Tease, Denial & Bite

My LA trip so far has been a lot of fun. I’ve probably over scheduled my play sessions (as usual) and definitely eaten too much, but there are worse problems to have in life.

It kicked off with a fabulous session with Mistress Iris, where we attempted to answer the question: Just how hard can someone bite my nipple while teasing and frustrating me? The answer is very hard. Very hard indeed. I was still tender several days later. It’s amazing what being tied up and toyed with can do for my pain threshold. I don’t have a vore kink, but being bitten while in subspace does sometimes make the idea of being devoured actively appealing. At least in that moment.

For fans of Mistress Iris, or just fans of great kinky imagery, I’d encourage you to check out her newly launched Patreon. As I’ve written before, I think she produces some of the hottest and most aesthetically interesting femdom content around, so her Patreon should definitely be worth investing in.

This image of Mistress Iris was shot in Japan, with the traditional cherry blossoms as a backdrop.

In Praise of the Pits

Getting older inevitably means there are more and more things I don’t understand. My brain can only fit so much and our culture endlessly creates more and more stuff. I’m at peace with this. What really puzzles me are the things that I’ve known for years and never understood. Like the social pressure for women to remove armpit hair. As this articles highlights, it’s kind of a thing for a lot of people. I get that from an aesthetic perspective a great bushy undergrowth might be best avoided, but what’s wrong with a little scrub? I’ve never understood why totally bare is seen as normal.

I actually feel the same way about pubic hair. I’ve had dommes in the past get slightly annoyed that I’m not completely clean shaven around the genital region, which always tends to provoke a kind of reverse Costanza in me – “Is that wrong? Should I have done something about that? I tell ya, I’ve got to plead ignorance on this thing.”

This is Mistress Youko, a Japanese pro-domme, with a sexy armpit image posted to her twitter feed. Interestingly doing an image search for something like ‘femdom armpit’ produces an endless stream of denuded pits. Hair like this is definitely the exception, not the rule.

Warning Signs

I thought I’d continue my previous post on the incompetent domme and the site she shoots for with a few follow-up thoughts.

Firstly, always be alert for warning signs in any kinky interaction – whether it’s playing in person or simply buying someone’s BDSM porn. I remember seeing the site in question advertise for film slaves with the condition that they’d only waive the usual session fee if the slave didn’t use their safeword. That’s obviously a horrible incentive structure. The submissive is liable to push beyond safe limits to avoid paying and the domme is encouraged to push hard in order to save the company money. I should have called them out when I saw that, but somehow it slid past me at the time.

Secondly, be smart about where you consume porn from. If you like a lot of low risk activities, then it probably doesn’t matter who the domme is. Femdom Empire features a lot of crossover models from the regular porn world,  but they tend to stick to activities like pegging, foot worship, facesitting, tease/denial. etc. I’ve never seen them do extreme scenes that create non-trivial risk. On the other hand, if you’re more into things like impact play, heavy bondage, CBT and medical play, then pick sites that feature a lot of well known pro-dommes. For example, The English Mansion site definitely features edgier activities, but it’s also run by a well known domme and features a lot of top professionals.

Finally, if you’re a submissive, don’t think you can delegate all safety concerns to the domme. Playing safely is a joint responsibility. If you’re concerned about raising issues mid-scene – which I’ll admit can be difficult – then build into more intense play slowly over time. That makes it much easier to adjust course or raise concerns between sessions when you’re in a clearer headspace. I’d rather look forward to playing again and pushing just a little further than leave a scene with an injury or a messed up mental state.

Talking of the English Mansion, heavier activities and professionals who know what they’re doing, here’s Domina Liza in a shoot for them. She’s certainly someone who knows how to correctly wield a single tail.

Vintage Whipping

A final post to finish my trio of vintage images. This comes courtesy of this tweet by Pitt Prickel. It’s apparently a scene from the early 1930’s. For me it has the feel of an artists studio – as though it might be models posing for a picture or a sculpture. There’s a real sense of physicality and solidity to the scene. Almost like a statue from the classical era of Greece or Rome.

More communication is never a bad thing

This Frisky interview with Joanna Angel annoyed me. Her stated goal of creating toys more appealing to kinky dabblers is a good one. But then we get to her advice for beginners, which contains the following…

Some people make it out like you really need to plan this shit out and really discuss it, like, I don’t know, do you really need a safe word with your partner? It seems like everything has to be so formal.

To which I’d say “Yes Joanna. If you’re going to bind, gag and beat someone, which is what your toys are designed for, you’d better fucking discuss it first. And when you’re just beginning to explore kink, that’s absolutely the time you need a safeword.”

Ironically, given her claim, I rarely feel the need to agree a safeword when playing with professionals. They know how to read me and can tell the different between “No (but do it some more)” and “No (my back is playing up and I’m reaching my limit).” Playing with a novice, who might be unsure exactly how hard she can push, and doesn’t have the technique to smoothly escalate intensity, is exactly the time you need a clear communication channel. It’s reassuring to both parties if there’s a magic emergency button always available to push.

This rather beautiful image comes from a tweet by mrunderheel. Despite his gag, they look like they’re in a happy space for communication. I love her smile and the marks on his body. Sadly I don’t have an original attribution for it. Amusingly, when I do a reverse image search on Google, the only thing it suggests is that a related search term is ‘fun’ and then it gives me the Merriam-Webster definition for ‘fun’. It’s both very wrong and very right all at the same time.

Crack the Whip

This is the model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley shot by British photographer Rankin. The odd thing is that this version of the image, which I believe is the original one, isn’t the one that has been widely shared. That would be this cropped and color modified version that I originally found. I guess people are happy to trade bad composition for a closer look at Ms Huntington-Whiteley.

This is from a book by Rankin called Ten Time Rosie shot in 2010.

Side effects

Weird question of the week for my readers: Has anyone done a flogging or whipping scene that left their skin incredibly itchy?

Playing in LA last week, I did a scene featuring a fairly heavy flogging and a moderate whipping. It left me with some beautiful marks on my upper back, but it also left that whole area very rough and itchy. Given its inaccessible location for scratching, that makes it particularly frustrating. I’m guessing the skin was dry from the LA heat, and then damaged enough by the heavy flogger to trigger the wound healing itch reaction. It’s kind of odd however, as I’ve never had this kind of reaction before, and certainly nothing that lasts this long. Really hoping I’m not suddenly developing an allergy to leather. That would really cramp my play options.

Given the topic of leather and whips, this striking photograph of Mistress Adrienne of NYC seems an appropriate one to feature. Whatever I was hit with, it was nothing as fearsome as that particular single tail.

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.

Crime Flick

I’m not normally a fan of using big industrial spaces for kinky shoots. They often seem very artificial and impersonal. I’ll make an exception for this striking shot however. It puts me in mind of British crime and gangster movies from the 70’s and 80’s. Flicks like The Long Good Friday (which had a scene with men suspended upside down in a warehouse) and the original Get Carter (one of my favorite movies of any genre).

In a modern movie, this’d be the scene where the hero is captured and tortured by the crime bosses evil female lieutenant. In the downbeat 70’s, the anti-hero would be working with the lady with the whip, and this’d be the point where the plan starts going sideways and just before everyone ends up dead. Of course no matter what the era, the plot or the identify of the hero, I’m sure my readers would all be rooting for the lady with the whip.

This is Mistress Manouk, a Dutch pro-domme, as shot by Alex Charilaou. I found it via this tweet.

Update: You can also see a very short clip from this shoot here. Thanks to Daria for the pointer.