Empathy

In the past I’ve published posts on scientific studies when they had positive things to say about BDSM. For example, this one on flow and this one on psychological health. It seems only fair therefore to feature one that has a more troubling message.

The study in question looked at empathy in female submissives, and came to the conclusion that they have reduced empathy to other peoples suffering. As described in this article, the experiment was done by showing them photographs of people with neutral and ‘in pain’ expressions and watching what parts of the brain lit up. Apparently female submissives had unusually low responses to the ‘in pain’ photos in the parts of the brain normally associated with empathy.

I understand the methodology behind this approach. It reminds me of an anecdote from a doctor studying psychopaths who’d been jailed for violent crimes. He described showing an expression of a frighted man to one of his subjects and asked what he thought the man in the photograph was feeling. The prisoner laughed and said he didn’t know, but it reminded him of the looks on peoples faces just before he stabbed them. Clearly being able to relate expressions to internal emotions is a key part of empathizing with someone.

However, that said, while I understand the general approach here, it does seem flawed in this case. They’re starting from the premise that pain is a bad thing, and therefore seeing someone in pain should trigger empathy and concern. That’s true for most people but not for masochists. We have a much more complex relationship to pain. It’s an ambiguous sensation and therefore context is important. If I see someone stub their toe then I wince and feel bad for them. If I see someone tied up and caned in a BDSM movie I get excited and wish it was me. If I just see a pained expression alone, it’ll probably depend on my mood and what’s on my mind. Lacking context for the pain I’ll add my own, and that could generate all sorts of different emotional responses.

I think if you’re going to study empathy in kinky people, you really need to take into account their sexual wiring. For example, study their responses to happy or surprised faces rather than people in pain. Or put the pain into a suitable context. I’m sure non-kinky people would be disturbed by and empathize with the apparent pain of the man in the image below. As a masochist my reaction to the image is quite different, because I understand in this context the pain for him might be a sort of pleasure.

I’m afraid I’ve no idea who created this image. If you can help attribute it then please leave me a comment.

Top Dog

Here’s a final post (for the moment) on a pet theme. Just after I published yesterday’s post on pro-dommes and animals, I noticed this tweet from Mistress Baton. For those not wishing to click through it features an image with the text “You don’t get to tell me what to do, you’re not my dog.” Her accompanying comment is that “The only creatures who can boss Dominatrice around are our pets.”

So I guess the lesson here is that if you’re going to top from the bottom, make sure you’re as cute as a puppy. Otherwise best do what you’re told.

This image is Mistress Adreena Angela with her personal puppy.

For the Love of Dog

Over the last decade or so I’ve been lucky enough to meet and interact with a lot of fabulous pro-dommes. They’ve all had their own unique style and approach, but there is one unusual commonality that I’ve observed. It’s not that they were intelligent, empathetic, well-organized and excellent communicators. I mean all those things were true, but being a successful professional dominant  tends to naturally select for them. Pointing those out is like pointing out that most basketball players are tall and most politicians can lie convincingly. It comes with the territory.

The unusual commonality I’ve observed is a love of animals. That’s obviously not a characteristic unique to pro-dommes, but it seems to be significantly skewed compared to the general population and to manifest itself in many different ways. Pro-dommes are frequently enthusiastic and proud pet owners, adopters of abandoned animals, volunteers at pet rescue centers, vegetarians or vegans and supporters of animal related charities. I’m obviously generalizing a lot here about a big group of people, and it won’t be true for everyone, but it is true for most of the dommes I’ve played with and true for a lot of the pro-dommes I see posting on social media.

I actually made this observation to a pro-domme last year. Although in fact, I only got as far as saying that there was one common theme I’d noticed before she beat me to the punch. I hadn’t even managed to finish my sentence before she came out with exactly the same observation.

An optimist might suggest that this trait derives from dommes possessing a nurturing and empathetic personality type that fits well with caring for animals. A cynic might suggest its because the average pet is a lot more obedient, dependable and trainable that 95% of male submissives.

This shot is from Mistress An Li and features, in her words, her two bitches playing. The one on top is her puppy and the one apparently losing the fight is her submissive in a pet crawler outfit.

Mistress An Li is an LA based pro-domme, and her professional site is located here.

Three Expressions

Typically I’m not a fan of role playing, workplace scenarios or humiliation scenes. I like being beaten for fun, not because I screwed up. Yet something about this image gives me the shivers. And I mean that in the best possible way. It’s like a kinky performance evaluation, where literally everything you did went badly wrong.

I think it’s the variety of expressions that make it work. The woman on the left never had any faith in you, and she’s totally unsurprised to be proven right. The woman in the middle didn’t know you existed until 20 minutes ago, and now can’t believe she’s been dragged into this bullshit performance review. The woman on the right was the optimist. She really thought you could pull it off. But now you haven’t, she’s going to need to explain to you in great detail exactly where and how you screwed it all up.

Setting aside my fevered imagination for a moment, I think this is orginally from a Japanese idol group called Nogizaka46, and taken from a song called synchronicity. You can see more images from the sequence here.

Bigly

Everyone knows of Rule 34.  No matter what you can think of, somebody, somewhere, has made porn of it. I’d like to propose a Rule 35. No matter what you can think of, somebody, somewhere, has tried to shove it up their ass.

The latest example of anal play gone spectacularly wrong comes from Italy, where a man (and it’s always a man) managed to lose a 23 inch toy in his colon. Getting it out proved to be quite a medical challenge, and involved a combination of medical wire and catheters.

I guess it’ll at least give him a good anecdote to use the next time he’s with his buddies and trading war stories of accidents and injuries. I can just picture the scene – “You think that’s bad? Did I ever tell you about the time the doctors had to invent an entirely new tool to go fishing in my asshole? It all started one night with a 2 foot sex toy and a industrial sized tub of lube…”

This is not (as far as I know) the sex toy in question. However, I do imagine that Miss Marilyn’s expression resembles the look on the doctors faces when they finally extracted the toy in question. You can see more of Miss Marilyn at her clips store. My thanks to Jim for the original link to the story.

You Do You

Mistress Evilyne has put up an excellent and very personal post on Whorearchy, the shaming of female desire and what sexual acts are appropriate for a dominant. Hint: It’s whatever they damn well decide. As she concludes the post with…

As long as you are not hurting anybody either physically or mentally, then go ahead and do what you want to do! Be you and rock it! And don’t let anyone shame you or tell you that they are better than you.

It’s a topic I’ve touched on before. The last time, in a post entitled Demarcation, I linked to writing from Domina Victoria Rage and Mistress T that made similar arguments. As I said then, I think the legal issues of sex work to tend to distort not only the topic, but even our ability to discuss it openly. For example, I wouldn’t discuss a pegging session here unless the pro-domme in question was publicly open about offering it on her site. Just penetration alone can be problematic legally, let alone if you throw an orgasm or two into the mix.

Theoretically this is only a problem in the professional realm, but in reality I think it tends to spill across all of femdom. Lacking other strong cultural models, people take cues from porn and pros. So we end up in this fucked up situation where patriarchal laws distort professional femdom, and patriarchal norms suppress other representations of femdom, and ultimately the distorted former being an outsized influence on the latter.

This is Mistress Evilyne enjoying some public humiliation play. She’s a London based pro-domme.

Reclamation

This Paper Magazine article presents some interesting discussions with several different sex workers in various  fields.  The one that really caught my eye was from Karmenife, who is currently working as a pro-domme. To quote her from the article…

I actually found sex work through an art project that I did. When I was on campus, I was raped my freshman year and I thought it pretty much ruined me. One way that I reclaimed my space for myself is I did an art project where I dress up like a dominatrix and I dommed frat guys in front of the frat house where I was raped. I had never felt so powerful and beautiful, and to feel that in a space where I had been ripped apart was beyond empowering.

I hunted around online and found this article from 2016 describing the art project she mentions.I can’t believe I missed this when it was originally published. It’s kind of an incredibly story, both to reclaim her power via that project and then to channel it into a career. There’s a site for the project itself here, which is where the following image is from.

Karmenife is currently based in NYC and the twitter feed for her professional persona is here.

Top Tips

If you’re looking for some interesting tips on training a submissive, then you might want to browse this twitter thread started by Mistress Eva. I have to admit that most of the suggestions don’t appeal to me personally. Spanking and naps are childhood things I’ll gladly revisit, but I’m eternally happy to be permanently done with punishment, chores and homework. However, if that’s the kind of thing you like mixed into your kinky play, then you should probably check out the thread.

Of course this also gives me the a great opportunity to feature a photograph of the lovely Mistress Eva herself.  From her site she offers online training as well as in person sessions.

I found this image on Mistress Eva’s twitter feed.

A little something for everyone

Much as I appreciate Wikipedia, I’ve always been a bit disappointed with its list of paraphilias (fetishes). It only has around 100, which seems low. You can probably find more than that in an afternoon of browsing tumblr porn.

For anyone else who feels a more comprehensive list is required, then may I suggest this collection of scanned pages that gives 547 different paraphilias. It includes things like Melissophilia (arousal from bees), Pecattiphilia (arousal from sinning) and Soceraphilia (arousal from one’s parents in law). I have to say, when it comes to that last one, I’ve seen plenty of stepmom porn out there (technically Novercamania), but not a lot of mother-in-law porn. A potential market being missed perhaps?

While it general seems like a good list, there are a couple of inclusions that make me question its scientific veracity. For example, right between Placophilia (arousal from tombstones) and Plushophilia (arousal from stuffed toys) it lists ‘Playing the Bagpipes’ (intercourse under the armpits). That sounds more like a joke punchline than a scientific category. They could at least have gone with Bagpipeaphilia.

Despite have 547 entries, I couldn’t find anything about a fetish for sitting on people or being sat upon. It doesn’t even list Forniphilia. So I guess the world is still waiting for the truly definitive list of fetishes.

I think this is from the infamous Kitan Club magazine of Japan. You can read more about the history of Kitan Club here.