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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Mistress Fanservice

I spent last evening being variously angry and disappointed at the portrayal of Irene Adler in BBC's Sherlock. I don't usually use this space to comment on the happenings of fictional characters, but I was so taken aback at this portrayal of a dominatrix that I wanted to explore some of her "characterisation" and why it was wrong.

First, some preamble, just to stake my claim for why this is quite so important: this kind of bullshit in the media really fucks with how I am perceived. And how my friends are perceived. I'm a dominant woman. I know a lot of other dominant women, both professionals and non-professionals. I also know a few sex workers who are not dominant. I know kinky straight women, kinky bi women and kinky gay women. To the best of my knowledge, none of us has fucked Kate Middleton, and for the record, of all the royals, Harry would be my preference. With this experience, and with zero interest in relations between this product and the original story (there's a good article discussing those writing choices over here) I am going to simply outline why this character is a terrible depiction of a dominant woman.

Dominant women are not just uber femme seductresses. Now, I accept that the "femme type" is a standard tool in the arsenal of the female dominant. However, there are many, many others and many, many different types of desire and sexuality that a professional female dominant works with. Particularly true I would hazard, for one who has worked with the wide range of clients that this character appears to have. We don't see any of that, in fact, aside from the fact that we are constantly told she is a dominant, she appears as a seductive woman. This is not, I repeat, not the same thing as a dominant woman. This is the main problem with the entire portrayal of the character, she isn't a dominant. She's a seductress: she uses sex as a substitute for power. Dominants use power as a substitute for sex. Her clothing neatly illustrates this:
she sweeps us through row upon row of glamorous frocks when deciding what to wear to greet Sherlock. No militaria, no rubber, no leather. No fetish outfits of any kind. Not even a pair of jeans and a white vest top. Maybe there's another wardrobe somewhere. And speaking of things that should be there but aren't...

Where's the kit? Personal opinion here, kids, but I don't really believe in the whole "I can dominant you with only the power of my mind" theory of dominance. I know what I've enjoyed as a submissive, and I know what submissives I've played with have enjoyed.
And that's having a lot of horrible things done to them with a variety of objects as well as good D/s. Dominance is very strongly correlated with S&M and fetish. I honestly don't know a single kinky person who doesn't like some aspects of these things. I certainly know no professionals who don't, because doing those things and having access to that kit partly what you get paid for. The flat we are shown has none of this. Nothing. Oh no, wait. There's a riding crop. A slim, feminine riding crop. And a sliver of black rope around a present. This is all very soft stuff, and the continual portrayal of female dominants as soft, mysterious and delicate is deeply annoying. We like doing hard, heavy and nasty things.

Dominant women are not two dimensional sex obsessed freaks.
Irene appears unable to say any sentence that does not reference sexuality or the fact that she fucks for money. She does nothing else, there is nothing else to her. Every single bloody line. Now, even for us who live the lifestyle 24/7, we have other interests, interests not connected with world domination. Being dominant is something that is part of life, and for me it is a deep and meaningful element of my personality. But I don't talk about it all the time, far from it. There are many situations in which it is entirely inappropriate to do so. Dominant women are both women and people as well as dominants.

No dominant worth their salt, male or female, would ever upon seeing their submissive, unconscious on the floor step over them with an uncaring shrug and a quip. This was the moment in the show that I actually put a (submissive) blanket over my head and refused to come out until the scene had ended. Seriously. The CIA have broken into your house and your submissive is lying on the floor. Any dominant I know would immediately rush over, check them and then tell everyone else to fuck off until they had made sure their submissive was fully recovered. Sod the mysterious detective malarkey, real kinsters know their priorities.

Sex workers are not waiting for the right man to come and save them, to help them or to make everything magically better. This is doubly true if they are gay dominant women. The very worst stereotypes of sexualised women are presented in this character for the consumption of the male viewer: the tart with the heart, lipstick lesbianism, women as manipulated by men, feminine emotions as critical weakness, seductive women defeated by male intellectual superiority. It is high time we got past all of this.
Dominant women are actually dominant. Seriously. They are capable, self-aware and real people who can do things for themselves, by themselves because they want to.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ghost of Christmas past

"I can't carry on, you've just blown my mind."

It's a cruel trick to play, but it works really, really well. I love a good head fuck. I call this one "the submissive boy on top". I flip him over so he's fucking in the way that a vanilla boy might, hands on my shoulders, hips between my legs, gazing down and me then I watch as he realises that he is not in the driving seat. The short-circuit happens when the submissive feelings clash with the muscle memory of other women, other situations. His desire to please me is a physical, visceral thing, I can read it in the hardness of his cock, the twitch in his lower back. The confusion between his understanding of "traditional" desire and the way he feels right now is a wonderful thing to behold. His eyes widen and he stops dead, staring at me as if I'd just performed some impossible magic trick.

"Oh sweetheart, it's got nothing to do with the angles."

I flip him over again, and he tumbles as if made of paper and string. Resting my head on his shoulder, we talk into the night about dominance and desire. I let him lick my clit and bring me to orgasm, accepting his grateful thanks alongside his tongue.

In a moment of inspired madness, spurred by my mother enquiring over the course of many, many weeks whether perhaps I had a "friend" who I would like to bring home for the holidays I invited Ten to come and spend Christmas with my family. In the wake of my confessions of bisexuality which so upset my Mum this provided me with excellent heterosexual normal credentials as well as a spot of submissive company in my childhood bedroom. It is also a lovely side note to the fact that around eleven years ago he was supposed to come home for Christmas but then we broke up.

In less cynical terms, and I'm afraid I am becoming a little cynical, it also gave both of us some time to explore the nascent yet ongoing D/s relationship we have been, more or less, pursuing for many, many years.

We spent a few relaxing days amidst my family (who have since phoned to say that they thought he was a very nice young man, I agreed). We spent a few nights where I let him indulge his favourite activity of lavishing worshipful attentions on me as I re instructed him in the precise methods of orgasm. The ease of our power exchange would be frightening if it weren't for the way it feels so right. As with all well-matched partners the D/s is simple because each of us is giving and taking precisely as much as we want. The fact that, for him, a lot of this is still new, only really adds to my satisfaction. I enjoy being the first one to take him to these places, and to be the first, perhaps the sole person, who inspires these reactions.

It's a strange mental space to be in, now, back home and many miles away. Now we are separated once more, for however long. I left him, a little wobbly-legged but well-fucked, on the train platform. We spoke briefly about future plans, though we've spoken about those before and I know him well enough to not hold him to account. I'm curiously calm, at other times I would be building castles in the air, imaginary futures. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like for things to continue. I've been conducting aftercare via text message whilst really wishing he was resting his head in my lap.

I remain, ultimately, pragmatic about this. We live far apart, he travels a lot, I hate leaving London. We both love each other, but I don't feel in love and that's an important distinction. I enjoyed our time together, as I always enjoy our time together, and the little gifts, cards and messages I sporadically receive from wherever he is in the world. The question of whether he could ever be anything other than the icing on the cake is unanswered. I've left it in his court. As fond of him as I am, and I am very fond of him, I have no intention of turning my life upside down for anything less than wholehearted commitment, and that's a "C" word which goes alongside "C for cynicism".

Separating the Christmas present from future.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Reading (unwritten) rules

Following on from my thoughts on KSL and Torture Garden, I've been the way developing some methods of improving interactions in sex clubs, fetish clubs or at kinky parties. This is both a distillation of my own opinions and how I want to fulfil my own desires, so your mileage may vary. There's two main aspects here, one is around meeting new people, with the possible intention of fucking or playing with them, and the other is around the public play / sex and the aftermath. I'm going to be using "sex" as a bit of a catch-all term in this post to cover all manner of sexual encounters that are not about putting bits of genitalia in other bits - so I'm using sex to include BDSM play, sexualised games and similar.

Let's take the social bit first. We're British, so we have a lot of unwritten (though Watching The English does write some of them down, and it's a fascinating read) rules on how, when and where we can relate to each other. These all count for double when we are around strangers. And triple when they are potentially sexually available strangers, potentially available for potential sex, right now. There's a lot of potential, and that means a certain amount of expectation management is in order, partly so you don't become crushingly disappointed, but also so that you don't let false hopes cloud your ability to behave in a way that will give you - and those around you - the most pleasure and benefit.

At the most recent Kinky Salon London I ran a couple of games in the space to help people mingle and learn the rules of the event. The night was panto themed, so I styled it as a quest in which people could help Prince Charming (me) discover some magic items. I'd placed pictures of items around the space and a little word puzzle on the back which was made from the rules. Players found the "magic word" hidden in the puzzle, thereby reading the rules. I also ran a little "secret santa" messaging service so people could approach potential partners in a more covert fashion.

The two games were designed to counter two of the biggest problems that occur again and again in these environments - at almost every kinky, perverted, swinger and sex club I've been to. People who don't know the rules, or who don't follow them and people who don't know how to approach others and ask for sex or play.

People who are new to sex clubs or to the BDSM scene often do not realise that almost every club or night has its own particular set of rules - things that are and aren't allowed. Often called "dungeon" rules from the days when we kept our kink below stairs and in cellars. These are available in advance and often they are at the events themselves, although not always. Like check box terms and conditions on iTunes, I am fairly certain that no-one actually reads them, which is a shame because each set of rules reveals the kinds of games that are permissible in the space. And I mean both what sort of activity you can do and the sort of form the event will take - you can learn a lot about a club by looking at how they choose to write and present their rules.

So, if you are going to a club for the first time, read the damn rules. I'd do that before I bought a ticket, personally, and there have been events where, following a look at their rules I've decided that it wasn't the night for me (especially swingers nights that don't allow boy-on-boy). Further to this, when you get to the club, behave according to the rules, even if others around you are not. It's a basic piece of respect to both those who are running the event and people who have decided to turn up on the strength of how they thought the event was going to turn out. This is important especially if you want to do something that is against the rules. I like knives, cutting and blood. A lot of clubs don't allow this, so I don't do it at those clubs. I can do it at home, I can do it at other clubs. Just because I consider myself an experienced kinkster doesn't mean I get special rules, and if I decide to break rules because I think I am "special" or "better" then I send a very poor message about the etiquette of kinksters and about what it means to be on the scene.

The arrangement of space on the night will also help you see the unwritten rules. KSL was interesting because it separated the space for fucking (which they refer to as "the playroom") and the space for BDSM play which gave a nice visual cue to people present. There was overlap, of course, and the handcuffs and restraints on the bed showed that to neat effect. Take your time when you arrive at a club, look around, see how things are laid out, this will tell you, louder than words, what the organisers think about how play should happen. But be warned, just like the written rules, the arrangement of space will tell you what the event organisers expect to happen and what they want to happen, not necessarily what you might want. Unlike the written rules, it is sometimes acceptable to be playful with the layout of space, as long as you are considerate of other space users. Things like moving a spanking bench into the middle of an area designed for mingling is not a good idea, but nudging it slightly so you can move all the way around is probably fine. If in doubt, ask an event organiser.

The final element of the rules is you yourself and your interactions with others. The rules you have for yourself and the rules they have for themselves.
Most people do not come with a sticker which indicates their desires and limits. Sad but true. People are often poor at talking about these things and poorer still, especially if new and nervous, about negotiating. Additionally, rules change according to context and the person you are negotiating with. You are not a mind reader, you do not know what other people want. You need to ask. Ask before touching, ask before assuming.

Assumptions are rife, and many rules in clubs are assumed rather than being actually real.
Parties and events create a sense of carnival and festival through dress-up, themes, alcohol, dance and the element of secret society. This makes us feel liberated from conventional rules and mores which can be very exciting, powerful and sexual. We feel able to say and do things we would not normally do, because we are following the "rules of play", playing a game as we perceive it. It is permissible, in these places, to ask strangers if they want to have sex. But this atmosphere can also turn us into idiots and put us in danger of going too far as we forget that the rules are only suspended, not removed. They will return the next day and we need to feel comfortable with how we behaved in the morning.

There's also the matter of what is sex and how far you can go - which is where the permissiveness culture of sex clubs can cause problems. For me, regardless of how the club rules appear or even how they are actually written, the onus is always on you to secure active consent, from yourself and from your partner, before any kind of touching can occur. This kind of rule is one that is often included in written club rules. But it is not always in such an explicit way and the behaviour (and dress, unfortunately we still live in a culture where revealing clothing equals "wants to be touched") of people within the space can make it feel unclear. When things are unclear, it's vital that you create your own clarity.

You need to be clear in and of yourself about what you want and don't want. And stick to your guns. Talking to a friend on the night and we both agreed that it was "ok not to have sex at a sex club". We had both had a good night, but neither of us had been in the mood and were comfortable with our feelings on that front. Just because others are fucking, doesn't mean you have to. We are not in the playground anymore. Similarly, when others are fucking, and you want to, but are unable to find a partner you like, you need to be prepared for that, to accept the fact that whilst you might want sex others might not want to have sex with you. It's a sad fact and it can make you angry, unhappy or miserable. But it needs accepting and respecting.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The fire in your eyes

Her face is lit up by the candle flame, but the glint in her eyes is made of more than that. There are smudges of black around her lashes where the mascara has run from tears. And yet she is smiling. She looks up at me and smiles and the world shifts into sharp focus. Something passes between us in the moment where I hold the candle near her mouth and say she can blow it out if she wants to stop.

She just smiles.

And I go back to pouring the liquid wax along her red, red back. Red from the scratches where I dragged my nails through the threads of solid white wax to reveal fresh, bright skin. Red from the streaks and strokes of the rubber flogger I used to warm the skin and bring the blood to the surface, flood the capillaries and the nerve endings with plenty of sparkling oxygen. All the better to feel me with, my dear. I can feel the heat on her skin without even laying my cool palm on her flesh, hovering in that not-quite-touching place when you almost feel the magnetic pull of one body towards and another. It's in direct contrast to the cool of the metal cross she's tied to.
After turns and turns of wax poured on and skin scoured clean, both on her front and on her back I decide she is ready.

There's a small vibrator nestling in her underwear, just a gentle reminder of the balance between pleasure and pain, soft and hard sensation. Eventually, I slip my fingers between her skin and the white fabric, teasing her open, feeling how wet she has become and knowing that this too, belongs to me. I play with her clit, watching her face for those twitches at the corner of the mouth, the tell-tale signs of an oncoming orgasm. She looks at me, whispering a request for permission, and I grant it swiftly enough - this is something I want her to do for me, perhaps more than she might want for herself. She tips her head back and moans as she comes, then thanks me.

I take her down, to a smattering of applause. Slowly we move, leaning a little against the other, collecting our things and towards a nearby sofa, in the gently cooling dark. I lay her down, head on my lap, naked body open up to me like an unfurling precious piece of rich fabric. A tapestry of endless fascination. I stroke her hair, kiss her forehead and with a small knife, carefully pick off the remaining wax as we both return to something approaching normality.

When we play it is so, so easy. I move this way and that, feeling like an artist, an action painter, where every move makes something special happen. Each time I play with Blush I'm reminded of everything that is good about BDSM play, we riff off each other very well with our kinks and our desires. I trust her body to respond to my touch and she trusts mine to guide her through each scene. There's a balance to our bodies, they fit well against each other. I step forward and she leans back into my arms, I cup her cunt in my hand and push her upwards, she flexes against me and her feet lift up from the ground.

And whenever I hurt her, whenever I press, pinch, clip, strike or grind my knuckles against her ribs I can see the exhilaration flash in her eyes like sparks of light. She bites her lip, she grins, and oh help me, she even giggles. Her mouth opens in a perfect "o" as if I've said something deliciously witty whilst presenting her with a surprise box of kittens. I have never seen such a positive response to pain. I want to keep seeing it again, and again. I love her pain, it is enthralling, fulfilling and beautiful. It makes me happy. So I hurt her, again and again and each time she smiles, and each time she says thank you, and means it.

After turns and turns of wax poured on and skin scoured clean, both on her front and on her back I take her down, to a smattering of applause. Slowly we move, leaning a little against the other, collecting our things and towards a nearby sofa, in the gently cooling dark. I lay her down, head on my lap, naked body open up to me like an unfurling precious piece of rich fabric. A tapestry of endless fascination. I stroke her hair, kiss her forehead and with a small knife, carefully pick off the remaining wax as we both return to something approaching normality.

She smiles.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Club rules

Saturday saw the annual Torture Garden outing, and despite the fact that a number of The Tribe were unable to attend we still had enough perverts to make the night worthwhile, including a last minute addition of Blush. I'd been a bit sad within myself that I hadn't really been able to spend more time with her, either for play or just coffee, so it was nice to be able to take her out once more. Nicer still that we were at Rossetti's house to begin the night and together played a game of dress up making her into quite the Christmas princess, All white innocence and knee socks, all the better to fool you with.

TG is always a mixed bag. It's a big club night with a dungeon rather than a play night - recently a few of us were bemoaning the existence of good, hard play clubs outwith the gay fetish scene. The TG crowd is always better looking than average, so there were lots of well-defined male torso on display and a performance by a beautifully androgynous hula boy made me grin wolfishly. Any man who can strip whilst twirling a hoop around gets my vote.

Then there was the not-so-good.

The drunken, drugged up crowd falling over themselves (literally, one woman collapsed on the stage, bringing part of the decoration with her) and the grabby, gropey behaviour of vanillas let off the leash without knowing how to behave. The dungeon itself was bigger and better laid out with
more kit than usual, and lent itself to more showy, exhibitionist scenes: racks, cages, st andrew's crosses, benches, exactly right for that kind of crowd. It was very, very dark. We like some darkness, we perverts, but we also like not to fall over whilst we are playing. I rather long for a club with a bright, white playroom.

However, it wasn't well monitored. I saw a couple of - predictably male
dungeon monitors, predictably delivering flogging to newbie, nubile women in a very "look at my manly domming" sort of way. I'm never keen on DMs playing, I think that it's a bit like bouncers drinking and dancing. I appreciate that the line between showing someone a little about kink and actually having a scene can be hard to draw. However, in a club where there is likely to be more new people, and more new people who are drinking, then closer supervision is required. You can't watch play whilst playing.

They were not easily identifiable, especially as they were often busy playing or moving people out of the way so that they could play. One was masked, which I especially don't like as I think it makes it much harder for you to talk to them or ask them a question. It also makes us kinksters look like dickheads.

My feelings were compounded by the fact that when I really could have used a DM - a man was being extremely rude about stepping back from where I was about to play - there wasn't one to hand and I could hardly leave Blush by herself near Mr Angry And Entitled whilst I went to look for teacher. I'm able to take care of myself and he eventually left in a flood of curses but it hardly set the scene for a good scene - we recovered, naturally, and more on that later.

Now I know that these are problems faced by being a big club and by being a club that mixes a vanilla accessible party with play. TG does not call itself a play club, it isn't a play club, it is a fetish party with emphasis on the party.
Throw in the "it's Christmas" vibe and everyone was probably getting more high and more hammered than they might usually. That meant the dungeon was full of people who, especially towards the end of the night, were really not in a fit state to stand up, let alone play, or, importantly consent to play. The rules for the dungeon were printed on a board outside the entrance to one of the play areas - though not all. They were hard to read in the light and obscured by people going to the nearby bar. If I wasn't actually looking for them I would have missed them.

Good dungeon monitoring is a real bugbear of mine, possibly because of my own background in behind-the-scenes event and theatre work plus front of house. DMs create the experience for people in the club and also set expectation levels of what kinky people look like.

I want people's experiences of BDSM to be positive. I don't think everyone in the world has to participate or should be kinky. I do want everyone to think that, even if it's not their cup of tea, they are able to see why some people might enjoy it. Their first physical contact with kink is often via the club scene and I think that clubs like TG, especially with its size and reputation, have a huge responsibility to the scene to deliver. Similarly, we perverts have a responsibility to behave properly and respect individual club rules. Even if we want to play harder or do more. Their house, their rules.

If you are going to allow play and if you are going to have rules then you need to actively manage this, and, sadly, I don't think TG is quite up to scratch.