Category Archives: question

Control Triptych: Voice

Three Layers of Control: Touch, Voice, Glance

This is the second part in a three part series.  When I am training a new submissive, I rely on three of the five senses to keep her where I want her.  My first piece on Touch was just previous to this and you may or may not wish to read that before continuing with this.

 

Voice: a (slightly) more subtle approach to the same.

Since I started off talking about senses, I suppose it makes more sense to say that I really mean ‘sound’ when I say ‘voice’ here – but since I don’t use a training whistle, clicker, or anything like that, sound almost always means my voice.  There are some Dominants who do use clickers or whistles or the like, so some of those same concepts probably apply here, but since that is outside of the scope of my experience, this is the only mention I will make of them.

I have three distinct voices that I use with submissives and trainees:

Normal voice:  This is just the voice that I use under normal circumstances – both vanilla and kinky.  I’m told that I have a very soothing voice and that it carries, so I rarely have reason to modify this in normal circumstances.  In normal voice, it is important to pay attention to what I am saying as well as how I am saying it.  This is the voice that I will use to tell you that you are a good girl, but also the voice that I will use when I lean in close beside you and tell you that I’m going to use you until I’m exhausted.  It carries the most variability of intonation and generally the most information, but there is subtlety here that can sometimes be missed, so it is not ideal for situations where more control is required.

Command voice:  This is the voice that I use when I want you to do what I am telling you.  It does not mean that I’m angry with you, but that is how it is most often interpreted at first… I drop my voice by about an octave and a half, so not only is the tone different, but the pitch is as well.  It’s an obvious difference and it follows a convention held by much of society – even in different cultures, I’ve found.  I’ve been told by vanilla friends that this is my ‘serious’ voice or even my “don’t fuck with me” voice.  The timbre won’t change, but I often vary the volume with which I speak in this voice.  It carries very far and I don’t always want to broadcast my intentions.  In this voice it is much more important to pay attention to the content of what I am telling you rather than look for subtlety of meaning.

Crisis voice:  This is the voice that I use when I need to be paid attention to right now – usually for reasons of safety.  The tone is similar to my command voice, but it’s about half an octave higher, so it’s similar in pitch to my normal voice, just a bit deeper and definitely much, much louder, just under a yell.  This is the voice that I will use when you are near to harming yourself, or someone or something else is about to impede upon your physical space, things like that.  This is my, “watch out!” voice.  If I want, I can put a lot of power behind this.  In this voice, there is never any implied subtlety at all – the only important thing is the information that I need you understand and likely act upon right now.

Of course, I can also whisper and use other vocal intonations, but generally those are embellishments on one of the above – things that I can use to subtly change the meaning of the words that I am using, or to impart a particular idea.  I can whisper in Command voice, for example, and sometimes I’m just an asshole and I’ll lower my vocal volume of my Normal voice in an effort to cause someone (not always my sub/trainee) to move closer to me or to pay closer attention to what I’m saying.

Even without me explaining these things, trainees under my care usually come to understand them pretty quickly.  I use facial expression, body language, and sometimes just plain brute force to reinforce the things that I say with my voice and establish a pattern pretty quickly.  It’s difficult to train anyone to do anything without explaining what it is that you want done, and voice is generally the way that I accomplish that – at least in person – and while long distance D/s is something that I have some experience with and am learning much more about as I do it every day, the spoken word has power even in situations like this.  Written text in an email or text message can be extremely descriptive and more detailed than most people can maintain patience for in person, in voice, but the voice, facial expressions, and body language that you can experience in person is a lot more powerful – even more powerful in person than over media like Skype.

More often than not, the things that I will do with my voice are explained by the content of what I am saying when I say it.  For instance, if I say, “bunny, go sit on that chair and hold it for me,” what I mean is literally that I want her to go sit in the chair I indicated and wait for me – it’s not rocket science.  However, sometimes I will use commands that are not obvious, but that actually require training.

I stole this wholesale from Stranger in a Strange Land – one of my favorite books of all time – but on occasion I’ll just blurt out,  “Front!” and I expect my submissive to immediately walk to me, stand in front of me, facing me, place her hands on her lower abdomen with the palms facing her, one over the other, look me in eye briefly and say, “yes, Sir?” and then lower her eyes.  This is not exactly what happens in the book.  In the book, the character who says this is not a Dom – at least not in the overt sense, and not in the typical sense either.  He has three women who serve as his assistants, keeping his books, taking dictation, cooking his meals, etc. – all of the things that one would normally expect of a service submissive, but not any of the physical or sexual aspects of that service.  It’s entirely possible that this novel helped to contribute to my ideals of what a submissive should be like – for me – but I first read it at such a young age and it provided the backdrop to a different phase of my life.  The character in the book, Jubal Harshaw, expects one of his three assistants – on a rotating schedule – to run to him with a notebook and a pen and ready to take notes or instructions when he calls Front.  My requirements are somewhat different and tuned to my own needs, but the call is still similar.

When I say, “present” I expect my submissive to stand in front of me, legs shoulder width apart, hands with fingers interlaced together behind her head, elbows up, head up straight, and chest out.  As with any other command, I expect some sort of verbal acknowledgement as well – a, “yes, Sir” is sufficient.

When I say, “kneel” I expect my submissive to present herself before me as above, and then to drop the her knees in front of me, put her legs and knees together, sit on her feet, put her hands behind her back, palms out, and then after meeting my eyes and acknowledging my command, look at her own navel.  For competition, I’ll have her make a diamond figure with her hands, thumbs out and touching, forefingers touching, and to do all of that silently, but in more common usage, I’m not normally going to walk around behind her to inspect that anyway.  

When I say, “expose” I expect my submissive to be in the kneeling position above or work her way into it through the “present” and “kneel” poses, but to spread her legs out so that her calves are at shoulder-width and straight back behind her, toes pointed back away from her, and then to lock her fingers together and put them behind her head as with the “present” position above.  I expect her to hold her head high and meet my gaze or that of anyone else who happens to be watching nearby.  For competition, this is modified again so that the knees are further apart and the calves need not be so far apart behind her – toes still pointed but without overlapping the feet.

When I say, “move to position,” I expect my submissive to be in kneeling position or to move to it by moving through ‘present’ and ‘kneel’ and then to change the placement of her hands so that her hands are open, palms covering the front of her knees.  Unless she has very long arms, this will result in her leaning slightly forward.  I want her to crane her neck a bit to look up at me, acknowledge my command with a “yes, Sir” or similar, and then to drop her eyes and stare at her own navel, awaiting further command.  I used to call this “position one” but found that numbering positions was a bit more difficult to remember than naming them, so this is merely ‘position’ now.

When I say, “hands and knees” I expect my submissive to drop to her knees, lean forward, keep her legs at hip-width directly beneath her, calves straight back, and toes pointed back behind her.  I expect her to place her hands flat on the surface in front of her, whether that is the floor, bed, couch, whatever.  I expect her to hold her fingers together with the exception of her thumbs, which I want out at a 90 degree angle.  Her fingers should point directly in front of her and her thumbs should point at each other.  I expect her to look up, craning her neck if needed, acknowledge my command, and then drop her head so that her chin rests on her chest and she’s looking back between her own legs.

In private, these are often all that I will say – there is no need to further qualify who I am talking to or about, but in public spaces or even in private places where there are other people about, I will usually modify the above to include a name, but sometimes I expect to be understood anyway.

As an example: in a public dungeon, I might say, “bunny, kneel” and I’ll expect bunny to come over and kneel in front of me, but “Front!” is a special command and I always expect my submissive or submissives – if I’m carrying more than one – to respond, lining up side-by-side in front of me if needed.

There are other commands that I sometimes use as well, as well as some other positions that are specifically for competition, and these are probably what earned me the reputation of being a ‘High Protocol’ Dom, but I’m not convinced that is factual.  I have also become even more lax with protocol as I’ve aged.  I’m a lot more tolerant of ambiguity than I once was, and I’ve worked with submissives in the recent past without using any of these commands – positions are not as important to me as they once were, and in most situations I will just explicitly say what I want, making a need to memorize commands like the above unnecessary.

There is definitely something to be said for having someone instantly react to simple or single word commands though.  It is certainly one of my favorite things, especially when chained together with other more explicit commands.

For instance, ‘kneel’ is often followed by something quite like, “Look at me.  Now reach up and undo my belt…” which, as you can probably imagine, is not where things are meant to end, but often an over-eager submissive in this position will take it as license to do more.  Without an additional command, I would expect her to acknowledge my command with a “yes, Sir,” do as I’ve said – undoing my belt – but to then return her hands behind her back and await further instruction.  

Sometimes I will chain these with other indicators as well.  For instance, “hands and knees – on the bed,” is often a command I might give, in Command voice, to let her know that things are serious and that she needs to respond with vigor.  It lets her know that I want her in the ‘hands and knees’ position, but that I want her on the bed, not necessarily where she is now, which is likely to be standing on the floor.  

It is really not possible to over-communicate, so I’ll often add modifiers like these even when they’re not necessary.  I am not the kind of Dominant to often try to trap my submissive with a command that she cannot easily fulfill – I like to enable success – but I have done so in the past and will likely do so again from time to time in the future.  It is a playful way to push her into a place where she knows that punishment is likely to come, but there is a big difference between playful punishment and correction.  Perhaps that should be the topic of a new post sometime soon, but I still have one more to go in this series before it’s complete.

Next week I will talk about the final means of control – glances.  This is the ultimate level of control in a D/s setting in my opinion.  I like my submissives to learn to anticipate and provide for my needs, but that is not the same thing as control.  I also like my submissives to be autonomous and have their own opinions and ideas, so I have no desire to completely stifle that, but the ability to produce an action or change a behavior with nothing more than a pointed look is the pinnacle of D/s communication and control – in my not-so-very-humble opinion.

I hope this was informative, helpful, and perhaps even a bit titillating.  Come back next week for the final piece in this trilogy and then I’ll give you a story of my own experiences in learning these things at the hand of my brutal and affectionate – if not compassionate – Domme Simone when I was but a young pup myself.

  • Rant

Stealthing – just what the fuck is this nonsense?

I remember first reading about this on fetlife about a month ago and thinking – that can’t possibly be real, can it?

Just now, I saw an article about it on NBC’s website.

Seriously, what the holy fuck is this nonsense?

Stealthing, in case you haven’t heard about it yet, refers to the act of removing a condom from your dick before you have sex with someone who agreed to have sex with you – with the expectation that you’d be wearing one.

Not only is this completely asinine from a health perspective, deeply disrespectful, and an act of destructive violence against your partner, but since most of the victims of this tend to be women, it is yet another layer of misogynistic bullshit that is being built up by this disgusting culture of selfishness and brutality that is percolating up from the dark hearts of people who look like me and who have had it far too easy for far too long.

I don’t cuss a great deal in my normal life, and I do so even less in print, but seriously, people, what the holy flying fuck is this nonsense?

We finally have a culture – after the oppressive AIDS-scare years of my youth and the puritanical family-first bullshit that followed – we finally now have a culture where sex is beginning to become less a thing of shame and more a thing of connection and joy – like it always should have been – and you assholes are ruining it for everyone.

Cut it the fuck out.

Sex without a condom feels better, sure, but it’s a lot riskier than sex without one for men and it’s orders of magnitude riskier for women – whether they are using a secondary form of birth control or not.

Unwanted pregnancy is probably one of the most horrible things that can happen to a woman.  There are no good choices to get yourself out of that situation, and as a man – you can, and most do, simply walk away and forget about it.  Nevermind the lives that you are ruining – and it won’t just be the mother’s life that you ruin.  Her friends will share her pain, and if she decides to abort, she will have to live with that decision for the rest of her life – and while I have known a few women to get the procedure, I have never known anyone who felt like it was a good thing to have experienced.

The reasons that I have seen some of these pigs give for why they do this are just plain ignorant if not downright chilling.

“It feels better without one.”  Well, yeah, of course it does, but that is the most profoundly selfish thing that I have heard in a long time.

“It’s degrading for the woman, and I like to degrade her – she even likes being degraded.”  Okay.. I’m not really sure how you’re managing to get her to feel degraded for your poor choices and untrustworthiness, but even if that were a valid reason (hint: it’s not) – THAT is not the way to bring degradation into your sex life.  That’s a good way to cause serious harm to you both – and to the other people in your lives.

“It’s not illegal – she already consented to sex.”  Yes, she consented to sex, and yes, it may not yet be illegal, but it only takes one judge to decide that it is and it will be covered under other forms of sexual assault and then you’re going to end up in the national sex offender database… but even if that were not the case, what an idiotic reason to do something?!?  The law is there to protect people from others who would take advantage of them or would act recklessly with the lives and property of others.  There are lots of things that are not illegal but that are still pretty stupid, but this has got to be near the top of that list.  I do things that are both illegal and legal all of the time, but I draw the line at doing things which are immoral – and this is most definitely immoral.

Consent is one of the pillars of our community, but it’s also a foundation for trust, and trust is a required element of any relationship, kinky or not – long term, short term, even just a one-night-stand.

So, just cut this shit out.  It doesn’t make you a big man – it makes you a coward.  Shit.. even the term that people who are perpetrating this bullshit use to refer to it – ‘stealthing’ – is a cowardly term.  It already implies that you are being deceitful.

Don’t be a deceitful coward.  If you are fluid locked with your partner and using another method of birth control and talk about it together – then by all means, don’t use condoms.  But everyone else – you really should be, for your own sake, not just hers.

Don’t be a fucking moron.  Keep the condom on.

I should not have to be telling you this.

  • Rant

FinDommes

The nature of Dominance is not always an obvious thing – even to me.

Preface: This is a post that I started and didn’t finish from about two months ago.  The information is still valid, but the email that I reference is pretty old at this point.  Caveat lector.

I recently received an email from a very intelligent reader who did not specify his gender, so I apologize if my use of male pronouns is inappropriate, but I’m going to continue to refer to this reader as ‘him’ for expediency’s sake.

He asks me, “Is this FinDomme for real? I’m really thinking about this and I don’t know how to stop myself.  Is this for real?  What should I do?”

I’m not really sure how to respond to such a request.  I can’t claim that I didn’t know that financial Domination was a kink for some people, but I’m not sure that I can bring myself to endorse it.

I know that “your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay” is a huge part of the open philosophy that I love about the kink community so much, but this may be one case where I have to reserve my views.

I’m not sure that I think that financial Dominance – especially in the form being peddled by the young lady in the link that I won’t echo here – is okay.  I don’t judge her.  She is extremely honest about what she intends to do.  She explicitly states that she wants someone – very clearly intended to be a wealthy older male figure – to give her total financial control of his life, and that once she has this, she intends to completely ruin him.  There is a great deal of camouflaged language that follows which seems to indicate that this financial control would also entitle one to sexual favors, but even that is very clearly secondary to the stated and intended purpose of financial ruin and humiliation.

I have been involved at some level in the kink world for almost two decades and learned that there is quite literally a kink for everything and that there is always, always, someone who will subscribe enthusiastically to that kink, and yet, even after all of the things I have experienced or seen, I have a really hard time believing that there is someone out there who wants to be financially ruined like this person is advertising, and like one of my readers is considering.

My problem – and it may just be a personal problem for me – is that I can’t see how this is a good thing for the person being Dominated.

D/s relationships are, by their very nature, stilted.  They’re not equitable.  They’re not equal partnerships, and they’re not intended to be, but there is still some level of balance.

One can, and probably should, argue that every true TPE relationship is a financial Domination, and that might be true. but there is a huge difference between controlling something and destroying something.

My own personal philosophy, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that I always try to leave every interaction I have with people such that they are in some way better than they were when I first found them.  I’m human, and I don’t always succeed in this.  I’m sure some of my former friends and exes would probably start fuming if they were to read this, but I actually do try to do the best I can in this regard.  I value friendship highly, and I try to always help and support my friends, but D/s takes this even further.

I regret to say that I cannot, with absolute certainty, claim that every submissive that has been under my thumb left our interactions in a better state than she began them, but I do know that I’ve done more good than harm, and I’ve tried to ameliorate any issues of which I am aware and able.

I do have remain friends with some of my exes and some of my former subs, so I know that I’ve managed to keep things positive at least most of the time.

So – with that in mind – I cannot see how this could possibly be a good thing for at least one of the participants in this arrangement.

If you go over things with a fine enough resolution, you can probably find something that is being satisfied by such a relationship, and if you have an itch that needs scratching, you could say that finding someone to scratch it for you is a good thing, but again, I have to think about the relative magnitudes of these things.  While my reader may be getting some deep seated psychological need fulfilled – temporarily – by this sort of arrangement, the implied consequences are far from temporary.

Bankruptcy is a horrible thing.

Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to go through it, but I have been destitute at one time, and while I do not necessarily believe that it is required for us to have material possessions to be happy, I do believe that having our primary survival needs met is absolutely critical to our wellbeing, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.   In the society that I live in, not having access to any money at all would be a severe impediment to at least two of these needs – food and shelter.

I can see how a relationship where the Dominant partner controls all aspects of the submissive partner’s finances would be appealing.  In fact, I’ve been in such relationships myself, on both sides of that particular coin, and I don’t believe that the experience was damaging to any party involved, but this particular situation differs a bit.  The FinDomme in question is not offering to take ownership of this person and care for him – as I have done and had done for me in the past – but instead is explicitly stating that she will financially ruin and embarrass this person, leaving them completely on their own with no resources and no recourse.

I cannot recommend such a thing.

D/s is a journey.  I believe that more strongly now than ever.  It is, however, a journey that one must undertake with much forethought and preparedness.  It is not a thing to engage in lightly and there are no shortcuts.

Sure, you can do a short scene or incorporate elements of D/s into your kinky fuckery and leave off with a lot of the more profound considerations, but in so doing you are only scratching the surface of the possible.  To get the profound D/s experience that it seems most of my readers are seeking, you have to commit yourself, body and mind, time and energy, and give it real attention.

I suspect that the reader who wrote me is trying to shortcut some of these things – by signing over his assets, he is creating an instant and binding relationship that goes far beyond the ordinary.  Most vanilla marriages include at least some aspect of separate finances, or at least some kind of equitable scheme through which both partners are able to make purchases of necessary and everyday items.  Under the sort of scheme this young lady is trying to proffer, her finsub would not even have the ability to purchase food or pay rent.

And then again, maybe there is just a kink element to it that I can’t understand…

State of the blog

I’ve been maintaining this blog for a year now.  Sometimes it seems much longer, sometimes it seems less, but the reality is that it’s been a year since my first entry (even though I deleted my first entry..) and I’ve been able to manage at least a post or two a month since then.  Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it’s been one of the ways that I’ve kept writing, and I think that writing is a very important part of who I have become.

In that first month, I had only a few page visits per day, most of which were probably me.

In the months that followed, my readership has gone up dramatically, which I’m not entirely certain how to process.  I’m getting thousands of hits per week now, and hundreds per day at seemingly random intervals.  One might think that it’s tied to when I post new entries, but that seems to not be the case all of the time.  Yes, I get a bit of a spike each time I post something new – I guess I can thank rss feeds for that – but I get an even bigger spike whenever Autumn posts something new at servingmaster.com, which I still find amusing and heart-warming at the same time.  And yet, my best day ever seems to not correspond with either of those events, it was just a random Thursday where my site got several hundred hits for no reason that I can think of, but I’m certainly not upset about it.

One of my friends suggested that I should start putting up ads, but I have no desire whatsoever to do that.  I did not begin this as a money-making venture, and I have no need of the couple hundred dollars a month I could make from serving ads here.

Another friend suggested that I should write a book and promote it through the site.  That is something that might someday do – I’ve got several unpublished and unfinished books on my hard drive that could use some attention, but even that seems an unlikely goal when I barely manage to write new entries for the blog itself.

However, all of this aside, one thing I can say about the past year is that I’ve enjoyed the experience and that I have no plans of stopping any time soon.

This is a wordpress site (which should be obvious) and wordpress gives me a bunch of interesting statistics about the site, my visitors, etc.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that most of my page views in the past year have come from referer links on the servingmaster.com site.  However, in the past few months, the number of people coming to my site from Autumn’s has been eclipsed by those coming from google and I seem to also get quite a lot of folks from yahoo.

Even more interesting is the fact that wordpress collates the search terms that lead people to my site.

Back when I first started this site, I did a series of posts that I called ‘unasked questions’ because they were topics related to BDSM that I felt strongly about and that I know many if not most newbies struggle with, but I hadn’t really achieved the sort of penetration that led to people actually asking me questions in email the way that they do now.

It seems that most of the search terms that people use to find my site are about these pages, and oddly, some of them are questions that I have not yet answered, so this year I’m making a pledge to do so.

The top search terms that led people to my site:

  1. limmerent submissive

This is kind of interesting.  This term has led people to my blog more than any other word or phrase for which people can search.  It makes some sense… I mean, I put ‘One Dom’s views on life, love, and limerence’ as the ‘mission statement’ for my blog when I created it, and my third (or fourth, if you happened to be one of the three people that saw my very first entry before I deleted it) blog entry is, itself, a story of my own limerent behavior as a submissive, but look at the word there as I spelled it and then look at the search term.

The search term is a misspelling!

I’ve gone back through my own pages, and I don’t misspell it anywhere that I can see, but somehow, when someone is searching for the misspelled version as above, I must be near the top of the pages that come up – and yet, when I did the search myself, that is not what I found, so this may have to remain a bit of a mystery.

  1. sub drop

This, again, makes sense.  I mention subdrop many times in my entries, and there are quite a few other similar searches that also hit on the same idea: ‘subdrop definition,’ ‘can you have subdrop without a scene,’ ‘sub drop missing your dom,’ ‘when does subdrop happen,’ ‘how to tell your dom you have subdrop,’ ‘ways to avoid sub drop bdsm’ – just to quote a few…

I’ve experienced subdrop.  I’ve witnessed it many times.  I think I address many of these questions already, but just to reiterate:  yes, you can have subdrop without a scene; yes, you can feel subdrop just because you miss your Dom; yes, there are steps that you can take in aftercare and communications to try to stave off subdrop, but no, you probably can’t always completely avoid it altogether if it is something that happens to you; and no, not every sub feels subdrop and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t.

  1. dom rant

This one is kind of self evident, I think.  I’m kind of surprised that so many people are searching for me directly by name though.  It’s flattering, and also a little bit creepy.

  1. doms training submissive

Now this is also kind of interesting.  I have never written an article about training a new submissive.  I’ve been asked to a number of times.  I’ve started such an article a number of times.  I have several unfinished, unpublished entries that tackle this very topic, but I’ve never actually published one.  There are several variants on this one too: ‘is part of a doms training a submissive to ignore them,’ can i punish my sub with her hard limits,’ and ‘training a submissive before a scene’ just to name a few.

I’m not an expert in how to train a submissive, but one of the reasons why I’ve had such difficulty in writing the article that would satisfy this question is that I think it really depends on the submissive – and in situations where I am giving someone else advice on the Dom as well.  I think that each of these interactions is dependent directly on the people involved and the relationship that you want to have with each other.

If I am able to maintain cold objectivity, this is a much easier process for me, but if I become emotionally entangled, and even more so recently than in the past, the whole notion of submissive training becomes one giant clusterfuck for me.

Who then, am I to advise others on this topic?

I still intend to tackle it at some point, but I need to get my own ducks in a row on this concept before I can have any confidence in advising others.

However, there is one question up there that I absolutely want to tackle right here, and right now.

“Can I punish my sub with her hard limits?”

Absolutely not.

That, my friend, is what we call abuse, and I hope that you get the ostracization you deserve for trying such a thing, if not a full court press on the legal issues you expose yourself to with that.

Hard limits are hard limits for a reason.  Respect them or you disrespect the person and yourself and the entire BDSM community.

  1. subspace (or some variant thereof)

I added the ‘or some variant thereof’ bit myself in case that wasn’t apparent.  There are probably more distinct questions about subspace than anything else, but because each question is unique, the results don’t as easily correlate in the wordpress search terms page, I think.  Some examples:  ‘signs of subspace,’ ‘how do I get to subspace,’ ‘subspace bdsm’, ‘subspace mistress,’ ‘can I get to subspace without pain,’ ‘subspace sex,’ ‘how to get someone into subspace,’ ‘finding subspace,’ ‘subspace definition,’ ‘can your dom put you into subspace with a word,’ ‘ways out of subspace,’ ‘‘subspace commander’.

Obviously, that last one there is my favorite.

I talk a bit about subspace, and what it is, and how one might find oneself there, but it’s only really been the focus of one entry, so it’s a bit interesting that it seems to lead people to me so frequently.

Clearly though, it’s a topic of interest to people, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s something that I should probably be spending more time focusing on in my own personal relationship, so I promise to give this topic some more thought and attention in the coming weeks and months.

Is there something that you are interested in reading about that I didn’t discuss here?

Write to me in the comments, or send me an email.  I try very hard to make certain to answer every legitimate email that I get, though they can sometimes get lost in the spam filter, so if I don’t respond, please take that into consideration or use the Contact Me page – since most of those seem to get through.

Thank you for your attention over the past year, and I look forward to more to come.

I am still Rant, and I’m not going anywhere.

 

The Importance of the Collar

Collars can carry as many meanings as there are people to share them, but generally they are a few well accepted archetypes within the greater BDSM community.  However, even these can be somewhat confusing and entirely open to interpretation.

From my perspective, in my experience, and in my opinion, the three major archetypes are the Slave Collar, the Play Collar, and the Training Collar.

The Slave Collar is the most common within the BDSM community, and in fact, in most cases when a person is talking about having a collar, being collared, or collaring someone, this is what they are talking about.  Symbolically, this is intended to denote ownership.

Generally the person wearing the collar symbolically become the property of the person who placed the collar around the slave’s neck.  If I were to collar you with a slave collar, I would refer to the collar as ‘my collar’ and I might tell others that you wear my collar when defining our relationship.

While wearing my collar, you are my property, and the moment I take it off of you or permit you to remove it, that relationship ceases to exist.

For this reason, a slave collar generally never comes off except to be momentarily replaced with another collar.  There may be more than one collar to fill this role… for instance, one might have a collar that is worn only in private or around other kinky folks but is a bit too obvious for daily outside wear – this is generally referred to as the ‘slave collar’, ‘private collar,’ or even simply ‘His collar.’  Additionally, one might have a necklace with a lock pendant or some other indicator of its true purpose but that is less obvious to the uninitiated.  This is typically referred to as a ‘day collar,’ or ‘public collar.’

The term ‘Play Collar’ can have a couple of different meanings.  Generally this is used to either mean a collar that is used for a short duration – usually only the length of a single scene.  This can either be because the collared person is not actually your property – you are assuming that set of roles for the scene only – or because that person has a regular slave collar and the play collar is different in some way that facilitates your play.

For instance, I once had a rather chunky leather posture collar with three rings on it.  It would not make sense as a regular wear collar because it forces my property to keep her chin up at all times, which would make negotiating the world somewhat difficult, but sometimes that is exactly what I want.  It also has more attachment points on it, and sometimes you just need to shackle your property’s ankles to her neck, you know?

The Training Collar is a bit more uncommon and bit more nebulously defined.  It sits somewhere between the two listed above.

Where the Slave Collar is meant to be eternal and the Play Collar is meant to be used only for a short time, the Training Collar is meant to be used until the subject under consideration is either accepted or rejected.

The Training Collar is usually replaced with a Slave Collar or discarded entirely, depending upon the results of the training in question.

During a training period, there may be an equivalent ‘private collar’ and ‘day collar’ pair, but usually at least one of the two is intended to be replaced once the training is completed.

The training collar comes off and on a lot more frequently than the slave collar, and indeed, the right to wear the collar might be considered as part of the rewards to the sub during training.

For these reasons, Slave Collars (and their corresponding ‘day collars’) are generally well made, expensive, eternal sorts of items.  I’ve purchased and used Slave Collars made from leather, stainless steel, even titanium and day collars made from silver or gold.  Though of course, they can be made from anything at all.

Training collars are generally intended to be rugged enough to wear for a long time, but will eventually be replaced and are generally good quality but not jewelry level pieces.  I’ve used leather for these most commonly, but rubber, vinyl, or neoprene are also quite common.

Play collars really run the gamut, are often more interesting or gaudy than their longer wear counterparts, might often be used by more than one person, and can be anything from a piece of string or a ribbon to a dog collar made from nylon or fake leather, or even heavy pieces of wrought iron and chain.

It is important to note, however, that nothing about the materials that are used to make the collar can be inferred to denote the type of collar that it represents.  That is entirely up to the participants and their own particular aesthetic.

The most important thing though, and the thing that brings all of this together, is that all of these collars (and possibly others of which I am completely unaware) are intended to be powerful symbols that establish Dominance.

The collar is meant to be owned by the Dominant partner, and whether it is purchased by him or not before the power exchange takes place, it is understood that he is the Owner and Controller of the collar.

When he puts it on the submissive partner, he is symbolically establishing his Dominance, and the collar itself is intended to serve as a reminder to the submissive partner of his submission.  While the collar is in place, this is intended to be an absolute (subject to negotiated parameters) transfer of power.

I used to be what one might consider a ‘High Protocol Dom.’  By this, I mean that I used to establish a set of rules and expectations that I had for my property.  While you were wearing my collar, you would be expected to carry out my instructions exactly, you would be expected to anticipate my desires and fulfill them prior to being asked, you would be expected to understand what I mean when I call, “Front!” and to comply immediately.

The days of High Protocol seem to be waning, and I am not so strict any longer.  Hierarchy and order are important, but I find that as I grow older, these things are less and less compatible with my worldview.

In fact, I’m coming to believe that Hierarchy may be harmful…  But this is not an article on Protocol or Hierarchy.

Today, for myself and most of the others that I’ve had the opportunity to witness lately, the collar is more an expression of partnering and position than anything else.  It can be used as a reminder to fulfill a role, but it’s not typically used in the way that I was originally taught, and even my own use of collars has recently been much more lax than it used to be, but the collar is still a useful reminder and tool.

As with everything in BDSM, these things are evolving.  As a former High Protocol Dom, some of these new, more relaxed ways of handling things chafe a bit.

I see something that would have been corrected in my past life and I let it pass because the current paradigm does not place the same level of importance on these things, and there are a great many things about the current paradigm that I find myself enjoying lately.

BDSM is making it’s way into the mainstream, and things like this must happen for that transition to take place.

Where once power transfer and authority were the forces that drove me, now I find that inclusion and compassion are the things that I crave most.  Devotion remains my main kink, but I am learning that it may take more forms than that to which I was most accustomed.

Still though, if you’re wearing my collar, you can expect me to point out that fact every once in awhile, and to urge you to think about what it represents or even use it for corrective action when required.

I may be taking a trip down the path of Hedonism lately, but I don’t see those things as wrong or incompatible.   BDSM is evolving, and so am I.

 

Question: What is ‘subdrop’?

A reader recently pointed out to me in email that in my Finding subspace post, I talk about subdrop but don’t define it.  I even go so far as to say that it will be the subject of a future post, but then there is no such post – yet.

Well, I’ll tackle the questions here then : What is subdrop?  How would I know if it was happening to me?  What causes it?  How can I avoid it?

First – What is subdrop?

As with everything in the BDSM world, these are terms that mean different things to different people in different circles and experience levels.  I don’t know where the term ‘subdrop’ originated, but when I was first introduced to it, it was within the context and from the point of view of someone in the Los Angeles BDSM scene at the end of the 1990s.

The Los Angeles scene at that time was defined by extremes.  Play was very rough, people’s egos were very large, status was very important, and drugs and alcohol were prevalent in order to make things even more extreme.  I suspect it’s much the same way now, but I have no firsthand knowledge.  I’m always a bit fascinated by how the scene differs from city to city, but that’s a topic for another day…

Personally, I think that mixing drugs and alcohol with BDSM scenes is extremely dangerous.  Having a drink or two to cut the edge off things is generally regarded as safe, but that is a hazy line to try to draw, especially since alcohol reduces inhibitions.  It makes you exactly the opposite of what you should be when you are impaired.  It makes you bold when you should be meek, it makes you sure when you should question, and it makes you take risks when you should be cautious.  When you couple those reduced inhibitions with cocaine, which was very prevalent in the scene in the late 90’s and you get some really bad things happening.

Tops would not realize how much force they were using because they didn’t feel normal, subs would take more than they should because they were impaired, or in the worst cases, subs would become non-responsive and Tops would fail to note the signs and assume that no reaction meant they should redouble their efforts.

I’m not aware of any permanent injuries taking place, but there were several people that just disappeared from the community after a bad scene.

But I digress… the point of this was that the definition for subdrop was given to me in the context of the ‘come down’ from a cocaine high.

I only did cocaine once.  I steadfastly avoided drugs for the most part in that part of my life.  I am too much of a control freak to do otherwise, but while I did not enjoy the high as much as I was told I would, I certainly got to experience the crash.

I’ve also experienced subdrop myself, and I can say that there are a great many similarities.

So – this is my personal definition of subdrop, based on my own experiences and through the filters which I have developed in which to see these things.

Subdrop is the state of physical, emotional, and psychological withdrawal from an intense interaction with another person.

My definition is simple enough to allow for more than the typical ‘in scene’ views of subdrop, but also requires that there be at least two personalities involved.

I think it’s entirely possible for a submissive to experience subdrop simply from being away from her Dom, whether there was a recent scene or not.  She comes to depend on that personality – that buoying force that helps to keep her on an even keel, and when that is missing, it’s very possible to fall down into the dark places where one feels unsupported, into chaos even.

Subdrop can have many symptoms – in extreme cases it can even involve flu-like symptoms.  The ability of the body to heal itself or make itself sick is well established through literally hundreds of years of study on the placebo effect.  This is not limited to merely taking a sugar pill and feeling better when you have a headache.. there are much more intense reactions that are possible and that happen all of the time.

Subdrop is almost always accompanied by some amount of depression, lethargy, and anxiety.  One person might feel nauseated, another might get headaches, it can be very much like short term withdrawal, and in a sense, it is.

Subdrop can surprise you as well.  The expectation of someone new who has heard about it but not experienced it will be that it is something that is going to hit right away, once the the scene is over, but this is not necessarily always the case.  Sometimes you can still be riding the high out of the scene and even into the next day or two and then subdrop will kick in and pull your feet out from under you.  No amount of aftercare immediately following your scene can prepare you for that.

My partner just remarked to me after reading the first draft of this post that I might want to mention the above situation with delayed onset subdrop, and that when she tops someone new she always mentions to them that she will be checking in and available over the next 72 hours in case they have any issues.  I think this is an excellent practice, and I wish I’d thought to mention it myself.  She is a very wise and experienced partner, and I’m very lucky to have her.

In a BDSM scene, or in a D/s relationship, we establish extremely intense relationships that play exceedingly hard on our emotional and psychological state.  While I’m not aware of any research that has been done on subdrop specifically, it has been shown through other studies on psychological reactions that a person can induce a dopamine response in their own brain from nothing other than thought.  I am, unfortunately, thinking mostly about a study on religious fervor and how really believing in something can make you feel the presence of God.

I’m an atheist, but I did once have faith – true faith – and I know that the intensity of some of the experiences that I have had through BDSM are every bit as intense if not more so because they are accompanied by physical activities.  One has to wonder if the self-mutilation that is often incurred in ‘primitive’ religions is not due to same kind of physical/psychological fervor.

In any case, the intensity of the things that we do and the drug-like effects of being in subspace combine to make for a very powerful intoxicant.  Is it any surprise, then, that these deleterious effects may follow once the stimulus is removed?  Of course, one must not put too much stock into apparent patterns without understanding the scientific processes beneath, and I’m afraid that not much study has been done there (yet… perhaps I should ask for volunteers? For Science!) so we run the risk of magical thinking.

So – with a little bit of hand waving and pseudoscience I’ve arrested the issues of what subdrop is, why I think it happens (this is the pseudoscience bit.. I shall endeavor to provide more rigor in a future post), how you can identify if it is happening to you, but not yet what you can do to prevent it.

The problem there is, I don’t actually think you can.

You can mitigate the problems that are caused by it.  You can be sure to administer appropriate aftercare, and that has the largest benefit in my experience.  Going through withdrawal with a sitter is so much easier than by yourself – the psychological impact alone is massive – but you still have to go through it.  The best thing you can do is plan for it.  Like with any drug, know that there is going to be a hangover effect and plan to deal with it.  Plan for aftercare – whatever that means to you – and plan to be down and out for a bit.  Drink plenty of water, cry if you need to, sit with your emotions if you have to, but resist the urge to wallow.

Take care of yourself.

If you are topping someone, set aside time to take care of your bottom.

If you are in a D/s relationship and you have to be away from your partner for an extended period, plan to spend extra time with them before and after the schism.

If you are a bottom, realize that your top may actually need aftercare as well.

Be mindful, be compassionate, be self aware and subdrop is not such a big deal, and it might not even affect you at all.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.

 

Postscript: For the first time, I’m going to ask you, my readers, for feedback.  I don’t necessarily want to know what you think about this post (though I welcome that feedback as well) but I want to collect subdrop experiences.  Have you experienced subdrop?  What did it feel like?  How did it happen?  Did you engage in proper aftercare?  Please let me know either in the comments, or through the Contact Me page, or email me at rant@domrant.com.

If I get enough responses to be statistically significant, I will publish the results in a later post and perhaps we can get some real data on the subject.

The Feminist Dom

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength,

who makes enormous demands on me,

who does not doubt my courage or my toughness,

who does not believe me naive or innocent,

who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

-anais nin

You see this quote all over the Internet.  Even though I cannot pronounce her name to save my life, I believe Anais Nin to be a genius of the highest caliber.

I make the claim here in the About Me page, but I have also had a profile at various times on one of the more popular dating sites where I make the same claim, and so I get asked a great deal:  “How can you be both a Dom and a feminist?”

This is usually followed with more questions closely on it’s heels.. more specific questions like: “How can you believe that it is okay to punish a woman for (failing to properly prepare your food//forgetting to call you Sir/Master/Daddy//being bratty//letting your drink go empty//eating the wrong things//etc…) and DARE to call yourself a feminist?!”

The answer to those questions lie in the quote above.

I take on the role that I do for two reasons:

1)  I enjoy it.  It fulfils me in a way that nothing else ever has.  I crave devotion.  I don’t fully understand this, but it is what satisfies me.  I am every bit as devoted to those who are devoted to me – perhaps moreso in some cases – but perhaps I am a bit of a narcissist for wanting this.. in any case, it’s true, and to deny it would be insincere.

2)  The woman for whom I play this role requires it of me.  She needs someone to fill that role for her every bit as much as I need to do it for her.  She wants someone who will make enormous demands of her, someone who does not doubt her courage, someone who pushes her boundaries and pushes her to be what she wants to be, she wants a man who will demand that she live up to her promises and who will punish her when she does not.

The service mindset is not a complicated one, and it’s far more universal than one might think..

This is taken slightly out of context, but it’s an interesting quote from a somewhat surprising source:

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy”

One would not be remiss to attribute that quote to someone who was known for giving his life in the service of others, and while Mohandas Gandhi did give his life in the service of others, it is his resistance to oppression for which he is most known.  How can one who loves service so deeply also be so strong in his opposition to oppression?

This is the logical fallacy that most people fall prey to when they think about the D/s paradigm.

Service and submission take strength and trust.  It is rare that the convergence of personalities allows for complete submission, but when it occurs, it is powerful stuff.

Many are those who will tell you that in a D/s relationship it is the submissive that really has control.  This is of course, total bullshit.  In a properly balanced D/s relationship, both partners share equally in the power exchange.  They both have the same right to walk away at any time, they both have the right to negotiate for what they want, but ultimately this always ends in the Dominant partner having more power than the submissive because that is what they both want.  The submissive is never in control and does not want to be.  However, this power is a gift from the submissive partner to the Dominant one, and the moment that either one of you forgets that, the dynamic is lopsided and doomed to fail.

I am a feminist, but that does not mean that I believe that women are exactly equal in all things.  Women are exactly equal in most things, and they are better at some things, and there are wonderful and amazing things that they can do that I will never understand or experience.  I celebrate those differences, and I hold fast to my own.  I believe that every person, regardless of birth gender, gender identity, desire, ambition, or anything else that might be used to label them, has the right to live the life that they want to live and to ignore, refute, or resist any attempts to cause them to do otherwise.

I am a feminist because I self-identify as one, because I do not sit idly back and allow the gender politics of the Internet or discussions that occur in meatspace while I am nearby to skew towards discriminatory policies towards women – or anyone for that matter, because I may be Dominant towards submissive women in my life, but I seek to break the dominance that society has put in place for men, and for caucasian men specifically.  I am quite aware of my position of privilege and I did nothing to deserve it other than being born who and where I was.  I believe that the rights and privileges that I have should be made available to everyone.  I let respect guide me.

More than anything, that is the essence of this ideal for me – I let respect guide me, I maintain mindfulness and an awareness of my own space and position, I do not seek to dominate those that do not wish it of me.  I endeavor to always do no harm, protect those that need protection, and advance the cause of those who are not privy to the position of authority that I have for being born a white male in America.  Honor, respect, and integrity are important to me.

This was not quite a rant, but it represents something I feel strongly about.

I am Rant.

Rant off.

Finding subspace

A friend recently asked me to write on two closely related topics: foreplay as it applies to a BDSM scene, and tips for training a newbie submissive from the perspective of a Dominant.

“How are those things related?” you might be tempted to ask…  Well, I’m about to tell you – as I describe the first of these topics and relate it to BDSM specifically.

In vanilla sex, foreplay is useful to ensure that both (all?) participants are physically, emotionally, and psychologically ready for the activity of sex itself.  Granted, this is more often than not given lip service and not really enacted with any vigor or skill, resulting in less than adequate experiences for everyone involved, especially the more submissive partner.  In the vanilla sense, I say ‘submissive’ here to mean the generally less active partner – the one less likely to initiate sexual contact.  For the initiator, his resolve is already firm, his libido is already activated, and foreplay probably seems like an unnecessary waste of time.

We do the same thing in the BDSM world, but we call it warm up instead, and while foreplay may be nice in the vanilla world, warm up in the BDSM world is essential.  Without it, you are putting your submissive at risk of injury in one or more of these arenas.  Nay, that is not quite strong enough… without warm up before enacting the more brutal parts of a scene, if your scene involves physical pain or torture, you will injure her.  Her bruises may heal and she may never let you know the damage to her trust that you caused, but those injuries will linger, and ultimately they will destroy your happiness.  Don’t let that happen to you, and don’t let that happen to the one you protect.

Warm up is a much more appropriate way to describe it than foreplay, even in the vanilla world,  and it may entail many of the same things, depending on the participants and scene.  BDSM scenes are not limited to sexual activities, and indeed may not even include any…  What you are trying to do is not limited to making sure that the submissive is ready for sex and turned on, but you’re also preparing her body physically for the activities at hand, her mind for the assault to her ego that is likely to occur, and her emotions for the departure from normalcy that she is about to encounter.

It has been proven that a submissive who is prepared for punishment will actually undergo changes in her body: more fluid will come to the surface of her skin, her pulse will drop (as opposed to speeding up in someone who is actually scared,) she will breathe deeper and more slowly, more oxygen will get into her blood and therefore to her brain, and often her perceptions of her environment will change, sometimes quite dramatically, sometimes even to the point of hallucinatory detachment or idealization.

This is far more than simple foreplay can possibly accomplish, and we even have a name for this: subspace.  For many submissives – this is the primary draw of submitting.  They are uninterested in the service aspects of it, they literally get high from the activity itself.

Subspace is where the submissive goes when in scene.  It is not a physical place, but it does affect her body in a physical way.  It is not an emotional space, but it does provide for emotional stability.  It is not a psychological space, but it provides for psychological compartmentalization.

There are many paths to subspace.  Warm up is not usually enough to get you there on its own.  Usually finding subspace is something that isn’t achieved until firmly in scene, but the transition can be jarring, or even missed, if you don’t ensure proper warm up has occurred.  I’ve known Doms who devote little or no time to warm up and go straight into scene.  This can work for some people, some of the time, but the one time that you miss it, you cross the line from safe, sane, and consensual and fall into abuse.  For me, it’s simply not worth the risk.

When I am training a submissive, or even when I am interacting with an experienced one, I will watch her.  I want to see her fail to meet my gaze.  I want to see her look down at my feet when I stare into her eyes.  I want to see her round her shoulders and bend her neck towards me.  I want to see her kneel or bow or even just place her forehead into my chest.  I want to hear the meekness in her voice when she addresses me as Sir.  These are not sacrosanct indicators of finding the edges of subspace, and they aren’t even inviolate indicators of submission, but they’re a step in the right direction.

These steps can take hours.  They can begin before you’re together though, and they can wind around vanilla activities.  I am a big fan of eating something, perhaps a full meal, but at least something light, before beginning a scene.  The food energy will help with the physical and mental strain, and the meal itself can provide a bonding opportunity and a place for mental interactions, witty banter, and innuendo – and as any submissive will tell you, the mind is the most important part of her that you can own, for sex or play or any other activity.  Alcohol is not a good idea here though.  It may take off the edge, but it can also lead to physical and psychological changes in both you and your submissive that you should be wary of.  I may drink with partners, but I will never engage in pain play when even the slightest bit intoxicated.

Admittedly, setting aside time for food and drink is not always possible, but there are other ways to encourage the path to subspace.

I watch my submissive, identify her specific submissive behaviors, and then I encourage these things.  I stroke my submissive’s hair.  I talk softly to her.  I remind her of my protection and her safety.  I pet her head and body.   As I can feel her trust building in me, I will be more and more physical.  I will grab her hair.  I will bite her neck, her ear, her shoulder.  I’ll fondle her tits and ass through her clothes, or reach underneath them.  I’ll kiss her, or I’ll grab the sides of her face and force her to meet my eyes, to see the burning desire that lies just underneath.  But these actions, like all actions taken in scene, must adhere to the limits established beforehand.  For some, kissing is out, for others, biting might be, but no matter what the limits, there should be something that you can do here.  If there is not, you probably need to find a different play partner.

I ease her into a place of trust and devotion and when I have that devotion, I am a veritable god.

From this point forward, I am in complete control and we are in scene.  I may grab her by the throat and force her down, I may slap her ass with my hand or a flogger or a crop or a cane.  But I will usually make it explicit through word or action or both that we’re about to begin.  Just that simple vocal recognition is often enough to cause a seasoned submissive to drop into subspace for me.  A newbie could require more care.

If I am not absolutely sure that we are ready, I might ask “are you ready?” and even when I get, “Yes, Sir,” in response, I know that is not quite sufficient. The cue has to be a command – at least for me it does.  Any command here will do: “take off your clothes,” “kneel for me,” “we’re going to begin now,” are all appropriate and can all serve well here.

Excepting the striking, I tend to use most, if not all of the above for foreplay as well as warm up.  In fact, much to my shock and glee, I was recently engaged in simple kinky sex with a submissive and she went rather deep into subspace without any pain of any kind at all.

That is the exception, however, and from this point forward it can still vary widely as to when, how, how deep, or even if a submissive will drop into subspace.

I should probably pause here to note that this is most definitely not the same thing as sub-drop.  Sub-drop is something else entirely, and not at all positive.  I’ll probably devote another entry to it at some point, but just don’t confuse the terms or people will look at you cross-eyed.  Dropping into subspace is good, sub-drop is bad.  Okay then…

Even when beginning your scene, especially if it is with someone new, it behooves one to start out slow.  This slow roll into the scene is what is going to help a new partner or a BDSM newbie ease herself into subspace.  In fact, this is what some Doms refer to when they talk about warm up.  They ignore all of the pre-activity nonsense that I am so keen on and just go straight to the main event, thinking that because their first strike is only at half strength that they are engaging in good warm up practices.

While I agree that this is important, I do not agree that it is sufficient.

My goal as Dominant is to create the best experience possible for all participants.  To some, this marks me a service Top and they think me weak.  I don’t really care.  I do what I do because it suits me, and because it gives me what I need.  I get off on devotion and subservience, not delivering pain.

As I begin to enact the scene, I watch my sub carefully.  I look for the signs of her being in subspace.  I slowly increase the stimulation as I see her move further and further into subspace until I’m sure that she is there.

I look for the altered breathing, the flushed skin, the glazed eyes, changes to the inflection of her voice or the tenor of her movements and moaning.

It takes some practice to recognize, but once I know she’s there, I know that I can do literally anything and it will be experienced in a positive light, so it is well worth pursuing.

Not everyone will agree with me on these points.  Not everyone finds it important to guide his submissive into subspace, and even I don’t find it necessary all of the time, but if you’re going to enact a scene, especially a brutal scene where pain is the primary intoxicant, it really is essential that you understand what you’re doing and how to help her get to where she needs to be in order to take the pain for you.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.

Unasked Questions: Contracts

In previous entries in this series, I’ve talked about scenes and limits. In this entry, I’m going to be talking about contracts:  what they mean in the BDSM sense, where they are best used, why I feel that they are necessary, when I feel that they are necessary, and probably give some examples from my own life.

Contracts occupy one of what I would consider to be the three main pillars of a BDSM arrangement.  The others would be limits and safewords.  Limits I’ve talked about previously, but safewords I have yet to touch upon.  That will be a separate topic, and as it is something that I feel strongly about, probably more of a rant than instructional, but I will try to hold back some of my stronger feelings for the blog.

In any case, today I am here to talk about contracts.

Whenever I have taken on a new sub for more than just a single scene, I have asked for a contract.  These are not in any way legally binding, and there is often a great deal of redundant or otherwise not-terribly-useful information contained within them, but I find that it provides two very important things:  accountability and transparency.  These are two things that I think are extremely important, nay, vital, to the success of any relationship, especially when that is both kinky and poly.

The contract is only between the submissive and me, so in some ways the poly aspect of my relationships is a separate problem but it is entirely dependent on the two virtues I extol above, so it is appropriate to mention it here as well.  It is a formal, if not legally binding, document that spells out exactly what terms are expected from the perspective of both the Dominant and submissive.  It serves as yet another opportunity to negotiate and put forward your own desires and fears.

This is a good example of a template for a contract  but of course, every contract is between two people and as such must be customized for their needs.  In order to be very useful, a contract has to specify the following things:

  the contracted parties:  In each contract that I have used to date this means the submissive and me, but there is no reason that this could not include more than just two parties

 the contract duration:  How long will these expectations be in place for?  Sometimes, in the contracts of others that I have seen, this part is omitted – the supposition being that the contract is ‘never-ending’.  While I do not have any deeply held philosophical reasons for preferring to extend or reissue a contract after the expiration of the current one, that has always been my choice.   I think there is a powerful psychological aspect of ‘contract’ that is missing if you omit duration, even if that duration is something like 500 years or something slightly more nebulous like the death of one of the parties..

  the roles of each party:  This is where things like how the slave is expected to serve the Master are defined.  This is where one would spell out the behaviors that are expected or required, along with what the submissive can expect from the Dominant, be this protection, care, training, whatever.

 any options for severability:  This is where you detail under what conditions the contract becomes void.  The contracts that I have used typically state that the Dominant can close the contract at any time without reason and that the submissive can veto specific actions if they violate certain criteria (such as pushing a hard limit or breaking the law) but that they have no recourse for completely ending the contract.  Of course, since such contracts are not legally binding, either party can walk away at any time.

 any special considerations:  This will often be either a list of hard limits or a link to a document containing those limits.  It may also call out any other things that the submissive or Dominant decide require special attention.  The contract document will provide tangible reminders to both parties of their promises to each other for the duration of the contract, so this makes sense as a place to specifically call out anything that might ever need reminding about or that the parties want to make explicit.

I’ve held contracts for as short as a month and as long as 18 months.  They make for a very intense relationship though, and I’m not certain that they can be held for longer than that, though I’m beginning to change my opinion on that — at least, I’ve become hopeful that I can, despite never really wanting that in the past.

A contract is a pledge, by both the Master and the slave, to adhere to the roles that you have defined for the duration, terms, and circumstances contracted for.  It might be to formalize training of a newbie, it might be to add extra kink to an already established relationship, tipping it over into the realm of true TPE, or it might just be something fun to do with someone new to you for a month or two.

In any case, if you are seeking a TPE type of relationship, I think the contract is a vital element of that arrangement.  This may be personal preference and nothing more than how I was brought into this culture, but I find that the formalism that you gain from a contract is essential in maintaining the proper frame of mind to assume your role and KEEP it.  This is not to mean that I believe a contract will give you the ability to never slip or to never be bad at your role, but it provides rules for you both to follow and it gives you something tangible that you can look at and say, “Yes, this is what I want, this is what I signed up for, and this is what I must give to get that.”

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.

Unasked Questions: Limits

Continuing with my series on questions that newbies often have and are afraid to ask, I present the question(s): What are limits and why should I care?

I was going to post my rant on safewords today, but I realized that some people may require a bit more background before my arguments will make sense and one of the areas that needs explanation is around limits.

So – what are limits, why are there different types, what do they mean, and why should I care?

Remember how I was talking about negotiation a couple of days ago, and how everything in a BDSM context is negotiated?  Well, limits are one of those criteria that are negotiated.

Oftentimes when meeting a new sub I will ask her to fill out a form detailing her experience level, to rate her levels of desire for certain activities, and to set hard and soft limits.  The limits discussion is the most important of those pieces, but each of the others are also illuminating and will most often shape how our play begins, culminates, and ends.

I’ve used various different online resources for these lists before, but it doesn’t really matter too much what list you use, as each is merely but a beginning to a negotiation.

As an example of what this might look like, here is my limits document: Lord Rant’s Limits

This is from the very excellent Columbia Erotic Power Exchange website.  The original (not-filled-out-with-Lord-Rant’s-preferences-version) can be found here.

Quite recently I was ‘caught with my pants down’ in this area, so to speak.  I was given the opportunity to play with someone well before we’d had the opportunity to exchange lists like this.  Fortunately, she’s quite well grounded and we had discussed things informally a great deal, but I made certain that we did discuss limits, and things worked out pretty well.   However, in retrospect, I realize that things could have been much better if I had had more information at my disposal before we began.  I think I’ll make sure that we exchange lists prior to our next meeting, and hopefully anyone else that I might play with will find this document and short-circuit my ability get ahead of myself in the same way again.

Okay – back to definitions…

There are usually two limits that we talk about in the BDSM context, soft limits and hard limits.  Like most things in BDSM meanings of these terms are somewhat open to interpretation, but only somewhat.  I have known subs who claim to have ‘no limits’ and quite honestly, they scare me.  I have known Doms who refuse to play with subs that have any limits, and they scare me even more.  I think that both of these groups are mentally unstable or lazy or both.

A lazy sub might say that he has ‘no limits’ in an effort to avoid thinking about the problem, trying to appear brave, or trying to ingratiate himself with a particular Domme or Dommes.  In this case, the sub in questions is relying on ‘common courtesy’ or ‘human decency’ or something like that to rule the actions of the Domme and acts in the hopes that she will not act to permanently injure him.  This is a very dangerous practice and I tend to find such people to be either mentally unstable or unsuitable due to lack of attention or personal responsibility.  As a Dom, I need to know where your limits are.  This is both so that I can push your soft limits or your areas of discomfort in an effort to improve your experience and also to that I can avoid your hard limits and creating an experience that would be be detrimental to the health of one or both of us.

It is unfortunately quite common for Doms to fail to share their own limits.  I think there is a misconception among some people that this is not a useful way to spend time since a good Dom is in control of every aspect of a scene and therefore able to automatically adjust things to his preference, and while this might be true, it does not provide the sub with a valuable set of information.  It is the sub’s duty and privilege to understand, anticipate, and fulfil the needs and desires of the Dom.  Without complete information on the Dom’s desires and limits, this is a needlessly arduous task that will involve a lot of missteps on the part of both of you.  I’ve known Doms that use this as an excuse to enact punishment and enjoy watching their subs flail about in trying to determine how to best serve.  If that’s your cup of tea, then I won’t fault you for that, but if it were me, I’d at least let my sub know that this was my expectation.  Personally, I prefer obedience and service.  I reserve punishment for correcting bad behavior, bratty attitudes, or to enforce my Will, not as a game to be played to watch her squirm.  I prefer to watch her squirm for another reason…

These definitions are mine, you may have a different opinion or run across differing ideas, but that’s why communication is important in this lifestyle.

A hard limit is not something that can be negotiated; it’s a wall.  It may shift at some later date, but it’s not something that you should test, whether you are a Dom trying to provide a challenging experience or a sub trying to test your Dom’s boundaries, the hard limit is something you should leave alone.  You should talk about it, you should understand the nuances, but you should not fuck with it.  A personal example – I have a lot of hard limits around ass play – my ass, not yours.. this is not because I am homophobic, and this is not because I’m grossed out by it, I’ll gladly play with your ass if it is something you enjoy, but that brings back memories for me – memories that would make it impossible for me to enjoy myself.  This is not a negotiable thing, and there is a good reason for it.

A soft limit is something that can be pushed.  According to some people, this is something that _should_ be pushed.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but whether you do or not, by designating it as a soft limit, your partner is telling you, “this is something that I am very uncomfortable with, and you will have to use extra caution around this, but it is something that I might be willing to entertain.”  Soft limits are things that evoke a response, they’re things that go well beyond grossing you out or turning you off, but they’re not things that are going to cause you physical or mental anguish to entertain.  I don’t have many soft limits, one example for me would be rape fantasies.  A lot of women (and men too) have them, and as long as everything is properly negotiated in advance, these can be accommodated in a very safe, sane, and consensual way.  Intellectually, I have no problem with them at all, but they evoke in me an emotional response.  It would require some serious self restraint to take part in one and even more self restraint to see one and not intervene.  This is something that I could do, but not something that I would feel good about.  It’s possible that I could use this as a form of taboo deconstruction and push my soft limit until I was able to engage in this behavior without issue, but I don’t really want to.

Take a look at my list.  It may be more illustrative than I’ve managed to be in my descriptions here.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.