission and yes, you can uncollar anytime you like but let’s back up some.

I know the whole thing is more about you. Anyone who’s ever served in the military under a selfless, heroic, next-level competent commander knows what submission is and it is fucking amazing. No naughty time there but the process of surrendering your will to someone like that is powerful. A desire to do WHATEVER he says, knowing it’s almost certainly the right thing and a better course of action than anyone else would take…and knowing how his example inspires you to greater levels of performance, where now you’re all that much better with your own men….and on down to the lowest level where the whole thing he stands above operates like a perfect, fearsome machine…it’s great. Everybody knows that they’re looked over in that superior way and are part of something bigger than themselves. If you’ve ever had an experience with a leader like that, you know the joys of submission and what a great dominant acts like and can do.

But anyway…it’s not a gift.

I earned it. I sought it out. I showed you I knew what to do. Whether you were drawn to me or I was drawn to you at first, I felt out your barriers, I broke them down, I showed you I could be trusted. I showed you I could keep you in line and give you the guidance you needed and if you don’t think so, you’re free to leave.

I haven’t received every prize of submission I’ve looked for but when it is given, it’s something I’ve earned and it’s something I know I have to continue earning just like you also have to prove that you’re up to the job. It’s a bilateral arrangement and hopefully a symbiotic one. It wasn’t something you gave me for my birthday or when I was sick. It’s something you gave me after I showed you I was worthy of it.

The recent posts on this topic bother me in that way. My dominance is not a “gift,”‘ anymore than a new job would be and neither is your submission…so everybody ease up on thinking about the wonderful gifts that they are.

We connected. Hopefully it’s a powerful connection that we’ll both get great joy from and some badass kinky sex out of but I’m looking to think more of how I can perform better and less about how wonderfully lucky you are to have me and I expect the same in return.

What Dominance and submission is with SirStarryNight

This week’s Mentor post comes from Tumblr user SirStarryNight.

It’s a nice, concise primer for people wondering what BDSM is and is not. There are definitions of the main people you’ll find on either side of the slash and, of course, not everyone will completely agree with one another’s definitions, but this post is still a good place to point someone who is very new and doesn’t have the patience, time or desire to read an entire book.

The original post can be found here.

What is Dominance and Submission

Dominance and submission (abbreviated D/s) is one subset of the broader BDSM subculture, and while there are many misconceptions within western society about what BDSM truly is, it’s something that has seen an explosion in popularity within mainstream culture thanks to the commercial success of books such as Fifty Shades of Grey series and the rise of the internet. That commercial popularity has led to significant advances in social acceptance and the destigmatization, both good things, but it has also ushered in an unprecedented amount of misinformation. While a fundamental inability to grasp what BDSM truly is in vanilla society is forgivable, what’s truly shocking is how grossly misunderstood BDSM is not just amongst the vanilla, but the kinky themselves.

I believe that the roots of that misunderstanding stem from beliefs that are rooted in BDSM fantasy: whether it’s the dungeons of the middle ages, or the image of the taking of slaves as the spoils of war, or torment and humiliation of the weak. And while no great discussion of BDSM – or dominance and submission – would be complete without a deep dive into it’s decidedly non-consensual ancient heritage, for today’s purposes we’ll be discussing dominance and submission in it’s contemporary form and, hopefully, shattering a few misconceptions while providing guidance and perspective. With that being said, let’s begin the process of providing clarity about what D/s is, and what it is not. We’ll start with the acronym itself. BDSM is a three part acronym combining three separate abbreviations into one, they are as follows:

  • (BD) Bondage and Discipline
  • (DS) Dominance and Submission
  • (SM) Sadism and Masochism

While these three abbreviations fit nicely together, there is no need to think of them as separate entities: how you choose to engage in BDSM is entirely at your discretion, and as you’ll hear from anyone with enough experience, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. For this exercise though, let us focus primarily on dominance and submission.

At its core, dominance and submission is about power exchange. Power exchange within the context of dominance and submission is a consensual, mutually agreed to, negotiated, and codified relationship wherein one party voluntarily requests to be led by another. In this relationship, the person giving power is referred to as the submissive, and the one agreeing to accept the responsibility of power is known as the dominant. The scope of that exchange of power is something that is entirely within the purview of it’s practitioners, but fundamentally it is critical to understand that DOMINANCE AND SUBMISSION IS NOT ABOUT SEX.

This is something that is absolutely critical to understand. For some this may seem surprising since many people’s preconceived notions of what D/s is are almost always sex-centric. Before they actually engage in the lifestyle, many (most?) people are under the impression that dominance and submission is all about rough sex, sadomasochism, slavery, and bondage. While all of those things may or may not be present within a D/s relationship, that is not what D/s itself, is.

Rather, dominance and submission is about establishing the rules, roles, and methodologies of engagement that will define that couples interactions. When I attempt to explain dominance and submission to those who are not involved in BDSM I let them know that dominance and submission is nothing more than a normal relationship in which the parties engage in active, continual communication, establishing the rules and roles each party is obligated to fulfill. They fulfill those roles in order to ensure each parties mutual happiness, with one party accepting the responsibility of leadership and ensuring that both parties adhere to their negotiated, and consented roles.

That’s it.

Dominance and submission need not have anything to do with sex, whips or chains, rope or pain, leather or latex. It is simply a method of engaging in a relationship – how you choose to dress that up is entirely up to you and your partners wants and needs. For some that may mean sacrificing control over certain parts of what happens in their sex life, for others it may include sadomasochism, for others it may be entirely relationship based with little, or even no correlation at all to what happens in the bedroom. The permutations of how a couple could choose to practice are as infinite as the universe, and every bit as diverse. There are however some basic tenets that those in the lifestyle operate under, namely what we call Safe, Sane, and Consensual – or SSC.

Safe: Meaning that however you choose to practice, no matter how extreme it may be, should be done safely. There are so many things that can be done in our lifestyle that, if not practiced safely, by people well trained in their application, can lead to devastating injury, emotional damage, or yes, even death. While you’re under no obligation to practice anything outside of your comfort zone (your limits), know that if you choose to do so, you should only be engaging in their practice with people you know are well trained, and whom you trust explicitly. Even seemingly benign this like rope bondage or nipple clamps can lead to injury due to loss of circulation. Before you ever engage in any activity, invest yourself into your education, and ensure your partner is as well. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just yours.

Sane: Meaning that the things you do should pass a basic common sense test. If something seems wildly outlandish, it probably is. Keep in mind that much of what you see in BDSM pornography is fantasy. It is something that was intentionally designed, and set for that purpose. Public sex may seem exciting, but if there are kids around (or even other adults) don’t do it. Consensual non-consent (rape fantasy) may seem exciting and intriguing, and for some it is, but keep in mind that for many, many others it’s a brutally painful trigger for past trauma.

Consensual: Meaning that every single thing you do must be negotiated and agreed to first. In our lifestyle this is paramount, and I’m a firm believer that everyone who chooses to engage in BDSM should first obtain Affirmative Consent: meaning that only YES means YES, and everything else means NO. It’s also important to reiterate what should be obvious, people with mental handicaps and those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot provide affirmative consent. It does not matter if they’ve been your partner for a decade, if they’ve been drinking, their ability to give consent, and more importantly, their ability to properly parse what’s happening to them and protect themselves by “safewording” is impaired, and that’s no way to practice with someone you should love and care for.

What Dominance and Submission IS NOT

Dominance and submission is not a cover for abuse, or rape. Dominance and submission is predicated on negotiated relationships between consenting adults. The only time in which physical interaction of any sort is allowed is when both parties have made it explicitly clear to the other that that is what they want. If the person you choose to engage with is making you feel uncomfortable, or trying to get you to agree to things that you don’t want to do, or making you feel worse about yourself run, don’t walk, from that situation and make others aware of that persons behavior immediately.

If you’re looking to take on the role of dominant understand that you are not a dominant to any submissive until she has consented to a very exact, very well defined scope of power exchange. Until then, they are to be treated with absolute respect. If you wouldn’t talk to the person you respect most in life that way, don’t talk to a submissive that way.

Dominance and submission isn’t about cheap, easy, no-strings attached sex: It is a deeply intimate relationship between two (or more) people who have taken the time to know one another on an extremely intimate level and who have developed deep bonds of trust and respect that allow them to explore incredible, and sometimes dangerous or emotionally sensitive aspects of their lives.

What is a submissive?

The term submissive alone is enough to make some people’s skin crawl as it conjurs images of someone who is weak-willed, timid, cowardly, enslaved, or abused. Thankfully as I’ll try and highlight, that image of the fading man or woman couldn’t (usually) be further from the truth. Indeed, most submissives tend to be exceptionally strong willed people who are perfectly capable of being assertive, and they are equally as likely to be as intelligent and capable as their dominant partners. Most submissives are highly competent at their chosen professions and they’re every bit as likely to be well educated as the next person.

A submissive is not someone who is weak, on the contrary, more often than not they are abundantly powerful people in their everyday lives – they are simply someone who enjoys being the one to take on the role of follower in their personal relationship. Perhaps they want the FREEDOM to not have to lead for once in their lives. They may passionately desire that instead of being the one who must make all the decisions, that they’ll have a strong, intelligent, loving, and capable partner whom they can entrust to handle that decision making for them.

Submissive is also a blanket term for a wide variety of sub-categories of submission, the four most prominent being:

    • Bottoms: Those who serve in the submissive role during BDSM sceens. They agree to negotiate a degree of power exchange before consenting to the interaction(s), and maintain the right to renegotiate that agreement at any time.
    • Littles: This is far and away the most critically misunderstood of all the submissive subcategories, both by those on the outside looking in, and those who actually identify as littles. But critically, they are those who enjoy a relationship with more of a parent/child dynamic than the adult-adult that exists within the standard D/s dynamic. Typically the little is defined by having child-like tendencies. IE: enjoying time to color, play at the park, sleeping with and playing with stuffed animals, etc… While they can function within adult society, they very much act the part of the child – because internally they identify as a child. While the little may enjoy other forms of play such as age-play, ABDL (adult baby, diaper lover), incest play, these are NOT prerequisites to the dynamic. They agree to negotiate a degree of power exchange before consenting to the relationship, and maintain the right to renegotiate that agreement at any time. This article is highly recommended reading from The Submissive Guide with some little-to-little wisdom for those who think they may be a little.
    • Submissive: Someone who enjoys being in a relationship in which they freely consent to give some degree of power to their dominant. They agree to negotiate a degree of power exchange before consenting to the relationship, and maintain the right to renegotiate that agreement at any time. They are a partner, not a slave.
    • Slave: A slave differentiates themselves from standard submission in that they are agreeing to total (or near total) power exchange. They still retain the rights to safeword and leave the relationship (they are not true slaves) but they voluntarily give up the right to renegotiate their agreement once it’s been agreed to. That doesn’t mean the agreement can’t or won’t be amended, but that it’s at the discretion of the dominant party.

What is a dominant?

A dominant is the counter-point to the submissive, and the one who accepts responsibility for their relationship. They are not infallible or all-knowing, they are not the sole proprietors of truth and wisdom, or emotionless automatons. They are entrusted with ensuring that the mutual happiness of both parties is attended to, both by upholding their role within the dynamic, and ensuring that their submissive partner fulfills their role.

They agree to take on the burden of leading the relationship and assume responsibility for the ultimate success, or failure of that relationship. Their chief role is not to be the whip-wielding slave driver (though some couples may enjoy that) but rather to be the one who leads by providing everything their agreement outlines. They are responsible for developing and maintaining a safe, secure, nurturing, loving environment, replete with strong communication, and adherence to their agreement.

Just as is the case with submissives, ‘dominant’ is a blanket term for a wide variety of dominant sub-categories, the four most prominent being:

    • Top: The top is the counter-point to the bottom. They are responsible for the safety and protection of the bottom with whom they’ll be screening, and ensuring that the agreements they’ve made are adhered to.
    • Daddy/Mommy: A daddy or mommy is the counter-point to the little. Like any dominant they are responsible for the care, nurturing, guidance, growth, safety, love and discipline of their little. Additionally, they may also be responsible for setting bedtimes, cooking meals, ensuring their littles get playtime, etc… They assume the parental role and ensure that the couples negotiated agreement is fulfilled and that each parties wants and needs are met.
    • Dominant: A dominant is the counter-point to the submissive. They are responsible for the care, nurturing, guidance, growth, safety, love and discipline of their submissive. They assume the leadership role and ensure that the couples negotiated agreement is fulfilled and that each parties wants and needs are met.
    • Master/Mistress: A master or mistress is the counter-point to the slave. They are responsible for the care, nurturing, guidance, growth, safety, love and discipline of their slave. They assume the leadership role and ensure that the couples negotiated agreement is fulfilled and that each parties wants and needs are met.

In Summation

Just as is the case with submissives, dominants can assume more than one role, and operate on a spectrum. A master could be called daddy (instead of the more typical title of master), and he could be very soft, tender, and nurturing toward his slave. Conversely, a mommy could be called mistress and be very harsh and strict with her little boy.

It’s important to understand that every dynamic is unique, and that there is not “right” or “wrong” way to engage in dominance and submission – it’s about finding two (or more) people who agree to a dynamic that makes them happy and fulfills their needs.

Is Dominance & Submission For Me?

I’m a firm believer that dominance and submission could be for anyone who has longed for something more than their previous relationship. One of the most frequent comments I’ve heard from both men and women in their life is that they feel like they’re partner has forgotten about them or, “stopped trying.” They feel neglected in their relationship. Dominance and submission, with it’s requirements for open communication, negotiation, and (hopefully) written agreements provides a potential solution to that.

It seems silly to say, but when each party can go back to their agreement and say, “see, you promised that you would do X for me,” it provides a solution for holding people accountable to meeting one another’s needs. For the woman who says, “you promised me you wouldn’t stop taking me on dates, but we haven’t been on one in two months,” or the guy who says, “I told you I needed to have sex at least once a day, but we haven’t had sex in weeks…” pre-negotiated, codified agreements present a potential solution.

What you choose to agree upon could be literally anything you can imagine. It could be physical, emotional, psychological, financial… you name it.

Of course with dominance and submission being part of the broader BDSM subculture, it also typically involves kink (and lots of it!). That’s because the confidence and trust we can develop in a relationship of this nature is boundless, and it is that trust, and that confidence that provides us with the security to open ourselves up and expose our true nature, our hidden desires, and our darkest fantasies to a partner we know is completely invested in our happiness, our safety, and our fulfillment.

It’s important to understand however that relationships that require deep trust, also require phenomenal communication, and leaders of the absolute highest character. The sort that is born of both emotionally honesty, and emotional vulnerability. It requires partners that are emotionally intelligent enough to be deeply and keenly sensitive to their partners emotional needs as well as their own. This is not for the immature, and it is not for the reckless. It’s important that you understand what you’re getting into, and the very serious responsibility that you’re agreeing to take on. But if you’ve spent your life unfulfilled and you’re looking for something more out of your relationships, D/s might just provide the answer.

Equality in D/s with Innermind

Innermind writes a lot on FetLife.

A lot.

This time around he’s talking about equality in power exchange relationships. Which is a real thing. But I’ll let him explain.

D/s is about equality, seriously

D/s is a relationship between equals. When you first say that, it almost sounds like a punchline to a joke. Because how can there be equality when the whole premise of a D/s relationship is an uneven exchange in the distribution of power.

It’s because the equality doesn’t stem from the unbalance of power, but it stems from the ability of two equals to unequally distribute that power. Whether it’s a temporary or longer term exchange, it’s still rooted in the fact that both sides are equal to each other. Both sides are just as valuable no matter their role and more importantly, both are absolutely necessary to one another in order for there to even be a functioning dynamic.

I’ve talked before about how I feel the D type has more influence and responsibility than an s type and someone said that was a contradiction of my views that D/s equates to an equal relationship. I don’t believe it is.

The reason is, the equality between each other isn’t rooted in protocols, expectations and defined specifications of each role. Rather it’s rooted in each side being equally responsible for the overall well being of the relationship, each side being equally responsible for the overall well being of themselves and each person being equally important, irrespective of who they’re in a relationship with or what role they’re assuming.

Personal responsibility in the relationship is equal, always.

When I say the D type has more influence on the overall tone of the relationship, that doesn’t create an inequality, but actually defines why they are equals. Much like the power, that added responsibility is not something one takes, but it’s willfully distributed between equals. When one assumes the role of a top or D type, he/she does so not thinking they are more important than their s type, but they are simply fulfilling a role that speaks to their inner core and because they need the s type to give them that respect, trust and submission in order for their assumed leadership to mean anything.

That exchange, of power, purpose, responsibilities and emotions, doesn’t sift anything to one side or the other to create a gap between unequals, it does the opposite and builds a bride between two equals fulfilling each other’s needs, equally.

In essence, one needs to lead and one needs to follow, that may look different in a thousand different ways and mean a lot of different things, to a lot of different people, but no matter the differences, one thing that is the same, is D types and s types are not different in their importance, they are equally important independently to one another and more so, they are equally important to one another as well.

D/s is as equal as a relationship as any other relationship between two people.

–Innermind

The Five Cs of Good D/s with Skyfire

This week’s Mentor post is a long one, but outstanding. It’s advice for how to have a fulfilling D/s relationship no matter which side of the slash you’re on.

The Five C’s of Good Dominance and Submission

Fetlife, for good or ill, has been a great tool to communicate with other kinky folks, and to see which direction the prevailing wind is blowing. I have seen a shift away from D/s in favor of play and varied experiences in my local community. My feed was filled with people talking about events, play dates, hook ups, and flirting. I love to play, flirt, and meet new people, but my core has always been one that is steeped in leather tradition. Etiquette, discipline, and earned submission. The depth of a strong D/s relationship is like nothing else I have ever experienced. A strong connection with your partner can make a cuddle date watching a Disney movie as profound as whipping someone bloody on a cross, or putting them through an excruciating tie.

Playing without that connection feels like eating junk food to me. It gives me a wonderful high for a few hours, but when that fades, I fall back to earth. The fall is not always a hard one, but it often feels lonely or empty. Pick up play would lead to the hardest of these drops, and often could make me feel like a ride at the carnival. Great play, loving after care, a few check ins the next week…and then nothing. Was the high worth it? Absolutely. I am sure for the more extroverted folks out there this type of play can fulfill them the way only D/s can for me.

As my friends list expanded beyond my local area, more stories of that deep devotion of ownership and submission started to trickle into my feed. It was a welcome change, and I thank those of you who choose to share your amazing stories of love and connection. About a week ago something crossed my feed that struck a nerve that I did not realize was so raw. It was a lament about how a collar had turned into a necklace. It detailed how a submissive had lost her desire to submit because her owner seemed to have lost his desire for her submission. I have seen this happen time and time again, in both new and vastly experienced people. I responded to the thread with some of the tenants that I have learned from personal experience, mentoring by amazing people from both sides of the slash, and from anecdotes from lifestyle educators. I received a great deal of positive feedback from that post, and decided to write something a bit more formal. I hope you find my insights helpful, and I hope you will add your own ideas of what works best for you.

1. Consent

No discussion of any part of BDSM should begin with anything else. D/s is no different, and has lead to a great deal of problems for many people. Like most of the things we do labels tend to complicate things. People have different definitions for what Dominant, Submissive, Top, Bottom, Master, Slave, Owner, and property mean. This is complicated further by the works of fiction that draw people into the scene. How many of us read the Story of O, watched Secretary or 9 ½ weeks, or got caught up in the recent brouhaha over Fifty Shades of Gray? There is an entire subgroup of people who follow the tenets of slavery put forward by John Norman in his Gor books.

The fantasies that these stories inspired are often out of touch with real life. The more blatant of these things, like being locked in a dungeon for a week, being kidnapped and used as a sex slave, or being that awkward college grad that gets swept away by a billionaire, are easily dismissed. However, some of our fantasies are a bit more insidious and form deeper roots in our psyche. The proverbial 18 year old master is derided openly as is the brand new bottom that proclaims themselves as a no limits slave who has never been spanked before. We like to think we are smarter and above these kinds of magical thinkers, but we are not.

What does this have to do with consent? Simply put, many of us have no idea what we want. We love the idea of owning someone, or being conquered and serving our one true owner. How many of us know what that means when we have to factor in real life? How many of us get involved with people with vastly different life experiences than our own? It is easy to assume that someone who states they want a D/s relationship actually wants what they claim. Why would you choose not to take someone at their word, especially when they are saying exactly what you want to hear? The realities of being owned or the responsibilities of owning someone often do not match their ideal desires.

It is imperative that we take baby steps in every new relationship. We need to constantly reaffirm that the goal we are working toward is a shared goal, and not just the vision of a passionate D type. Getting swept away in the passion of a new relationship happens every day. The poly folks call it NRE (new relationship energy). NRE is a powerful thing, and consent can be given while this is in full effect without realizing just what we agreed to. Take small steps, reaffirm that both partners are still on the same page, and be specific that no matter what your role, a no or a limit is sacred.

2. Communication

Good communication is sexy as hell. The more your do it, the better your connection will get. Negotiation is an integral part of communication, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

At the beginning of any relationship be sure to set expectations.
How much time can you give your partner? Work, family, and friends are things that need to be accounted for. Be realistic, and do not over extend or over promise

What kind of daily communication is expected/required?
Are texts at work ok? Phone calls? Do you require a daily journal? All of these things should be established and encouraged. The more communication the better.

What is the goal of this relationship?
If you are just looking for a fuck buddy with a little D/s thrown in, be sure to state that. The depth of feeling D/s can inspire can often lead to unexpected emotional attachment, be aware of that and do not abuse it.

Be honest with what you want.
D/s can be as rigid as strict discipline, or as ethereal as wearing something every day that reminds you that you belong to someone. If you want rules and consequences, ask for them. If you just want a collar to show off to your friends be clear about that too.

What is your level of experience?
If you have had the type of D/s you crave, describe it. If not, talk about your ideal vision of D/s. If you are brand new and have zero experience be open about that, and be kind to yourself. You do not have to agree to everything all at once. If a top requires that from you, just walk away. Odds are that it will not end well for either of you.

When I say honest, I mean complete honesty.
Yes baring your soul to someone is one of the scariest things you will ever do. People will often subject themselves to beatings, brutal bondage, and other physically challenges before they will ever let go of that deep dark fantasy that they hold dear. Into incest role play? Yay, I am so relieved that you opened up to me about that…or Ewww, no that is gross and I cannot do that! Would you rather get that answer before or after you invest yourself into a deeply emotional bond with someone? It is not fair to you or your partner to hold back. If you trust them enough to hurt you, make you helpless, or fuck you in every available hole, trust them with your fantasies.

Professor X doesn’t live here anymore.
No one can read your mind. Speak up and speak often. You are responsible for your own happiness, anyone who says different is selling something.

3. Consistency

Now we get to the really hard part. It is a great deal of fun negotiating, exploring each other bodies and fantasies, and being drunk on the amazing power exchange. This is the easy part. The hard part is follow through.

Follow through.
If you make rules, enforce them. If you agree to live by a set of rules, obey them. Everyone makes mistakes, and there should always room for forgiveness when transgressions have legitimate excuses.

Set up what punishments will be at the same time you set up the rules.
Random whacks on the butt will not work for masochists. Corner time will not work for brats (they just walk away). Find out what will deter further transgressions, and set that up as your standard discipline.

Know what you want, and who you are.
Having and enforcing strict rules is a HUGE commitment of time and energy for a dominant. If you cannot give your submissive the proper time and attention that strict rules require, don’t start down this path. Having a single golden rule is often enough. “Always show respect.” “Always arrive early, dressed in this manner, and wait for me on your knees.” These are often enough for someone that craves structure but has real life time constraints.

Do not sacrifice love or joy.
Discipline is about giving a submissive what they crave. However, if you only get to see each other once a week for a few hours, do not give up your time together for discipline. Punishment should never be done in anger, and sometimes postponing it can be even worse than the punishment.

Most bottoms want fair punishment for their transgressions.
Many dominants cannot wrap their heads around why a partner would crave punishment. Many s types crave punishment because it feels like absolution. All good submissives hate to disappoint their tops above all else. Accepting a simple punishment absolves them from their misstep and lets them move on and be happy in their service. Punishments should be given at the time of the infraction if at all possible. If not, a direct talking too need to happen ASAP. You need to convey what their disobedience means to you.

Disobedience is the fault of both partners.
I hate to punish, simply because it means I have failed. I have failed to instill the proper devotion and respect in my partner. I have failed to give them enough incentive to behave for me, and make me proud. I have failed at the most important duty I have as a top, to protect you from yourself. Discipline has to happen, and it is often a quick ordeal for the bottom, but a cause for massive introspection by the top. Never think that this is a one sided affair.

4. Creativity and Connection

Yes this one is a double C, but the two are so intertwined that it needs to be on the same line. Connection is the amazing reward of a strong D/s. All it takes is a look from your owner and you are instantly a puddle of arousal and devotion. That sparkle in your slave’s eyes can make the fatigue of an awful day melt away and make you forget how tired you were, and remind you just how horny you are. There are no words to describe it, and there is nothing else like it on the planet.

You are all worked up and ready to tear into each other like wild animals, but oops you are at Disney World on vacation, at the store getting groceries, or with your family for a holiday dinner. These moments should never be wasted, and creativity can get your through them satisfied, and without involving the rest of the world in your kink.

Hidden kink in public places is hot in its own right, but what about impromptu kink in public. Something as simple as taking your panties off and handing them to your owner, being sent to the bathroom to put in a plug, or, in the case of Disney World, being forced into a costume shop and walk around dressed as one of the Princesses for the rest of the day…with a buttplug in for good measure. These little acts of control and obedience can go a long way. I am not going to give away all my tricks, but my point is to never let these moment of inspiration pass you by.

This goes for time at home as well. Did you plan a quiet cuddle date at home for tonight, but find you cannot keep yours hands to yourself? Stop holding back, and reach out and touch what belongs to you. I mean this for both D and s types. If you feel a desire, not expressing it is like lying. Follow you heart…and your crotch. Did Baymax’s fist bump make you crave some rough body play? Did Star Wars make you feel like dressing up like Slave Leia? Did watching 50 shades make you want to run upstairs and show the world how it is really done? Do it!!

5. Compassion

You cannot have the other four without this one. D/s may not always involve a loving relationship. Service relationships, play partners, and fuck buddies all deserve the compassion that we show to our loved ones. If there is a good excuse for bad behavior, comfort and support your partner. If you are not feeling up to being Sir Lord Master Domly Dom, and just need a night to recharge and be with your loving partner, be compassionate with yourself. We cannot always be on all the time. Balancing life with the things we do is a unique skill and one that often gets overlooked. Even if you only get one night together a week, do not push yourself past what you feel like doing at that moment. Disappointment is temporary, especially if you explain why and make up for it later.

After care does not go away with D/s. In a deeply connective relationship people tend to push themselves harder than they do with more casual encounters. The deep and enduring trust allows them to beyond what they thought they were capable of. This can lead to amazing play, but also to violent drop. I have seen many hard limit lists start to turn into checklists, and that is amazing to witness. The real fear, the apprehension mixed with desire, the absolute devotion to their owners is breathtaking. D types owe the people that serve us more than just after care, but due care. We fetch them water and fruit to recover, we check in with them constantly when we know they are getting to their breaking point then pushing beyond.

We get their favorite blanket, their cherished stuffie, or whatever other coping item they desire. We let them dictate to us what they need. Cuddles and reconnection, being left alone in a dark and quiet room, or just sitting and chatting about what just happened. Everyone is different, but we owe it to them to give them exactly what they need as they need it.

Compassion is also the realization that the people that choose to serve us are not “less than” in any way. They are as important as we are. It is their choice to worship us as their personal gods, and it is our duty to protect and love them for it. D/s is a power exchange. That exchange ebbs and flows with moods, schedules, and other commitments. It is up to both sides of the D/s slash to take equal responsibility in keeping that power flowing. We must give to get, and we must be diligent in maintaining all 5 of these C’s so that a collar will never just be a piece of jewelry.

Edit
Raison-dEtre pointed out something that I usually cover in my writings or when I teach. Punishment in this case is a misnomer. Punishment implies a negative connotation and not everyone uses punishment to correct behavior. I touched on that a bit, but I feel like I did you all a disservice by not eloborating.

I prefer the word adjustment over punishment. We have all heard the common phrase “They need and attitude adjustment.” This is not usually said in a positive manner, but within the realm of D/s it absolutely can be a better way to interact with your partner.

Adjustments can come in many forms, from a quick swat on the butt (more on the lines of tradition punishment) to a gentle code word to let them know that a line was crossed. In both instances, an adjustment will not work without intention and explanation. Take the time to let them know why an adjustment is required, how to avoid doing it in the future, and the most important step, make sure they know that they are forgiven. As Raison-dEtre, some beat themselves up a lot more than we ever could. Forgive them, and mean it. The worst thing you can do is say you forgive them, then hold their mistakes against them.

What a Dom Actually Is with sexsmurf

Many people have a clear idea of what a ‘Real Dom/me’ is. And they get those opinions from our culture. Because the concept of certain traits being equated with dominance are inherent in our society we don’t notice them and then can’t work out why we aren’t getting what we want.

In order to help s-types find better D-types, sexsmurf is going to explain the difference between what our culture says dominance is and what it actually is.

Using a geeky reference, which is always welcome.

Picard has it, Janeway doesn’t

“I can’t find a real Dom.” the submissive complains, “I dated this person who seemed legit but it turns out that they are really a narcissistic codependent disaster, and the next person wasn’t any better!” Your problem, isn’t that Doms are all fakes, it’s your idea of what a Dom actually is that is fake. You’re dating Kathryn Janeway, when you need to be looking for Jean Luc Picard.

Star Trek next generation had two spinoffs, Deep Space Nine, a boring soap opera in space, and Voyager, a promising tale of ship and crew accidentally zapped to the far reaches of space trying to find its way home. Voyager should have been good, but it wasn’t, the biggest fault of which was the poorly drawn character of Captain Kathryn Janeway. What the producers wanted was someone dominant, which Kate Mulgrew has in spades left to her own devices, but how they got there was by making her overbearing and humorless, prompted, I believe by cultural ideals of what we think dominance should look like. Contrast this with Next Generations Jean Luc Picard. Because Picard has a dick the producer/director/writers/actors assumption is that there is no need to use the flourishes one might use to assert a little extra dominance because it’s already implied by cultural context. The result is that Patrick Stewart was allowed to play the character with a calm, quiet, self-assured, demeanor.

If you’ve watched both shows I want you to imagine yourself as crew on either ship. Who do you want to serve under? How do you feel when Picard tells you what to do versus Janeway? Picard is sensitive, inquisitive, and kind, all the while radiating gravitas and authority. Janeway is staunch and domineering, a smokescreen which ultimately steals her power.

Picard is the real deal, so why is it that when we go looking for a Dom we always fall for the Janeways? Again, it goes back to cultural context. Like it or not, dominance and masculinity are intertwined concepts, and everyone, subs and Doms alike, are trapped in this bullshit ideal of what a Real Man looks like. We reinforce it to each other as boys and girls, then as men and women, and finally, even in the core ideas of what power looks like, no matter which gender is in the drivers seat. The result is Doms who actually believe that ideal, or Doms who act a certain way because it’s the price of admission. It reminds me of some of the dyke parties I used to go to where the drag kings went around mimicking all the worst parts of masculinity and the fems just ate it up. When I look at that, and look at how a lot of Doms act, combined with how often submissives reinforce it, all I can think is: Captain Janeway.

This transposing of the false archetype of masculinity onto the supposed counter-culture of kink has always been a pet peeve of mine. Not to say that there aren’t Doms out there that are an authentic reflection of these ideals, there are, and to them I say: go with your bad self. To the rest of us though that are a little more complex, I say: can’t we all just drop the charade? It’s a little scary as a Dom, being authentic when authenticity can cost you. As a sub I’m sure it’s a bit of a mind bender as well, facing the fact that a Dominant personality might look a little different than what you’ve been socialized to accept. The image of the “Real Dom” is an illusion, and when we grasp this truth we can learn to let go of the one-dimensional cultural ideals and relax into a more genuinely honest, powerful expression of ourselves.

Reasons to Submit with Brittunculi

This week’s Mentor post is from FetLife member Brittunculi, who is in a D/s relationship with Innermind. I’ve posted his work before and I’m sure I will do again.

They both write extensively and articulately about their relationship–about how power exchange looks and feels from both sides of the slash–and it’s clear that there is a great deal of love and respect circulating between those two crazy kids.

This particular post of Britt’s took my breath away and I had to share it (with her permission).

This is what is beautiful about power exchange.

Why do you submit to him?

I get asked a lot ‘Why do you submit to him?’ or ‘What makes you submit to him the way you do?’ Well there are many reasons that I chose Innermind to be the one I would submit to, and I didn’t fully submit at first. I’ve slowly grown in my submission and taken time to find him and myself within the context of our relationship. These are the main reasons why I can submit to him the way I do

Vanilla relationship
There are times when we have to look and function as a Vanilla couple. During this time I still need our connection, I can’t just turn it off. In our relationship we can switch to Vanilla mode quite easily, but he still subtly Doms me. We have built a connection where I know a look, or when a question is really a disguised order. I also call him Sir when we are out to show my respect. It works well because it just comes across as a respect thing.

Freedom
It may seem weird for someone who wants to submit and be owned to also want Freedom, but without this I can’t submit. I know that I’m able to speak freely about matters that concern me. I at no point will be silenced and have my voice removed. I am free to do what I want during the week in my free time. I may have certain protocols that I must fit in, and tasks to complete but I can mostly plan my week as I need to. Even when we are together I have the freedom to let him know I need to do something. This may vary from needing to take a bath or wanting to write, read or draw. I know that if the answer is no it will be for a reason that benefits me, not a reason to suppress me.

Flexibility
I have a business, a child and elderly parents. So there are times when I have to message him to say I will be late for our call. I need him to be flexible at times because I’m not being disobedient I just some days have a lot to try and fit in. We had one protocol that meant I had to send our morning message very early. As one of my businesses is overseas it was difficult when I had to stay up to the early hours working on it. So he was flexible with the rule and altered the time to one that didn’t cause me to have to cut my sleeping hours down. Without flexibility I would be held to a standard I couldn’t manage and would be set up for failure.

Respect
I submit to him but this doesn’t mean I deserve or want to be treated like trash. He respects me as a person and whilst what we do may be considered quite unusual to most it is done with a great level of respect. I can safe word with the only repercussion being a hug and talk. When I kneel for him he respects that I may have to shuffle around every so often to stop a limb going numb. When doing things he respects that I have opinions that I would like to share and contribute. I am treated as a human being, not a thing. Even in scenes where I can’t talk he has taken the time to get to know me and respects my needs and limits without me needing to prompt him first.

Communication
This is the biggest reason I submit to him. Because we communicate a lot. And it’s not always great communications it may be that we have a problem with each other, but we have the ability and environment where we can have these difficult talks. When we’ve fucked up we’ve communicated. We even communicate about how we can communicate even better. There are no I’m Dom you be silent moments. Even in a scene I can speak and tell him something. I need my voice, and he needs me to have my voice. This in turn makes me respect him a lot. And when you respect and love someone, kneeling at their feet becomes a very natural, easy and fulfilling thing to do.

We didn’t get to where we are overnight, and we’ve had some obstacles to get over. What we have done from the beginning though is what I’ve discussed above. It started slow and we’ve had to learn each other and adapt. What I have found is I have to give you my submission, you can’t take it from me. This is why I submit to him, because he gave me everything and trusted me with it, and I in turn trusted him enough to give it back to him as submission. When you help create a strong woman, you in turn create a strong submissive. And the stronger your submissive, the stronger your D/s relationship becomes.
– Brittunculi

Thoughts on Secretary: Then and Now

Secretary

When Secretary was released in 2002 I was immediately intrigued (because the idea of being someone’s secretary greatly appealed).

I remember liking it immensely upon first viewing, though for the life of me I can’t recall if it was in a cinema or on DVD. I do remember renting the DVD from Netflix and watching it a couple times in a row plus once with the commentary track.

This is one of many indicators of my pageism to which I was oblivious for years.

Initial thoughts were swoony ‘why can’t I have a dominant boss to organise and fetch for who will spank me? Life just isn’t fair! Hmph.’

I re-watched after my revelation about pageism being on the D/s spectrum and having learned a bit about BDSM and D/s.

This review will be a recap of the film including my original thoughts, current thoughts from a sub’s point of view and some notes from the commentary of the DVD.

[Commentary notes are in brackets and is provided by the screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson and director Steven Shainberg, who also helped Wilson to adapt Mary Gaitskill’s short story of the same name.]

—My original and current thoughts will be between emdashes.—

Needless to say, spoilers ahoy, Ahab.

This is also an extremely long post, as it’s a recap with commentary and so on (I do break it up with images and gifs from the film so it’s not the Great Wall o’Text) but so it doesn’t take over the front page I’m putting it behind this fancy break.

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The Duke of Burgundy

DoB Landscape Boot

Graphic by Julian House

This review is free of spoilers, though in some ways this film is better if you know nothing about it going in. It may sound odd, but I recommend not reading this review, or any review. Just watch the film—it’s incredible.

A young woman, Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) arrives at her employer’s house—Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen)—a cold, demanding woman who makes her stay late at work and punishes her severely when she makes mistakes.

In the next scene we find out the women are lovers who play sadomasochistic sorts of games. This isn’t a spoiler—we learn this in the second scene of the film.

The women go through their normal lives—the older one is a lepidopterist—and they attend talks at the library, as well as do scenes at home.

But all is not well in kinky-land.

And then the end happened and I was: Whaaaaaa?

Also by Julian House

Also by Julian House

I know that seems like a short plot synopsis but it really is better to know less rather than more. Also, the film is more of a character-study than plot-based.

The Duke of Burgundy was written and directed by Peter Strickland in the 20-teens, but feels like it was based on a 1970s novel. In an interview Strickland says it was an homage to 70s films, and that’s apparent in both look and feel. The cinematography (by Nicholas D. Knowland) is lush and luxurious.

The setting is somewhere non-specific in Europe and the time could be any time after the 70s. (It was filmed in Hungary and Budapest). The soundtrack is by Cat’s Eyes and compliments the film perfectly.

The Duke of Burgundy is about what happens when Dommes and subs don’t negotiate what they both want. (And something called topping from the bottom.)

There are some trippy sex scenes and music cues that are very 70s. And there’s an entire sequence roughly three-quarters of the way through that’s that sort of LSD weird-out sort of thing you’d see in the 70s.

Even though it’s surreal and artistic, it’s a more realistic depiction of a BDSM relationship than Secretary, as it shows how far the fantasy is from the—often boring or hilarious—reality.

Basically it’s my favourite film now. 5/5