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A “Serious” Subject

I have been thinking recently about the seriousness of the activities we do.  Being a Sadist, I engage in activities which should definitely be taken seriously.  I purposely cause severe levels of sensation to people who are often bound in such a way as to be effectively helpless, and often do not have complete knowledge as to what is going to happen to them or how they are going to react to it.  (Comments welcome on that one.)  In other words, I do have their well being, even their life in my hands.  This is serious stuff.

Within a relationship, I am asked to make decisions or advise people in areas which can have a profound effect on how they live their lives.  This involves serious levels of responsibility.

But as I sit here, sticking out my tongue to gather in the last bits of breakfast muffin cinnamon crumbles off of my plate, I think of all the people I have met who take their position as a Dominant and respected member of the BDSM community so Damn SERIOUSLY.  We wear our uniforms, each article of which can be looked upon as awards from awe struck submissives, boots (with there mandatory yellow stitching around the sole), leather pants, belt, vest, and the most serious of all, the cover, the hat, the brim of which is never to be touched by human hand.

We are to be addressed with a plethora of honorifics, from the simple, “Sir, yes, Sir” all the way up to “As is your wish, my Lord and Master” and beyond.  There are rules of behavior, dress and speech which can make your head spin, and seem to far surpass those required by the less serious “Vanillas”.  (This gives rise to the newbee’s oft requested rule book, of which there is none.)

And yet, in my humble opinion, while this is all well and good (and I do mean that.  This is all behavior chosen and accepted by those who wish to engage in it, much like any club requirements) what is forgotten is that there is truly little serious difference between all this and dressing up for a Halloween party, or knocking three times and saying “Pumbernickle” to get into the tree house.

What is often forgotten is that while it is necessary to take the responsibility of what we do seriously, it is to our detriment to take ourselves so seriously.  We are people, after all.  Each with unique gifts and abilities which we are blessed to be able to share with others.  The manor and style with which we do so is decided by those gifts and abilities and the enviable facility to find joy in what we do.

That is the point, after all.  To share with one another and to find joy in how we do it.  Be that in taking on most “Serious” roles and discovering interesting interactions between mine and yours, or just sitting quietly with a loved one and commenting on the world around you.  “Oh SIR, did you see what they were wearing?”

The Eroticist

Communication

Most people here know I tend to emphasize communication as a beneficial art form.  While I do tend to feel that it is valuable in ALL relationships, I think that it is a requirement in a D/s or M/s relationship.

It is important that there is an understanding of significant words.  What is it that a person means by the words that they use?  What is service?  What is Dominance?  What is submission?  What is loyalty, honor, control?  Each of these things have strong meanings to us, but MY meanings may not translate into the same behavior as YOUR meanings.  Discussions of words of significance can be of great value in preventing future misunderstandings.

Words are not the only area worthy of discussion.  I often tell the story of my parents, one who was brought up knowing that stockings hung at Christmas was for the small presents, and the tree was for large presents.  The other was raised knowing that presents under the tree were from people we knew as expressions of affection, but the presents in the stocking were from Santa for the GOOD little boys and girls.  Well, everything went well until the first Christmas when there WERE no small presents.  Discussions of protocols and ceremonies can be as important as discussions of words.

Communication is a bi-directional path.  In an excellent book by Lily Lloyd, “Discipline:  Adding Rules and Discipline to your BDSM Relationship” she speaks about the necessity for a submissive to follow the First Rule, to be “truthful, forthcoming and obedient.”  While it seems simple and necessary to be truthful, to answer questions honestly and be open with ones feelings, expectations and emotions, I have seen a large number of submissive types hesitate about being forthcoming.

It is not enough to be willing to answer questions asked in an honest and open way.  It is ALSO necessary to offer information that may NOT be asked.  It is quite possible that I do not have enough information to ask the right questions.  While I will try to be sensitive enough to ask if I noticed an unexpected reaction to anything going on, I may not notice, and it is the s-types obligation to keep me informed so that I can make the right decisions.  But the important part of all of that is that a submissive must feel free to independently offer information, and for that to happen the D-type has to structure the relationship so as to allow it.  Yes, there are times when I will say, “Not NOW.”  But the obligation then is on me to say when, or to make a point later to say, “Now, what is it you wanted to tell me?”  While it may be very polite and beneficial for my lovely submissive to say, “Sir, when would be a pleasing time for me to inform you of something important?” as a way of reminding me.  If it comes to that, I am not doing my job.

So, be truthful and be forthcoming.  Give information, even if not specifically asked.  I strongly believe that it is beneficial for the relationship as a whole for the D-type to know what pleases the s-type.  Yes, I like a happy sub.  Yes, I like a woman to be making a great range of lovely verbal coital responses.  It gets me off.  And in order to experience that kind of thing, it is necessary to know what kinds of things work on her.   It is here obligation to tell me.  It is my obligation to make sure that the decisions remain mine.

If, as I believe most D/s relationship are, it is a chosen structure for one person to make the decisions, the only way for that to happen is to have all the information possible.  (“Just the facts, Ma’am” for those as ancient as I.)  There is no reason for an s-type to believe that withholding their opinions, feelings, difficulties, desires, passions, wants, and perceived needs is beneficial to the relationship in any way.  What they should believe is that providing information is not making a decision.  I is providing a service for their Dominant so they can make an informed decision.

There is much talk about the dreaded  “Topping from the bottom” (discussions here, here and from my friend Clarise Thorne [whose name I can never hear except in the voice of Hannibal Lecter] here).  TftB is usually thought of as the s-type structuring a scene or aspects of the relationship by manipulating their D-type.  The reason, in my mind, that it is something to be avoided is not that I am being told what my s-type wants or desires or gets them squirting hot, it is that there is some attempt to manipulate me, to take the decision to themselves.  While it is an important subject, and worthy of another bolg.  The issue is not the forthcoming of information, it is the manipulation.

The Eroticist

How can we help?

I am often asked to talk about the differences between the Kink community and what we euphemistically call the Vanilla world.  Obviously there are the behavioral differences, the clubs we attend where we engage in semi-public BDSM play, the dress, the ubiquitous black leather, the use of toys, the play with pain among many others.  There is the relationship structures and power or authority exchanges which are central to the Dominant and submissive or Master/slave relationships (and many other, I do not mean to be exclusive).  These are all choices to partake in certain behaviors in which we engage for our own enjoyment which are beneficial to us, but may not be activities or behaviors chosen by and for the broader community.

However, there are many behaviors which a large proportion of us engage that I think deserve a close examination by the “Vanilla’s” because of their positive effects on any relationship.

1. We examine what we do.

I have never been in any community, other than an academic one, where education is so highly valued and widely available.  In a large city there is usually a choice of lectures or demonstrations to attend every week on a variety of subjects.  There are a huge number of books available, and more coming out every day. (see my Sites and Books of Interest page for many.)

While there is probably a far greater number of volumes and possibly an equal number of lectures on how to have a successful committed relationship, what I do not see is that the broader society in general particularly cares about learning how to carry on a successful committed relationship.  It is just a given.  You grow up, find a mate, get married and have kids.  How many of us have grown up through our education process and found even one class on how to relate successfully to other people?

We seek education in how to please.

If you want to know how to sexually please your partner, and yes, even the most conservative community (well, possibly excepting some) would admit that sexually pleasing your committed partner (ahem, within a politically and religiously sanctioned relationship structure) is something that might benefit the longevity of that relationship, you might wish to look into the wide variety of classes available in the kink community.  We actually study the biological structure of the human body and look into what can be done safely to enhance physical pleasure.

We seek education in how to communicate and negotiate.

All sorts of relationships, domestic and commercial, require some sort of negotiation, from the preparation of contracts to how to best raise your kids.  While there are many volumes available and I would hope classes available in any sort of business track (not my educational path), we are one of the few communities of which I am aware where open communication of each persons desires and structured and clear communication and negotiation of those desires is close to being required before any play or relationship can be contemplated.

How many of the couples you know, including your own parents, have had a discussion about the kind of sex they like, health concerns, and detailed talks about the kind of relationship they envision before they got married?  How many make part of their relationship a repeated time each week, or each day, to talk about differences that have come up and concerns raised?  I suspect few.

We seek education on how to resolve conflicts.

Obviously, any relationship structure that is outside of the norm can create conflicts and the need for resolution strategies peculiar to the relationship.  It is difficult for a Master and slave to go to marriage counseling where they are told, “Well, all that is fine, but in here, that role playing should be dropped.”  If it is the basis of the relationship, as it was most eloquently expressed by Master Obsidian and slave Namaste, that just don’t work.  So new ways of resolution had to be created.

How many couples do you know, married or not, who have sought out understanding of the uniqueness of their particular relationship and struggled with ways to resolve the distinctive problems that come up between them?  Are they concerned with what are the best ways to communicate so the other can hear you, and you know they can hear you, are the meanings of the words you use clear to the other, or do they put different meanings on the same words, how do you find out what the actual problem might be, rather than just the trigger that is currently being presented?  Each of these things are valuable for any form of relationship.

We seek opportunities to confirm our relationships.

Actually, I tend to feel that this is the most important.  We hear about couples getting married a second time, not after a separation, but as a re-confirmation of their vows and promises to each other.  Often it happens after many years of marriage after understandings and changes have grown and it is good to make that public commitment reflecting those changes and growth.

Last night I was pleased to participate in Dr. Bob Rubel and his partner Jen’s webinar.  It is a lovely dinner engagement where the conversation is on a wide variety of Kink and BDSM subjects, sometimes alone, sometimes with a video guest.  Last night the primary discussion was on “Do you use any kind of re-commitment ceremony? If yes, what do you do and why do you do it?”

The ceremonies discussed were short, usually very simple, but repeated, once a day or at each time the partners came together again after a parting.  What kind of effect would there be on your relationship if every time you woke you each took the moment to stare into each other’s eyes and whisper, “I am your husband and partner, and I love you from my heart.  That will carry us through.”, “I am your wife and partner, and I love you from my heart.  That will carry us through.”  Each and every day, even through the roughest times, even if you can not see yourself feeling it, but you say it, you keep to that moment to reconfirm.  That will carry you through…or at least do a lot to help.

I know a couple who has a place in their home where, in times of discord, they reconfirm their relationship by going to that place and sitting, he in the chair, and her on the floor with her head on his lap as he pets her hair.  True, perhaps at times the intentions are not easily felt, but the actions help to confirm, to remind them of what was the original promise.

While I am currently partnerless, I look to an eventual M/s relationship where each time we come together after a parting, even if the parting was only for a few hours, even in a public place with vanilla company, we take that moment to embrace, and whisper words of reconfirmation, “I am here, my Master, to serve and please you, with body, mind and heart.”, “I am here, my slave, to serve and protect you, with body, mind and heart.”

I do not believe that relationships can be of the “Set it and Forget it” type, and I have deep regrets that I did not learn all of this before I discovered the communities in which I now reside.

The Eroticist

Good Wishes and Culinary Eroticism

The Holidays are here and for most of us there will be a great deal of happy feasting ahead in the next few weeks.  Good food and good company, be it a broad collection of family and friends or one or two particularly close and interesting new friends with whom you have spent a most enjoyable evening through to morning, makes for a warm and comforting atmosphere, an integral ingredient for eroticism, in my opinion.

Saturday was an interesting night for me.  I am an actor by trade and my favorite role is that of Charles Dickens most popular character, Ebenezer Scrooge.  After the performance, and quite exhausted, I was welcomed at the home of my oldest, and the following morning I was taken off to their recent discovery, The Original Pancake House in Redondo Beach.  While the time should not be labeled erotic, it was a moment between close friends and I wanted to mention it for those people in that area of Southern California who wake, or at least get out of bed after a, ahem, strenuous evening, and wish to have a truly delightful breakfast.

We were served by Rocky, a charming, but no nonsense woman who knew exactly what she was doing and appeared with refills and any other side requests we mentioned quickly, accurately and with an open conversational comment.  A waitress who knew what service was all about, something thing that pleases me greatly, as you know.

The food was outstanding, but I do warn you, if you go there alone, be prepared to take some home, or share if you there are more of you.  The portions are large.  It ranges from standard breakfast fare to more complex pancakes, crepes, Dutch Baby’s and egg specialties.  The potato pancakes were just excellent and served with applesauce and clotted cream.

It is a chain, by the way, with many locations throughout the country, so if you want a super breakfast, look them up.  The one I attended did not serve dinner, but I do not know about the chain as a whole.

I do not mean for this to be a food blog, but at this time of year, good company and good food seem to go together.  An early moment of food and joy before parting for the day can be a very special time.  Special company deserves special times and special food can certainly make the moment.

I will be off to spend Christmas with my youngest son in Austin, Texas this year, so I will not be writing here until 2013.  While I could do it on my Droid, I fear my thumbs could not take it.  So I wish you all, great happiness, lives of loving kindness, courage to withstand the trials of life with an open heart, eyes to find the beauty that constantly surrounds us, and the wisdom to give that which all of us have in abundance, our own love.  Happy Holidays.

The Eroticist

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog is familiar with Reid Mihalko‘s Elevator Speech.  (Yes, there are three links there, though the last one is down through December 14th, 2012.  At least that is what it said on December 13th.)  It is a lovely, though socially bold way of presenting yourself as a sexually knowledgeable gentleman or lady who is interested in a relationship with the receiver of the speech.  Do NOT forget the last step.  To my mind it is the most important.

But part of this speech is informing your prospective partner about your testing history and the results and let’s face it, there would be no point in testing if everyone passed.  So what do you do if there is some questionable result in your STI tests.  Well then what do I do, dear reader, but point you to another of my favorite bloggers, Charlie Glickman.

I was most pleased by his comment to avoid the feeling you need to apologize.  Getting an infection is just that, getting an infection.  The social stigma that comes along with it being sexually transmitted comes from the society in which we live, not from the infection.  We can work to be less manipulated by that.  Would you feel socially traumatized by getting strep throat?  Probably not, but it would also be polite to tell people you kissed recently that they should watch for symptoms and possibly see a medical professional.

Charlie’s blog is great advice in how to behave responsibly if any of your tests come up positive.

The Eroticist

 

Abuse Causes SadoMasochism?

All through my exploration of the BDSM lifestyle, my Dominance, and my sexual Sadism, I have heard well reasoned reports, some from well respected scientific journals, about the causal association between early physical and sexual abuse and a later interest in Sadomasochism.  Everyone around me, until I found a community, confirmed that Sadomasochistic behavior was so twisted and destructively perverse that it must have come from some traumatic event, for it could not be a desire born naturally into anyone other than a psychopath.

In discussion groups held through BDSM communities to which I began to belong I heard an inordinately large number of reports of early abusive relationships and met people who talked painfully of going from one abusive relationship to another before finding a BDSM community where they were able to experience their desires and needs in a safe and caring relationship. The message was so clear that I began to search through my memories to try to find instances of abuse in my early life which might have caused my interest and enjoyment in sexual Sadism.

Well, as anyone who has looked into the Salem Witch Trials can tell you, if you are convinced that something is there, you will tend to find it, and I did.  But the memories seemed so tenuous and questionable that I felt very uncomfortable accepting them. Then I saw a study that seemed to say that there is little difference between those who identify with interest in the BDSM lifestyle and those in the general population, not only in general socioeconomic criteria but in history of abuse.  While I would love to see further study, this did not explain to me the high number of reports I heard among people in my local communities of early abuse.

Before I continue, I would like to state, with homage to Robert Young, that I am not a therapeutic professional, though I have played one one TV.  What happened was that I began to question the assumptions of the early messages I heard stating that any interest in Sadomasochism must have come from abuse for it could not be a naturally occurring interest.  I began to wonder what would it mean if these desires, on either side of the relationship, were naturally occurring interests, and what would happen to someone who had those interests but were raised in a society where the interests and desires were so unacceptable that they could not be explored nor even acknowledged?

Well, I suggest that each person would be naturally drawn to someone of the opposite inclination, sadist to masochist, masochist to sadist.  I further suggest that if that coupling occurs between people who have strong desires in their (dare I say) God given direction, but with no training in how to experience them safely, adding to that an environment of shame and possible self condemnation, that combination could make for a volatile and possibly abusive relationship.

[I feel I must say at this point that abuse does occur, both inside and outside of sadomasochistic relationships.  I am not trying to redefine it, explain it nor excuse it.  No matter what the cause, abuse is inexcusable and should be something that requires immediate therapeutic care.]

Does this explain the number of stories I have heard, the tales of coming from an abusive background?  Not necessarily.  As I say, I am not a therapeutic professional, nor a sociological statistician.  But it does answer some questions for me and so, until something better comes along, I will tend to go with it.

I do believe that you can be a born sadist or a born masochist.  But I also believe that in the complex world of human sexuality and interpersonal relationships, no matter what your inclination, SM or not, it is wise to get a great deal of competent sexual education, something unfortunately very difficult to find in this society.  I also believe that it is possible to have a deeply sadomasochistic relationship that is at the same time joyous, fun, affirming, healthy, and physically safe and enjoyable.  You just have to learn how to do it.  What I do not believe is that SM is inherently abusive.  So, as Sergeant Phil Esterhause used to say, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

The Eroticist

There is an excellent post by one of my favorite bloggers, Clarisse Thorn which seems to fit here.  She is truly so much better a writer that I.

I Know What You Should Do

Dominant’s, Master’s, those people that submissives turn to for instructions, for guidance, for caring direction in their lives, we take on the responsibility for the care of our partners, for their physical and mental health and spiritual growth.  We take on this responsibility for the maintenance of our relationship for our own pleasure and the pleasure of our partners and assume this mantle because we know what you should do.  We Know What You Should Do.

That is why I was so pleased by seeing this blog by Seth Godin today.  If you know him, his aim is usually business oriented, but this definitely rings true for me and my relationships.  I linked to the site, but what follows is the blog in its entirety.

I know what you should do

Actually, I don’t.

I know what I would do in this situation, but I’m not you.

I know what your customer should do, but I’m not her.

I know (and you know, and we all know) what we would do in a given situation, but that’s not the same thing.

Empathy requires something extremely difficult: accepting the fact that we are not and never will be in the other person’s shoes. There’s no rational, universal course because individuals have different goals, different worldviews and different experiences.

Empathy is extremely important when directing another.  What is good for me is not necessarily good for another, and my pleasure, while important, should never be the primary motivating force.  You see, being a Master is really about service.

While many people come into scene life because they are looking for a place where all their needs and desires can be easily met, through long experience I can tell all on the Dominant side of the equation, as much as it pains me to say it, and possibly pains you to hear it, but it is not all about you.

The Eroticist