Her Delicate Touch

Here’s something sweet to start the week. This image is from the SF based pro-domme Mistress Wild Iris, via this tweet.

Ironically, I find one of the things that makes a great pro-domme isn’t their ability to crack a single tail, or rig a fiendishly complex bondage scene, it’s the delicate touches they bring to their scenes. It’s knowing when the submissive needs a grounding contact to bring them back. The breath of a whisper into their ear. The press of a sensual warm body on a bruised back. It’s that momentary physical and emotional connection that allows intense sensations to be sublimated into a D/s dynamic.

You can see more from Mistress Wild Iris on her twitter feed.

I like to watch

I should give you fair warning, this post might be a bit of a rant. In the past I’ve vented here on topics like flirting with limits and cold playspaces. Today I’m going to take on a very popular BDSM accessory – the blindfold.

I’ll admit upfront that there are good situations for using a blindfold. They clearly work well as part of a sensory deprivation scene. If you want to change a routine up and introduce some surprises then a blindfold can help with that dynamic. They’re also great for beginners to reduce the pressure on the domme. He can let his imagine run wild while she has time to figure out exactly how the cuffs are supposed to work. What I don’t understand is why they’re so popular outside these situations. They often seem to get incorporated because they can be, rather than as a necessary component of a larger plan.

I’m particularly puzzled by how often pro-dommes tend to use them. I think it’s fair to say that most pro-dommes are very attractive women. That might not be a requirement of the job, but it’s unarguably a significant advantage. They also tend to spend a lot of money on exciting fetish gear and sexy footwear. So why on earth would they want to slap a blindfold on me so I don’t get to experience that visual pleasure? I’ve heard that it’s so I can use my imagination, but frankly I have the rest of my life to use my imagination. I’m paying money so, just for a few hours, I can enjoy an amazing reality that’s better than my kinky imagination.

The other strange thing I’ve observed is that blindfolds often seem to get used in initial sessions when the dominant and myself are still getting to know one another. That really doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s tough to quickly build the kind of dynamic necessary for intense play when you only see one another for a couple of hours ever few weeks or months. So why would you want to put up a barrier to make it harder to build the necessary chemistry? If I know someone intimately, then a blindfold can represent an interesting twist on that relationship. But if I met you for the first time 30 minutes ago, a blindfold just means a stranger I can’t see and don’t know is now hurting me. That might be a kink for some, but I doubt it is for most submissives. Pain is only hot in context, and absent a history together, a blindfold takes a lot of that context away.

I’ll admit I’ve had some fun sessions with blindfolds. I remember a scene with Lydia featuring saran wrap mummification, ear plugs, a blindfold and an e-stim device that almost pushed me into a hallucinatory state. I had difficulty speaking at the end of that. But in that case there was a very clear reason for the blindfold, and it was done when Lydia and myself had already played together for a hundred hours plus. I’ve done a lot more sessions with other dommes where the blindfold only subtracted from the scene and made it that much harder to relax into the moment.

Feel free to leave a comment if violently disagree (or agree) with me on this. I’m curious if it’s just me who feels this way, or if there’s a perspective (particularly from the domme side) that I’ve missed.

I believe this image is by Miss May of the Fetish Webmistress site.

The Epistemological Problem

My post on ‘The Path to Subspace‘ generated a number of interesting comments. One common factor that came through in them was the problem of definition. How do I know the experience I describe as subspace is similar to that experienced by others? The same could be said of any mental state, but at least life provides us with many common references points to calibrate our understanding of happiness, anger, pain, etc. Subspace is far more complex, with no common path to it and no simple reference markers.

Alex commented that a therapist had attributed subspace to dissociation. At first glance that seems logical. Dissociation can be induced by stress and is described as a detachment from reality. Subspace is reached by stressful BDSM play, and often described as ‘floating away’ or ‘zoning out’, so that seems to fit. Yet, when I read the kind of questions they use to test for dissociation, the match seems less clear. And in fact, when I look back on my own descriptions of subspace, I’m not sure I’ve done a good job of capturing the sensation.

Dissociation is described as detachment from reality, where subspace to me often feels like reality has detached from me. That might seem like silly wordplay, but I think there’s an important difference. In subspace all that matters is the domme, me and the dynamic between us. The surroundings falls away. It’s not that I’m detached, or absent from my body, but that everything in our little bubble seems hyper-real. The domme fills my world with her presence and the sensations of our play. The pain, the smells, the touch, the intimacy and the intensity. It overwhelms me, and turns everything outside our space into an afterthought. It’s not the volume on the world being dialed down, but the volume on the two of us being dialed way way up.

If you’re interested in reading more about the post title then this is worth checking out.

Better than yoga?

Articles on BDSM and mindfulness have been popping up across the web in recent days. The first I spotted was at Time magazine, and since then I’ve seen similar articles at sites like Bustle, Instinct Magazine and Medical Daily. They were triggered by research published in the journal Psychology of Consciousness that claimed that BDSM could put people in a state of ‘flow’, where the rest of the world falls away and their concentration is heightened on the present moment.

It’s good to see positive BDSM stories on mainstream sites, and I doubt many people in the kinky world would dispute the idea of BDSM leading to altered mental states. Getting into subspace might not be the only reason people play, but it’s often an important one. That said, I do have problems with the study (as it’s described in the mainstream press)…

  1. They only picked 7 couples, which is a tiny number to study. On top of that, the couples had a variety of relationship states (from long term to just met), introducing more variables into the tiny sample.
  2. They randomly assigned top/bottom status. If everyone involved was a switch that might be OK, but if not, then it would seem very problematic. Ask me to top someone and you will not get mindfulness. You’ll get anxiety, stress and a partner stuck in a tangled web of granny knotted ropes. Switching for non-switches is not a good measure of normal BDSM play.
  3. It doesn’t appear that they distinguished between top and bottom space. I’m not an expert on top space, but from what I’ve read it seems quite different to bottom space. Both have elements of being in the moment and the rest of the world falling away. However, top space seems to be about concentration and focus, a sense of mastery that aligns with the more traditional ideas of mindfulness and flow. Bottom space, for me at least, is not like that at all. It’s about not thinking clearly, surrendering to the moment and disassociating. I hear tops describe their state as having heightened intuition and understanding, where I can barely form words when deep in bottom space.

Hopefully the study will at least be a good starting point for further research. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an image of a couple in their own particular state of flow. From the watermark I assume it was something to do with this event (I found it here).

flow

Rope gag and blindfold

My immediate thought on seeing this, was that it was from the gang over at Dude’s in Distress. It’s got the colorful rope bondage and sense of playfulness they bring to a lot of their images. However, having scrolled through their archive I can’t see it anywhere. Whoever created it (and leave me a comment if you know), I think it’s a lovely image. There’s the symmetry of the composition, but also the contrast in their situation. Her playful smiling expression balances nicely with his bound and drooling one. And something about the eye contact that isn’t eye contact is very hot.

RopeGag

Simple fun

Fixing the blogroll is still on my to do list. I’m going to blame time spent Christmas shopping for slacking in the blog department. By way of apologies let me share this happy looking shot. It’s pretty simple stuff compared to some of the crazy shots I’ve featured in the past. Just some cuffs, a blindfold and a big bed. But it looks like fun all the same.

Simple Fun

Negotiation in the moment

Miss Margo recently put up a post that got me thinking about scene negotiation. The original post was about a complete absence of negotiation and a bad domme acting non-consensually. I’m not going to talk about that particular angle, as I’ve nothing really to add. If you’re destroying trust and traumatizing your play partners, as seemed to be the case Miss Margo describes, then clearly things are pretty fucked up. Instead I want to look at it from a more positive point of view: How do people negotiate consent effectively within a scene?

Obviously it’s always good to establish limits and boundaries before clothes come off and the whips come out. But it’s not always possible to cover every possible option. A scene is a fluid thing, with an energy of its own. Most people don’t want to script out exactly what will happen. So how do deal with the unknowns and getting consent when rope is flying? I’ve personally experienced 3 general approaches from dommes…

  1. Assume consent, but go slowly with check-ins, and give the submissive plenty of time to stop the action if they’re uncomfortable.
  2. Get consent by asking the question, but do so very much in the context and mood of the scene. I remember one time being asked in a very sultry voice – “Are all these holes mine to fuck?” An affirmative response in that case led to a set of urethral sounds appearing.
  3. Mentally step away from the scene and pose the question in a very straightforward way. This is a big gear change, pulling everyone back into the pre-scene negotiation mood, before switching back into the scene dynamic. In this case the domme might pose the question as “Hey. Quick timeout. It just occurred to me we could incorporate X. Would that be OK, or would you rather not do that?”

I’m sure a lot of people would frown on (1), but I do understand the thinking behind it. In fact it’s the same thinking as (2). It’s trying to maintain the dynamic of the scene. Dommes want to walk the line between negotiation and maintaining the submissive headspace they’ve spent time creating. Sadly, while I understand the desire to do this, I think it’s a big mistake. The right way to go for me is always (3).

In a scene the submissive is typically predisposed to try and obey instructions and help the dominant. That makes it hard to respond to genuine questions that may require a negative response. Whatever happens somebody has to change their mental headspace to deal with the question. It might seem that options (1) and (2) maintain the scene dynamic, but actually they force the submissive to mentally change gears without any help. And that’s hard. At least for me it is.

With approach (3) the domme takes the responsibility to temporarily change the dynamic, as befits her role. It’s easy for her to pull the dynamic back to a discussion of equals before plunging back into the play. I’ve never had a problem getting my headspace back in those situations. I’ve had real problems with negotiations that caught me unawares and left me second guessing my responses.

SoundingSince I mentioned using sounds as a situation where I’ve encountered this kind of on the fly negotiation, it seems appropriate to finish with this image. Given he can’t see what’s coming, I’m hope they discussed it ahead of time. I’m afraid I don’t have a source for this image.

Trouble at dungeon

There’s nothing sexier than a lick. Other than a bite. A lick and a bite. The two sexiest things are a lick and a bite and a kiss. The three sexiest things are a lick, a bite and a kiss…and a gentle nibble on the neck. Amongst the many things sexy things are licks, bites, kisses, nibbles and gentle whispers into a lovers ear… I’ll come in again.

A Sexy LickI don’t have an attribution for this, I believe that’s Mistress Madeline and I’d guess it’s a crop of an original photograph from Kink.com. I should also add that this post originally was a sensible one that had an identical opening to its current one. It kind of got away from me after that. For anyone confused.