Cyber Consent Sunday, Mar 4 2012 

I’ve been hanging out on a BDSM-related IRC server lately. The level of consent fail in some of the messages I get is staggering.

They follow quite a distinctive pattern. Someone with a capitalised nick sees that my nick is uncapitalised and assumes that I am a submissive. They then send me a message. Sometimes they open with “hi” and “how are you?”, followed by asking for my description.

Quite a lot of them just stop responding when I tell them I’m trans.

Those who don’t, and those who didn’t bother with pleasantries like “hello”, start giving me orders.

I tell them that I’m not taking orders until we’ve negotiated a scene.

They stop responding.

Never once has anyone who takes this approach – find a sub, act like that means they’re your sub – actually stopped and established consent when I call them on it. They just stop talking. They’re so anxious to get their rocks off that the ten minutes to discuss what we each kink on, what our limits are, and decide that we’re compatible enough to have a good time, is too much to ask. If I maintain my right to withhold consent, I become unfuckable.

That’s pretty damn scary. Sure, this is online. But “online” isn’t the same as “not real”. They’re assuming that my consent is irrelevant to having sexy funtimes. I don’t believe that they don’t carry that attitude around in meatspace, and that puts anyone they play with in danger.
I bet they’re more subtle about it in meatspace, though, and that puts me off playing with anyone I don’t already know well, and triply so playing in private. These entitled doms are seriously poisoning the well for all you good people who wouldn’t dream of giving me orders until we’d negotiated to play. It’s your problem, as well as mine, if the scene is full of predators. If when I come to munches I find that several middle-aged men assume I’m a femsub and try to impressive me with their dominance by telling me anecdotes in which consent doesn’t play a role, I’m going to stop coming to munches. If half the people I meet online want me to call them “sir” in the first two minutes of our interaction, I’m going to get a lot more hostile and wary of people who message me.

Oh, and for the record: I’m not a femsub. I’m a genderqueer switch, and you’re not the boss of me.

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Dominants Chair Meetings, Submissives Stack Chairs Thursday, Feb 2 2012 

So this is today’s wisdom, straight from the keyboard of your friendly neighbourhood stringed instrument.

Social dominance and sexual dominance are different things.

You can be dominant and shy. You can be dominant and introverted. You can be dominant and uncharismatic. You can be dominant and disorganised. You can be dominant and afraid of rejection. You can be dominant and poor with words. You can be dominant and flustered under pressure. You can be dominant and scared of public speaking. You can be dominant and unpersuasive.

Whether someone likes being on top in the bedroom tells you nothing, not a single damn thing, about how they interact with people socially.
Let me clear about what I’m not saying here. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a continuous power dynamic between specific people.
But I’m not socially dominant. I’m the person at the edge of the conversation, the one who always seems to be at the back of the group when you walk somewhere, the one who gives way when interrupted. I’m the person who doesn’t speak up when group decisions need making. I’m the person who just goes home when they don’t feel welcome. I’m the person who doesn’t go to new places alone, who won’t talk to strangers, who gets flustered by unfamiliar choices.
I’m also the person who pins my lover down and hurts them and teases them and makes them beg and doesn’t give them what they beg for.
There’s no contradiction here.

Too often I hear people talking as if dominance in bed and social charisma were the same thing. As if my shyness made me less dominant, or my dominance should make me less shy. As if people should shut up and listen to me when I want them to, because I like to hear people scream. As if being able to lead a meeting was a necessary condition of tying knots. Or, just as bad, as if nobody who submits in bed were capable of leadership. As if I couldn’t be expected to be persuasive or competent or able to make hard decisions, because after all, I like to have my hair pulled.

This stereotype hurts everybody. It hurts people who have to be assertive and charismatic if they’re to be recognised as dominant. It hurts people who are assertive and charismatic, and aren’t acknowledged as submissive because of it. It’s inaccurate and it’s unhelpful and I want to get rid of it.

Self-Defining Dynamics Monday, Jun 13 2011 

Power dynamics are hard to change.

A friend and I were playing conmen in a LARP recently. I was the brains of the operation, Cassandra was the fast talker. I came up with the plans, she played whatever role was needed, and our third partner carried out the thefts. Our cover story for this particular con was that of a noblewoman and her maid – not her bit on the side, how dare you suggest such a thing? We figured people would be sufficiently distracted by the scandalous lesbians that they wouldn’t question the rest of the story, and we were right.
For both the characters and ourselves, the power dynamic being enacted was reversed. It felt very, very strange to sit at Cassandra’s feet and have my hair stroked possessively – we haven’t played together, but if we did there’s no doubt that I’d be on top. Trying to flip that dynamic just didn’t work. It was a dead end.
I was directing submission at someone who couldn’t do anything with that energy. Cassandra was being handed energy that she couldn’t work with. Both of us were very uncomfortable. It was a skin-crawling kind of feeling, something deeply wrong with the world. I’m fairly sure we only managed it for the hours we did because the characters were themselves reversing roles – I could react to my discomfort by having my character resolve to take revenge later.
The confusion generated by those few hours lasted for some time afterwards. We’d twitch and flail if the other used the tone and title belonging to the forced dynamic – “Girl” and “Milady”. It was not pleasant.

It was very educational. We learned a valuable lesson about not trying to force a power dynamic to be what it doesn’t want to be. And we are neither of us inclined to repeat the experience.

Objects Of Desire Wednesday, Jun 23 2010 

Today, I went looking for a picture of a man holding – not wearing – handcuffs and looking sexy. I did this as an experiment, because having noticed that all the male dom / female sub pictures I see focus on the submissive women and not the dominant men, I wondered if this was a real phenomenon or if I was just looking in the wrong places.
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Thinking Of England Tuesday, Jun 15 2010 

Prometheus and I went for a little holiday, just two nights. It was really a glorified day trip to the zoo, but the zoo was too far away for a comfortable day trip, so we made a weekend of it.
After the zoo, we were in our hotel room, reading books and relaxing. My thoughts turned towards getting some dinner, and Prometheus was horny. I was not horny. I wanted my tea. But Prometheus wanted pre-dinner sex, and I didn’t mind as long as I still got to eat, so we kissed and groped and took our clothes off. When he asked if I wanted sex, I said something along the lines of “Alright then.”

“Do you want to?”
I thought about that for a moment.
“Honestly? I am willing.”
“Then let’s go and get dinner.”

Prometheus felt really bad about this, and so did I. He was upset to have misread me, to have thought I wanted sex when I didn’t. I was upset that he was hurt by my willingness. I was reasonably indifferent to the offer of sex: I wasn’t hungry for it, but it’s pleasant, so meh, I didn’t care.
Prometheus wanted me to care. He doesn’t want to have sex with me unless I want to have sex with him. He has a point: where’s the fun in mere willingness?
I agreed to have sex with him because he wanted it, not because I did. Why I did so is a very good question – I’m not sure myself. I have a lot of mixed-up and contradictory ideas about sex in my head and my reasoning is not usually, well, reasoning. I do what seems like a good idea at the time.
Why did it seem like a good idea, then? What are the ideas about sex that make having sex when I’d rather be eating my dinner a better idea than saying “Can we do post-dinner sex instead”?
Men always want sex. Have sex with him or lose him. Good girls say yes. Lie back and think of England.
I didn’t decide not to say no; it just never occurred to me. If you can’t distract him before you get to taking off clothes, you’ve missed the boat and you have to say yes unless there’s a seriously good reason not to, and “I want my tea” isn’t a good enough reason. You can’t just outright say no! You can suggest other activities and demure and stuff, but you can’t deny a man sex. It isn’t fair. It isn’t done.

I’ve been brought up to lie back and think of England, and by that I mean my mother instructed me that that precise action would sometimes be necessary. It’s a stupid and unreasonable rule and I wish it wasn’t in my head. Among other things, it leads to domestic discord. More importantly, it violates Prometheus’ consent if I say “yes” for any other reason than desire. He only wants to have sex with me if I want to have sex with him. His offer of sex is conditional on this principle.

How do you clean this rot out of your head?

What’s With the Feet? Thursday, May 6 2010 

So here’s what I’m thinking: the foot fetishists are really getting on my nerves. I mean, I don’t mind people liking feet, but feet are to me completely non-sexual things. Feet are a chair to me. Other people are free to lick feet or admire feet or masturbate to feet all they like, but I’m not going to.
So far, no problem.
The problem comes when the foot fetish gets so tightly bound up with power exchange that I can’t find my porn for theirs. It becomes a universal assumption that all dominant women wear high heels and want submissive men to ‘worship’ their feet. Which, no, not me. I do not want you to lick my feet. I want to tie you up and do all sorts of nasty things to you, but feet are off the menu.
It further becomes an assumption that all kinky women are wearing high heels. That’s how you know they’re kinky, they wear really high heels. If they’re subs, maybe they have cute little locks on the heels. Dominant women wear high heels because it gives them so much power over men, for men cannot resist the desires of a woman wearing heels – unless she’s a sub, when it’s bondage. Somehow, submissive women find it hard to walk in six-inch heels, and dominant women don’t.
I own exactly two pairs of shoes with a heel. One of them is for parties, and the other is a pair of wellington boots. Neither heel is more than two inches high. Making a man lick them would not be hot, it would just be silly.
According to The Internet, which is the fount of all wisdom and also much foolishness, I am Doing Kinky Wrong.
If feet are your thing, go forth and be happy in a world full of feet. Just let me go my way and do my thing, which will involve feet only peripherally, as a walking apparatus. Don’t generalise your kink to me. It’s getting annoying.