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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The End

When I started writing this years ago, I didn't have a plan as to how it might turn out. Obviously, in the back of my over-excited mind I was secretly looking for publication on an international scale that would turn me into a millionaire sexual revolutionary and advocate of the alternative scene without my parents getting wind of what I get up to.

Like many fantasies, this hasn't happened - and just like you need to be careful what you wish for, this is probably for the best.

So, this will be the last post. 

It's been a hell of a ride. 

I am incredibly grateful for all of the people who have been part of this, and part of my life and especially to those who continue to be so. I know that I've made friends, gorgeous, wonderful friends, who I will have for the rest of my life.  

A lot of the reasons for stopping writing are positive ones. My life has changed and improved dramatically since I started to write this and many of the things I was searching for, not least, someone who is "just for me", are now part of my life. There are one or two negative reasons for this, unfortunately. I have a new, very busy and quite stress-inducing job which uses up rather a lot of my energy, meaning that by the end of the day I am not really interested in spending three hours tying someone up and hitting them in a series of interesting ways, I'd just like to go to bed.
Fortunately, the more positive reasons are the real drive behind making the decision to stop writing, at least in this form.

All good stories need to come to an end, and I'm a firm believer in a strong, clean finish than just petering out, which is precisely what the blog is in danger of doing. Updates have been sporadic and I have not had the time, or more tellingly, the inclination to write. I'm going out less, playing with other people less and (frankly) doing less involved or convoluted scenes. Which means less material, frankly. I am still thinking about writing a book, so will need to use the time for that, but that won't happen quickly.

A lot of this blog was about the search for the right person, perhaps not intentionally so, but it did end up that way. Underlying everything was that drive to understand myself and to get what I wanted. Posts are almost always about exploring, about finding things out, about the next thing and the new thing or about understanding what has just happened to me. 

The search is over. I'm home.

This isn't to say that domesticity is the end of BDSM, it just makes it different. Without the time limits of a hotel date, or the constraints of a club a certain kind of routine emerges in which all of the power and control that you strive for as a dominant is simply there. Ready and waiting. And wiggling its bottom in the kitchen to attract your attention whilst you make dinner.  

There is also a pleasure in finding this kind of private intimacy to the extent that even I am not inclined to write about it. Dearest reader, I do love you very much, but I seem to have created a tiny little world which only has room for two people, and I'm too selfish to share: I'm too busy enjoying it.
The ease of it all is one of the greatest joys of finding a submissive with whom you absoutely fit. A partner who you love and prioritise and who loves and prioritises you. And you want to spend your life at ease, why wouldn't you? So, my darlings, I will admit that instead of peeling back the latex on a particular sexual more then furiously typing, I have, in fact, been at home on the chaise longue, drinking red wine and watching a film with Ganymede.

And they lived happily every after.

The End. 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Write lightly, and politely?

I've been talking about it for ages, I know. That I should write a book-of-the-blog. I've been spurred into action by the latest and not precisely greatest offerings in what might be generously called "women's erotica" such as 50 Shades of Grey and assembled me-too publications. 

I can do better, I thought. Even more so: I should do better. These books have sold in their thousands, millions. And the sort of tale they represent is fake. No more than a kinky twist on the classic romance which publishers like Mills and Boon have made their bread and butter. They sell, though. And why shouldn't they? After all, it's exactly the sort of fairy tale that we are brought up to believe expresses the sum total of female desire: only sexed up in an "exciting" kinky fashion. And it is fashion, I believe, as more and more I see the requirement for an extreme and indescribable want or desire fulfilled in literary terms by BDSM. 

Here's the story we keep being told: a young woman, innocent, untouched, virginal, is shown the meaning of true passion by an older, more experienced (rich) man. The sort of man who knows that no means yes and he's only doing it so cruelly, so coldly because there's a part of him that is vulnerable and needs nurturing - by her. The princess is saved by true love's whip. The prince is saved by true love, which he could only previously experience as violent pleasure. Together they render each other meaningful. They live happily ever after.

Other people have examined the phenomenon of why it has done so well (note especially this article discusses why women love it, I wonder how many men have read it and what they felt).This lack-of-the-new has not stopped it selling like hot (cheese) cakes made from old (shibari) rope.

It's easy to criticise. Almost everyone has, criticising the book and the antics around it has become some kind of hobby. It's turning into a confusing mess, including domestic abuse charities burning the book and problematising ideas around female sexuality, BDSM sexuality and whether you must have deep-seated emotional issues in order to be a sexual sadist.

I'd like to set the record straight for kinky people. I'd be pretty pleased if I could make a pile of cash whilst doing it thus retiring to my chaise longue to write more mainstream books about BDSM whilst attractive semi-naked chained things fanned me with ostrich feathers and poured the coffee.

That's the fantasy. The reality is, as always, different and involves thinking and hard work.

In order to make any kind of challenge to this narrative I really do have to put my money where my mouth is. And so, I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with a literary agent. We talked a little about the blog, we talked more about the process and the way in which I could turn my source material (me) into something that people would want to read. We talked about style, and narrative and the sort of story I would be telling. We framed some potential beginnigs, middles and ends. We talked about descriptive language and how I would have to give these as-yet-unknown-readers the words to let them imagine what my experiences had looked like, felt like, smelt like. 

Because - and this is something that we kinksters, especially those of us snug in the bosom of London, forget. Most people do not know what it is like. Most people have not worn rubber, or been to a BDSM club, or even had a threesome. Most people are vanilla. Most people are straight - in sexuality and in outlook. That isn't a criticism, but it is a reminder. That the types of explorations we do are not the norm and so when I write I need to bear that in mind.

Which generally, I don't do here. I write fast and dirty. I assume a lot of prior knowledge. I assume that you get it. I write for you. Yes, you, my dearest constant reader. You who are probably known to me, or a friend of a friend, and certainly who is aware of BDSM and the realities of daily, perverted life. The agent assures me that in reality most people are not. And it is this candour that is sell-able. Not the high gothic towers full of mysterious beauties tied to exotic devices (or exotic beauties tied to mysterious devices). That sort of thing will merely make people jealous, or annoyed. The thing I'm going to write has to be real, on some level, because that is the selling point of the story I am offering.

Not a fantasy. Not a fiction. But an expose of what it is really like. Of how you find out you are kinky, of what happens next, where you go, what it looks and feels like. What that first trip to a fetish club does to you, what that first sensation of being tied up, or tying up means. And that's where I began to hesitate. If I do use the material here, I'll need to write more, and more concrete, descriptive things. I'll need to use my own history, my own background as a source and really bring the reader into my life.  I'll need to open up more, reveal more and also at it's most basic: write more.

I am a very good editor, here, on the blog. I give you only the choicest morsels. Little, tasty tit bits. A couple of hours of my life, here and there. I don't give you much context, just straight to the good stuff. I know what you like. I also know that this blog isn't world famous, that I don't get thousands of hits and that my private life, for all my public writing, is still very much that. Private. Sure, there are naked pictures of me on various BDSM sites, and if you really worked at it you could connect the dots. Expose me. But why would anyone bother? 

Like Belle du Jour, they wouldn't unless it became a story. Which it might. If I get what I want: lots of lovely book sales. Then finding out who I am will become worth someone's while. And that could cause a lot of problems, for me, for those around me, for my family.

As much as I take pride in who I am and what I do I also know how upset my parents would be if they knew about this. How sad they would feel. How anxious and frightened for me, how ashamed, how disappointed in me and in themselves. That they had somehow let me down, or that my life will be unhappy, incomplete. That it must be if I feel the need to do things like this. We're back to the argument of 50 Shades again where Christian Grey's sadism has its root in his abusive upbringing. That in order to be kinky he must lack in other areas - emotional fulfilment is beyond him. That question I've been asked by several people outside of the scene: how can you do that with someone you love?

So how can I do this? How can I write the book I want to write, and want it to succeed, without also being open to the possibility that it will change my life in very difficult ways. Arrogantly, I'm assuming a best-seller. Still, I see no point in aiming to produce something average.

The first stage is to see whether I can write it at all. Writing a book is very different to writing a blog, the agent assures me, and as I sit here, typing quickly in this familiar format I can see he is right. The idea of opening a blank page and starting from the beginning is quite intimidating. I need to work out how much of my life I use and how much I make up. I need to plan, in a way I never do with these posts, a structure to frame the experiences. I must do more than a series of vignettes, instead I need to take people on a journey that they can empathise with, even though they have never been to those places or done those things. I also need to protect myself, and my family, and those I have played with, to strike a balance between the reality and authenticity of my genuine experiences and the needs of narrative and privacy.

Based on a true account, I suppose.    


Monday, 3 September 2012

Poly Means Many: Loss

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month seven bloggers - ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Rarely Wears Lipstick, The Boy With The Inked Skin and myself - will write about their views on one of them. This month: Loss

It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Your loss, my gain. We often talk about love, loss and power in the same sentence, in the same love song. About the act of losing love in the same way as losing a game, through lack of skill or failure, or perhaps like losing something on the train, by accident or carelessness. A loss is a diminishing of our own power, of our own capability. Something that we had but no longer. Something to grieve over. Equally, loss can also be powerful, we can be set free by it. We lost our inhibitions, we had nothing to lose but our chains. We got rid of the unnecessary, the unwanted and the undesirable. More so, we can use loss to damage people. We can tell them to get lost, we can make them a loser. To put themselves so far away from where we are that they are the ones who have become untethered. We are the centre, the gravity well, the reality that they no longer have access to. We can lose, we can become lost, we can lose other people and we can make other lost. Loss has power.

There are all kinds of ways of viewing loss and that's the framework that I want to keep in mind for the rest of this piece. I've written on my own personal, major poly break-up a few years ago, and how it felt to lose a dominant, to be lost by my dominant and to know that he still had someone else, his primary partner, whilst I was left alone. Time has eased a lot of the hurt, but I still remember it very well. The rawness of it, the pain and the sense of extraordinary unfairness, abandonment and anxiety that I had done something wrong, that I had been deemed "less". A second choice. There was anger at how happy they must be compared to how unhappy I was (I have no idea whether this was true or not, but reality wasn't my strong suit at the time). I also couldn't help but make comparisons. I suppose it's similar to being left for someone else, except more complicated. I was in the position where I was encouraged to be, but never felt especially friendly towards The Photgrapher's partner, I can only imagine what it might be like if I had actually been friends with her. As well as losing my lover, I would have also lost a friend.

Breaking-up is rarely pretty or easy, but there's a particular challenge when relationships contain more than two people because they don't often break into neat, individual pieces. There will be someone left out, and that can cause additional hurt. Add in the weight of responsibility, obligation and service that can be part of a D/s established relationship, plus any sort of play dynamic such as pet and owner, slave and mistress and it becomes even more painful when these things are stripped away.

There is, as I have often mentioned, something of a clash between the needs of a poly relationship and the needs of a BDSM relationship. I'm sure there are some people for whom it works, but for me the all encompassing nature of dominance and submission can sit badly with having multiple partners. You cannot be a servant of two masters, it diminishes the power of both of them. It was a problem I faced with Mr Smith and sadly, we never came to a workable ongoing resolution. Equally as a dominant you cannot promise to protect and to support a submissive when you have another partner.

This clash has been the cause of most of my break-ups. And the tension between BDSM and poly has been the ongoing theme within this series I've tried to unpick. Words like "only", "best", "most precious" and "mine" become very difficult in a poly context. But they are words of power. And words of power are useful to perverts. We put people in places where they are ours, whole and entire. Yet these words are meaningless, or worse, become promises you cannot deliver when reality sets in, when it become obvious that they are not the only one, not the best. Lies you tell yourself and your partner that will come back to haunt you.
There will, and there always are in poly relationships, time when someone has to come first. As a dominant, that is my submissive. If I have two submissives then I need to make a choice and that's where I have a problem.

My poly has its limits, but those limits protect me from situations that have hurt me in the past, so they are lessons well learnt.
There are ways around it and they involve hierarchy, roles and planning. The format of "trainer" has worked well for me as a temporary dominant role. It allows me to care deeply and to be taken seriously, to be unique and powerful, but also to give the other person space to see others. The thing I did with them was the only time they did that. It was special to us.

You need careful, ongoing, thoughtful communication to make it work. If there's one word that could be written, stick of rock like, throughout our Poly Means Many posts, I suspect it would be the C word. There is no point having an image of what the relationship looks like unless you tell other people about it, and certainly communication breakdown is often cited as the place where poly relationships come unstuck. It makes sense, the more people involved, the more difficult good and open communication can be. Everyone has their own opinion, and desires, for what a relationship should be, and everyone is clear in their own minds. But perhaps not in others.
The same goes for what happens afterwards.

And the aftermath is worth thinking about, perhaps even before you start the relationship if you can. A friend of mine has the wonderful attitude of enjoying relationships for what they are, and accepting that at some point they will end. I have a more fairytale outlook, and like the handsome prince I expect to capture my beloved, slay the dragon and be happy ever after. Loss doesn't come into it. So it's probably all the worse when it does.
There are things we can do to manage or mitigate loss. We can avoid situations which are likely to cause harm or trouble, which is a wise thing to do no matter what the context. The difficulty is in putting common sense before desire and knowing what works. Experience helps. But you neeed to make mistakes to get experienced. After a few years I now know much more about what I am capable of doing within a relationship and what I cannot do. I can also talk about these requirements without being embarrassed or trying to appear "better" or able to give more than I can.
For example Ganymede and I have agreed that we will have periodic play partners but certainly for the foreseeable future we are unlikely to become a threesome or moresome with anyone else. There wouldn't be a lot of room for another person and to offer that without being able to deliver would be unfair. No matter how much I might like the idea of a cute "companion" for him so they could share the duties in serving me.

There's a balance to it all, and nothing exists in a vacuum. This is especially true of relationships in the BDSM and poly community. We are small groups of people with particular tastes and predilections. The chances of us knowing a former lover of a friend on the scene are high: people talk, people bitch and people gossip.
Especially within close communities or friendship groups. Word gets around. Everyone knows who is connected to who and often how and why they broke up. Or at least has one person's perspective on it. And that can be difficult and upsetting for everyone, in what is already a difficult and upsetting situation. Short of putting each person in the original relationship, and their partners and their partners' partners in isolation for six months (which in some groups might mean putting everyone in a different city and turning off the internet) it's hard to avoid. The repercussions of one break-up can have a knock-on effect on a lot of things, especially where several people have a relationship link that goes beyond friendship and these things can get quite complicated over time as people fall in and out of relationships.

I still hold a strong connection and love for Mannequin and we've been through quite a few other partners in the time we have known each other. For a period of time she belonged to someone else. When she first started to date him, she was very much mine but over time it was clear she wanted to explore the nascent relationship with him. I wanted her to be happy and there were things he could give her I could not. I missed her, and I felt the loss keenly, as well as felt some sense of inadequacy (rightly or wrongly, these days I'm coming firmly down on wrongly). I wasn't angry at either of them. I was happy they were happy. But I was also sad, and I missed what she and I had.

My primary feeling was dominance and to me that's about control, protection and enabling your submissive to experience wonderful things. He didn't "take" her from me, we were all clear on that, I gave her to him. We had a series of very good conversations about it which enabled me to keep my control, and my protectiveness and the knowledge that she was and would experiencing amazing things and he would look after her in my place. But I still missed her. I had still lost a large part of what we had. Now that relationship with him is over and ended badly with the net result that I'm reasonably angry over the whole thing.

I also have a mirror to that original loss because h
er hurt, her loss is in some ways also my hurt and my loss. I feel empathy for her because of what I went through, but also because not only is she my friend, I still have the strong sense that she is mine. What I wanted for her did not happen and I am sorry I could not protect her from it, which sounds ridiculous because she is an adult and makes her own decisions, but all the same: I wanted her to be happy.

The sense of dominance does not go away just because your submissive is now technically no longer yours, just as the sense of love does not go away when your partner leaves you for someone else. Feelings don't belong to the person you invested them in, they are yours, they live in your heart, your head, your stomach. If I've learnt anything about relationships it's this: your feelings are your own.

It's your loss. As they say.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Trigger warning.

I don't often take time to comment on the news, but the recent spate of articles and reports over the past few weeks on rape have created a lot of upset (to put it mildly) for many of my friends, both in the BDSM and vanilla world. Those who have had experiences of sexual assault have - through the almost unavoidable screaming headlines - been confronted with those memories, with those emotions.
There's been a lot going on. Public figures have weighed in all over the place. Idiot politicians have confused sexual assault with rudeness. More idiotic politicians have demonstrated basic scientific failings. There has been a lot of commentary, online and in the papers, and a lot of personal confessions, of all kinds.

It has been, even for someone like me who is fortunate to have never experienced rape or sexual assault, overwhelming. The amount of my friends who have spoken of their own experiences has been overwhelming. Men and women, people who have been assaulted and have been accused of it. I can more easily count the number of people who have not been touched by this, than those who have. It is like a cancer. I have been upset on their behalf, almost to the point of panic at my inability to do anything, so I can barely imagine how they feel.

There have also been a lot of arguments.
Some heated, some whispered hushed and low, some online, some in person.And a lot of fear, on all sides. Fear about what has happened, what might happen, about what it all means. There have been arguments about the definition of rape, about the law surrounding it, about rape culture, about rape "jokes". And above all there's been a lot written about the stereotyped imagery around rape which just makes the whole thing worse than it already is. And it's pretty bad. When the media parses things in black and white when reality is never quite like that. When all rape is seen as stranger rape, when we are all victims or victim blamers, sluts or slut-shamers. When we asked for it, or we knew they wanted it really. When we're nice guys that rape or girls who cry rape. We're not any of those things. We could be all of those things. We don't live in a world of these stereotypes. Each experience is different. Each recollection of that experience is different.

It's not about who "wins" in a court of law (
'm not going to touch on the legal side of it, though I'm hoping someone does), assuming it even comes to that, which more often than not it doesn't. Fighting a legal battle does not change anyone's experience or memory of what happened. I can't make the past experiences of my friends go away. I can't go back in time and fix all that hurt. I can't change the memory, or the reality of what happened to them. What I can do, is talk about what we can do about it and talk about consent. Which I have done, at length. There's an extremely good article, and links to other good articles, here on safewords, consent and BDSM culture here - I would urge you to read it.

What I can also do is talk about my own fears and concerns, and examine my own attitudes. So that's what I'm going to try and do with the remainder of this post.

I like kinky sex, so I live in a world of complications. I like having sex that shuts down people's ability to move, to speak, to hear. I like gags and mitts. I like having sex with pain. I like seeing people cry. I like having hard sex, violent sex, sex that mimics rape. I like playing with people's emotions, with their perceptions, with their fears. I like games of power and powerlessness. I go to parties or trawl the internet and (attempt to) have sex with people I have only just met. I also like loud music, alcohol, recreational drugs and staying up really, really late.

All of these things put together mean that I, and those who also enjoy these things, am at risk. I'm at risk of sexual assault, perhaps, but as a top and a dominant I'm also at risk of sexually assaulting someone. And being honest: that's the thing I worry about more. That I'm genuinely scared of. For myself, and for my partners. I cannot control what someone else might do to me, but I like to think I have control over myself. But I don't, not entirely, not in this situation. I can control what happens to an extent, but I can't control someone's response to what I do, and I can't control their impression of it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not worried I'm going to "accidently" trip and fuck someone without their consent. That's the myth of stranger rape, writ small. I'm worried I'm going to push someone too far and that they aren't going to tell me. Or that I'm going to leave a party thinking everyone has had a great night and someone is going to be hurt and upset over what I've done.

I can do my best, and I like to think I do. I have discussions over coffee. I negotiate and set out limits. I plan and prepare scenes.
I have contracts. I try to listen to people when they talk about their desires rather than superimposing mine over the top. I try to balance that delicate knife edge of giving someone what they want when they don't want to have to ask for it. When having to ask for it makes it less fun, less sexy, less interesting, less good. When I need to be just violent enough without being too violent. Violent in the right way. At the right time. In the right places.

But still, and especially when you mix in all the factors that someone else brings to the table - whether they know it or not - there are a hundred and one "what ifs" that I cannot possibly plan for. I cannot know if someone is really enjoying themselves, or if they are just telling me they are enjoying themselves. When it's something new for the first time I cannot predict how someone will react. I cannot make someone safeword if the pain is too much.

I've been in the position where this has happened, and I've felt incredibly guilty. I've also been deeply relieved that in the aftermath we were able to talk through what happened, jointly accept responsibility and still remain friends and sometime play partners. I still, however, feel guilty. I will never stop feeling guilty about that moment. And just as I will never stop feeling guilty, I will never stop worrying. Because even though logically I know that there was no way around it, and I had done everything I could to prevent it, it still happened. I still pushed someone too far and broke their trust and hurt them. I've done it before and I might do it again.

At a very basic level a lot of what I enjoy doing, particularly the heavy scenes, could land me in court for assault (sexual or otherwise) if someone were to chose to do so. But that's not the real issue. The thing that really worries me is what it means, for both of us. For them, I will be that person who hurt them, who assaulted them. Nothing will change that in their memory. And nothing will change mine. The only way to prevent the possibility is to never do anything at all or to accept your chances and work to stack the deck.

I'm not fatalistic about probability: I don't want to say that because something might happen again, I can't be blamed when it does. That's ridiculous.
I don't want to abdicate responsibility for my actions nor do I want to stop living the life I want. So I live with the chance. My partners live with that chance. We all do. We try, if we are responsible perverts, to minimise the risk. But we can never take it away.

So we also have to live with assumptions. And live in trust. We have to assume that everyone I play with is on the level, that they will talk to us honestly and openly and that if we have issues that they will tell us first and we will deal with them together. We have to trust that yes means yes. That they will tell us when it becomes a no, if we do not recognise this, which we may not. It is a very subjective and fragile thing, this trust, and like many fragile things, it is precious. So we should look after it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Poly Means Many: Non-lovers

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month seven bloggers - ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Rarely Wears Lipstick, The Boy With The Inked Skin and myself - will write about their views on one of them. This month: Non-lovers.

An interesting topic this month, and one that can often cause the most questions and confusions. How do we define, relate and spend time with other people in our lives who are not our partners? Seems stupidly simple, but as with many non-standard lifestyles polyamory offers the double edged "opportunity" to reassess and rethink how you conduct almost every single relationship in your life. Here's an example. You are out at a party, you meet someone and you click. Now, if you are in a monogamous relationship that would be the end of that, the person could potentially become a friend, but unless you were a cheating scumbag (and regardless of whether you have one partner or one hundred, no-one likes a cheating scumbag) you wouldn't kiss them, ask them on a date, fuck them.

When your relationship is open, these possibilities are open too. Which means that you need to have rules about how you handle these possibilities, and those rules start to be the defining characteristics of your relationship.
Different people have different kinds of polyamory. There is no one true way. All I can do, and all any of us on this project are doing, is offering our own perspectives. We're basically making our relationships up as we go along. Hopefully we'll get it mostly right. A side effect of this is that you also start to unpick - and this is a massive, ongoing and often very fraught process - all the terrible lies that are taught to you about what happiness should look like, what a "healthy" relationship is, how you (as a man, as a woman, as a queer person, as a straight person) should behave, should live.

Now, obviously Ganymede and I are in a D/s relationship so even if we were monogamous our relationship would be governed by very overt rules so this isn't a strange situation for us. We have rules that define how we - he and I - operate - but we also have rules for how we interact with others which reflect that. For example, all potential lovers, flings and play partners for Ganymede must be pre-approved by myself. There are levels which cover all kinds of potential social interactions and are based on what is important to me - he can kiss who he likes, whether it's a stranger or one of his ex partners. And there are levels for different situations when we're at a private sex party he will likely be free to fuck whoever he chooses as long as he acquits himself well (which he will, of course). At a BDSM event it would be more formal, more protocol driven.

Most kinky people I know have some kind of sexual or play relationship with others outwith their main relationship. We are no different. Partners from our past, friends we enjoy playing with whenever we are in a club or party together. Then there is the future. Although we are very much a bonded pair, there will be people who will come in and out of our lives. Or rather, there will be people who will be different things to us during the time we know them. I have partners who I have loved, fucked and who have been deep and significant parts of my life. Some of them I will never see again, some of them I see every other week for coffee and cocktails. Learning how to deal with that and to accept that process is difficult, especially when things are never truly "finished" in the world of open relationships.

You develop words and phrases that define different people in your lives: friends, lovers, play-partners, girlfriends and boyfriends, pets, fuck-buddies (though personally I hate that term along with the dreadfully dismissive Friends With Benefits).

A lot of this boils down to how you define your relationships. For me, it's about the physical and emotional connection - the intimacy - I have with people. There will always be a distinction between friends and lovers. For others, the friendship is the basis of everything - there are friends that they have sex with, or kinky sex with, and friends who they don't. I'm not saying that my lovers are never my friends - I hope that they are - but in my mind they are different. Not different bad or different good, but a different sort of relationship. It comes down to definitions and what feels right in your own mind, your own body, your own heart.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The lady vanishes

So, where have I been? I'm writing less (here and on Twitter) and going out on the London scene less - one does not always lead to the other, but seeing people is often a good stimulus for writing, and vice versa.

The short answer is, naturally, Ganymede. The longer answer requires a little more consideration. Majeste once said to me that when she found the one, the real one, who would adore her, and match her in all the ways she deserves she would simply vanish from the scene and that would be that. The dating, the munches, the clubs: they were a means to an end. I've never quite believed that. Perhaps the selfish part of me wanted to believe that we, and by extension I mean me, were interesting and fun enough to keep her around for the social element, for the friendship. That no matter how amazing and wonderful someone was how could they compare to our cocktails, clubbing and public acts of seduction and sadism?

And yet, here I am. A domestic animal of one stripe or another. At home as the sunshine filters in through the window, drinking black coffee from china cups whilst the boy sleeps naked in the next room. I have vanished. The free time I have is time to spend with him. If there are places to go to, people to see, we will go together or if not, then probably not at all. My spare time has evaporated into longer mornings and later evenings of not actually doing anything in particular, but doing it with him. Everyone does this, so I'm told, and so it appears I am no different to everyone else. We do the things that couples do. We make house. It's a house with D/s rules, but it's making house all the same. It is wonderful and he is beautiful. Life is very good.

Life, however has changed.

I cannot remember the last fetish club or munch I attended, the last time I got suited and booted and went out to play merry hell. When I gathered with the rest of the Tribe and chinked champagne flutes, thinking "fuck them all" before heading off into the night. Perhaps it's the effect of the weather, which has been oppressing us all, yet it's not for lack of invitations - I've been turning things down and cancelling left right and centre. My apologies. Mea culpa. My life is changing. Perhaps it is the simple fact that for the first time in many years I have my own partner, who is not part of the scene and is new to me, and I am to him. That we are each others.

Life is very full of "us" - I nearly wrote that we are full of ourselves, which may well be true in that irritating couple fashion. We live together and for tedious real-life reasons this has happened much quicker than we would have wanted, out of need rather than choice. The space I had originally selected to be mine, to give me that much needed private space is our space. Sometimes this is wonderful. But living with someone, especially someone you are in a D/s relationship - or any relationship, including deep friendships - takes time and energy. And we all have a finite resource of these things.

Play has become private, I've already noted I'm going out less and less. It has also become rarer and that is something I've been turning over and over in my mind. Trying to work out why and to rationalise how I feel about this. I know I'm anxious about it, it makes me feel like less of a dominant and therefore less sexy, less confident, less "good" as a partner. I'm not getting what I want either, yet at the same time I don't especially feel able to deliver. Sex is easier, of course. Sex requires less in the way of finding kit, assembling things and making sure straps are in the right place. Kinky sex is complicated. But kinky sex is also amazing and energising.

So why am I not doing it?

There have been spates of illnesses and recovery from the IUD took time. But scenes are about more than feeling physically capable. They are a lot about mood and mental, emotional space. Which I don't actually have a lot of. Without the space to prepare, and to enjoy the pleasure of anticipation I feel less and less in the mood. I'm very poor at adhoc play, for me a lot of the joy and the power is in the planning, and I like long scenes with good beginnings, middles and ends. I'm a performance junkie, and want to give a good show, for myself, for others so not being able to do this means I don't really want to do it at all. No half measures. Perfectionism. Wanting to and not being able to makes me feel uncomfortable, in the way that not going to the gym when you have planned to exercise is worse than ignoring the gym completely.

What I do need, it seems is a bit of a break. There have been a lot of changes in my life, in quite short order, and all of them have been good, positive changes - house move, relationship, career improvements - but they have been big, and I have not given them time to sink in or take stock of how I live now. In a strange way, I'm overwhelmed, and that feeling of things being too much is not a good space in which to be dominant (or submissive, actually - although sometimes it can feel like it's helping). First, master yourself. Then master others.

So I'm going to take sometime to do just that. Which means that the next few months will be rather introspective, and also rather sporadic - I'm hoping to write every two weeks or so - and look forward to the journey.

Sunday, 22 July 2012


A little segue into the world of contraception, a side-line in kinky sexual exploration that follows on from the phrase "fluid-bound". In a world of people who grew up with the terrifying tombstone AIDS campaigns of the 80s and now practice all kinds of putting-things-in-each-other (as a catch-all term for non-vanilla, non-monogamous sex it won't catch on, I don't think) with all kinds-of-people we have become accustomed to insisting that condoms are put on everything, that antibacterial gel and cleaner is one of life's essential fluids alongside gin and coffee and to look askance at situations where sexual fluids might mingle. Certainly within Kinksville, it is the height of (unacceptable) risk play to attempt otherwise and marks you out as a dangerous, unsafe person.

Within the confines of a relationship, the situation is different, and the marker point of deciding to remove the barrier methods between you is a division line that signals the importance, in some respects, of you to each other. You go through a very clear process of trips to the clinic to make sure you are all clear and then you discuss the options. In my case hormonal contraceptives were something of use and value before I realised quite how much better my life was without them. The idea of having to take a pill every single day to stop my body from doing something it was designed to do seems odd to me, and whilst I am not against the use of chemicals for exploration, improvement and enhancement, or for when one is ill, I don't really want to take more than is required. So for me, it was the copper coil or IUD.

I spoke to a few friends who had one implanted, and also did some online research, then quickly stopped after reading a number of the comments. If there's one thing that experience has taught me, it's that different people react in very different ways to objects inserted inside them, and descriptions of pain are also deeply subjective.

I take Ganymede along to the clinic at the appointed time, thanking my stars once again that I live in a civilised country which provides these services for free. He is unable to actually come into the room with me because the doctor is training someone else, so I find myself in the interesting position of being a teaching tool. It won't be the first time. I'm nervous, but probably not in the sense that the doctor expects. After all, I'm entirely sure that I will have experienced worse pain and stranger procedures. However, I have never done this before and things which are new are unsettling. She is kind, and obviously very experienced, which puts me at ease. She explains the procedure and shows me an example IUD, alongside a detailed description of what is going to happen, how it might feel and what I need to know. I feel very well looked after.

Then, the time comes to step behind the plastic curtain, remove my skirt and underwear and lie down on the tissue paper, legs up in the grey stirrups, feeling exposed in that particular way when you remove only part of your clothing to reveal your cunt.
"This might feel a little strange". She isn't wrong, but I smile anyway, thinking of all the things that I've done to other people, that have been done to me, that might well also constitute strange.

The process is in two parts. First, she measures and checks. The anticipated speculum comes out, I'm intrigued to note that there are different sizes, and one which is for taller women such as myself. The cool of the metal and the firm click as it sits in place is familiar, although it has been a while since I've felt it. She puts on gloves and inserts a finger, feeling for any abnormalities, which fortunately she does not find. She also checks the size of my cervix and the measures the depth with a plastic sound. The sensation of the sound sliding inside my vagina is neither here nor there and, frankly, expected. When it goes through the opening of my cervix things get interesting. It doesn't hurt. It is very weird. I think I giggle, which I attempt to subdue, lest I put the good doctor off. I am delighted, in a certain sense, at the new feeling. It's not nice, and certainly not pleasurable, but it does feel different. There is a sliding sensation, not dissimilar to the growing pressure of having a hard cock or dildo pushed inside you, except it's deeper. Much deeper. And not quite right.

My body clenches and I break out into a light sweat at the strangeness of it. It's weird, plain and simple. All of my nerves and muscles are telling me that something is in a place it shouldn't be and I get that rising half-panic from my animal hind-brain which tells me I need to get it out. I hush my less evolved self into a calmed silence, shutting my eyes and focusing on how it feels. I struggle to describe it. It is an intimate, awkward, invasive feeling. I'm trapped in place, aware of the fragility of the moment and the process - what will happen if I buck or twist in the wrong way? The plastic is smooth and thin and I can imagine a line being drawn upwards, inside me. She draws the sound out again and notes a measurement. My body relaxes again, and I breathe out.

The next stage is implanting the IUD itself. There are a series of painkilling options offered beforehand. As my cervix is somewhat dilated we opt for a painkilling gel, rather than an injection. I'm glad I took a couple of ibuprofen beforehand, under the advice of my friends.

The implantation is pretty similar to the measurement.
The gel goes in, thick and cool, and once again there's that curious sensation of an unfamiliar space within me filling up. It is at once exciting and deeply disconcerting. This part of me that I cannot see, that I can very rarely feel, is making itself known. The IUD is put inside me and then opened out to form the T shape. Two threads trail out of the cervix and sit at the top of the vagina. I'll be able to check the IUD is in place by feeling for them. Already I'm starting to cramp. Yes, definitely some pain but not unbearable, and a little bit of bleeding. I head home for a lie down, with instructions not to have sex or do anything that might "unsettle" my cervix for seven days.

In all honesty, that was probably the hardest part of the procedure. After four days I cracked and demanded an excess of orgasm from the mouth of Ganymede, which he provided, amused and satisfied by the power behind them (abstinence can do that, as well as increase sensitivity).

A few weeks later and it seems to have settled down nicely. In the first few days
I got that uncomfortable, swollen pressure and soreness akin to period pains, stronger than I'm used to, but not the end of the world. The main problem was that ongoing pain makes you tired, and that was quite wearing, plus the intermittent bleeding plus associated mucus was unpleasant and annoying but easily solved: I'm a practical person at heart, and not squeamish. Another lesson from BDSM.

Friday, 6 July 2012


Idyll asked me to shed some light on the subject of tentacles and my ongoing love-affair with them. I'm not the only one. A deeply unscientific series of twitter conversations provoked much the same reaction from other perverts.

Tentacles ooze, slick and pervasive. They invade. They insert. They are extremely flexible probe, poke, suck, hold and cling. They move in a strange, beautiful way when underwater, and an alien, unsettling fashion when on land. There are eight of them, a vast improvement on our four limbs. Some of them are used as substitutes for penises.

BDSM and kinky sex is a lot about the look and feel of curious things, especially those things set in opposition to skin, flesh and bone. Materials like latex, leather and metal form a huge part of our kit and clothing. We like things that are strange, that feel not-like-human and that send people out of their comfort zone, away from what is normal, usual and expected. Tentacles, with their slippery, suction-cup covered mass also provoke reactions of shock and horror, with their air of otherworldliness, thanks in no small part to the writings of Lovecraft
and other writers who followed similar suit.

However, it is within Edo period japan that the connection between tentacles and the erotic has its root. The classic piece cited is The Dream Of the Fisherman's wife, a ukiyo-e print from the 1800s, portraying a woman receiving a lot of sexual attention from a very large (and very giving) octopus. This is theorised as a porn version of the famous legend of Princess Tamatori who stole jewels from a sea dragon and his tentacled servants. What is important to note about these early pictures is that images of women entwined with sexual tentacles was not uncommon and that certainly within Dream the act is consensual - rather than the expected forced penetration via tentacles, the octopus is giving her head and concentrating on giving her pleasure.

It's later, particularly within anime that the non-consensual and forced erotic elements we are more familiar with come into play in works like Urotsukidoji. This brings the Japanese tentacle back into the realms of the unheimlich and the sinister, which matches more with the western viewpoint - something not-of-this-world which invades. The tentacle carries the motif of the alien, and certainly it is within a lot of sci-fi in both eastern and western culture that we find representations of all kinds of tentacles moving from the violent and terrifying such as the tentacles in the martians in War Of The Worlds, the face-huggers in the Alien franchise who penetrate and grip using tentacle-like protrusions through to the cheeky and humorous in the reproductive tentacles of the Centauri race in Babylon 5. This isn't limited to animals - there's the infamous angry, molesting tree in The Evil Dead and to my mind, the whip-like protrusions of the Triffids in the John Wyndam novel have much of the tentacle about them. And let's face it, perverts love whips.

Fetish is the process of finding sexual those things which traditionally not sexual - with the interesting knock on effect that over time that which is fetishised can become representative of sexuality, such as the high-heeled shoe. Tentacles are certainly part of BDSM fetish not least because of their shape, but also because of their association with monsters. It's common to see them used when representing evil characters, especially as it gives undertones - or overtones - of monstrous and unnatural sexuality.
In fact, tentacles have become something of a shorthand for making things unusually horrible or weird. There's a nice article on that here.

On a personal note, it's relatively common knowledge that, alongside a tail, a set of internal tentacles would be top of my list of body modifications should medical science get around to providing us with these much-needed physical improvements. Until such a day, my desires are confined to this rather lovely glass tentacle dildo, longing after this dress, and working on a tentacle tattoo.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Poly Means Many: What is love?

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers - Amanda Jones, An Open Book, One Sub's Mission, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, and Rarely Wears Lipstick - will write about their views on one of them. This month: Love.

I've written on love in general before, as a Valentine's post for the Gender and Sex social. This time, it's personal: I can theorise on love for a very long time, I can theorise on a lot of things for a very long tme, but let's get down to the practicalities this time. I am actually in love, which changes your perspective on things and instead of wanting to throw half-bricks at endorphin glowing couples walking hand-in-hand on the street I'm actually more likely to be one of them. Being in love is amazing, it makes you feel indestructable, special and very happy, who wouldn't want to feel like that?

It can also be a very dangerous and challenging emotion, making you say and do things you might not otherwise do because of the intensity of your feelings for another person. Perhaps this is doubly true of relationships that are non-conventional, such as open relationships and BDSM relationships. I'm inclined to say this is partly because you add more feelings when you add more people or more "stuff" (if we can broadly categorise S&M play as "stuff" for the moment and you are prepared to forgive me).

I also think that we are less socially prepared for them, generally people do not grow up in a world where such relationships are considered normal, so we have less space and freedom in our day-to-day conversations to discuss them and work through and feelings. It's unlikely, for example, that I might be able to casually say in conversation to people who did not know me, that I was feeling a bit sad that a playdate was cancelled because my partner and I were looking forward to it. All kinds of inferrences would have been drawn, including the idea that my relationship with Ganymede must be failing or somehow not working in order for us to be looking outside for some "spice", but most telling of all is the idea that we could not possibly be in love if we were fucking other people.

The love you have for a partner, a lover, a boyfriend, a girlfriend is enshrined as singular, whole and all-encompassing within commonly held principles. Take marriage - they are the one who you "foresake others" for. There is no space within this to add other people, so any emotional connection you might have for someone else, in a romantic, sexual sense, is seen as something which is taken away from the (presumably) finite pile of love that you have for your partner. Because love is a measurable resource, of course, and it needs to be hoarded like gold, rather than it being capable of expanding to fill whatever room you can create for it. We know, we absolutely know that you can love lots of friends, and lots of family members, and lots of cats. We also know (more or less, depending on where you are in the world, and, sadly, whether you are a man or a woman) that you can have sex with lots of people and, assuming you are a decent human being, remain on good terms. Where we come terribly, awfully, unstuck as a society is the idea that you could do both at once.

Part of the problem is the
idea where putting specific bits of yourself into someone else and wriggling about was inherently an act of love? At its most basic, fucking is a kind of physical intimacy and pleasure, which can make everyone feel good, if done well, and shitty if done wrong. Just because I fuck you, doesn't mean I love you. I can do both, but I don't have to. BDSM opens up a very large palette of colours that constitute "fucking". When Ganymede sticks his cock in Blush, at my behest, I am fucking her. He is my submissive, my slave and therefore my tool.

The types of feelings you have towards people can affect the type of play you are able to enjoy.
The connection between owner and slave is very powerful, and whilst many D/s relationships are also loving relationships some of them are explicity not. Just as I can fuck someone and not love them, I can also dominate someone and not love them. In fact, there are situations where being in love with someone can actually make it more difficult to deliver very intense, very hard scenes - particularly those involving extremes of emotional or physical cruelty. I know many perverts for whom certain types of play can only be done to strangers or friendly partners.

BDSM adds further complexity (or interest) when it comes to loving more than one person. That sense of wholeness and complete isolation from everyone else which is conferred upon typical monomogamous relationships is intensified in owner/slave relationships. More than being the only one for each other, one partner is explicity, overtly and entirely owned by the other. Everything is done at the, and for the, pleasure of the dominant partner. There is a difficulty then, between being that special and wonderful owned thing (for the submissive) or the all-powerful benefactor (for the dominant) when other people are involved.

There is are some logic problems to be overcome in building open, many-partnered D/s relationships. Often these are resolved through hierarchy, planning and protocol. A master holds the key for many slaves, for example, or a slave is sent for training by a specific mistress, a pervert who switches may be the dominant for one person and the submissive of another. There are lots and lots of permeutations. But these only describe the theories for how something can be done and look great on paper - especially within the pages of exciteable books written by people with no real knowledge - yet they do not always match up to reality.

People have feelings and desires and expectations. They also have lives which are not always, entirely, centered around their sexual practices. They need to go to work, to the shops, perhaps to look after their children. Real life relationships are not easily expressed by a diagram. All kinds of emotions will surface, not least jealousy, which we've already discussed, but many sorts of feelings which perhaps could not have been anticipated.

The sensation of feeling entirely owned or owning someone can often be destroyed or made very difficult when the reality is different.
I struggled when I was dating people who had other partners with whom they had a stronger connection. I would often feel that our play was less important or less valuable, or that it was a game - something which was only done when we were together. Another good example is a friend of mine who hated the idea of being part of a hareem set-up for her dominant: she would feel one-of-many and abandonned, less special. A sentiment I can certainly empathise with.

A lot of it is to do with assumptions, and BDSM is rife with assumptions, just like any kind of human interaction. The idea that a submissive "should be" happy with another partner within their relationship purely because their dominant likes them, for example. They might well put up with it, out of love or service to their dominant, but they may never actually enjoy it and be happy within that relationship. Regardless of whether they might like to, or whether it would be "easier". This is an all-too-common problem within V relationships especially, whereby one partner is seeing t is impossible to make someone be happy about something - emotions are not as easily commanded as people.

This is not to say that BDSM and open relationships are not compatible, merely that
they are not always easy bedfellows, and that the negotiations and discussions involved should always include the possibility that they will not work out. I know some very successful BDSM group set-ups and the leather family for example, can offer the best of both worlds - a supportive and loving (in all kinds of sense of the word) group which also provides training for all things kink. One of the nice things about leather family set-ups is that they are often dynamic, they assume that people will grow and change, that submissives may become dominant, that dominants may desire to submit. Because BDSM, and love, now I come to think of it, is something which offers you the potential to learn so much about yourself and your interactions with others, it is absurd to think that you will not be changed by the experience. When people change they often find that the environments they are in do not match what they now need so relationships which provide for this, and which even anticipate this, can give a really strong, positive framework for everyone involved.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Knife edges

This knife gets me into a lot of trouble, for such a small knife. A black lacquered steel tanto given as a gift by Boy Wonder and loved ever since. It's a cunning knife, looking and feeling much sharper and much more dangerous than it actually is. For me, it's an ideal play-tool. The perceived impact is much greater than any risk of injury. The point and edge feel sharp, but in actual fact I expect that to do any damage I would actually have to bludgeon someone with the hilt. For public play, in loud and dark situations (a pox upon clubs and dungeons with black walls and red lighting) it is ideal.

Knives make me a little giddy, I'll admit. I love them and they give me butterflies both to wield and, in times past, to experience. The cool, silvery blades flash under lights like eyes glinting with desire. I love the way that feather-light touches can melt people into butter. They are objects of power, full of potential violence and menace. Shining fetishes that reach through the skin, through the flesh and deep down into the animal hind brain. I can spend a very long time playing with knives and they bring out a certain kind of focus in which I get a little lost in myself, and in the beautiful flesh before me with its perfect offering of fine, red lines. Like a child with an etch-a-sketch I will sit, absorbed.

He's sweating, lightly. Presto, with his eyes closed and deep, gorgeous pouting mouth lightly open. I can feel his breathing slow as he gradually relaxes, fading away beneath the movements of the knife. His back is smooth and an ideal canvas for what I want to do. I build up the alterations of motion. Slow and fast. Light and harder. Pressing on the throat. Hold. Hold. Hold. Release. Watch the breathing change. Different edges on the knife: the point, the blade, the reverse of the blade, the flat of the blade. The red lines appear, lightly, I coo over them: half to myself, half to him, enjoying what we are creating.

Earlier, he told me he wanted no permanent marks, and certainly that's something I'd be loathe to do to anyone, let alone someone else's partner, here in a club. But the game of marks is a different thing. I've played with him before, at Chiaroscuro's house and harder than this, with wickedly sharp needles that can do a lot of damage. We've exchanged the odd email and had a few discussions so I feel confident in what I'm doing. Idyll is watching him, watching both of us. I take a couple of breaths and catch her attention.

"Let me make him yours." I say, or words to that effect. To be honest, my focus was so entirely on the knife and his body that my words floated around me, lost. I use the tip of the knife, pressing hard enough so he can feel but knowing full well that the point was too dull to actually make more than transient marks. Certainly unable to cut the skin (like all my toys, I've tested extensively on myself). I write her name. We smile.

I hug both of them, and leave them to themselves whilst I return to Ganymede. watching him fuck Blush with a violent energy that makes me grin and think "look, no hands." Later there is water all round.

But later still, something is wrong. Presto and Idyll are crouched together upstairs. He's obviously upset, but I can't really get a response, and I'm conscious of not treading on her toes, of letting her give him whatever care she thinks he needs. They leave, and I'm conscious that things are not quite right. When Ganymede and I eventually make it home, there is a message waiting for me.

My heart sinks.

Something did go wrong. Eventually, after a series of messages, both with Presto and Idyll, including a very good face-to-face conversation we got to the bottom of it. And it raises an interesting series of points about trust, fear play and reactions. Presto started to feel very shaky and unhappy not whilst I was playing, but later, when I'd finished. Initially it was because he had thought I had actually marked him, and his fear of permanent marks runs deep, deeper than I had known. He was shaken, understandably so, at the thought that I had deliberately done something he had specifically asked me not to. When it transpired that I hadn't, his worries became guilt. Guilt that he hadn't trusted me to look after him, to listen to him and to accept his boundaries. He then became upset at his own reactions, at how his body was responding to play - both during and after. We worked out that the reason I had thought everything was fine during the episode was because at that point, everything was fine. The problems came later.

Guilt is something we all experience when we play with intense experiences. And this was a situation in which we all shared in that guilt. Me for feeling I'd caused the problem, him for his own reactions and Idyll also, because he is her responsibility and when your partner is unhappy that weighs heavily, especially when you feel it is out of your control. I also felt guilty for any upset I might have caused her. Guilt is bound up in trust and care. We don't really experience much in the way of guilt over things we don't particularly care about or feel connected to. The guilt was about perception of broken trust, of damage done to relationships as much, if not more so, than any damage done to bodies.

So therein lies my guilt. The fabled Dominant Guilt. The feeling that we have done too much, pushed someone too far, inflicted actual damage (physical or emotional) and let someone down. That our desires are "wrong" and that we are "bad" people. Worse still, because we didn't stop, we didn't read the signs that someone was in genuine distress we worry that we will not be able to do so in the future. Guilt is an ongoing risk with dominance.

It's a knife edge.
For a dominant, we need to be absolutely aware of what we should and shouldn't do and then fuck with it. But not too much. And in the right way. And frankly, there is no way of being 100% sure that you are always playing in exactly the right places without agreeing every single act beforehand. And that would not work, for either the dominant or the submissive. It's a knife edge on both sides. From a submissive point of view, the difference between blissful subspace and shouting a safeword can be minuscule. It can be caused by all kinds of factors, not all of which you can be aware of in advance or forewarn anyone about. And these factors are unpredictable and will change according to context. Like the situation with myself and Presto, he had no idea he would react like that, so when he bared his back to my knife he couldn't prepare either of us for it. Similarly, my own experience of playing with him had "told" me that what I did was fine, because it was less than we'd done before.

Whenever we play with someone we enter into a relationship of trust and take on a duty of care. We agree, through whatever methods, whether actively negotiated or based on shared understandings, to go "thus far and no further". As dominants we also agree and, are in many cases expected to push towards those boundaries whilst remaining safe within them. If we always do what is entirely anticipated, there will be no thrill, no fun. The joy lies in not knowing. We use limits and negotiations to create edges for play, but not to make explicit scripts which are easy to follow and predict. Predictable is dull. We don't want to be dull, like knives, we want to be shiny. So, when we play our games with people's desires and emotions we don't reveal our cards until it's too late. That's where the power lies, and where the excitement lies also. It's also where the problems can lie. Because in order for the game to work, we need to lie. Whether with our hands as we pretend to do something we are not in fact doing, or with our words, when we tell you that we are about to do something we have specifically promised not to do, just to see you squirm, to hear you scream. And for the pleasure when we do something that feels almost identical but, crucially, is not the same thing.

Did we break your trust? When you thought that we were going to, even though we didn't? We put you through exactly the same emotions, a facsimile of the situation. We are liars. We do it on purpose. We hurt you. And although we know, intellectually, deep down, that this is all fine, this is all agreed, this is all consensual. Still, we lie, we hurt. And we like it. We tell ourselves it is a consensual lie and that we are both pretending but as time goes on I'm less and less sure about this because when I play, I'm not pretending to hurt you. I am hurting you. And you are not pretending to be hurt, it is hurting.

I'm still not sure of the answers to these questions, and I'm even less sure of what to do about it, other than keep talking, keep exploring and keep trying to balance on that knife edge.