Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Watch Cassandra go on a rampage…
So I’ve been meaning to write about BSDM, and then I’m hanging out on Trin’s page and what do I see but exhibit A of why most people have no idea what the whole thing’s all about. This is particularly vexing as the idiot in question seems to think that he’s a dom. Take a look at this…

“One of the after-the-fact scariest experiences of my life, however, and one that informs my sexual behavior now (I no longer have sex when very drunk and am a bit skittish about consent... I've actually had complaints about being too careful and un-spontaneous) was when I apparently very nearly raped a long-term girlfriend of mine by accident.Yes, that's right. Raped. By accident. I can hear the moans and hisses now.I was very drunk. One of her favorite things was for me to restrain her wrists with my hands, and also to have her neck bitten medium-hard.Apparently she was repeating "No" over and over, but in a moan that sounded (to me, drunk) like "Oh!" We worked out later that *yes* she was aroused and her voice conveyed that, but distress was also in her voice... A distress that before then had always been a part of our play.It wasn't until I started to unbutton (and had pulled myself off of her to do so) that I noticed the tears.”

There are so many problems with this I hardly know where to start…
OK, first of all, it is unwise to do BSDM drunk or otherwise chemically altered. Anything that slows down your perceptions mixed with the ability to seriously injure someone? Not a good idea.
Next – Yes, indeed, my stupid little friend, you will hear moans and hisses. And you deserve them.
Let’s revisit the conversation about “subtle clues” that someone is not happy during sex, shall we? Crying is not a subtle clue. It’s a very obvious one. Now granted this guy stopped once he actually saw tears, but…
This is the point I was making about being able to read other people’s body language.
When my SO and I are having sex, I can tell if he’s a little uncomfortable. I can tell if he’s tired. I can tell if his shoulder injury from a biking accident ten years ago is bothering him a little and we need to change position.
How can I tell these things? Because I’m paying attention.
Now, some might argue that I can tell these things because we’ve been together a long time, but I beg to differ. I was able to read him like that from the moment we met. He was able to read me the same way. That, friends, is compatibility. If you don’t have it, you probably shouldn’t be having sex. The ability to read each other’s non-verbal cues is VITAL to good sex.
There’s more to it than that, though. We can read each other because we CARE how each other feels. In other words, we pay attention. That little shifting thing he does sometimes? It means his shoulder hurts. I know this because the first time he did it I noticed, and I asked. When I’m on top and I kind of favor one side, or slow down? That means that the knee I injured playing hockey in high school is twinging, and I need to change position. When this happens I do not have to say “hey, my knee hurts”, because Mr Cassandra quickly observes that I am uncomfortable and is able to figure out why. How? Because the first time I reacted that way, he noticed and asked what was wrong. And here’s the nifty thing – when he first noticed he STOPPED what he was doing to ask.
This is how sex is supposed to work, people. You pay attention to your partner. You make the effort to read their non-verbal cues. If something doesn’t seem quite right, you stop and find out what’s going on. This is not rocket science. It’s sexual communication 101. Hell, it’s interpersonal communication 101. Anyone who doesn’t have a grip on this stuff isn’t ready for sex, because if they can’t or don’t care to read basic cues then the chance that they’re going to hurt someone is pretty high.
Now to the scenario above. How in the hell do you fail to notice that someone you’re lying on top of is CRYING? When people cry their whole body shows it – their breathing, the tension level in their torso, everything. If you don’t notice, guess what? You’re not paying attention. And in a sexual situation that level of inattention is dangerous.
Seriously people, is it really too much to ask that people notice if their partner is CRYING?

Now to the BSDM part. Being a dom is challenging. You know the sexual communication I mentioned above, the need to read other people’s body language? Think of what’s required for normal sex. Then multiply it by a hundred. You’re still not even close to the level of empathy and awareness you need to be a good dom.
A dom needs to be incredibly well tuned in to how their sub is doing. They need to be paying REALLY close attention to every little change in body language. If you engage in BSDM you’re taking the normal script and tearing it to pieces, you’re heading into territory where words don’t mean what they normally mean and extra caution is required. Done right it’s a mind-blowing experience for everyone involved. Done wrong? It can scar you for life.
Anyone who wants to be a dom needs to have shitloads of empathy. That empathy needs to go right to the marrow of your bones. If you don’t have that? Well, you have no business being a dom. Sooner or later, you’re going to misread a situation, and you’re going to hurt someone. It’s like putting someone who just got their licence at the wheel of a Formula 1 car. Very stupid, and very dangerous.
So…if you are someone whose sexual communication skills are so piss-poor that you can’t even tell when your partner is CRYING, BSDM is not for you, ESPECIALLY as a dom. Get the hell out of the kitchen until you learn how to cook before you do something stupid and burn the entire house down.

And for the record, the guy I quoted above? That’s not a dom. No real dom would ever “accidentally nearly rape” someone, because a REAL dom is completely in control of the situation at all times. And this part…” We worked out later that *yes* she was aroused and her voice conveyed that, but distress was also in her voice... A distress that before then had always been a part of our play.”
A real dom can tell the difference between the excitement that comes from having your limits pushed and genuine panic. If you can’t tell? You’re just not meant to be a dom. You lack the basic tools.
You just failed BSDM 101, asshole. Learn how to manage basic sex before trying again, because BSDM is for experts only.


Arwen said...

Heehee. There was that jaggoff, and then your response, and what I get is all like: wow, there's an awesome ad for BDSM.

I'm glad to hear this sort of thing, actually. I know two folks who are BDSM identified; one of my fave people, a dom; and then a sub I know who deeply freaks me out. I know their experiences/outlooks are different but their *words* were the same. I couldn't figure out the difference, and my dom-friend was articulating her experience rather than the particulars of her relationships. She doesn't know the sub in question, (who seems just self-hating and broken), and I wanted to know how it worked that her partners weren't that broken. Anyway, I think you just nailed it. No pun intended. In your description, I recognize the sex I have: all sex has some power in it. Sex is pretty powerful, after all. When done right, that power negotiation is fun, and relinquishing or taking control liberating; and it is true that I more often end up on one side of the equation than the other.

The sub that freaks me out is a lifestyle sub, and it really sounds as if her dom could care less about her sexual pleasure - or pleasure at all, really. He seems to mainly like having someone to kick around, in the meanest hardass sense of the term. Okay, so she gets something out of the deal, I see that, but that's merely incidental for the dom. He doesn't give a shit.

Zan said...

This is me, applauding. How many times have I given this same speech? Arg!

My best friend is a sub (though that's now why we're friends :) and she was trying out the scene and meet this "dom". Arg. Anyway, he was all about telling her what she was going to do and how she was going to do it. Stuff like, she would stop taking her birth control. She would be having a baby within a year. She would do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.

And all of this, he did without negotiation. There was no give and take. No asking for her imput. Nothing. It was all just "I say you will and so you will."

I told her to run the fuck away, as fast as she could. And, if the idiot couldn't take a hint, to let me know and I'd take care of it. Because he wasn't a dom, he was an asshole.

This guy seriously wanted her to give up her career, which she has spent years working on (she's an English prof.) to stay home and cater to his every whim. He seriously wanted her to give up her control of her reproductive abilities and just have baby after baby. Now, if both people are agreeable to that, sure. Go ahead. Not my scene, but some people make that work. But she was so NOT into that. And he didn't fucking care.

She got away from him, although he did keep calling her and trying to order her to come over. I don't get people like that. That's so not what being a dom is about. It's seriously a lot of responsiblity and caring about the person you're with. Arg. I just wanted to take a whip to him.

Cassandra Says said...

Arwen - Why thank you! I'm a little uncomfortable with the "lifestyle" thing myself, mostly because I've seen it end up the way you desccribe too many times. Not that it has to be that way, but...I've seen it happen.
And again I say - that's not a dom. That's a selfish asshole who likes to boss people around. He should be a drill seargeant or something.
And looks like Zan's seen the same thing!
In any case, I think BSDM people have a lot to teach everyone else about communication. Unfortunately, people see stuff like the moron I quoted and assume that's what it's all about. Sigh.
This is why clubs have bouncers and dress codes, by the way.

Trinity said...

"I'm a little uncomfortable with the "lifestyle" thing myself, mostly because I've seen it end up the way you desccribe too many times. Not that it has to be that way, but...I've seen it happen."

I always used to feel the same way, but then I met some older, experienced Masters and slaves -- and they're not like that at all. They're astoundingly normal. I keep blinking going "THESE are the hardcore, owner and owned folks? They're... sensible and sane, and the masters are flexible and the slaves are thoughtful and opinionated... I thought that was a no-no. What?"

I decided to talk to them because I find that I'm happiest when there's a kind of organic, D/s-y dynamic just loosely developing between me and my partner.

I didn't dream in a million years I'd end up seeing myself as one of them... but now I'm trying to figure some way to get to the next Master training seminar. Go figure.

Cassandra Says said...

Trin - Interesting. Like I said, my experiences have been not-good, but that doesn't mean that's a universal. For me I prefer to keep things in the bedroom (or kitchen or whatever), but I think I'm at the "milder" end of the spectrum anyway.
At some point I should write about exactly where I am on that spectrum.

Trinity said...

"Like I said, my experiences have been not-good, but that doesn't mean that's a universal."

Have most of the people you've known been straight? In my experience M/s is very different if it's a gay thing, or influenced by gay leather paradigms.

In gay leather, it seems to be much more about service and community and roles within not only relationships but community spaces. That's what resonates with me.

I want someone whose poise and grace are enhanced through submission and service, someone whose elegance I can show off. :)

(in addition of course to wanting a painslut)

Cassandra Says said...

Trin - In terms of lifestyle people, yes, though not in terms of BSDM people in general. Therein may lie the issue, actually - I'm very distrustful of straight male doms, because I've met too many who're like the guy on your LJ, completely clueless and don't even get why no one else seems to like their approach. Many of them don't seem to understand that selfish and bossy doth not a dom make.

Trinity said...

"I'm very distrustful of straight male doms"

In general, me too, though I know several great ones.

Anonymous said...

I'm really skeptical of 24/7 D/s relationships. At a fundamental level, once one arranges the primary relationship in hir life around an artificial power relationship and decides to submit, how does that not become habitual such that one progressively loses the ability to stand on equal footing for the purpose of deciding whether to remain in the relationship? Leaving aside the obvious abusive situations and broken people, doesn't a 24/7 relationship raise a question as to consent once people have been in the same roles for years?


Cassandra Says said...

Thomas - Thanks, you articulated what squicks me out about the 24/7 idea better than I did.

Anonymous said...

To me, the thing that makes BDSM different than the power differentials in the larger society is not just that the power differential is consensual, it is that it is artificial: negotiated, yes, but also bounded; maintained in a space separate from the rest of the world like a fusion reaction in a magnetic filed. For that reason, not only does the BDSM dynamic not necessarily participate in the culture's larger inequalities, but it can even work to undermine and critique them. All because it is within a bubble.

A 24/7 relationship purports to make that not true: to merge the scene with everyday reality. It seems to me that, to do that without dragging into the BDSM relationship all the prejudices and hierarchies from without it, one would have to virtually attain a perfect state of enlightenment to start out with.