Dating d/s.

So many times I’ve read women asking how to do this d/s thing so I thought I’d write down a few of the things that I feel are important to know. I’m not going to include the mechanics of or how to personalise a d/s relationship and I’m not going to write a piece as a how to if you want to be considered submissive and seen as doing it right. Rather I’m going to write this with you (you the reader) in mind; the you that is a woman, a woman looking for a relationship.

 I’m going to use this to address some to the basics that I think are important to understand when first stepping out to explore kink; six really simple (to me) rules, a how to guide if you like. Things that I think should be considered when in those early phases of exploration and connection.

I had always thought there was something missing when I discovered all things kink, like there was some step that I missed when I applied for my visa into the world of strange things sexy. Then I started to realise that no matter what label I gave myself or how many letters I added to the sex I wanted it I had to bring everything that I knew about myself as a woman and dating to the kink equation.

First and foremost d/s is a relationship; the coming together of two (or more) people to create a healthy, manageable and functioning space. If you see d/s as anything other than this than these tips aren’t going to (probably) make any sense to you.
Rule 1

IF IT FEELS WRONG TO YOU

Then it is probably wrong for you!

There are a million different ways to do a billion different things but that doesn’t mean you have to do any of them. You don’t have to send naked pictures. You don’t have to call anyone anything if you don’t want to. You do not have to change the way you think of something, restrict your actions, make excuses for who you are, believe the first thing you read (including what you are reading right now) if it doesn’t feel right to you!

Maybe 99 girls out of 100 would do it no questions asked but that one who doesn’t isn’t doing anything wrong. All she is doing is what is right for her and you have to do what is right for you.

Setting boundaries is an adult thing to do. It is not a dominant thing nor does it make you less submissive. Saying upfront that something is not okay with you is okay. (See rule 5)

Rule2

IF YOU WOULDN’T THINK ABOUT DOING IT BEFORE…

Don’t do it now!

Would you let someone ignore you for three days and then come back pretending that everything was okay?
Would you let someone you were dating just stand you up with no communication at all and not ask him why?
Are you okay with not being able to ask questions when you believe the answers are important?
Is there a boundary that you believe should not be crossed when you are getting to know someone?
Is talking about sex in the first message okay with you?

All of the things that you needed and/or expected when you have dated in the past are still there. The context of your needs may have changed but you are the same person you have always been.

Rule3

HONESTY

This is a HUGE one for me. Being honest with yourself about what you are looking for is one of the most important things that we need to do.

Be honest about what you are expecting. Do you want a NSA casual sexual relationship or are you looking for a long term commitment. Do you want absolute monogamy or are you open to the idea of non-monogamy.

Be honest about your experiences and desires, your boundaries and your concerns.

Be honest about safe sex! If you cannot talk about doing it safe you shouldn’t be doing it!

Expect and demand that the person you are speaking with will do the same!

Rule 4

SEXUAL HEALTH &SAFETY

Keep yourself safe!

Your sexual health is your responsibility! STI’s and pregnancy happen to kinky people too! Even slaves have to go for their regular gyno exams. It is your responsibility to take your pill. It’s your responsibility to demand a condom. It’s your responsibility to get tested. No adult would ask you to endanger your physical health, or mental health for that matter!

Rule 5

CONSENT AND COMPATIBILITY

Consent is just so damn sexy don’t you think?

What we do is consensual. It’s all about two (or more) adults having mutually satisfying intimate and/or sexual relationships. Relationships that are NEGOTIATED. If anal is something that you can’t get your head around then say so. If you don’t want him/her to access your emails, control your money, tell you to do things to your body while you are at work, use punishments in the dynamic then bloody well say no & demand that your answer is accepted. Of course boundaries change but if what you want now is A then A is what you want

Make sure that you can clearly identify a point of consent. If you are unsure ASK.

Again if you can’t talk about it you shouldn’t be doing it!

This also comes down to compatibility! You have to want the same (similar) things in order to create and maintain a functioning and fulfilling relationship. If the person you are getting to know loves anal and it is a limit for you then you may not be compatible with each other. The sub is not a fake because she doesn’t like anal penetration and the dom is not a predator because anal is his thing and wants it. Those two people are just not what each other needs!

There seems to be this idea that because A is a dom and B is a sub they are automatically meant to be. We are all unique individuals who like things differently in the bedroom. Some people are going to want us and others won’t. It’s not the end of the world and PLEASE please DO NOT compromise on things that are really important!

If you want a long term emotionally invested relationship then don’t settle for a NSA. It cannot satisfy you, it will not satisfy you.

If you are monogamous then you are monogamous and that dom who has 7 other subs is really not going to do it for you.

If you only want d/s in the bedroom then don’t feel you have to go 24/7.

There are an infinite number of ways to do d/s & have kinky sex so do it your way.

Rule 6.

ASK ASK ASK

Ask yourself and ask the other person everything that you can think of. If you are unsure of something ask. If the person you are talking to mentions something that he/she wants in a relationship and you are not 100% sure what they are meaning; ask them to clarify.

This includes reading! But reading with an open mind and an understanding that not everything you read is safe or right for you. If you are Googling anything to get a better understand of what something is then please don’t just take the first answer you find as gospel! Anyone can write anything and upload it. So please just use caution.

When you read something don’t take it as gospel; even if the author is marketed as some kind of expert or ‘community’ icon. Here’s the thing the author may have a great knowledge base about a particular topic but he/she knows absolutely nothing about you! How your body/mind works is going to be different to anyone else’s and so yes, Mr mcdomlyone may be an expert in whatever it is but his expertise are significantly limited when it comes to applying them to you.

Use common sense; sure there are those who argue that common sense isn’t so common anymore, but don’t step outside of the real world & who you are as a person when you start exploring all of this. It’s unrealistic to think that there is some alternative reality here.

Kink is still sex. It needs to be consensual and mutually satisfying. It needs to be healthy and it needs to be realistic. But most of all it needs to be what you really want, kink needs to give you something that will bring a positive to your life; be it purely physical interactions of S&M that give you physical release and/or satisfaction or a relationship that has D/S as it’s foundation. There is a spectrum of consensual kink that is really limited by your imagination and confidence to go get it but it has to be something that you want.

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My feminism

*I’ve written this post in a very cis gendered way. I am a cis gendered woman and experience the world as such and while I am mindful of my privileged and language choices I decided that for this piece the male/female man/woman masculine/feminine binary pairing that I’ve used were best.*

So I thought I’d sit down and write (well at least try to) something about what feminism is for me. I’ve had this post in the back of my mind since I began this The Other Normal project but became somewhat afraid of actually getting into the F wordness of all of this.

I came to feminism in my late 20’s and did so quite accidentally. I’d been one of those women who enjoyed the gains of past generations but didn’t ever feel an affinity for the people who created the change. It wasn’t until I started uni that I became aware of how feminism actually works and eventually gave myself permission to call myself feminism.

  • To me feminism is first and foremost about creating safe and open social and political spaces that encourage real conversation about the things that are important to women. Through the collective experience we create identity and momentum.
  • Feminism is not just about women in something; in politics in business in media in law in medicine, it’s about allowing women to use those spaces in politics and business, media, law, business (and really any industry) in a way that works rather than allowing women to just fill the place of men.
  • Feminism is about understanding the social hierarchy we exist in. A hierarchy of masculine and feminine. What we assume to be a masculine is valued over that which is assumed feminine. So as examples, the masculine identity man is seen as more than the feminine identity women. The masculine sexuality straight is seen as more than the feminine sexuality gay. Masculine traits such as intellectualising and strength are seen as something of a better than applying emotional content and vulnerability. Medicine is a masculine profession, nursing feminine so we revere doctors more.
  • My feminism is all about having a consciousness and understanding of the decisions I make. I don’t exist outside of my outside world, I live with the consequences of government and social institutions every day and while I may not have much active choice in decisions of governance (beyond my ability to vote and actively engage with and criticise government) I am in a little bit more control of the decisions I make; where I shop, the language I use, the media and pop culture I consume, the way I’m raising my daughter. All of these decisions; some made daily, are done so with my understanding of the world gained through feminism.
  • Feminism is about bringing women’s narratives to light. In order to create meaningful change we need to be aware of what is really going on; how you and I are experiencing life; the good and the bad. Through sharing ourselves and our stories and through conversation about who we are we can create action.
  • Feminism is about challenging and changing the way women and men are represented and expected to be. Removing stereotypes and assumptions that harm and limit genuine participation and authentic experiences.
  • Feminism is media and digital literacy. Understanding the ways that industries work and how the ways women and men are represented is the only way to create meaningful change.
  • Feminism removes this idea that there is a “good” way and a “bad” way to be a woman – and expecting every woman to be good without really defining what good is.
  • Feminism is a way to become conscious of our own internalised misogyny. Refusing to acknowledge the way that misogyny can and does influence us all in some way is refusing to accept that misogyny exists; it’s not just men who can be misogynistic.

Feminism and sex/sexuality is for me:

Recognising the need for a medical/biological perspective of female sexuality but allocating similar value to a social model. A social model of sexuality that recognises that we experience of sexuality (both identity and the physical performance of sex) beyond our physical bodies. For example:

  • Removing absolutes from sexuality and gender. This includes understanding and addressing transmisogyny and transphobia as real and as social thoughts and actions that influence and limit individual’s identities and ability to live not just authentically but authentically while being safe.
  • Is about creating safe spaces for women to critically discuss the complexity of human sexuality.
  • Is about reframing the sexual experiences.
  • Understanding the position that male dominated sexual constructs have in creating women’s sexuality; especially with regards to the male gaze.
  • Creating sexual agency for women; while protecting all from harm.
  • Understands that there are women (and men) who like sex and there are those who don’t.
  • Positions women’s sexuality as just that sexuality of women and not as sexuality for men performed by women.
  • Understands that he nuance and complexity of human sexuality and the need to be able to create and experience authentic sexual expressions does not diminish or condone intimate partner violence. Nor does it condone in anyway rape, incest paedophilia or any non-consensual acts including bestiality.
  • Acknowledges and accepts lived reality of sex trafficking victims while respecting the legitimacy of sex workers as individuals who have the right to have their needs meet and voices heard.
  • Centers on consent being the free agreement and free will of both parties within the sexual interaction. Rejects any and all cultural assumptions and language that minimises the place of consent in all relationships and which sees consent as a defense of action rather than a means of respect.

Vanilla is my favorite cup cake flavour and that is it!

Okay it’s vanilla with caramel icing 🙂

So when did vanilla become so much more than a food flavoring and a descriptor of sexual behaviour?

What is vanilla anyway?

I want to point out from the get-go that (once again) when I am talking BDSM  I am talking about sexual performances between adults who have actively consented of their own free will. I am talking about people who come into these performances with both eyes open and focusing on the mutual pleasure that is available. BDSM means a lot of things to a lot of people yet we can make one thing clear! If you didn’t ask for it than it’s not BDSM!

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while; actually I have a few post ideas like this where I am sitting on them for some reason. I’ve been sitting on it because the vanilla and us idea permeates through almost all understandings of and conversations about BDSM but is it time that we chose to take a really hard look at what it is we are really talking about?

One of the reasons for The Other Normal is to look at the language and meanings we apply to sexuality and sex and I really do believe that there needs to be a shakeup of how this language is used; but where do we begin is the question?

For me this beginning is the continuation of normal – well not normal but healthy; that there is sex which is healthy and sex which is unhealthy and we need two mutually exclusive entities in which we can differentiate our healthy from unhealthy; our vanilla from our BDSM. Our normal.

But for some reason we seem to need to go beyond this to this BDSM and vanilla dichotomy. But are the complexities of our sex lives really able to be cast as such simplistic into or not into labels or is this idea of vanilla/BDSM just another way for social constraints to continue to tell us what is good sex and what Is bad sex?

Is there really such a thing as mainstream sex? Is there one type of sexual performance that is easily identifiable, monolithic and something that reproduces the dominant ideas, attitudes, or activities that are shared by most people and regarded as normal or conventional?

And how does one actively decide if her/his idea of sex is normal or relevant. Is there a way to objectively step outside your sexual performances and measure it against that of someone else?

Who gets to decide what is normal and how do they ensure that we are not pathologising what is normal for one because it is abnormal for another?

Validating sameness is not what I am addressing here. We all need social validation and representation; social spaces where we can see and express ourselves. When we validate sameness we are saying “this exists and this is okay” when we are focusing of difference we are saying “I can only see how you are different from me and while I might accept it you keep over there away from me”. I want to focus upon this assumed difference between BDSM and vanilla and why I believe normal (healthy) is irrelevant.

Our sexualities play a huge role in defining who we are within society; sexualities that have always been defined for us by others. through our interactions with others and the outside world; pop culture, social institutions etc. we see our sexualities, we see what we are and what we are to stay away from and it is society that determines what relationships, identities and actions are legitimate entitled to recognition.

For decades the guidebook to sex has been; and to some extant still is, crafted and policed by this idea that sex, well some sex, is dangerous and needs to be avoided. It is the guidebooks or dominant social norms that tell us how to recognise and legitimise sexualities and sexual performances. Sex outside of marriage, sex for pleasure rather than procreation, sex between same sex couples, sex with someone other than your domestic partner and sex that is fetishistic in nature are all types of sex that are or have been seen as something out of the normal. It is inappropriate and irresponsible, there is something inherently abnormal or it is just plain wrong. When we normalise something, be that through law, social assumptions and sanctions or the language we use, we are giving permission for some things and removing it from others. We are not simply distancing ourselves from that which we see as morally wrong we are alienating others from something that is nothing more than just different. We are saying that there is good sex and there is bad sex and you are either with us (doing good sex) or you are against us (doing bad sex) there is no middle ground.

But what about all of those BDSM relationships that don’t involve sex I hear you say. Easy! We know that we give and receive sexual pleasure independent of orgasm. Men and women are able to feel a sense of sexual satisfaction without the need for or a focus on orgasm; so while the objective of the interaction may not be orgasm there is still the ability for both parties to walk away with a sense of sexual satisfaction. But to argue that BDSM is separate from our sexualities again alienates it as something of the other, again validating that there is good sex and bad sex.

Sex; between two (or more) consenting persons is just sex. Why? Because when we strip down our sexual performances to the basic nitty-gritty of this whole thing we are talking about nothing more than a physiological process that we like to call the Sexual Response Cycle. A woman who has sex once a month with her husband in their marital bed with the lights out has no more or less valid sex life than a woman who once a week enters a play space and gets her ass belted in front of a paying audience – assuming of course both of these women see their sex lives as consensual and satisfying. Both interactions create the basic idea of what the Sexual Response Cycle is – physically enacting what we desire, physical sensations that create pleasure, satisfaction even if the experience is bereft of orgasm and resolution – that come down stage we feel after we have done what it is that we have just done. While this is obviously a simplistic way to break down the biological process of sex it allows the point to be made; at the end of the day we all fuck differently but can feel the same thing.

Each and every one of us configure and perform our sexuality differently; not because we are vanilla or BDSM but because sexual performance are not a monolithic; that is there is no one way to do this thing that we call sex. We all express and experience our sexuality and sexual performances different. Our sexual performances are messy; as Esther Perel so eloquently puts it “sexual desire doesn’t always play by the rules of good citizenship” that which we desire is complex and often contradictory. We as a human race do not have one sexuality the what and the why of what it is we do is way too much for any label. Difference is just different.

When we choose to engage with this idea of good sex/bad sex we are choosing to continue this social regulation of our sexual performances; by clearly dividing sexual performances into vanilla and BDSM we are acknowledging that the difference is what matters. What matters isn’t that there is sexual satisfaction, healthy functioning relationships or real, authentic sexual performances that allow us to express and experience the complex weirdness of sex, what matters is that someone else is doing it differently and I need to compare myself to them, label myself and define my sexuality and sexual performance based on some obscure idea of what is acceptable. That I am only acceptable as a sexual being if my sexuality is acceptable to someone else.

So how can we get rid of this?

By taking away the moral normal and replacing it with healthy

When we focus on the nonmorality of sex we are removing the someone else and focus on us; on what is healthy and good for us separate from what is bad. We question sexual performances based on what it gives rather than what it is assumed to be, we validate sex as a continuum of performances based on the needs and desires of those involved. We see good sex as consnensual sexual activity that enables pleasure and creates physically and emotionally satisfying relationships between people who have complementary needs. It is exciting, pleasant and enjoyable where both partners are actively engaged with each other and who both work to create experiences that a meaningful and real, but more importantly that are legitimate.

I’m not eliminating the “bad” from discussions about sex; sex can be dangerous and create distress in our lives, but sex can be amazing and if you only want sex with your spouse or you want sex with a dozen people a night, the amazingness is still there it just comes from a different need. Intentionally harming someone, refusing to disclose your HIV/STI status, removing empathy and reciprocity from your decision making process, disrespecting the person you have chosen to have sex with, allowing yourself to be misrepresented in anyway, deciding upon and then choosing to not use birth control, endangering your partners or your own sense of self or emotional wellbeing in order to push or prove something or withholding anything that stops your intended sexual partner from making an informed decision – however you fuck, makes you a irresponsible and a danger to your partner/s. STOP IT!

Distress that sex can cause is also something we must be aware of; when sex becomes something that is problematic over pleasurable we need to stop and look at what is going on. Sexual dysfunction happens to women as much as it does men but by becoming aware of what works for us where our healthy sexuality sits on this continuum of performance we are best able to see when it’s not quite right – for us.

What I’m doing is advocating for this taking away of the vanilla/BDSM dichotomy; something created through a social construction of good sex bad sex and replacing it with my good sex/my bad sex. To have a healthy as opposed to a vanilla or BDSMl relationship or sex life is to have something that works FOR YOU. You as an individual beyond that of any label actively engaging in something; be it missionary sex or the full S&M performance in a way that works for you.

I don’t know

I woke up this morning to the heartbreaking news that the body of Stephanie Scott had been found.

For those who aren’t failure with this Stephanie was a 26 year old woman who last Sunday went to her place of work and never returned. She was (allegedly) murdered by a man who worked at her place of employment. Stephanie was a teacher; she went to her school to work on some lesson plans for a substitute teacher.

Today was meant to be Stephanie’s wedding!

Stephanie was at her school working on lesson plans for the teacher filling in for her while she was on her honeymoon.

I can’t even begin to comprehend this; how a woman can go to work and end up as a body dumped in a national park.

Stephanie is number 30.

THIRTY women have been murdered in Australia since January 1st this year.

Why?

I don’t have that answer and as a woman and the mother of an almost 15 year old daughter that scares me!

I first became aware of this absolute inadequacy as few weeks ago when, once again, we were confronted with yet another instance of violence against women; this time a 17 year old.

We were sitting in the lounge room and the news of 17 year old Masa Vukotic‘s vile murder was in the headline. A 17 year old, 2 years older than my daughter, murdered in a park while out jogging 500 meters from home. I sat and listened to the story (crying) but watching my daughters reaction. I could see her taking in what she was watching but not quite understanding it, I could see the confusion in her expression. She turned and looked at me and said “well that can’t happen to me I’m not that silly”. I had no idea where this came from. Where did she learn that only ‘silly’ women get murdered? I remember looking at my husband and the both of us saying ‘she did nothing silly’, and then I stopped.

We are constantly being told that women do something to make this happen: short skirts, too much alcohol, out at night, flirting, being out alone, antagonising, and not leaving a violent relationship. There is always something; some way for others to justify or minimise the choices another (man) makes.

And my daughter has internalised that!

Every time I told her that no woman asks for it. That there is nothing that a woman does to make a man rape her. That murder is murder even when the murderer is known to you. Didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. What matters are all of those other messages that she has been getting from media and pop culture, the ones who; up until a few weeks ago I had no idea that were so influential!

And then it hit me and hit me hard!

I don’t know how to be the mother my daughter needs right now, right at this point in her life where she is taking those first baby steps into her grown up self and I’m sitting here at a complete loss as to what to do next.

I had an amazing mentor in my career, someone I considered to be a second mother who used to always tell me “to embrace the I don’t knows because in the blink of an eye that I don’t can turn into an I do”. How I wish Julie was right this time, but I don’t see how she could be.

I’m stepping into this unknown with someone I know so intimately. I know when she is unwell by just looking at her, I know where her jumper, mobile and hair bow are even though I didn’t see where she put them. I know her favourite everything and I know that when I creep into her bed some nights just to make sure she’s breathing she still pretends she doesn’t notice, it’s our secret and her way of indulging that mummy-ness she usually rolls her eyes at.

This is my baby girl and yes, she is taller than me and so independent (too much so sometimes) and she has this confidence and attitude that blows my mind but she really is still my baby girl and I don’t know how to separate that baby girl’ from the big girl. She still has this childish naivety within her; something that I want to nurture and keep but at the same time I need to pull apart in order for her to know the truth, and what is fast becoming her truth.

I want to protect and nurture, to hide her from the world but I know this will hurt her and I don’t want to hurt her. But at the same time I don’t want to hurt her with the truth.

You see bad things happen to other people, they happen to “bad girls” the ones in movies and TV shows who do something wrong. The girls who are harmed are other girls not my daughter; this is what she believes and I get why she does, she’s 14 she is saturated by this message. Day in, day out good girl bad girl. Bad things don’t happen to good girls.. Do I let her keep that childhood ‘bad things don’t happen to me’ for a little bit longer or do I let her in on the secret – that her being a young woman is more than enough to make her one of those other people?

Do I tell her that Masa and Stephanie were doing the things that we all do; Masa was out jogging and Stephanie was at work? How do you tell your daughter that not being silly can get your murdered just as much as being silly does?

I just don’t know!

Needing to keep kink as abnormal.

I’ve got a burning question!

Why are there so many people; within kink, who need to keep kink outside of normal?

Now I’m well aware ‘normal’ is a no no but bare with me for a moment.

If kink, within healthy functioning relationships, were to be seen as being as normal as those without the structure of d/s or the physical actions associated with s&m wouldn’t it make it easier for individuals who engage with it?

To me when something is  normalised you are removing a lot of the socially constructed sanctions and misunderstandings that contain the identity and/or expression to the sphere of abnormal. Kink is misunderstood because it is seen as being done by others – those people over there. The weirdos, the sociopaths and the ones who have no expectations or self worth. The ones who need to beat up on women or the ones who can’t see that they are victims. Kinks isn’t done by you and me; the normals of this planet.

So when we remove kink from what is considered normal we are essentially dividing us from them in a way that does nothing but distance. It’s not done to protect or nurture. It’s done so those who reject the ideas can keep those who embrace them at arms length.

Why do so many kinky people what to be held at arms length?

Normal means healthy. When something is normal we consider it to be healthy; there is nothing inherently unhealthy about kink. There are people who are unhealthy who engage with activities considered kinky and there are people who use kink to cause harm to others, But this is not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about couples (or more) engaging in relationships that don’t inhibit them in any way. The kink they engage with doesn’t stop them from doing their jobs, paying their bills, having food in their fridges, keeping in touch with friends and family and being all round good citizens.

Why do people who are normal have to relegate their intimate relationships, their sex lives to the void that is the abnormal when there is nothing but normal about them?

I can walk into BigW and buy BDSM erotica (including the staple to every kinky persons bookshelf the Beauty series and the Story of O)

The Secretary is downloadable on our subscription TV (no parental locks required)

I turn on morning TV and there are conversations about kink. I open the newspaper and there are articles dissecting women’s consumption of kink related pop culture.

Adult stores are full to the brim with BDSM ‘make him the perv you’ve always wanted’ toys

There is a growing body of academic research about the acceptability of BDSM, the benefits that can be brought to intimate relationships through introducing a little bit of kink and how those doing the kink aren’t really any different to those who aren’t

There are course either solely about BDSM or incorporating it into subject content (this is how I discovered kink, through my first degree)

I can log onto Facebook and find 1000’s of pages and groups that have something to do with BDSM

All of these things, shopping, watching TV, reading newspapers, using the internet are considered normal everyday; they are the things that most of us do in the course of our everyday, if BDSM can be connected to the normal everyday then isn’t it normal?

And finally let’s not forget that sadism and masochism (again within the confides of healthy function relationships) are no longer considered deviant behaviours by the psychiatric community.

So I really do not understand why there are people so adamant on keeping.kink at arms length from the normal. If there is nothing medically or socially deviant; misunderstood absolutely not deviant, then why can’t we accept that, for the most part ignoring those who do harm under the name of BDSM, that those who engage with kink are just plain normal?

I like being normal! I am normal! There is nothing abnormal about me (well except my obsession with living in my pajamas and my need to sing really loudly when I’m cleaning the bathrooms) I’m so damn normal & I love it.