Thursday, January 17, 2008

Feedback on BDSM For Beginners "contacting dominants" posts

xposted from Ms160's Abode 14 Jan 08:

"it's a wonderful series ...
it's causing me to ONCE AGAIN
re-evaluate
who I am, what I want, and how I present myself.

The process is wonderfully important and
Mistress 160's series
cannot be recommended
highly enough ... If you're a
submissive who is
looking for a dominant
(especially if you are
somewhat new to the process)
go and read this. Now."
quietlisten


Thank you to everyone who's dropped me a line about the BDSM For Beginners "contacting dominants" posts.

As you know I was a bit twitchy about writing the series, for the reasons stated in the Intro. But it seems that it has filled a need. I've greatly appreciated all the feedback and have edited the posts to include your suggestions and additional experiences.

To any subs thinking of reading the series and undertaking the homework, the feedback I've received from other subs indicates both the series and the homework are proving useful, especially for newbies and for others feeling burned out in their search for a partner.
"i know You joked about the length of the posts Ms160 but the detail You went into means You addressed so many areas i really needed to know about"
(Sam)

"Thank you for your comments on my day's assignment. I was a bit freaked at handing it in. But you made me feel I did great and I have posted my assignment profile on alt now!"
(randy)

"thank u thank u thank u ... all the examples of real letters were really helpful ... i feel positive about my future"
(AJ)

"[I] really, really liked what you have written. It's a significant and very well-thought-out piece of work and you should be very proud of it ... Thanks for all you do for the promotion of what I think of as "good kink," and your love of us subbies. It means more than you know"
(quietlisten)
Because I value quietlisten's opinions I requested a longer review of the series from him. As I believe his review will be of interests to others - both subs and dominants - seeking a partner, here it is in full:
"F$#%ing wow.

"Okay, now that I've cursed in your general direction, I'd like to point out that it was intended as a compliment. I'm floored by the effort that is so obvious throughout the series, from the overall structure (unusual in a blog) to the careful enumeration of options in various situations. It just exudes thought and care.

"One of the greatest strengths of the work is the way you've paired "here's what you should/shouldn't do" with "here are the consequences and what it looks like through the other person's eyes." That's far more persuasive than a rule book approach. There are people on the other end of communications and they respond best by being treated like (drum roll...) people!

"As I pointed out [to you previously], the quotes from Dommes and other subs made me feel like this is a dance we are all in together, not a competition. A few months looking can turn anyone into a jaded cynic, and it's great therapy to understand the viewpoint from the other side of the search. In fact, the "needle in a haystack" comment motivated me to not only want to be the needle, but to be the FOUND needle. The last part of the series has a satisfyingly positive ring to it.

"Speaking very personally, I've always felt that I was the odd man out in any BDSM situation or discussion because I didn't have any real interest in a sneering bitch who would whip me. This series is so well grounded in real people without the "here's how you're doing it wrong" flavor that those of us on the margins of the lifestyle could be convinced to look more carefully and with a broader mind.

"Again, speaking just for myself, I'm probably going to change my tactics in my search. I kind of stopped thinking of it as a search about a year ago, and I feel more satisfied now. Your series helped me understand why that might be. I'll let you know if and when I find the Domme of my dreams, and you can take full credit ... if she lets you!

"I can't thank you enough for this series. I know from the sub male's perspective how valuable this advice is. I appreciate all the work you put into it. If I'm ever in Oz, I promise a great big giant hug"
I also appreciate all the comments, posts and emails I've received from dominants.
"I want to direct your attention to this wonderful and informative post by Mistress160. Mistress160 is compiling a series called; How to contact a dominant, and I urge any of you who plan to, or are currently in a position of contacting a dominant, to read it. In fact, it is a very interesting read for anybody and it is relevant to anyone, not just males.

"Mistress160 has put in an astounding amount of effort into compiling all the information. She has liaised with many experienced Mistresses who have shared their thoughts and wisdom as they address all the classic mistakes (mostly) males make in their eagerness in contacting a Woman to serve, and the etiquette that should be observed"

(Mistress Evita)

"Fantastic series Ms160, well written and researched. This article is SO needed in this lifestyle. I will be leaving this link every where. fingers crossed, my in box benefits from all your hard work and dedication"
(MissBonnie)
Please keep your feedback coming: as always its YOUR experiences and thoughts and questions and stories that make these BDSM For Beginners posts helpful to other kinksters. I'm just providing a vehicle for your voices!

BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: Introduction
(please read this Intro first!!)

BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: part 1 ("about you")
BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: part 2 ("self presentation")
BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: part 3 ("initiating contact")
BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: part 4 ("writing to a Dominant")
BDSM For Beginners: How to Contact a Dominant: part 5 ("waiting, rejection + success")

Many thanks:
Mistress Evita, Miss Bonnie
quietlisten, Sam, randy and AJ

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"National Fetish Day - Perverts Wear Purple"


Monday 21st January 2008

Kinksters in the UK (who are dealing with an increasingly moralistic government - see footnote 3 below) have decided to hold a new event this year: "National Fetish Day - Perverts Wear Purple" on Monday 21 January 2008.

Some people like this sort of event. Others loathe it. But you know, for many of you living secret lives out there, the idea of wearing something purple on Monday, in solidarity with other "perverts" worldwide, sounds like a good idea to me. Time to dig through your wardrobe for something purple, and join me on Monday in support of us all being weird and wonderful! As organizers point out:

"Enjoy and be proud, it's ok to be you!"

Absolutely. Here's what it's all about:
"Back in October 2007, a discussion was started on an Informed Consent website forum board as to whether `fetish' should be allowed to have a National Day, considering that so many other causes and/or beliefs were celebrated with their own National Day. The discussion developed and the people contributing to th thread slowly started to furnish the idea. No committees or focus groups were formed. No meetings were held. No positions of responsibility were allocated. Instead, like-minded individuals from all walks of life, from all over the country contributed their feelings towards the idea of unity. Slowly the concept became more and more realistic.

"People decided that the vision of a National Fetish Day was something that could really happen. A date was chosen that gave enough time to spread the word of what the day stood for. The next big problem was as to how people with a fetish could celebrate their ideas and life choices; a slogan was born, "Perverts Wear Purple". Why purple? Purple is a colour that is heavily represented in BDSM/fet art, style and clothing. Purple is a colour that is still unusual enough to be different yet common enough to be deniable... so no-one wearing purple needs to be scared they are automatically outing themselves. Finally, it sounds good in a catchy slogan!

"So what exactly are we celebrating? Let's have a look at what a fetish is according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

"noun: a sexual interest in an object or a part of the body other than the sexual organs."(1)

"Should this then mean that National Fetish Day is for those people who have strict fetishes for feet/rubber/leather/shoes/etc? No, not at all. The beautiful thing about alternative lifestyle decisions is that it is made up of a community of online and offline people who see themselves as belonging to different types of sub-culture. As the Informed Consent dictionary puts it:

"Many people in the community enjoy the thrill of wearing rubber without having a strictly fetishistic attraction to it. Particularly people who are into BDSM use fetish imagery to enhance their deeper sexual need for dominance and submission."(2)

"If this is the case then ALL of our varied and diverse sub-cultures, interests and lifestyle choices have parts of them that overlap into others. The community is a living, thriving and most importantly, organic humanistic meeting of beliefs and ideas. If this is the case, then we can all stand together on this day and be proud of the safe and sane choices that we make as consenting adults.

"Why should we do anything in particular on this day? We often hear the word `community' used when speaking of BDSM and fetish. An open-minded and understanding community that is inclusive to all. `We' may claim to be inclusive to all but do others understand what we do and enjoy? Many, yes. Some, no. The British government is currently legislating to criminalise the possession of images - even if the pictures are of consenting fun and no-one was harmed(3). Media coverage and word of mouth has led to misunderstanding in some areas of the lifestyle choices that we make. We feel proud as a community that we are safe, sane and consenting adults who enjoy our activities in private, in professionally run National events or even just having a nice chat during informal social gatherings. By joining this fun `National Fetish Day – Perverts Wear Purple' event, you as an individual will be joined by fellow community people all over the country in saying `It's ok to enjoy what I enjoy' without damaging your `vanilla' identity or integrity.

"So imagine it. You're harming no-one by wearing an item of purple clothing on this day and you smile to yourself whenever you think *why* you're wearing it...BUT ... what will run through your mind when you see someone else wearing a purple item of clothing? Imagine this happening across the country at the same time on the same day. Everyone who contributed to the threads, everyone who secretly read
it on websites, everyone who heard about the idea and thought it would be a bit of fun. All these perverts, all over, all doing the same thing at the same time for the same reason.

"No, this simple act *isn't* going to change the world or laws or social way of thinking. However, I genuinely believe that it might make participants (or even those that have heard but don't join in) think about this sub-culture, what it is, what it means to us and feel a slight bit of unity.

"Enjoy and be proud, it's ok to be you!"

(1) Cambridge Dictionaries Online: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
(2) Informed Consent BDSM Dictionary:
www..rmedconsent.co.uk/dictionary/Fetish/
(3) backlash: http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/


Even if you are unable to join in, why not visit the event organizers' website and leave a message of support in their Guestbook.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Latest Kink-E Magazine: review of articles on kinky mental health


The latest issue of Kink-E Magazine is out, featuring:
"articles by Mistress160, Master Jay, Mistress J, D.Vice designer sex gear, Cuffs and Collars the little shoppe of fetish, Hellfire Resurrection Pictures, kim[MJ], Abode, Pictures Page and event listing, butt toy article by Michael Masterson, and plenty more!"
Editor Kitten has (as usual!) assembled an interesting array of articles, several of which link in with the topic of kinky mental health, including my own article on aftercare for submissives (you can find my original BDSM For Beginners post here), Leonie's "Is BDSM About Self Harm?" and kim[MJ]'s "When circumstances change".

These articles all deal with rarely discussed, difficult subjects. Kudos to Kitten for including them, both from an educational viewpoint and from the point of raising the level of local kinky community discussion. So to encourage that discussion, here are my thoughts on Leonie's "Is BDSM About Self Harm?" and kim[MJ]'s "When circumstances change".

I found Leonie's article disappointing - more because of what's missing than the content of the article itself, which consists simply of definitions of the terms self harm and sadomasochism / BDSM followed by this short concluding paragraph:
"I have tried to remain neutral and will leave you to draw your own conclusions; I am satisfied in my belief that 99% of the time there is no connection between self harm, self harm by proxy and BDSM. But also believe that there are exceptions that break every rule"
Why is this a problem? Well, it means that what's missing from the article is any analysis of how "self harm, self harm by proxy and BDSM" potentially interact with each other, as well as any attempt to posit these issues within the wider (mine)field of abuse, or to related contemporary issues such as body modification or self harm as fashion statement.

It's also very important on a serious topic like this - which will be read by self harmers - that author statements such as "I am satisfied in my belief that 99% of the time there is no connection between self harm, self harm by proxy and BDSM" and "a survey done in the UK found that people who self harm were more anxious, depressed and have lower self esteem than those who do not" be collaborated by appropriate references.

While I agree with Leonie that there is not an enormous range of information on the topic, a quick google search prior to writing this post revealed enough online resources to allow the author to explore issues such as self harm, BDSM and self harm by proxy in greater depth - as Mistress Hypatia does in November 2007, in response to a post ("I thought self harm was a cry for help ... I dont see how this can transfer to a bdsm scene as its a deep emotional disturbance") on an InformedConsent forum thread on "Encouraging self harm":
"the issue here is whether self harm and BDSM can exist in the same person. If one believes that they are completely separate entities, then one must accept that they may occur together, coincidentally, in the same person. And therefore that someone can self-harm and be in a BDSM relationship at the same time.

"There is also the additional aspect of someone who self-harms seeking out the BDSM scene as a way to assuage their need - a kind of 'self-harm by proxy' if you like. I have no evidence for this happening, but there is a certain logic to it so I wouldn't be surprised if others have encountered it.

"Regarding helping someone to self-harm being 'taking sadism too far', it all depends on the motivation of the sadist. Are they doing it solely because it gets them off, or do they have damage limitation in mind as well? Like so much in BDSM, it pays to look at the exact circumstances of each situation before pronouncing judgment..."
InformedConsent's "Encouraging self harm" thread is one of several forum threads full of posts from kinksters who have self harmed or have experience with self harmers, who clearly articulate the differences between BDSM play and self injury. Here velvet minx tells her very personal story:
"I am a recovering self harmer. From the time I was 11 years old I beat my head against the wall until I lost conciousness, burnt myself, slashed my breasts, thighs, stomach and arms with razors. I ended up in hospital many times when I went too far in a frenzy of self loathing and depression. I don't regret it because it helped me survive but it was not a positive way to be living. It released the emotional pain I felt and helped me cope with the life I was leading. I haven't done it now for over ten years but it will always be something I will have to deal with. Like an alcoholic who has been dry, they still remain in recovery.

"I have been cut once by my ex Dom, I trusted him completely and it was a very positive, beautiful,intimate, erotic experience. It had nothing to do with self hate, or depression, or internal pain ... If my Dom wanted to cut me as a submissive, artful act, in love and desire I would be happy. If I was depressed and spiralling into blackness and he wanted to hack my wrist I would not be"
Reading responses to posts like this ("I think [your post] shows self harm in it's literal definition and shows the pain") reveals that the inclusion of such personal experiences provides insight for others wishing to understand self harm. Leonie's article would greatly have benefited from the inclusion of similar material, both in terms of direct experiences (perhaps her own???) as well as discussion of the wider complex links between kink and abuse. Bob King has noted:
"Self-injury is a particular concern for many survivors and those close to them. Often this activity is far riskier than that seen in a regulated BDSM playspace; severe burns, serious cuts and bruised and broken hands and heads are all possible results of self-injurious behaviour.

"The reasons given for this behaviour are very similar to those given by people within the scene; the behaviour seems to focus them and quell or redirect even darker urges. I have suggested self-flagellation to a number of survivors as a substitute for cutting and in one instance I was told that it was a satisfactory substitute. I consider this to be a functional improvement, since, with a proper flogger, the worst thing that can occur is a bruise or two"

King's article is a good one to mention because his views always results in heated discussion lol. But as the owner of a masochist with Attention Deficit Disorder, I find King's comments on BDSM / ADD spot on:
"One thing that I've considered remarkable is the number of people who have said that a beating or a cutting "focuses" them, and much speculation as to why that should be has occurred. One belief is that a properly-administered flogging or cutting releases endorphins and perhaps effects neurotransmitter levels. A great many Adult Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers have commented that they simply can't function as well without regular beatings. I note that often these people ... are interested in a good, no-frills flogging, often developing a reputation for being "bottomless" bottoms, capable of soaking up more than the typical top is willing or able to give.

"It's rather amusing, actually, to see such a bottom, bruised and glowing, leaving two or three exhausted tops muttering about cattle prods and barbed-wire flails. (These are ironic utterances, as both implements are considered to be beyond the pale by responsible BDSM players)"

This is so true!

I'd like to suggest that readers view Leonie's article as a terrific jump off point into the tricky subject of self harm / BDSM, supplementing your reading with further material drawn from the online resource list at the end of this post.

kim[MJ]'s thought provoking article "When circumstances change" explores the issue of how submissives cope with the unexpected loss of their dominant:

"How would i cope ... what strategies could be put in place to help me to get through what would be one of the most traumatic events in my life?

"i do have people in my life who care and would be supportive, i have my son and other relatives and close friends, but that is my vanilla world. The platitudes and sentiments expressed would be meaningful and comforting, but who could i turn to who would ‘really’ understand where my mind is and what i need to make my life work and my soul complete.

"Who is there who would be able to give me the comfort, yet also the control, and the support yet also the structure i need in my days?

"A submissive – especially one who has been living 24/7 - needs structure, and needs control and boundaries… when the Master is no longer around, who is there to give those things?"
This is an important topic, for both subs and dominants, who may also find themselves unexpectedly bereft of a longterm play partner. Kim provides a variety of scenarios that may result in unexpected change: illness, an injury, a private decision to leave the lifestyle, etc, as well as suggestions for coping mechanisms. She also references her own recent experiences:

"The other situation that can occur, and is probably more difficult to deal with, is if the Dominant becomes sick or incapacitated, which again means a role reversal for the submissive to take on a more dominant role. There may be medication to take, appointments to keep, and perhaps the Dominant may even be incapable of doing even the most simple of tasks.

"How do you tell your Master what to do???

"It is no easy task and on the very rare occasion i have been in this position, i have coped by almost resuming the “single parent status” – it becomes easier to be bossy if you can revert to that mindset….. not that you are treating your Dom as a child, just that you are “in charge”. I think almost every submissive would cope, but would breathe a sigh of relief when the situation reverts to normal again"

I completely identified with this, having been injured myself recently.

As part of her analysis on support networks within the lifestyle, kim discusses the merits of the "GodDom" program:
"Sometimes, formal arrangements are made between two Dominants where a commitment is made to care for the Other’s property should an unfortunate event occur.

"It is sometimes known as being a “GodDom” and is very similar to that of a Godfather or Godparent in the vanilla world. This carries a big responsibility for the Dom who makes such a commitment. It means He/She must take care of the submissive who has been left alone – the emotional and physical wellbeing of the submissive must be looked after, as well as practical support if it is needed, such as a place to stay, and if the Dominant has passed away, assistance with any legal arrangements if necessary.

"It is also the responsibility of the GodDom to take care of the submissive in the public sense as well, for example, placing her under His protection when she begins to venture out and about again. The Dominant may also help in guiding the submissive towards safe people to be with, and may also fill her needs with some play if it is appropriate.

"It doesn’t mean that the chosen Dominant must enter into any kind of relationship with the submissive in His care, it just means that He must look out for her, and guide her in her choices, give her the structure and control she will need to get her through her day to day life.

"In reality, it is the power exchange that she will need, and which the Dominant can provide...."
Well worth a read, folks.

For those lucky enough to be able to access Kink-E in Australia, head out to your nearest fetish store to purchase a copy. For others, please check out Changing Circumstances on kim's article page on MJ's Toybox.

REFERENCES + ONLINE RESOURCES:

BDSM / ABUSE

BDSM vs Abuse Statement
(Formulated at LLC III in San Francisco.
Over 20 BDSM Organizations participated in it's wording)
Chris aka Zena Flashbacks and Scenes
Clanbear's becca Survivor's Of Child Sexual Abuse and The D/s World
Dakini A View Of Abuse And D/s
Jan Hall Domestic Violence in the BDSM community
Jim Hopper Sexual Abuse of males: prevalence, possible lasting effects and Resources
Bob King The Link between Kink and Abuse
Raven Shadowborne BDSM and Child Abuse
Mistress Steel Dealing with Abuse
Mistress Steel Safe
Silver Oz Abuse in BDSM
Usha Abuse within BDSM
Wings of Fire Survivors - Articles List
(Wings of Fire is an online community in the BDSM lifestyle
dedicated to overcoming and surviving all forms of abuse)

SELF HARM

Living with Self Injury
Self Injury: a Struggle
Women and Self Injury

INTERESTING DISCUSSIONS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO READ / TAKE PART IN:

BodyMod.org: forum - Body mod vs self harm thread
Diary of a Rampant Rabbit - Cutting and Self Harm (post and comments)
Freaksexual Kinky Abuse and community response (post and comments)
InformedConsent.co.uk: forum - "Encouraging self harm thread

NEED HELP NOW???

First Aid After Self Injury
Emergency Self Aftercare Instructions
Kink Aware Professionals

OTHER SITES MENTIONED IN THIS POST:

Kink-E Magazine
kim (Property of Master Joe) Changing Circumstances
kim's article page
MJ's Toybox (run by Master Joe and kim)