So you think you’re a dominant?

Yeah, I know, it’s a bit of a rant. Some ideas that have been around in my head for a while.

So you think you’re a dominant?

I sometimes hear a view expressed that dominants (doms, dommes) are ‘alpha’ people who have a commanding presence, dominate others by force of will, assume they will be obeyed, know what they want and are able to get it without effort.

If that description fits you, then your name is Christian Grey, you’re a multi-billionaire and will have your pick of submissives from among those queuing up for your attentions. You’ll whisk them off by helicopter to your private island with its custom-made dungeon and play with them while your minions work hard at taking over yet another world-leading company to add to your fortune. You’re also, incidentally, likely to be an unbalanced and manipulative person, driven by well-hidden insecurities. And from time to time your sexual behaviour may get you into trouble.

Most dominants aren’t like that. They aren’t the kind of people who try to dominate the world. They’re dominant in a particular relationship, and the submissive wants it that way. Of course, meeting new potential subs, they’ll see what kind of response they get from alpha behaviour. But it will be something they can turn on and off at will.

On the whole, dominants need to be keen observers of character, of body language, of the nuances of behaviour. They need to be well-adjusted people who know their own insecurities (we all have them) and are good communicators.

They need to know their responsibilities. These include keeping your sub safe, because you’re going to put them in positions where they can’t ensure their own safety. These include, potentially, playing in clubs and such where there are other people around but also private play.

They’ll be aware of the implications of what they’re doing, both in terms of any health issues of their subs (you know the stuff: diabetes, athsma, etc. – you don’t want to tie anyone up and not have any essential medication to hand) and in terms of the dangers of the play they engage in. There’s a litany of inquests where police forces (who should know better) have caused the deaths of people they’re arrested through positional asphyxiation, in other words restraining them in positions where they can’t breathe and not noticing their breathing problems. Gags are another example. With gags, often the sub drooling is considered a sexy thing: but a sub who doesn’t (or can’t) drool is typically getting saliva in their mouth that in some positions, they won’t be able to clear by swallowing. If you gag a sub, leaving them tied down and flat on their back is generally not a good plan for this reason. You need to think about what you’re doing in at least the same level of detail that, for example, you’d think about your own safety if you were a rock climber.

The same goes for other tools of domination. Do you actually know what the whip, flogger or cane you’re using feels like? Are you confident in using ropes for bondage? You really don’t want to be experimenting on your sub, only to find that the bullwhip you picked up on a whim is capable of ripping an inch or two into muscle. It’s too late then to say ‘oops’. On a side note, I once did a club demo in which I ripped through a telephone directory with a bullwhip…

Where doms and subs have a 24/7 relationship, of course, dominants have other responsibilities as well. These might include issues such as whether, how and where the sub works; what arrangements are in place for pensions, health insurance and other mundane but important matters. And while it’s all very well to have an agreement or slave contract between the two of you that the sub is under your control, that isn’t going to wash in any matters that involve officialdom.

Dominants, like everyone else, need to recognise that people change. And their desires change too. I can think of a couple that when I first met them, the man was the dom and the woman the sub. They went through an on-off relationship for a while, and when I met them again a couple of years later the man was the sub and the woman the domme. I’m not suggesting your dominant tendencies will change in time, but if they do, so be it. If your sub’s orientation changes over time, so be it. These are things to talk about and work out between you.

A myriad of more minor issues will almost certainly crop up from time to time – health problems, emotional problems, sometimes emotional triggers from the past that have some resonance in the present. Talk. Be patient. And I’m not just talking about the submissive. It’s equally possible that as a dominant you plan something that, when you take it into practice, turns out to trigger something you hadn’t anticipated in you. It could potentially be something really simple, like thinking pet play would be cool and then halfway through it, having flashbacks to being bitten by a dog when you were a child.

Being a dominant can involve a great deal of time, energy and emotion (and money, sometimes). This ranges from time spent planning play sessions and gathering the necessary materials, to time spent dealing with the emotions they can release, and in being the trustworthy, practical person at a day-to-day level that your sub needs you to be. Both in a play session and out of it, a sub needs to know you’re someone who can be trusted – and what happens in everyday life can impact on whether or not your sub sees you as trustworthy.

A good dominant doesn’t start with the assumption they know everything. They treat domination as a craft. It’s something they continue to learn through self-help, personal exploration, reflection, reading, discussion – and through their subs as much as anyone else.

And consider this parallel. Most professional comics, off-stage or off-screen, aren’t permanently, incredibly funny. Their comedy persona comes at a cost. Recognise, and make sure your sub recognises, that no one is dominant 365/24/7. You have down days. You have days when you’re exhausted and can’t be that wonderfully assured, confident, energetic and sparkling dominant. Your sub is going to have to live with that.

There’s a reason in BDSM why we talk about ‘dominants and submissives’, because each needs the other and strangely enough (because we don’t often think about it this way) submissives have their role to play in supporting dominants as well as vice versa. Communicate your own needs, including the need for downtime.

Above all, the dominant/submissive relationship in BDSM is one that involves a lot of effort and emotional work as well as anything else, and we make those efforts and put in that work, as dominants and as submissives, because it brings huge emotional rewards. It’s fun. There are many times, after a session, I’ve spend the next three days smiling about it and feeling an extraordinary closeness with my submissive. That’s why I do it, and that’s why she does it. So have fun and enjoy what you do!

Anyone want to add additional thoughts here or engage with any of these comments?

– F

Bondage. Question: How does it Feel?

hogtied

Me, hogtied

On a Pagan camp during the summer I was asked ‘how does it feel?’ right after the question ‘are you OK?’ when the audience (we were doing a demo) saw me flat out, face down, hogtied and very, very quiet.

Very good questions. Of course, I was OK. They laughed when the tone of my reply (‘I’m OK,’) was so obviously one of bliss. And that’s how it felt. My introduction to the world of BDSM at the tender age of forty+ was a bondage demo in a club. A Goth club. I watched a man tying up someone and fancied trying it. I was impressed to see he was monitoring his charge as he progressed with the tying. His approach was safety-led, ensuring no tendons or joints were under too much pressure, that arms and legs were in safe positions and his charge could breathe properly.

So I had a go while friends watched to ensure my safety, as this man was a stranger. The club was packed. Big Goth boots walked around me hogtied on the floor. Goth music blared out loudly. Weirdly in such circumstances I felt…spaced out. It was such a strange feeling. Unexpected but really good. Much better than I’d anticipated. As someone who has done a lot of meditation and has had hypnosis, this felt like some kind of trance. I was blissed out! In the middle of a busy club! I still am not sure why this should be. Is it to do with being swaddled as a baby and being tightly bound made me feel safe? Is it that I had always had to be in control in my daily life as a single mother and business manager, so here was a chance to give up control and relax? I think maybe it’s a little of each.

One thing it wasn’t and isn’t is scary. Fulani was that stranger. He is now my partner. I still enjoy being tied up. He still enjoys doing it. My birthday this year will be special, as we’ve been invited to a Rope Bondage party that very day. Fun! Scary is actually something I like when we’re playing, but bondage alone doesn’t do that. Mind-fucks do that. And they aren’t physically dangerous.

Bondage is only one aspect of BDSM, and it would be a while before I gradually found out about some of its other delights. Fulani has many years more experience than I, and has always treated me with the utmost respect. Our BDSM is a game. We do not ‘live the lifestyle’ that some choose to, but still get a lot out of it in terms of pleasure, as well as it making our relationship stronger. That’s because of the levels of trust involved. Trust is a very important issue when it comes to BDSM. As the submissive, I give my power over to Fulani whenever I put my collar on and we play. If I give him my safeword, I know that he will instantly stop what he’s doing and release me or check with me what’s wrong. This is VITAL. I might feel ill. I might feel upset. I might feel that a rope is too tight or pressing somewhere it shouldn’t. Rope can damage tendons if it presses on them for too long. Your top or Dom needs to know what he/she is doing and be able to correct a problem quickly.

So if you want to try bondage, you should trust the person who is tying you up, be certain they will respect your limits and have a safeword in case you need it for any reason at all. Communicate with your top. Tell them if something hurts when it shouldn’t. Tell them if you suddenly feel scared or upset.  Of course, if you are playing with pleasure/pain as well as bondage, ‘ow’ will not suffice. Be specific and say ‘The knot on my wrist is digging in,’ if that’s what’s happening, so he can correct if for you.

But as for how it feels, two people at that demo had a go once I’d been released. They both experienced the same blissful feeling as I did. They had never ventured into the BDSM world before. I can’t guarantee you will but how will you know if you don’t try it? And don’t forget to try something twice, just in case it was done badly  the first time!

VelvetTripp

The Daily Beast and the subconscious

We got a heads up a couple of days ago from a friend on Fetlife: the Daily Beast’s Newsweek magazine has an article ‘Spanking Goes Mainstream‘ (by Katy Roiphe, posted online Apr 16, 2012).

The standfirst says: ‘From the steamy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey to HBO’s Girls, sexual domination is in vogue. Katie Roiphe on why women’s power at work may be fueling the craze.’

The essence of the piece is this. On the one hand, women are probably now more empowered than they ever have been. OK, that’s a gross generalisation that applies largely to Western societies and even them, not to all women. And it’s in the content of a society in which everyone, men and women alike, are having their economic and social life chances ripped up by what increasingly looks like a long-term crisis in capitalism. But in terms of income comparisons with men, educational attainment, etc., women are less dependent on men than ever. On the other hand, in terms of books, films and other cultural forms, and even in terms of the results of psychological surveys, Roiphe argues that there is a renewed popular interest in ‘the stylized theater of female powerlessness,’ a ‘romanticized, erotically charged, semipornographic idea of female submission,’ and a ‘watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism.’

And the question is: why?

The article doesn’t deliver much that directly answers the question. But then almost no writing, popular or academic, does answer it properly. It’s a fair point that sexual fantasies reflect unconscious desires, and also explore the ‘what ifs’ that go beyond desire. It’s a fair point that sexual fantasies aren’t restricted by what we consider consciously to be politically correct. Fantasies are very often transgressive, imaginative and dreamlike explorations beyond the boundaries of lived experience and conventional morality. And yet they’re also socially structured in that they seem to rise and fall in popularity, and in their demographic incidence, in response to wider social changes.

So: no answers, but at least some interesting questions and provocative observations in the article. It’s worth a read.

Quote, Fulani, unquote

Had quite a long email exchange with Billierosie about bdsm – she was writing a piece about  Tennyson’s 1833 (and revised 1842) poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, itself based on mediaeval sources. The poem is often taken to be about the process of creativity and the twin pulls of needing isolation but also needing engagement with the world, though Billierosie explores themes of dominance and submission through it.

The end result is she quotes a fair bit of the exchange, and comes up with an interesting take on the poem. And some cool fantasy material. And the pre-Raphaelite paintings she includes in the post are good as well.

Read her post on the subject here.

Happiness is…six of the best

We were chatting over the weekend. Of course everyone is different (thanks goodness) and we wondered, having watched a hackneyed movie quoting what happiness is…what is it in Sexual or BDSM terms? Here are my six of the best.

Happiness is…anticipation of a play session
Happiness is…fire and ice. First candles, then ice cubes. Whilste spreadeagled to the bed, of course.
Happiness is…the nipple clamps coming off!
Happiness is…three forced orgasms in a row
Happiness is…curling up in my dom’s arms when he releases me from my bonds
Happiness is…falling asleep with the rope marks and feelings still on my body.

Don’t be shy. what are your six of the best. We’d love to know…..comments please

Freak Clubwear how-to video – whips, crops, floggers and canes

Freak Clubwear are friends of ours who we’ve known for years and who live a few streets away. They’re well-known for their floggers and their own distinctive designs of fetish clothing. Their latest project is Kinky For Reel, a series of online free videos available on Youtube and their own website, demonstrating a range of BDSM techniques. The videos are aimed at beginners and show how to introduce kink into the bedroom, in a safe and fun way.

Their latest offering is a live scene featuring the use of whips, crops, floggers and canes. It runs about five and a half minutes and if you like it they have their own Freak Clubwear Youtube channel with a bunch of other how-to and instructional videos.

In addition they produce Curious Magazine, available for free from their stalls at fetish fairs and from their website. It features a range of articles on BDSM topics, interviews with members of the UK fetish scene, and photography by Velvet Tripp.

Vicky of Freak Clubwear says “Many couples are interested in introducing a bit of kink into the bedroom but are concerned about how to start out and safety. We hope these videos will inspire people that fetish can be fun and is about building trust and intimacy with your partner.”

Have fun!