Parental Figures

My random thought of the day – originally over a coffee and delicious filled doughnut at my favorite local haunt – was how differently we treat the emotionally loaded words ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ in kink.

In M/f relationships there are obviously some people who like to roleplay actual father/daughter relationships. That squeaks some people out, but it’s clearly a thing for others. However, a lot of the use of the term ‘Daddy’ seems to be about a more abstract concept of a loving authoritarian figure rather than an actual relative. Typically when someone talks about wanting a Daddy-Dom or a Daddy/Baby relationship they’re using it as a shorthand for a style of relationship rather than claiming an incest kink. Based on my limited and entirely anecdotal observations, I’d say this second more abstract usage is a lot more prevalent than the first.

In F/m interactions I never see this dual use. The more abstract idea doesn’t exist. Any reference to ‘Mommy’ is always about incest roleplay of the naughty son who needs disciplining, educating or restraining. I don’t see dominant women describe themselves as ‘Mommies’ and pro-dommes always list ‘Mommy’ under their roleplay sections rather than their style of play. Mommy Dom never gets used as a label in the same abstract way Daddy Dom does.

In fact I’ve even seen some dommes on twitter describe themselves as Daddies via expressions like “Who’s your Daddy now?” and “Daddy’s Home!” I get why they’d do this, but it seems somewhat odd for a female dominant to draw on a male archetype to emphasize dominance.

I’m afraid I’ve no conclusion to finish with. Nor do I have a value judgement about the current state of affairs. I just thought it was an interesting observation to share. Why the difference between the two? Or am I wrong in my anecdotal observations?

Artwork is by Barbara O’Toole who often seemed to specialize in the older women – young man genre.

Femdom in the Twitterverse

Domina Victoria Rage has an interesting and thoughtful post up on the culture of twitter around kink and femdom. I’m somewhat of a twitter newbie – only having joined a couple of months back – but I’ve definitely observed the phenomena she comments on. Like her I follow a mix of kinksters of various persuasions and orientations and, as regular blog readers might guess, a fair number of pro-dommes. Most tweets from that group seem to fall into the following categories…

  1. Fun sexy stuff from playing or the planning that goes along with it.
  2. Issues and complaints related to sex work in general or specific client behavior.
  3. Comments and jokes about politics, life, food, etc.
  4. Plugging new photos, site updates, travel plans, etc.
  5. Aggressive marketing leaning on the specific D/s dynamic where submissives are all pathetic losers and worms not fit to be in the presence of the angelic domme. Oh, and send money you beta cuck.

The problems obviously comes from dommes who frequently or exclusively tweet in that final category. It’s also not a new problem. For more years than I’ve been writing this blog people have been complaining about that dynamic (often from femdom porn) polluting the more general femdom environment. However, it seems so much more front and center in twitter than anywhere else I’ve seen. Rather than negotiating and opting into a consensual dynamic, it’s like there’s a constant background hum of humiliation, abuse and fin-domme.

Obviously careful curation of who you follow can help limit it, but that’s not really the problem here. I might by mildly annoyed by marketing in the form of abuse, but it’s not going to warp my views on D/s or kink. I worry more about people new to it  and using twitter as a means of exploration. At least with a porn video it’s pretty clear exactly what is. A tweet from a domme seems so much more personal. I think it’d be very easy to form the opinion that humiliation and abuse are a standard way for dommes to interact with submissives, rather than a specific kink to be negotiated and explored within a defined scene. As Domina Victoria eloquently puts it.

…if you’ve encountered some of that negativity online and it’s left a bitter taste in your mouth or put you off of exploring kink – just know, those individuals do not represent the majority. I, and every other reputable Top I’m aware of, share the sentiment that it’s vital to love, cherish and adore your submissive partners and admirers. Domination doesn’t come from a place of indifference, anger or blatant disregard.

This image is of the lovely Victoria Rage herself. If you’re in the Seattle area and wish to schedule a session, her professional page is here.

Subverting Expectations

The joke from last weeks post about the pain of stepping on a lego brick (and Servitor’s smart ass comment) got my thinking about the correlation between the visual and physical experience in kink. More specifically, when the two radically misalign. A single tail looks painful and is painful. Nobody sees one in action and thinks that it’ll probably just be a slight tickle. In contrast, a Lego brick looks like nothing, and yet hurts like hell if you unwittingly step on one. So what kinky activities are the equivalent of the sneaky Lego brick? Or on the flip side, look horrifying but are actually pretty mild? What give the biggest contrast between their visuals and their sensations?

In the ‘looks easy but hurts like hell’ category I’d suggest kneeling on rice on a hard floor. Troy Orleans did that to me a few years back. It didn’t look like much. I assumed it’d be uncomfortable but tolerable. In actuality I was on the point of fainting after a few minutes. I had the whole cold sweat, white skin and tunnel vision thing happening. We had to stop and give me a timeout to recover. Maybe I’ve got particularly bony and sensitive knees, but for me that was the most unexpectedly painful thing I’ve encountered.

On the ‘really not bad as it looks’ I’d suggest play piercing in the cock. Not the head – which definitely does smart – but the skin along the shaft. The visual is very dramatic, and make most guys wince, but the reality (for me) is it’s actually one of the milder spots to pierce. I find areas like the chest, the legs, the belly and the scrotum are all far more painful. Having had my hand sutured to my cock a couple of weeks back, the ones in the cock were a walk in the park compared to the single suture in the hand.

Obviously degrees of pain and visual drama are highly subjective. Any readers have any suggestions of activities that are either much more or much less painful than their visual appearance would lead you to believe?

For an image, given I just mentioned cock piercing, I thought I’d go with Mistress Yuki’s seasonal variation on a butterfly board. From a timing perspective, I probably should have featured this last week. Visually dramatic but, apart from that one needle through the head, I bet it didn’t hurt as much as you’d expect it to.

The Challenge of the New

Writing yesterday’s post on the new experiences I enjoyed with Mistress Cynthia got me thinking about the dynamics of doing new activities. More specifically, doing an old activity for the first time with a new play partner. There are a few different ways to approach this, and one of them niggles me every time it happens. I’m not sure it rises to the level of a pet peeve, but it’s something that I think is worth raising awareness of.

Some dominants don’t care what I’ve done in the past. They just pull out the toys they have in mind to use and get on with doing their thing. Others ask in order to gather information they can use. If it’s a new activity then maybe they’ll build intensity more slowly or check in more often. I’m perfectly happy with either approach. What I find odd is when a domme will be visibly disappointed if they discover the activity they’ve decided on isn’t a new one for me. Sometimes they’ll almost seem to be verging on frustration that they can’t ‘surprise’ me with a particular toy or new experience. I’ve had session where, after this kind of exchanged had repeated 3 or 4 times, I almost wanted to start lying and claiming ignorance, just so we could get out of that repeated negative interaction.

I’ve tried out a lot of different kinky activities over the last few years. That’s not down to any skill or achievement on my part. I’m just lucky to have had the time and opportunity to do a lot of different session with experienced dommes in well equipped spaces. So it’s pretty rare to find a fairly general activity that’s both inside my limits that I haven’t tried at some point. Yet, in all that time, I’ve never once thought to myself “Oh, we’re doing this shit again. Let’s get through this as fast as possible so we can get to something different.” I’ve had sessions ranging from just OK to awesome, and that difference has never been made by the uniqueness or novelty of the activity. The quality of the experience is always about the dynamic between myself and the domme and our interaction in the moment. The way every scene unfolds is unique, even if some of the building blocks repeat. Or to put it in cruder terms, I’ve jerked off a fair amount over the last decade or three, and I’ve never got bored with that activity, so let’s assume that novelty isn’t the deciding factor in how fun something is.

For any dommes out there, I’d suggest always treating past experience with an activity as a positive. It means the submissive will probably be able to give good feedback during it and will have greater capacity for handling it.

Given the post subject matter I thought it’d be worth trying to pick an image of an activity I’ve not really tried. So here we go – cross dressing. There was a domme 6 or 7 years ago who put me in stockings a few times, but apart from that I’ve been lingerie free. I’m not sure of the source of this vintage picture, but that young guy is carrying that outfit off pretty well.

Who are you? (Continued)

I hadn’t intended to write a series of posts on the intersection of social media and online identities, yet somehow, here we are with a third post. In a previous comment on my first post Ferns raised the issue of transparency and how companies hide the ‘how it works’ aspect. That’s a fascinating topic in itself, and so I wanted to circle back on it.

It’s clearly true that companies should do a better job of notifying users of what data they’re collecting. They don’t want to do that because there are only negative consequences for them. No user is going to say “I love that this huge faceless corporation knows all this stuff about me, but you’re missing out on a lot more private stuff I haven’t shared. Let me help you access that as well.” In reality, given more visibility of the data gathering process, users are only going to want to add constraints, which in turn hurts the companies product and their advertising revenue.

When it comes to the interpretation of the data – for example, why Facebook makes the friend suggestions that it does – then the story is more complicated. Machine learning and particularly deep learning is driving a lot innovation in big tech companies these days. Traditionally a  software developer would analyze a problem and code up an algorithm to solve it. Now that same developer will specify the end result they want (these people are friends, these people are not friends), gather as much input data as they can (user location, hometown, school, posts they liked, etc.) and try and train a system to figure out the end result from the inputs. Typically this involves throwing a huge amount of computational power at the problem (which is why this has only become practical recently) and results in a black box that nobody really understands. Given the right inputs (e.g. data about users) this black box might be able to make excellent predictions about who is friends with who, but it can be difficult to say exactly why it makes any single prediction. So when companies say it’s difficult to share why certain suggestions were made, they might not be lying. They might not know themselves.

As an example of this, let’s consider the original case of the sex worker I talked about in my first post. I should be clear I know nothing about this beyond the public articles and I know nothing about Facebook’s internal algorithms or what data they have. This is speculation designed purely to illustrate the issue. That said, imagine if Facebook had access to the WiFi networks people accessed from their phones over time. Being on the same public network as someone else doesn’t mean much. Even repeatedly seeing the same networks at roughly the same time doesn’t mean much. Maybe you just happen to regularly go coffee at the same time and place as some other random person. But repeatedly being on the same networks at the same time, but in different places over many months would be indicative of a possible relationship. That’s the kind of correlation that a machine learning system could figure out. It’s also the kind of correlation that would occur for a sex worker regularly meeting the same group of clients at different hotels in a city.

Apologies if anyone visited here with the crazy idea of reading posts about femdom. Hopefully I’ll get back on that track in the next day or two. In the meantime I’ll continue my theme of old school anonymity via masquerade style masks. This is the lovely Anne Hathaway, the one bright spot in the otherwise terrible Dark Knight Rises.

Who are you? (Revisited)

So it turns out I’m a bad blogger who doesn’t carefully read the articles he links to. Yesterday’s post featured the story of a sex worker being outed by Facebook, and my suggestion that limiting different social media products to different online identities would probably help. It turns out that was exactly what Leila, the sex worker in question, had done. She only used Facebook in her private life, but still it started linking to her work social contact. My bad for not paying attention. I should probably be punished.

In my defense, I will say that it’s likely the information leakage occurred through the path I did actually identify in the post – smart phone or tablets linked with social media. It’s feasible to set-up a PC with distinct user accounts and strictly enforced separation of data and identities. It’s almost impossible to do that for other devices. And while you could obviously just use physically distinct devices for each online identity, the reason we have these devices is for convenience. Even if you carry two phones, at some point you’ll want to share data between them, and as soon as you do, there’s an opportunity for tech companies to sneak in and exploit it.

The fundamental problem here is that users are not the customers of social media – they’re the product. The advertisers are the customers. The more data the media companies have on their users/product the better they can target it for their customers. So their goal is not to solve these kind of issues. It’s to do the absolute minimum necessary to stop the product getting mad enough to quit, while retaining the maximum amount of information for their advertisers. As a tech guy I can understand that, but as a kinky sex blogger and social media user, it definitely sucks.

It’s an entirely solvable problem from a technology perspective, but the incentive structure for the companies isn’t in place to do so. That leaves people with multiple online identities with limited options. Either never use social media anywhere, or give up anonymity, or keep separate devices for each identity and be incredibly careful to never link or associate them in any way. Or, I guess, roll the dice and hope Facebook doesn’t pop up one of those annoying ‘Your friends liked…’ ads for your local kinky munch on your mom’s Facebook feed.

I’ve no idea what an appropriate image for this post would be, so I’ll continue the masquerade mask theme from yesterday. I’m afraid I have no idea what’s going on in this image, or who it’s originally by, but I would love to attend the kind of parties that featured masked topless ladies drinking wine and brandishing knives.

Who are you?

This Gizmodo story is likely to strike fear into the heart of anyone who tries to maintain multiple and distinct identities on social media. A sex worker named Leilia had two separate Facebook accounts, one for her private life and one for her job. Despite keeping them distinct, with separate email and phone numbers, her friends and family account suddenly started suggesting her work clients as “People You Might Know.” Obviously Facebook’s algorithms had managed to link the data in someway and decided it was all one big happy social network.

Facebook coming up with surprising and unnerving friend suggestions isn’t a new story. This article, posted a few months ago, describes how it figured out the authors great aunt, despite the fact his father had been adopted as child and had no contact with that branch of the family. With the algorithms getting smarter, the amount of data online constantly growing, and neither of them easy to monitor or understand, I’m sure issues like this are going proliferate.

As a software guy, I find the situation somewhat perverse. Traditionally academic computer systems had very strong notions of user identity, because they were shared systems, where personal computers had no concept of it, because they weren’t powerful enough to support it. Companies like Microsoft and Apple worked for years to bring proper identify management and user isolation to PCs. No sooner had they achieved that goal – Windows XP being a major milestone – than smart phones, tablets and social media software arrived and turned everything into a inter-connected soup with no good way to managed different identities.

For now I suspect the only way to handle the problem is to not use the same social media platform with two different identities you wish to keep distinct. So if you have a Facebook account for a friends/family identity, don’t have one for your kink/sex identity. And if you want a tumblr account to share kinky porn, don’t also create a second tumblr account to share holiday snaps with friends. Pick the product most useful to each identity and don’t assume you can keep two accounts on the same platform distinct.

Life was so much simpler before the internet. It used to be only necessary to slip on a masquerade mask and you could attend any fancy ball of your choice in total anonymity.

This is from a shoot for Marie Claire by Koray Parlak and features Nina Reijnders with Victoria Lipatova.

Better Than Life (final)

An interesting post on the liberating experience of VR porn from a trans man perspective got me thinking about femdom and VR again. I previously posted about my experiences with it, current niches it was suited for and the potential for combining it with e-stim technology.  I’ve been meaning to write a post on its future potential, and I guess this is going to be it.

My first prediction is that the VR future will be interactively rendered scenes that you can move around in, rather than simple 3D recorded movies. The latter are fun to try, but in many ways emphasize the limits of the medium rather than play to its strengths. So with that assumption taken, let’s make some simple technology projections…

  • Headsets will get lighter, wireless and offer better quality displays.
  • Computers will be able to create interactive VR scenes and people that are indistinguishable from recorded film.
  • Motion and facial capture will be able to accurately capture movement and gestures using simple cameras with no fancy bodysuits or reflective dots.
  • Speech technology will support voice warping to mimic any particular intonation/pitch required.
  • Somebody will build something similar to the kind of e-stim device I described here. It won’t mimic touch or allow you to feel virtual surfaces, but it will be able to create interesting and complex sensations across your body.

None of these things require any new technology breakthrough. They’re simply extensions of what’s already happening. The last one is probably the most risky projection, and that’s only because it’s a niche product that doesn’t have the obvious mass market applications of the others. If you put all these pieces together, what kind of experience could you create?

Imagine two people located in different parts of the world but sharing a virtual space of their choosing. The environment visualization and their embodiments in it are indistinguishable from reality. Their headsets are light and untethered, meaning they can freely move around. As they do so, the system captures the body position and facial expressions and mimics them in the space. A bow, a wagged finger or a blown kiss are perfectly captured. Their bodies and clothes can be whatever they want them to be. They can talk and their voices will be modified to a desired intonation. They can’t touch one another but, using a mixture of computer controlled e-stim and vibration devices, they can create complex and interesting sensations across their physical bodies. A particular gesture could be a gentle tickle, a sharp zap or a wave of pulses and vibrations. Would all that be a compelling experience?

I guess some people might see that as a depressing scenario. Two isolated people surrounded by technology in a fake space pretending to be someone they’re not. Personally I think it’d be incredibly liberating and empowering. It’d allow experimentation with roles and a sense of self. Gender, age and appearance all become malleable. It’d allow complex long-distance relationships and allow people to escape physical or geographical limitations. It could be used for everything from casual chatting and hookups through to complex roleplay and storytelling. It’d be fun as hell. Like creating your own Gollum, but in realtime and with a much sexier character. Unless your idea of sexy is a slimy, hairless grey creature, in which forget that last part.

I’m sure the sex industry would also quickly figure out a commercial angle. People already pay cam girls and pro-dommes for live streaming sessions. Imagine if, rather than in a 2D computer window, they were suddenly sitting on the couch next to you. And the couch was in the middle of an orgy in ancient Rome. Of course the beautiful domme sitting next to you with the sultry voice might actually be a 60 year old guy in Wichita.  But at least that means people previously shut out of the sex industry because of gender/age/appearance would now have new opportunities to shine.

Not all of this is going to happen in the next year or two. But I’d be amazed if it hadn’t been realized in the next five to ten years.

This 3D rendered image was created by xrenderer in 2007. It still looks pretty good, but in computer years, that’s an eternity ago.

Spend your budget wisely (part 3)

Here’s a final few thoughts to conclude my theory of the submissive ‘stress budget’. See the earlier parts here and here.

Phil raised an excellent point in a comment on the first post: The submissive’s budget can also be diminished by stress and overload from daily life. Sometimes kink can be a release from that pressure, but in other situations it’s necessary to take it slowly and allow more time to grow the budget as play unfolds. It also mean a submissive has a duty to perform self-care and be aware of their own mental state prior to playing.

I hope all my readers understand that the budget concept I’ve described is meant very much as a thought experiment and a theoretical way to think about more complex scenes. I’m not suggesting submissives start negotiating scenes by saying their budget today is 75 and while caning is down 10 on the stress-o-meter, whips are up to an expensive 45. I’m also not suggesting that dommes keep a running budget count in their head during play. This is just a possible abstraction for thinking about limits in a slightly more realistic way than the traditional hard/soft definitions.

Finally, if anyone new to kink and femdom is reading this and thinking that it all seems very complicated and somewhat daunting, then all I can say is please disregard everything I’ve written. You can absolutely ignore all this and have an amazingly fun kinky time. Just grab your partner by the balls, bite his neck and whisper that he’s your slut puppy in his ear. I’ve played for years without caring about any of this and had some amazing experiences. You don’t need to understand film theory to enjoy a great movie, and you don’t need to deconstruct kink to enjoy dominating or submitting to someone.

In line with that idea, and as a change from the last couple of crazy kink images, here’s a simple shot to finish on.

I believe this is the actress Giovanna Ewbank with her husband Bruno Gagliasso. You can see more shots from this sequence here and here.

Spend your budget wisely (part 2)

If you’ve not seen my previous post, then I suggest this post will make a lot more sense if you go read that first. Or alternatively, read this one, try and guess what the hell I’m talking about, and then see if you’re right afterwards. Your call.

Assuming you buy my theory of a submissive stress budget, the obvious follow-up question is: What are the implications? How should I use this information?

The simple answer is to be aware of what your submissive budget is and what it costs to spend it on different activities. That’s certainly a necessary thing to do, but hardly radical new thinking. Where I think it gets interesting is when you start planning out scenes with specific goals in mind. Then I think the idea of a budget helps focus the play. You can evaluate if each new element introduced advances you towards the goal or simply wastes budget.

For example, let’s say you both want to do an intense impact play scene. In this case the bigger the whacks the happier everyone ultimately is. This means the budget needs to be focused on riding out the impacts. So make the submissive’s physical position relaxed, give him room to wiggle and don’t add other clips, clamps or spiky things. If you use bondage, make it light and comfortable. Mix the impacts in with things that grow his stress budget, like touch, teasing and visual stimulation. Spend all the budget on the focus on the scene, not on the details around the edges.

As another example, let’s say you want to try out urethral sounding, but that’s a new and scary thing for the submissive. In this case do the sounding as a very separate activity from other play. Making all his budget available for the sounds will maximize the chance of success and minimize the freak-out potential. Then, when he’s had a chance to calibrate, you’ll both have an idea what could be combined with them in future play.

We typically think about kink and BDSM as being all about maximizing intense experiences. But sometimes you want to achieve a particular effect with the minimum amount of stress. For example, tight hoods burn a lot of my stress budget, but I do enjoy sensory deprivation scenes. The solution to this conundrum is to use ear plugs and blindfolds. That achieves the same effect, but leaves a lot of my budget available for adding bondage, breathing control, e-stim devices, etc. In that kind of scene the domme is trying to add a lot of layers, but not burn too much budget on the early ones.

I’ve a few concluding thoughts on this topic I’ll save for a third and final post. Given I was just discussing sensory deprivation, I thought it’d be appropriate to finish with this image. I’m guessing a lot of his budget has been spent on that impressive wrap. Hopefully he’s got enough left to handle whatever she’s planning for the bit left sticking out.

This is obviously from the Divine Bitches site.