Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fetish vs. Preference/Attraction

When cruising and partaking of the various BDSM social and dating sites we are almost always presented with the wonderful 'Fetish List' to let the would know what it is that gets us off...

But is this right, is it true, are all these things a Fetish? The Mirriam-Webster online dictionary gives us this definition of fetish - an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression.

How many of us really are so focused that we have to have THAT thing to get off?

To me, saying something is a fetish focuses on the thing, so what if your fetish is a person? BBW/BHM, Skinny, Asian, Black, Bears, Midgets, Redheads, Blonds, Big Tits, Flat Chests, Big Cocks, etc, etc, etc, all get defined as fetishes on one list or another.

In speaking with people that fall into one or more of these classifications, I have been told about how either interchangeable and/or disposable, being fetishized makes them feel. The attraction has nothing to do with who they are, but about how they look. Who cares who you are, shove that monster cock in me, or let me play with your fat, or connect your freckles....

I prefer to think of things that are directly related to a person as a preference, or an attraction. This element of fetish vs. preference has been one that I have been confronted with a few different times in my life, but even more so recently.

For example, I have a preference for curvy, plush women, aka BBW, it is not a fetish though. The simple fact that a woman is bigger does not become a sexual turn on for me, making me want to touch and fondle them. That requires an element of connection derived from their personality... The same thing goes with my attraction to Black women. I don't have 'jungle fever,' the mere fact that a woman is black is not going to turn me on, but I just find that my eye wanders more often towards them.

So what is my point? Well, by continuing to force the element of fetish out there, it can (in some instances) become a double edged sword. To those that 'embody' what ever the fetish element is, they can feel dehumanized and objectified (which is a whole other fetish in it's own right), but it can also make them critical and skeptical of people that find whatever that item is attractive. So the individual showing interest in them has to find ways to convince them that they are not just getting their jollies off because of that 'item'... it is the person AND the item that they are digging on.

Now, obviously, fetishes exist, I have a fetish for big natural breasts, and if there were a pair of big boobs offered to me, no, in many ways it would not matter about the person they were attached to... at first. I have the 'fetish' of getting to know the person I am fondling/beating/fucking and if there is not a connection, even you you have the best boobs on the planet, it ain't going to carry it for me.

Now, there is the element too that non-body related fetishes can hold elements of interchangeability and disposal... He/She only likes me because they can do (X) to me....
But in truth, I think that those situations are more about interpersonal relations and communication aspects than about fetishizing a person.

So, next time you are digging on your partner because they are (X), make sure they know that they are more than that to you as well.... AND try using preference vs. fetish when it is appropriate.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Needs and Wants

~Needs & Wants~

On Twitter today, there was a kink question of the day posted about "is it disobedience if a submissive refuses to do something based off of moral or ethical reasoning." The question, and some of the subsequent discussion got me thinking about the whole topic in general and I figured I might as well subject others to my thoughts too...

Needs and wants, everyone has them, and they all are valid, but being valid does not equal being safe, sane, smart, or attainable. I mean, I want to be a six foot, well endowed, multi-millionaire--- and if I win the lottery, I might get one of those things...

I hear all too often, some WannaDomaBe making the declaration to a submissive that "your needs are not important, MY needs will be your needs," and unfortunately, I have known a few subs that have gone off with someone like that, and had it end badly.

Our needs are ours and can never be totally relegated to the side without causing great amounts of stress and drama. Sometimes this stays internal and becomes depression, anger, resentment, low self-esteem, etc... or outward in fighting, drama, disobedience, etc...

Needs and wants are internal creations, someone else cannot dictate to a person what their needs and wants should be. Through enough discussion, browbeating or manipulation, a person can change their needs and wants for someone else, but unless it is a true shift, it will not last, and that person's needs are going to push back through.

I do not understand this attitude of picking any person and deciding that you want them to be your sub, and that you can twist and conform them to what you want. Personally, I have to take time to get to know the person, to see what their needs and wants are, and see how closely they match or are compatible to mine. Through this discussion and growth process, I have found people that have the want to see to my needs without subsuming the submissive's needs.

Needs and wants can at times run contrary to themselves as well. I have the need to remain healthy, I have the want to have unprotected sex because it is a lot more fun. In this case, the need outweighs the want, and I have protected sex. I use this example because I have heard many different subs talk about how a Dom does not want to have protected sex even though the submissive does, and that the submissive (at times) gets manipulated through that element of "My needs are yours" and "a good submissive does what they are told" and other bullshit. Even if the submissive wants to have good ol' bareback sex too, their need (and potential limit) of protected sex should be respected.

Another need element that I have come across is the need of time and attention. I know this is a big one for Poly people too... right now, I have a lot on my plate, both in the sense of everyday life, but also when it comes to play, I have a few different people that I play with. One thing that I discuss right up front is this element of not setting a specific schedule, not knowing how much time there is going to be for play etc, because short of finding someone with that spark, I know that play relationships end up taking a backseat when other life issues come up. If the person that I am talking to needs more than that, it is not going to work, for either of us, and I would rather not get started down that road to drama.

Touching back to the personal ethic/moral issue, and having read someone discuss the element of photos, the Dom wanting them and the sub not wanting them to be taken...

This is an area that I have had lots of experience with as I like photos, I have been asked why I want them, and I have realized that they are sort of like souvenirs of that play. I do like sharing them to some degree, but it is not so much about tossing them out there to say "Look what I did," as it is that visual element that I can go back and relive (and sometimes wank to) the moment. I have played with people that were total camera whores and loved it, to those that were of the 'no way no how' element. What it has come down to for me is, that it is not my body, reputation and livelihood that is at 'risk' with these pictures. I know, and play with a number of professional people that if it were know in the least that they were kinky, it could easily jeopardize their jobs. No matter how careful I am in handling the photos, shit happens... my computer could go in for repairs and the tech gets nosy, hell someone could steal it and for the fun of it start posting them. Hell, I had a friend who had a relative use their computer to send an email, found personal photos, and then tried to blackmail them... so shit does happen, and if a person does not want to run that risk (And yes, that is risk aware) then it doesn't happen. Now, that being said, I have discussed with individuals if there were anyway to make them feel safe, and me still get pics, and there have been some yeses, and some nos. and it is all good...

So ultimately, to answer the question, if the submissive has personal moral or ethical reasons for not wanting to do something, then no, it is not disobedient, and I would say that if whatever the "X" item that caused the contention is a major want/need for me... I need to make it part of my discussions in vetting potential play partners....

For both the submissive and dominant, knowing what your needs and wants are is a key thing (well, it is key in any relationship), one of the hard things is though, that some of the things that are your needs, you do not realize until you don't have 'that thing' anymore...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thoughts on Punishment

Some time ago, I was asked to write up my thoughts on punishment in the BDSM scene by a friend on Fetlife, and this is what I subsequently wrote... I thought it would be a good something to post here while I get started on writing other things...

Some Thoughts on Punishment

First of all, let me say that all of my comments and or suggestions come from my own little world of experience, observations, and creativity. Those that know me, know that I can get up on a soapbox and blather on for some time, so if you are a masochist in that way, keep reading.....

Also, while I can be an egotistical ass at times, I am not trying to imply that I came into the scene and was Mr Perfect Dom by any means... I would say that it took me over 15 yrs to settle into myself as a Dom, and still learning... Punishment was just something that I 'got' from early on...

I have always understood punishment to be something that is supposed to act as a deterrent, to change a behaviour, so when I first came into the BDSM world many moons ago, I was surprised by the number of submissives that I ran into that would 'act up' so that they would be 'punished' by getting a spanking...

It was obvious to me that these ladies were enjoying the spankings, so it was merely rewarding negative behaviour in my book. There was more than one sub that got a bit of a shock when they tried that with me and I didn't spank them, but gave them what I considered to be a punishment...

For me, punishments follow a few rules, punishments must be:
For known infractions
Not done in/when angry
and most of all

For known infractions
In all honesty, I do not have a lot of issues that I flat out state that will result in punishment. Normally for me, in a new relationship, I start it out (when discussing punishment) by telling the submissive that she will basically have one freebie on everything; that if she does something that will end up crossing over into punishment territory, there will be a discussion about the action and the knowledge that if X,Y, or Z happens again, there will be a punishment that follows. I have found that it easier than trying to think of any and everything that might be a punishable offense.

I like it best when there can be an almost immediate application of punishment (there are exceptions that I will mention at the end). If there has been a blatant infraction of a known rule, there is no warning, no "if you keep this up" type comments, just swift and effective action. For myself, I have found that I have to be prepared to deny myself things to deal with punishment. I have left restaurants early, and missed seeing movies because the behaviour of the person I was with needed an adjustment. In these situations, I let the person know that there is added displeasure and disappointment as a result of my evening being disrupted.

Not done in/when angry
I have had very rare occasion to mete out punishment as a result of an action that got me angry, but at these times, I isolated the sub (kneel there and do not move/stand in the corner/etc) until I was calm enough to address the infraction calmly and without malice. Anger can be just as dangerous as alcohol in the sense that if you are angry, you can say things, or act in physical ways that you will regret later, and more importantly, erode trust.

I think of this as the don't swat a fly with a 2 X 4 rule. For example, your sub forgets to add sugar to your coffee, is that really worth 100 hard cane strokes?? Well, not in my book... To use an example that I actively use, I do not like to be kept waiting, so if I tell my sub a time to be ready/show up and they are late, there is a punishment. I use cane strokes across the soles of the feet. It is normally one stroke per minute, however if they are extremely late, then I usually will go one stroke per minute up to 15 minute, then one more stroke per every 5 minutes.

If something is a punishable offense once, it is punishable every time. (An exception to this can be the qualification of situational items at the first punishment) I have found through personal experience (part of my growing as a Dom) and through discussion with submissives, that inconsistency around punishable items is just confusing to submissives, and ultimately they have thought of me (and other Doms) as not being real good Doms, the kind that they find reasons to look elsewhere.

This in many ways really is the most important, because if your punishments are not effective, then none of the above really matters. It is important to find out what works with your submissive. One that I will say is very effective, almost like a punch to the gut is to tell your sub that you are disappointed in them/their behaviour...
Getting feedback can be one of the best ways that I have found to get this information. That and depending on the dynamic of your relationship, having your submissive come up with punishments can be very effective. I have ordered submissives to come up with a selection of things that they know they will not like, and yet are within their limits to be used as punishment. I have found that usually they will be honest (after some smart ass answers "I would HATE to have to be taken to a nice dinner and dessert"). For attention whore submissives, isolation is great. Now there was some discussion about this tapping into issues from past abuses and whatnot, with any punishment, find out if you are going to be tapping into past triggers. Some have them, some don't. I have found "Public attention" effective as well. I have had submissives write up an essay on what they did wrong, why it was bad, and why they will not do it again, and then they must present it in some sort of public forum; online, in front of peers from the local group, etc. Physical punishments are one of those things that can be tricky. As was stated, so long ago at the beginning of this, if you are dealing with someone that loves to be spanked, can you spank them as a punishment. Well yes and no. I will often use a paddling for punishment, but it is different than any sort of play paddling. For one, the tone around punishment usually dampers any sort of 'play vibe' and I will have a specific 'punishment paddle' that is only brought out for punishment so there is no other association with it. (Or like with the caning the feet item, I do not do that in play, only as punishment) I also usually keep the number of strokes to a small-ish number, 5 for a first offense, 10 for a second, but they are not light fun stroke/swats. With the combined effect of no warm up, the attitude and atmosphere of disappointment, and the intensity of the strokes, I have had subs that have never shed a single tear in extreme play break out in tears at the first stroke.

A few last things then I will shut the hell up (and if you made it this far, I am amazed... I almost left halfway through...)

There are always exceptions to rules... For example, on the timely issue, sometimes it is actually more effective if they have time to anticipate what is coming, or you may be in a situation that leaving, or immediate punishment is just not viable. If you have established yourself as someone that normally does take care of things effectively and immediately, they will know that when you say "wait until we get home" they are in trouble.

Also, for me, I have found that (depending on the severity of the punishment) giving aftercare after punishment is a very good thing. Just because they did something that broke a rule, or required punishment does not mean you care about them any less, or that you think poorly of them, and spending some time comforting them and telling them these things goes along way to stem a lot of anxiety.

One last note is that in my book, punishment does not have to be 'fair'. To use my time punishment as an example. She gets stuck in traffic because of an accident. Could she have known this was going to happen? Could she have made it not happen? No... But, Did she show up on time? No.

Off with the shoes then....

There was a follow up question and my response-

@Freakbear - I hope that you are still monitoring this post... One question please - You wrote:

One last note is that in my book, punishment does not have to be 'fair'. To use my time punishment as an example. She gets stuck in traffic because of an accident. Could she have known this was going to happen? Could she have made it not happen? No... But, Did she show up on time? No.

Why? Why would you punish her for something she had zero control over? What does this teach her? What does she learn from this? How can she improve herself or better serve you? Should she always plan to arrive at a given destination 30 minute early to avoid a supposed traffic jam?

I do not understand why she would be punished for this?

Freakbear responded-

@#######- First, I will say that this is not something I am advocating that others do unless it fits their individual dynamic.

And that is why I do it with a couple of the individuals that I have this style relationship with. It is very black and white thinking, which in our dynamic, is how rules/orders are. One way that I look at it is similar to working for a corporation that has a very strict tardiness policy. Do they care that the bus that you have ridden every day to work had trouble this one time, no, they look at the fact that you were tardy, so you get a right up. Can you justify the reason that you were tardy, yes, does it change the fact that you were late, no. It then falls upon the person in charge to decide if they are going to let it slid, or be a hard ass.

I am a hard ass. This is not to say that there are not times that I let it slide, or even make the punishment 'light' when there are extenuating circumstances.

To address your query as to what does she learn from it, well a few things. First and foremost, it demonstrates that if I have laid down a rule, that I stick to it. Secondly, it teaches (along with some conversation) that if something comes up, to contact me ahead of time. I am much more lenient if I get a call saying that something is up rather than just sitting waiting, knowing only that she is late.

Again, I will say that this is they dynamic that works for us. It did not appear overnight, nor without many discussions of what direction we both wanted the relation to take. I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone make relationship fit what trip their triggers rather than trying to make yourself fit some relationship mold.

I hope this helps clarify my position, if not, please ask more questions..

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Of Course

So I get through the entire process of getting this thing set up so that I can diatribe to my hearts content, and......


Oh well... at least I got the tough part done..