Sunday, September 10, 2017

Loving BDSM Series 4: Contracts

Today's Loving BDSM question is:

People read the word "negotiation" and imagine some sort of back and forth thing around a table in a formal way.  It can be that, sure, but mostly it's just the conversation you have to figure out what kind of D/s relationship you want for yourself.  Submissives have the right to, and should, ask why a rule/task/ritual is being put in place and both sides should have the freedom to disagree, suggest other things, and make sure their needs are being met.  Negotiations aren't a one time thing, either. You'll come back to this over and over again in your relationship. Will you have a contract? Do you need a checklist?  What exactly does a negotiation sound like?

This came topically because right now there's a Buzzfeed video going around that declared Fifty Shades of Grey's contract "Hollywood bullshit" despite being the exactly one realistic thing about that film series.

I am in a Dom/sub relationship that has a contract.  It took us days to write it, it was all ceremonial and everything, it involved a cute dog holding a collar key, and so on and so forth.  But we were together for like two years before this, so we clearly functioned without an official contract pretty well.  We did that by just talking to each other, either before or while it was happening.  I’ve introduced a lot of toys and activities right in the middle of it, with my sub’s reaction being the negotiation (either showing her typical body language of “I don’t like this, and not in a good way” or just saying “no” when it was brought up).

In fact, the contract itself more bound us to outside activities and some light protocol than it did actual sexual activities.  It codifies things that we already were doing (things like transportation, venue, etc.) as well as relationship stuff we should have been doing but weren't (for instance, we talk to each other over Skype or on the phone because we only see each other once or twice a month and needed to keep better contact with each other; that’s something we didn’t do before the contract).

The contract was also an excuse, in a way, to talk about things we wanted but didn’t have a good way to bring up, since we had sections that were like “Oh, here are toys we’re allowed to use!” and could put things on we maybe wanted to try but which are hard to bring up in a conversation, almost like a brainstorming session.

Contracts are at their most basic just a way of creating boundaries, and I think that's something vanilla relationships often sorely lack.  How many vanilla couples have a "go with the flow" way about them that just assumes that they're so compatible they will never disagree on anything so they don't need to talk about what they're into and definitely not into?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Loving BDSM Series 3: Titles

Today's Loving BDSM question is:

Beyond the basic title of Dominant or submissive, are there other titles you prefer or are interested in exploring?  Are there any that turn you off or don't seem like a good fit for you?  Some titles for Dominants may include Master, Sir, Daddy, Mistress, Lady, etc.  Titles for submissives can be pet, babygirl, little one, boy, girl, etc.

You know, I didn’t think I’d be a fan of titles because in pornography I’ve found them really grating, but that pretty much changed the first time somebody called me "Daddy" and it turned out to be one of the fucking hottest things I'd at that time experienced.  Daddy as a title was actually the worst, grossest thing for me before that moment… I’d already kicked the association of Daddy with incest play after an excellent writing about the subject on FetLife (the gist of this was that it's no grosser than calling your partner "baby"), but didn’t think it’d be something I was into.  On the one hand, I really should have communicated that I thought it was gross terminology before he called me that, but you know, it did turn out well for me.  It’s also opened a whole new world of bad jokes to me, as I am voluntarily choosing never to be a father but am a fan of dad jokes.  I also like being called “Sir.”

Master I’m not a big fan of but nobody’s actually called me that during sex so who knows?  I associate this title with Master/slave relationships, which I have a lot of opinions about that folks in M/s relationships probably will hate.

I’m actually a big fan of being called my name in a sexual or D/s context.  This is kind of a trans thing, because it took a damn long time for me to get people to call me that name and so it makes me feel great to hear it, like it actively turns me on because it brings me right into my body... I tend to relate to my body as if I'm watching myself on a screen sometimes, so it makes me very present to hear my name.

I mostly use pretty typical pet names for submissives, things like “baby” or “honey,” “sweetie,” "pumpkin."  I’m open to other terms that are more specific to kink if I’m with a sub that likes them, but generally am not super into them and I still have a lot of the same discomfort I had with Daddy before I learned it was super hot

Friday, September 8, 2017

Loving BDSM Series 2: Submission

Today's Loving BDSM question is:

Does a submissive have certain behaviors?  Do submissives do specific tasks?  When you think of a submissive and submission, what thoughts come to mind?

The thing about submission and what I think makes a person submissive is that there are really two categories here… things I like in a sub and things that I think make a sub.

What I think makes a sub is a need or at least willingness to be directed.  And here’s where I talk about myself specifically… because I like a lot of things associated with submission, but am generally not a super submissive person, so in many cases I wind up basically directing what is being done, but from the bottom.

So I’m a switch, and have a submissive side that isn't fully explored, but for the most part even when I’m subbing I’m still ultimately Domming because I’m exercising a lot of control and basically directing the whole scene; I'm giving my sub commands that direct her to behave temporarily like a Dom.  It's hard to explain, but you know, it works great for us.

As far as responsibilities, well, subs have the extremely important responsibility of communication.  I remember once reading a work on FetLife that was called something like “Don’t Make Me An Abuser.”  It was poorly titled, but the point was that a non-abusive Dom really hates the idea of having put somebody through something they didn’t ultimately want, which is something that can happen if a sub doesn’t safeword when they want to or doesn’t say “this is triggering me” or “this is hurting too much.”  And a Dom who has worked with a sub for a long time may be able to tell without words when that sub needs them to stop (my own sub’s body language is essentially her safeword), but what if it’s a new relationship or a sub has a history of really enjoying looking like they need you to stop?  That sub has a responsibility to be very clear when things need to stop.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Loving BDSM Series 1: Dominance

Today I'm starting a series where I answer some BDSM related questions that my submissive is sending me from something called "Loving BDSM."  Today's question is:

What does dominance in a relationship mean to you? What traits will a Dominant have?  How should a Dominant behave?

I'm a switchy Dom who is super annoyed by the behavior of other Doms, not because I think I'm some awesome Dom but because there's a lot of sketchy behaviors out there, things like insisting everybody "in the lifestyle" treat them like their Dom or believing weird and gross things about their role.

Dominance is at its most basic about direction with the illusion of control.  I initially wanted to just say “control,” and I don’t think that that’s inaccurate, but the thing is, a submissive also has control in the form of safewords and other things like that.  As a Dom, you are directing a mutual fantasy to be beneficial to both of you and you are taking the responsibility to make it as safe as you can while still keeping the fantasy immersive.

Dominance is about responsibility.  Not that a sub has no responsibility (they definitely do), but the base responsibility is the Dom’s because they’re the one who is most likely to be doing the dangerous stuff.  So we’re in charge of maintaining the level of safety relevant to the activities being done and also being the kind of person who a sub can trust to listen to them.

Because of this, I’d say the number one important trait a Dom needs to have is responsibility, with honesty being a close second but related item.  A good Dom needs to be able to take responsibility when we mess up and be honest about things like experience levels, a thing I mention because I used to be really bad at that (there was a whole part of my life where my whole sexual history outside of like 5-10% was totally fabricated, although thankfully I had already stopped lying about that by the time I ever tried actually Dominating somebody.).  You need to be the kind of person your sub can trust is not going to do things like lie about what you’re actually experienced in to make yourself look like a good fuck... not just because it's disappointing, but because it takes away the informed part of informed consent.

As far as what traits a Dom should have… outside of the honesty and responsibility, that’s really up to the relationship.  The stereotype that we all need to be these harsh and stern individuals is really incorrect (I’m a cuddly Dom who likes to gush over my partners and give them cookies).  It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with being the stern, cold, disciplinarian Dom who acts like they loathe their subs (I'm sure lots of subs like that sort of thing) but it's just not my character.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Why I (Still) Reclaim Warlock

I wanted to share with you one of the best "I've been a Witch for over two decades but somebody just decided to treat me like a newbie and used the word 'muggle' while he did it" moments of the year:

Text: thing like a witch not a intellectual "muggle" a true witch would no use the word that to others intent is a not a slur--but a curse and a warning. Intention is important including other people's. Look here at all the other comments--that's what I meant by keep looking...because your ignorance is dangerous. You also insult the male witches. You should know the term applies to women as well. The term witch has never been a slur. As for research--in my page [redacted] there are several posts about the word--it's derivation and use.

That was the response to a comment I left about the word "Warlock" and the fact that I identify as one, from the admin of the group.  And I don't want to deal with this absurdity too much because I feel like most people who read my blog already will see the intense amount of ignorance in statements like this one (Caring about history makes you an "intellectual muggle?"  Oh, you think "Witch" has never been a slur?  Give me a fucking break.) but it did inspire me to go back to my piece on why I reclaimed Warlock that I wrote four years ago.

The thing is, I realized that it doesn't really explain well why I reclaimed Warlock... it just goes into how Witches are wrong about it being a uniquely bad term and especially wrong about its history.  The whole idea that a Warlock historically meant somebody who was a coven betrayer or a traitor to Witches?  Bullshit.  Total bullshit.  But understanding this doesn't mean that you have to like the word, and there are plenty of people out there who understand this history, leave those of us who use it alone, and just don't like it used for themselves.

So why do I like it so much?  Well, some things have changed since then (I consider myself a genderqueer trans man rather than a 100% male trans man), but the reason is largely the same:  I've reclaimed a lot of feminine elements and I reclaimed my estrogen, but male mysteries and masculine Witchcraft are extremely healing for me.  Example:  When I was at Pagan Spirit Gathering and trying to decide whether to go to the men's mysteries ritual or the all-gender ritual written by some great non-binary folks, it didn't take me too long at all to decide to go to the men's mysteries ritual.

Since I'm now genderqueer I'm more apt to use "Witch" than I would have been four years ago... but if I'm honest, I do still prefer "Warlock."  And it has a lot to do with why I pick words.

I like harsh, unsanitized words.  These carry a lot of personal power for me, the same reason I prefer "genderqueer" to "nonbinary" and a number of other terminology differences.  Although "Witch" doesn't feel wrong, there are a lot of people calling themselves "Witches" today who have lent to it a softer connotation than Warlock has.  This is somewhat unfair--there are plenty of badass Witches out there--but the number of Witches who do things like cast pathetic spells trying to get politicians to change their minds about being bigoted assholes... well, there's an association between "Witch" and "white-lighting" that grew over the two decades I've been practicing.

"Warlock" has a very different connotation.  This is a word that gives off multiple impressions that I really like.  A Warlock isn't the kind of person who is going to just cast a binding spell on someone genuinely harming him or his loved ones, a Warlock is somebody who is going to do what needs to be done, who is going to protect them as well as himself.  The word "Warlock" carries a connotation of a Warrior, but a particular type of Warrior.  This also gets white-lighter gourds for the same reason some of them refuse to use athames in ritual unless they can re-cast them as a kitchen knife and pull the teeth from the whole concept.

In fact, part of the reason I like it is because so many white-lighters hate it so much... the ahistoric, pearl-clutching fuckers who make claims that Witches they don't like are "Warlocks?"  They make it really appealing to be called a "Warlock," because the last thing I want to be is liked by somebody like that.

"Warlock" is also very masculine.  This is, in fact, one of the reasons (and a valid one at that) that some men reject this word... because they feel it is unnecessary gendering that separates Pagan women and men inappropriately.  I can understand that conceptually.  But for my own part, again, I am a masculine genderqueer person who is very focused on masculine mysteries work, and so the use of the term "Warlock" is--like I've said before--healing (it's the same reason I will always go to men's mysteries rituals when given a choice even with a non-gendered alternative available).  I like using terminology that is markedly masculine because that sort of terminology has been historically denied to me.  And I'd be fine if a woman wanted to call herself a Warlock, too, but for me, the general underlying masculinity of the term is a huge plus.

During my use of this word throughout the years, I developed a different reason to keep using it:  Using Warlock, I own that there are oaths that need to be broken.

I started thinking of this when I was reading Starhawk's "The Twelve Wild Swans."  There's a chapter in that book in which the wild swans--who were once twelve brothers--break a wicked oath they had made to kill the first girl they saw after becoming human.  And after that, I started noticing all sorts of great reasons to break oaths.
My own oaths were largely done by others on my behalf (as in the case of my infant baptism) or in the context of robotic mimicry (like the Pledge of Allegiance or one of the many other "pledges" I've been obligated to recite).  Am I bound by these "oaths" I made before I had the ability to understand them?  Christians of antiquity would have probably thought so.  Patriots today certainly think so.  Breaking those oaths is not just an option, but a right.  And a rite, come to think of it.  And my oaths were pathetic in comparison to other oaths that have been or should have been broken.

I think of my great grandma, who stayed with an abusive drunk of a partner her whole life, who smiled at his funeral, and how much happier she would have been if she would have gotten divorced.  When her son's wife divorced his ass, he whined and whined about how back in his mother's day marriage was forever.  But my aunt's decision to break that oath was probably one of the best damn decisions she ever made.  Leaving a cult is breaking an oath.  Being a whistleblower who exposes government abuses is oathbreaking.  I mean, Bruce Willis's character in Armageddon?  Fucking Warlock, and he saved the planet in doing so.

Again, I do not use "Warlock" as a generic term for male Witches.  I call male Witches "Witches," like other Pagans do.  But there are plenty of great reasons to use "Warlock" if that word speaks to you, so don't let some ill-educated Witch tell you otherwise.