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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Get wet Part 1

Turns out that context really is key to how people will play. On Saturday I was at a party at The Dead Pool which is a lovely, private swimming pool and lounge. By midway through the evening mostly everyone was naked. As such, there's a comparison to by made between that night and the night of my previous post on the subject.

The working hypotheses for why men find states of sexualised undress challenging in kinky environments seem to revolve around body consciousness and fear of being "that guy". Let's discuss how these two anxieties were bypassed in this situation in order to perhaps provide guidelines for situations in which male submissive sexual nudity can be encouraged.

Environments, situations and settings can gives rise to certain ambient level of body consciousness. Any time when you are reminded of you body, how it looks and that other people are looking is likely to increase you level of nervousness about your physicality, especially if you are already nervous. Conversely, some places can actually reduce that nervousness. A swimming pool both provides the expectation and requirement to reveal your body - in order to keep clothed you need to abdicate yourself from the main activity. This is also a "socially acceptable naked" context in which the pursuit of other, non-sexual activities are "disguising" your nakedness: the reason for being nearly naked is to swim, not to reveal your flesh, that is just a side effect. A swimming pool also has rules of behaviour which are well known to us from childhood, swimming costumes are not unusual items and the connection between the mode of dress and the activity makes getting undressed feels safe.

Normalisation removes a lot of anxieties.
Now, I would argue that a kinky party is also a situation in which nudity is normalised, however the key difference in that scenario is that lack of clothing is not required in order to participate in play - and removing clothing sends out particular signals about sexual availability as well as opening oneself up to physical critique. Normalisation also helps remove the fear of being "that guy" - realistically you become the odd one out in this situation by remaining clothed. There is no sexual creepiness inherent in being scantily clad in a swimming pool, it is what is expected.

I think that the fact it was a privately hired venue rather than someone's house - which is our usual venue for private parties - made a difference. There is a liberation in new places and also in places that are intended for these kinds of activities and behaviours, and no other. Equally because it was an area that none of us had been to before we were able to imprint upon it the rules of behaviour without any expectation or memory of what had gone before. There was no disjunct between reminders of sitting having "vanilla" dinners or any other mementos that might throw a barrier up to stripping down.

The other element that is important is the group dynamic. People, as well as place, create environment. Here, we had about fifteen people who all knew each other and were all comfortable in each other's presence.
The gendered power balance was mixed. We had two clearly defined female dominants, one clearly defined male submissive but basically a large bunch of switches, and majoritively bisexual switches at that. As usual, there were slightly more women than men, and as usual the women were the first to get completely naked. However, some the men followed suit soon after, with Dandy in the lead. I wonder if part of the key to men being naked is the need to have one or two men start an almost domino effect?

Finally, protocol. The event did have rules, even though they were unspoken. "permission to play" was already well enshrined: as a group we knew who was able to play with who and how. There was little nervousness in asking or taking. I knew who was willing to play and who wasn't because of where they were sitting in relation to me and how much they were flirting. We were also very comfortable with very short form negotiations - at one point I'm sure I used a raised eyebrow to indicate "I would like to kick your submissive very hard now, is that ok?" and a shrug and smile was given in return. Conversely, there were some moments where protocol was broken, I got annoyed when I was spanked in a circumstance that is traditionally expected (I'd spent far too long leaning over to get something off the floor). The reason I was annoyed had nothing to do with the action or the person delivering it: I'd just arrived and was cold and flustered. However, I had broken protocol and needed to make my apologies later.

These are all benefits that come with having a group of people with whom you have a long standing connection. From this, you get the trust. You also get the ability to fix problems when they arise (such as my breach of protocol) without worrying whether you will be able to continue to interact. All of this gives you the ability to appear naked, to play and to ask for play. I imagine that a lot of anxiety about presenting sexually must come from feelings of uncertainty - after all, stripping off and making oneself available then to be refused is a horrific idea, so knowing that the desire and willingness already exists must give confidence, and that is clearly the key to why people feel able (and unable) to play.

If we want to create a scene in which submissive men feel able to strip down and present themselves sexually then we need to encourage and inspire confidence in them. From what I've observed, this is the list of tools to enable this:
  • Small groups of known friendly players
  • Who are willing and keen to play
  • A mix of men, women, dominants and submissives
  • In a safe, "neutral", private play space
  • With well-understood and accepted rules of engagement
  • Plus Dress (and undress) codes
  • Where submissive men are already semi-clothed or naked and playing
I realise that the latter is something of a chicken and egg situation, but I don't want to downplay the importance of how normalisation and "acceptable circumstances" can be created by the shorthand of other people doing it first.

1 comment:

Marysia Kay said...

I think there are two sides to the nakedness coin, not just fear of refusal after exposing yourself but also fear of having indicated you are available and having someone you don't want to play with take that cue. Again this is heavily ameliorated by playing in small groups of people who know each other well and so are unlikely to misread the situation.