Posts tagged ‘Charlie Glickman’

Why do we do what we do?

I got a post from one of my favorite bloggers today, Charlie Glickman.  It explores the reasons people have some of the more extreme physical interactions within their relationships that they do, certainly that we do in BDSM relationships.  He mentions many of the most common reasons, but there are some important ones that I wished to emphasize.

Certainly there are differences in personal taste and physiology.  Different people react to stimulation in different ways.  Things feel different to different people.  Particularly significant is that physical stimulation will feel different to the same people at different times and when they are in different states.  As Charlie says, sensation can feel vastly different when you are highly arroused than when you are just returning from the office.  Also many women go through vast changes in their reactions at different periods of their cycle.

Fear is another major factor.  People can get far more enjoyment from a fearful situation within a context of a negotiated and trusting relationship than an unwanted sexual encounter with a stranger.  As Charlie says, there can be a large “difference between riding on a roller coaster and being in car going downhill without brakes.”

Within a trusted BDSM relationship it also can be emotionally releasing to work through previously traumatic events in a context of loving care, support and competent guidance.  (Though I must add the caveat that while therapeutic moments can happen within a BDSM relationship, it is a risky endeavor and should be done only with kink friendly professional assistance.)

I definitely agree with Charlie that it can add to ones enjoyment when one feels they are “breaking the rules.”  I might say that “breaking rules” is a large attractor in the BDSM lifestyle.  We often pride ourselves in the thought that we structure our relationship outside of the norm.  It is also true, that attempting extreme behaviors just because it breaks the rules may be a way of discovering new enjoyments, but also may trigger a partner in ways you do not expect.

Charlie posted, “some people seek extreme experiences because they need a lot of sensation to overcome a tendency to check out or dissociate.”  While editorially that paragraph may have parts missing, I did want to comment.  In my time in the BDSM lifestyle, I have met people who receive pain in unique but personally helpful ways.  Two examples are using pain to stop the internal dialog.  We all tend to talk to ourselves in a dialog that confirms our view of the world and ourselves, sometimes quite negatively.  SadoMasochistic interactions can assist in slowing or quieting that dialog down, giving rest to the mind and allowing it to accept different viewpoints.

The other example is the use of pain to quiet pain.  I have met and interacted with two people who suffer strongly from fibromyalgia.  In our interactions we spoke at length about how the careful and negotiated pain from a Sadist would move their sensations away from and relieve their fibromyalgic pain for sometimes days at a time.  That was the reason they came to the BDSM world.

Lastly, I want to confirm Charlie’s final comments.  On the need for aftercare, it is often thought, particularly by people unfamiliar with SadoMasochistic play, that aftercare is primarily for the benefit of the person receiving the extreme sensation and that they are the ones most likely to fall into an emotional downturn or depression after extreme sensation.  That is often not the case.  Personally it is important to me, as the sadist, to received confirmation from my play partner that what I have done to them was understood as also for them, that they enjoyed it, that they wanted it.  Otherwise I am just a violent old man, hurting those I care about.  That is my aftercare.

Lastly, on “people who think that not wanting to do all that ‘wild, crazy stuff’ makes them or their partners boring in bed”.  Particularly in a BDSM relationship, it is vastly important to understand that the only people who should be concerned with the kind of behavior in which you engage in your relationship, are the people in that relationship.  Certainly it is important to check in with your partner as to whether or not they are satisfied or want to experiment, but if you are happy, and they are happy, why change what isn’t broken?  The only judgement you should accept are you and your partners’s.

Sex and sensation is an overwhelmingly powerful element in our lives.  An element that should be far more openly discussed within our relationships and within our society than it commonly is.  I am continually  pleased by blogs such as Charlie’s, and recommend his to all.

The Eroticist

Affirmative Consent, Saying Yes, and SB-967

One of my favorite bloggers, Charlie Glickman, wrote recently about  California Senate Bill 967, the bill supporting “Affirmative Consent”.  The bill has engendered the traditional range of pundit expressions from full support for our female students in peril to an interesting response in the Santa Barbara Independent that put “Young Men’s Rights in Peril” as a subheading.  It was interesting to me that it said little about young women’s rights but ended with the statement, “We urge the sons and the parents of sons in California to band together to defeat SB 967.”  Charlie brings forth a wide range of information that can assist in weeding ones way through the CNN type talking heads.

But on this blog I tend to talk about a more alternate form of sexual expression.  Obviously, it goes a bit beyond areas where questions like, “Can I kiss you?” and “Do you like my running my fingers around your nipple?” are the appropriate types.  When we are thinking of asking questions such as “Do you want me to cane you till you bleed?”, Do you want to taste your blood?”,  “How about trying some fire play?” or even something as relatively benign as, “Do you want to invite another into our bed?”, the principles of “Affirmative Consent” gain greater importance.

But I, and I think a great number of other people, were brought up feeling that it is not really polite to ask such questions right away.  (I think I have previously mentioned my original difficulty with Reid Mihalco’s Safer Sex Elevator Speech.)  Sex, particularly beginning sex for yourself, or with a new partner, was forced into being this strange dance where you would try something and see if she told her mother, or got you slapped.  Well, maybe people don’t slap that much these days, but there were a myriad of ways every good girl was taught to tell you Not to do what you were doing, even if they liked it.

Unfortunately, that also put young ladies in the position where they felt they had to say “no” to things they liked, and taught young men to keep pushing past the “No’s” because a lot of the time that pushing got us to a point where the “No’s” changed to “Yes’s”.  (Now what did that teach us?)  It taught us not to listen to the “No’s”.  It also left us in a place where we sincerely did not know how to handle a “Yes”.  A young lady who said “Yes”, by word or deed was obviously Not a “Good” girl.  If she was not a “good” girl, then somehow she did not deserve respect.  (I have to say, for me, the dance was fun.  I greatly enjoyed discovering how to manage the path.)

I often wonder whether or not it would have been as fun if sex was taught as a decision we could take, intelligently, with open communication and expressions of our own desire and comfort, as it is for me now.  While I do not think it would result in less heartbreak, that is certainly a part of learning who you are, I do believe that it would result in far less injury and damage, intimidation and fear, both physical and emotional.  If it is a choice, a choice for me, a choice for you, then possibly it is easier to accept a No without feeling shamed and undesirable.

But again, when it comes to what it is that we do, “Affirmative Consent” is not only mandatory, but an item of safety and personal affirmation.  It would be a rare person these days who has not seen the rush to judgement by society and news organizations represented most easily by several players currently in, or possibly just out, of the NFL.  While this current blog is not the place for me to discuss my opinions on the differing behavior displayed, it is worthy to point out that there are strong opinions on the subject of violence against women and domestic violence no matter what the level of stated consent.  It is quite possible that the opinion of a consenting masochist can easily be ignored or discounted in a legal or criminal context as “what is usual in battered partners.”

Bringing this whole thing down to my own personal experience, I am lucky enough to have a partner who is a delightfully strong sexual masochist.  By that I mean that affectionate applications of seriously severe pain result in a strong and lustfull sexual response.  (Be still my heart.)  However, no matter the response, it is necessary for me to hear, repeatedly and clearly,  affirmations that what I do to her continues to be, even in after thought days later, desirable, enjoyable and affirming to her.  I need to hear that, otherwise it is far to easy to feel I may be slipping into an area where what I am doing is intimidating to the point where she can no longer express her dislike.

Sigh, so what is the point of all of this?  I tend to go to the honey.  You tell me that you really like what I am doing, I will continue it, and explore other ways to get the same response.  So tell me.  Tell me repeatedly through word and deed.

Ask what your partner wants.  Hearing, “I want you to…” can be a very affirmative consent, and when what your partner wants is to be tied and whipped until they scream, “Fuck Me” that affirmative consent can be very comforting.

The Eroticist