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.

Why would you do that?

My previous post, featuring a brief description of a mouth suturing scene I did, generated a very reasonable comment. The gist of it was – and I’m paraphrasing here – why on earth would you do that? Isn’t this stuff supposed to be sexy?

So I should start by saying it wasn’t actually my suggestion. Like I lot of the things I do in scenes, it was the domme’s idea. However, I was certainly eager to  be the guinea pig. She wanted to play around with controlling my mouth and doing a quite invasive scene. The reason it was ultimately enjoyable was for the same reasons a lot of my D/s scenes are. It’s about giving up control, being objectified, accepting pain, handling the intensity, placing trust in the domme and allowing her to take me on a journey. So while I don’t find mouth suturing a turn on per se, it is a turn on in that specific context.

One general observation I’d make is that I think there are some people who enjoy very specific activities and others for who enjoy the dynamic a variety of activities can produce. I used to be the former and over the years have transitioned to the latter. I don’t think it’s a binary categorization – you can certainly be a bit of both – but I think people tend to fall into one camp or the other.  Some submissives are into feet, or leather, or corporal scenes, or bondage, etc. That’s the thing that turns them on and the activity is the goal. Others are into control, or humiliation, or objectification, or pain. The activity is just a means to get there, and so the form it takes has different requirements.

For anyone else out there finding all this talk of weird mouth stuff equally strange, here’s something a little more traditional. Hopefully this shot has a little bit in it for everyone.

I’m afraid I don’t have an original source for this. Please leave a comment if you can help me attribute it.

Updated: Thanks to a helpful comment I can attribute this to Nikki Next shooting for the Men Are Slaves site.

Suspended Target

A few posts back I was musing on scenes where the level of pain is radically different from the visual the scene presents. This is the exact opposite of that. The scene looks awesome. I love the suspended bondage, the minimalism of the space and the dynamism of the whip. Yet I’m sure it also hurts like hell. The bondage alone looks challenging. Adding the sting of a single tail against taut flesh is particularly cruel.

This is from twitter feed of Mistress Iris. However, I believe that’s Mistress Rika on the other end of the whip.

Have you seen this whip?

I think most kinky people have a favorite toy. It might be the one that pushes their buttons perfectly, has sentimental value or is simply something that’s impossible to buy anymore. Nobody wants to lose a toy like that. All that said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone offer a financial reward for the return of a particular implement, much less a $1000 reward.

The toy in question in this case is a rare 15 year old signal whip and the owner is the famous Isabella Sinclaire. She was attending an event called Ellismania in Vegas when it went missing. I’m not really sure what that event is, but based on the photograph below, it seems to involve some sort of fighting ring, women in sexy outfits and Isabella whipping them. What’s not to like? I’m not sure if being whipped was the punishment for losing or the reward for winning. Seems like a no lose type situation either way.

If you were at this event and have any information on her whip, I’m sure she’d be very happy to receive it.

Desert Domination

I have several ideas for longer posts I want to write, but an unfortunate lack of time to do the actual writing. So I’m going to cheat again today, and simply feature some lovely content from another domme I’d love to renew my acquaintance with. This is from a recent gallery update from Mistress Iris and I spotted it via her twitter feed.

These kind of scenes might not be what you’d aim for in a typical play session, but I do appreciate the effort to do something both unusual and visual striking. I don’t really want to be whipped and abandoned in the desert, but I do want to play with the kind of domme who’ll use her time and imagination to put together something creative beyond the typical ‘sneering domme in fetish gear’ shots.

You can see more shots from this scene on her gallery pages. While Mistress Iris is undoubtedly beautiful, that car is pretty damn sexy as well. I love old school convertibles.

Bruises on bruises

I’m safely back in Seattle, recovering from my LA hijinks. Doing 8 intense hours of sessions over 6 days definitely wasn’t wise, but it was a lot of fun.

I finished by playing with Mistress Lucy again, whilst sporting fresh and vivid whip marks from Mistress Isabella Sinclaire. You can probably guess what happened next. Do you think that on being shown the day old marks…
a/ Mistress Lucy observed how tender they looked and was careful to avoid them for the rest of the sessions, or
b/ Gleefully raked her fingernails across them and then pulled our her slappy leather whip to add her own layer of marks on top?

The vivid bruises on my back will testify to answer (b). There’s something about showing a tender spot to a sadistic top – they just can’t help poking at it to get a reaction. Or, in this case, beating it with a big leather thing to get a scream.

This isn’t me in the picture with Isabella below, but my marks were (and are) remarkably similar in pattern. Or at least were until the next layer got added!

I found this on Mistress Isabella’s Instagram.

Extremities

The contents of this article entitled ‘Your brain on BDSM‘ (and this 2015 one it links to) will be old news to a lot of my regular readers. It talks about endorphins and hormones and all the good stuff that hot kinky play can create in the brain. I’ve covered similar ground in the past (for example here), but what caught my eye this time was this section.

They inferred from the study that the changes in executive functioning were as a result of the brain redirecting blood flow from higher-order functions to lower-order functions.

I’m not sure what the blood flow in my brain does in a session, but I am sometimes aware of what it’s doing in the rest of my body. During really intense play, the kind that’ll leave marks for weeks, I’ll get tingling and coldness in my extremities. It feels like all the blood is getting pulled back from my limbs into my core. It’s a really weird sensation. Obviously numbness and tingling can happen when restraints are too tight, but I’ve had this happen with no bondage involved at all. It’s almost like my body is manning its defenses. It doesn’t know what the hell is going on, but it’s taking no chances. Get the blood to the critical organs and worry about those optional hands and feet things later.

This reaction isn’t related to what’s being hit, slapped or poked. It might be a CBT session, but the hands are the ones that lose the blood. It almost feels like the body going into shock, but in a fun sexy kind of way. Has anyone else experienced this? Or is my blood just really wussy?

Here’s Mistress Eleise doing the kind of damage that might cause anyone’s blood to run and hide. This is shot for Femme Fatale Films.

Whips, boots and marks

I normally dislike shots featuring a domme reduced to just her boots or a torso. Faces and a sense of connection between participants is normally important to me. Yet there are always exceptions, and this is one of them. The composition fits both his perspective and the psychology of the scene.

I love the marks on his back, the simplicity of the room and the arrayed selection of implements.  I like to imagine he has been told to maintain that position no matter what, and she has been prowling around him, picking and choosing whips as her whims take her. For almost an hour now the only sound has been her heels, his stifled cries and the occasional self satisfied sigh from her as she inspects the whip marks.

I’m afraid I don’t know the original source for this. You see a larger version on the tumblr that originally posted it.