Following on from discussions of dominance as a kind of gambling, it's worth talking about bluffing. Dominance relies a lot on the assurance of action. More than anything else, the other party must be certain that you will carry through on what you have said. That puts the dominant in something of a quandary regarding bluffing. Bluffing can be great, if you know you are going to win. But if you are revealed to have offered something you can't carry out then dominance goes out the window like a squeaky balloon popped with a pin.
The threat of something can often be bigger, scarier and more terrifying than the actual ordeal itself - how many times have we worked ourselves up over a perceived future confrontation at work, a dentists appointment or a difficult conversation only to find it much easier in the doing than the thinking. That's the essence of anxiety - the mind can be relied upon to blow things out of proportion because the best person to scare yourself is you.
But threats never carried out will loose all their weight. If all I do is bluff I will become known for doing so and I will no longer be threatening. What this means is that my word must become my bond, essentially. This isn't just for negative punishments:it works for pain and reward, in my experience a combination of the two is the best way of getting what you want out of someone. There's a lot of talk about trust in BDSM and this is part of that trust - they must know that you will do what you say.
Nothing is weaker than an empty threat. I'm learning that if I threaten or promise something I must be prepared to carry it out so very careful with what I say, even casually. At the same time, I'm also learning that I'm prepared to carry out an awful lot.
The girl was complaining about how she looked, and I could look at the girl and know those things weren't true. So I made a plan. Then told it to her:
"I'll strip you naked at the next Peer Rope London and you will recite five minutes on your beauty to myself and an audience. Then you'll see how pretty they think you are."
At first she didn't believe me, and there were hurried, jokey comments back and forth. I stuck to my guns. I knew she was getting anxious because other people interceded, and I quietly brought them into the fold. There was no secret about the plan. It was made public via my twitter feed - this was one situation where the threat did not need to be vague, it was terrifying because of its clarity.
I knew I had her hooked when she began to twist. It wasn't "never do this to me!" it was "not like this" or "not like that" requests to do it in private, at a different event, to only be stripped down to pants and bra. She wanted it, but she was scared. And I liked that. I liked it a lot. It made me powerful - the control I could exert, right down to the minutiae, the power from helping someone do something they wanted to do but could not manage on their own. Pulling someone through their fear.
In the background, I made plans, first in my head, then on paper in bullet form. There were a lot of variables and I wanted to be clear on what needed to happen so that I could work out the possible pitfalls. Playing with someone's self image is challenging and can be dangerous. My goal was to make her see herself as other's did - as a pretty young woman, to give her the rush and thrill of public exposure and public appreciation. I really didn't want to make a bad body image worse. I checked in on those who knew her first, for a sounding board. I'd seen her play in public, though mostly clothed, and finally I offered her a full and complete get out. But it was a controlled get-out, and one on my terms. She could say no, but that would mean nothing, no play, ever. We'd still remain friendly, but we wouldn't play.
She said yes. Then she emailed across the text she was going to read out.
I had her. She still twisted, and I smiled and teased and kept telling her that no, she wasn't in charge and it would happen my way.
Then it was the day itself. The venue was busy so I had to wait for a while until it was quiet enough for something to happen without causing a massive disturbance, there's a difference between attracting wanted attention to fuel latent exhibitionist desires and being the annoying bastard getting in people's way. Plus I knew that the longer I waited the more she might begin to hope that perhaps I had forgotten or decided not to do it. In fact, the reverse was true, I was actually somewhat anxious that it was too busy to do it and I knew I had to follow through.
Finally, there was a gap in the crowd and she was standing near me, so I grabbed her. I had her occasional play-partner who'd been playing good cop to my bad cop over email, but now was very much bad cop, delivering a blow to her stomach that I winced at. She went down. We dragged her over to the stairs and began hauling her to the second level. Everyone stopped and watched us briefly, weighing up in a moment or so whether this was something that should or shouldn't happen. We appeared to have passed some sort of silent approval and they carried on. Spirit found us half way up the stairs - I'd talked to her about what was going in, and she helped us carry the girl the rest of the way. She wriggled, not screaming the house down as I thought she might - in fact her stoic silence reassured me that some part of her, beneath the fear, was ready. that this was what she wanted. We were fighting a battle of nerves - mine against hers. Could I steady mine against her obvious distress in order to take her through it and out the other side?
Once at the top, I started to strip her. Shouting orders to scare her, between the three of us we forced her clothes off in between wrenching her this way and that around her struggling form. A crowd gathered and I drew her attention to them. Once down to just her knickers, she began to clam up, going silent and wrapping arms around legs. The change in her body and tempo made me alter my movements. There had been enough stick. Now was time for some carrot. I stroked and soothed her, talking in a soft low voice about how I wanted her to make me proud, about how this was going to happen and it was up to her how it played out. I let her get her breath back and counted down from sixty before getting her hauled to her feet.
She had her poem and was trying to hide her breasts and cunt with her hands. We finally peeled them back and, through shouting, some small violence and whispers of encouragements plus threats to keep her there overnight, or longer if needs be. She began to speak in the tiniest of voices, so I ushered the audience closer. After a few false starts, something clicked and she read through the whole piece. Perhaps she realised that this was happening, or that she could end it quicker if she just started to talk.
I smiled as she spoke. Listening to what she'd written. A rhyming set of verse, well put together, funny and depreciating, but with the required acknowledgements that yes, her body was pretty. I reached in my pocket for the magic marker I had bought in preparation, to write her own words on herself as a memento but it had clearly been lost in the struggle. A shame, but the battle itself was well won. Once done, there was applause, which threw her, then a pile of hugs from the three of us and friends. My head felt like it was going to explode with the rush from what I'd just done.
Not only was I committed to hurting her if she didn't do what I wanted I was also prepared to give treats and praise when she did come up with the goods. Sitting next to her, naked and shaking like a leaf, with a heavy blanket draped over her and eating the chocolate eclairs (I'd checked in on her favourite sugary treat) I'd saved for the occasion. I was shaking too. Buzzing with adrenaline I wrapped my arms around her, feeling genuine pride and a huge amount of energy - I was grinning from ear to ear and still am today. Domspace is shiny, and full of stars.