Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Best Kept Secret

I love the internet. Well, that’s not entirely true. I love the amount of research one can do on any subject. What I don’t very much love is that the stuff you really need to know is often difficult to find.

There are gazillions of articles on BDSM. Everything from gorean slave positions to the proper way to “do rope” to recommendations for scene negotiation and safewords can be found with just a couple of googled phrases. There is a plethora of information to be found on any subject relating to BDSM. This is the good part.

But what always comes up in many of my conversations is something that not many people talk about. It’s one of the hidden secrets of D/s, which in my opinion, happens more frequently and causes more anxiety within that relationship than any other single thing. It’s a malady that is usually talked about in hushed whispers, if it’s talked about at all. And it’s one that is almost impossible to find out how to handle from reading on the internet. In fact, this is one of those times where reading anything to do with BDSM on the internet ends up making the situation worse. Most often, people end up feeling very much alone when this happens- as if the lack of information on the internet confirms their suspicions that this thing has happened to nobody else. The symptoms of this affliction are insidious, often sneaking up on you before you even realize you’re suffering from it.

So what is this mystery malady? The one that happens so frequently, yet is hardly ever talked about?

It can be most simply stated as “I thought when we started living together, that our kinky fun times or our D/s relationship would become stronger, yet it seems like they’ve almost disappeared”.

Everyone who has suffered from this malady can breathe a sigh of relief. This does happen to other people. And despite what you read about on the internet about all the sexyfun times that everyone else seems to be having non-stop, I’m going to tell the truth. Even in a 24/7 D/s relationship it is impossible for nearly everyone to maintain the same level of kinky interaction that you enjoyed before you started sharing a mailing address. Or closet space.

There are lots of reasons for this phenomena. One of the basics is that much of what kink space is concerns fantasy. It's truly easy to put on the D/s roles when you're talking a few hours or days at a time. It's much harder to maintain those boundaries when you're trying to get the kids out the door, deal with the oil man, find that permission slip and try to remember to say "yes, Sir" after every phrase. Even for those in D/s relationships- much of what goes on in our heads is about creating a “world” where the roles each have chosen are clearly defined and nothing is left to circumstance. But what we forget is that circumstance always happens. What we forget is that sometimes things just have to "give". And very often- it's the kinky part of our interactions. Who really just hasn't felt too damned tired at the end of a long day, a long commute, or a really shitty meeting to even make a serious effort to do more than sit in a chair and be left alone?

The other thing that we often forget is that the people in our kinky D/s relationships are just- people. They’re not “The Dominant” or “The Submissive”. They are people with needs, wants, emotions, and more often than not- baggage. I am not talking about luggage here. You know what baggage is- it’s the ex wife who has done a number on your guy’s self-esteem; it’s the identity that they had in their work which was shattered when they got laid off; it’s the history of really awful dates you’ve had with yet another wanker; it’s the things we grew up with; it’s the responsibilities we all have to family, work, school; it’s our personalities and moods; and it’s all of those things that we each took away from relationships with others. Dealing with each other’s baggage is perhaps one of the most unsexy things that happens when you move in together. Learning to find where your own limits are with each other’s baggage is difficult. And trying to fit in a kinky time when you're dealing with yet another interrupting annoying call from the ex; or holding on to your own submissive head space when you'd like nothing better than to bitchslap someone is an exercise in futility.

We often forget is that when exploring a kinky relationship with someone- the energy that is exchanged in the first phases of it, is really not that much different than any other new activity we take on. How many times have you picked up a new “hobby”, bought all the accouterments to do it well, read all the books about it, got so into it, and then- a few months down the road- find it rather mundane. You might still do that hobby once in a while, but you don’t really get that first thrill that you had when you were first learning about it. Kink is no different.

And finally, I think that in a D/s or S&M relationship in particular, especially in a hetero one, where the man is the dominant and the woman is the submissive, what more often than not comes into play is simply that you love each other (I’m assuming that’s the case or you may wish to rethink this whole “moving in together” thing). When that happens weird shit goes on in a D/s- S&M relationship. The guy often starts to get creeped out about actually -hurting- someone he loves (society norms are never very far from the surface for most loving sadists) . The guys often take on more of a protector role and less of a bastard role. They actually (OMG) say thank you and please! Their submissive is combined with their lover, their companion, their partner and their friend (Madonna/Whore is not just a roleplay in this case). Roles get messy and confused. When loving emotions get mixed into a D/s-S&M relationship- it gets really difficult for the dominant to put those feelings aside and make his submissive really cry. And when a submissive loves her dominant, we really do (at least I’ve made this mistake a few times) see him through a rose-colored glass. I know that I tend to overlook “undominant-like” actions as an aberration. I get so wrapped up in my own role sometimes, that it is difficult to remember that he really just can’t beat me up the same way he did when we didn’t know each other very well. It still makes his dick hard to beat my ass, but now- the flavor is much different.

So, what’s the cure for this ailment? The unfortunate thing is that there really isn’t a single foolproof cure. But there is maintenance and some tricks I’ve learned that might work for others. And in the coming days- I’ll be posting about some strategies you might want to try. Nothing can cure this malady. But between the alternatives- being in a loving relationship and learning how to “do kink” a new way within that; or giving up on long term relationships in order to constantly refill the adrenalin pool- I’m a sucker for the first one every time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mono MInded Curiosity

I've been curious for a while about how monogamy is treated within the kink/sex pos world. Very often the impression I get (me, completely me...you may not get the same one and it's OK) is that monogamy is what happens when one is not so much "sex positive" as "positive about how they like sex". I'm not sure I agree with that feeling and I'm curious about how others view monogamy. Whether their definitions of that concept differ from mine, and whether or not monogamy is solely about the act of having sex.

So, if you're willing (and anonymous comments will be published for this one, so feel free), would you help me out by answering the following questions?

1) Do you consider yourself monogamous?

2) What does monogamy mean to you?

3) How do you define monogamy?

4) Have you ever felt that being monogamous didn’t “fit in” with stereotypical relationship modes found in BDSM relationships?

5) Have you ever broken up with someone who purported to be monogamous, but wasn’t?

6) Have you ever had to defend your monogamy to anyone?

7) Do you consider sexual activities, play activities (BDSM without penetration), and emotional connection differently when it comes to monogamy?

8) Have you ever been in a non-monogamous relationship?

Any other comments about monogamy?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It Was Your Privilege

I wasn’t going to post this. I’d hoped my feelings were just some sort of con drop or that the travel made me cranky. But the more I think on it, what I’m feeling is that I don’t like feeling stupid. And I certainly don’t like admitting to my friends that, despite my enthusiasm and interest in sex geekery, I think I’ve just about given up trying to make sense of anything.

I spent this past weekend at the second annual Momentumcon in DC. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s a weekend long conference of sex geeks. And by geeks, I mean educators, students, writers, industry workers, etc (for this post, I’m going to just lump them together and call them “sex geeks”). There were people who I admire speaking there like Megan Andelloux, Charlie Glickman, Logan Levkoff, and Carol Queen. And there were lots of others I’d never heard of. It’s not their fault though. I am not a sex geek.

My first impressions of this conference were much different from last years. At this one, I expected myself to be much more “sex geek” worthy. I’d had a year to read more, learn more, and question more, so I figured that I’d be able to find my place amongst the glitterati of the truly geeky. Instead, I felt even more like an outsider than I did before. It was made doubly worse by the feeling of “snobbery” that I couldn’t shake. One conversation in particular went like this:

SexGeek: So, what do you do?
Me: I'm a paralegal.
SexGeek: oh.
Me: But I'm really interested in learning, many of these subjects are difficult to understand.
SexGeek: oh. well, it was nice talking to you.

The kinder part of me gave the SexGeek a pass. It was a busy weekend, lots to see, lots to do. And I'm basically a nice person. The not-kinder part of me- well, let's just say wasn't so kind.

I was sorely disappointed that there were no “beginner” kind of classes. I think part of the problem with sex geeks is that they’re so used to talking to colleagues and people who have some background in geekery, that they often forget that there are many of us (yes, even older, white, monogomous women) who have never had the opportunity to learn. Many people are coming from places in our own lives, where in order to learn, we have to first unlearn our language, recognize our own societal and familial mores which have been unwittingly adopted, and then relearn how to think about language, mores, and sex. If I could voice one word for future conference organizers and educators it would be this: do you wish to only preach to the choir or do you really wish to increase your congregation?

I felt invisible.

My first indication that I was going to be an outsider was when I consistently heard the term “BDSM” mangled. I heard “bdm” I heard “b and m” (that one made me giggle), and I heard “dsm” (although that one could have been a mistake on my part). There were a few classes with a kink focus. Unfortunately 2 out of 3 were consent based classes (if you know me, you'll know why I didn't attend). There was no presentation geared towards balancing BDSM participation with sexuality, media, or feminism. BDSM gets a bad rap in the media nearly as often as pornography, but unlike pornography, you've got a lot more people participating in it rather than watching it. With books like "50 Shades" and primetime television portraying BDSM in very unrealistic ways, I’m still trying to figure out why BDSM is still the go-to gigglefest with sex geeks who don’t participate in those activities. The meme may be “whatever makes you happy and turned on”, but they still giggle over spankings.

I have to say that I wasn’t surprised by the feminist discussion of BDSM, because well, you know, one cannot BE a feminist if one is allowing a man to slap your face and call you a whore for fun].

For some reason, I still felt a lot like BDSM was still the "dirty secret" of sexuality. I felt that BDSM was thought of as just a little "side trip", but one that really didn't have much to do with sexuality, feminism or media. Apparently "alt lifestyle" is strictly on the GLBT scale. There's still a long way to go if we have to convince sex geeks that BDSM isn't just about the actions surrounding sex, but is in fact, an alt lifestyle for many. Sex geeks will talk about the merits of pornography until they're winded, but mention Dominance and Submission, and fairly often, most are quite as lost understanding that as I am discussing quantum physics. It often comes across as "whatever kinky shit you do in bed to each other is fine, but masters? slaves? seriously?"

The second thing that I noticed was that there were a lot of words being used to make me feel like an outsider. Heteronormative, cisgendered, and most especially- "privileged". I got the distinct impression that those were all “bad things” (thank gawd I actually have friends who have helped me with understanding the secret language of sex geeks or I'd really be upset). But the irony of being thought of as "privileged" this weekend was not lost on me.

I can’t really change any of those things about myself, making me feel badly about them isn’t exactly the best way to help me learn to be an understanding advocate. I know that sounds counterintuitive- I mean- if you marginalize someone then they'll better be able to understand you, right?, But I think I was really looking to learn how everyone could fit together in this space, support each other in the struggle for fairness, and celebrate each others joy. What I ended up with is feeling that because I’m not gay, not queer, don’t watch porn (I am not opposed, I just rarely watch any sort of television), or have a degree in sex geekery, my whitebread ass doesn't have a place to fit in.

So, here's a note to sex geeks- even though I'm kinky, I'm a white, cis gendered, heterosexual woman, in a monogamous relationship who is a professional in my field, employed full time, and who is a mother and grandmother. Other than the kinky part- I'm more in your "target audience" for advocacy than you realize, or that you paid attention to this weekend.

But, as I said, I wasn't going to post these thoughts because much of it is unfair. I could have pushed to be heard. I could have stood up in classes and said "I don't understand what you mean by XYZ". I could have demanded that educators teach me the basics and explain things so that I could understand them. I did none of those things so I share the blame for my failure to fit in this weekend.

But what I thought was sex geek snobbery looks entirely different now.