emanix: (restricted area)

I am not a brat.

I tend to keep my submissive streak rather quiet. Partly because it's very very rare that it comes out. I have gone most of thirty years and only been submissive for a few days of that, at most. Partly because I see the lack of respect towards submissives in certain parts of the kink scene and perhaps a bit selfishly, to avoid having to spend hours explaining myself or challenging prejudice, I have sometimes taken the easy route to avoiding that. Not by lying, but certainly by omitting to mention my switchy side when in public. I have also hidden my masochistic aspect on occasion, despite that being much larger, because it frustrates me when people automatically assume that masochist equals submissive, and submissive equals masochist (I've written about it in my livejournal before: http://emanix.livejournal.com/24585.html ). I work hard though, nowadays, to break down that false assumption and free other kinky folk from unsatisfying and confusing relationships. Most often, when I play these days, it's something along the lines of 'Masochist Dom' (“Spank me! No, harder! Mmm, that's good. More. Good boy!”)

But I do have a submissive side. There is a part of me that very occasionally wants someone else to be in charge, someone telling me what to do, or what is going to be done to me. It's small, but it runs deep, and comes out only when I'm with people I feel very very safe around, whom I respect emotionally and intellectually, and most often when I'm feeling pressured by the outside world and looking for a safe space to go to, where someone I trust is willing to take on the responsibility of making decisions for me, just for a while. And I am not a brat.

A brat is someone who misbehaves deliberately in order to be punished. An awful lot of masochists are brats, through nature or through training. The outside world teaches us that physical punishment is a response to bad behaviour. A child does something hurtful to themselves or others, and is given a smack as a swift way to create an aversion to that behaviour. Many countries in the world still use corporal punishment to control adults. More importantly, it is normal not to reward bad behaviour, for obvious reasons. If someone hurts you, or takes something of yours, you don't give them a lollipop. It is obvious to most people that giving someone a reward for undesired behaviour is going to result in more of that same behaviour. For a masochist, which I'm going to define here as 'someone who enjoys pain', a spanking is pretty much the same as that lollipop. If you give someone what they enjoy, every time they do something that's annoying or upsetting, you are setting them up to want to do those annoying or upsetting things more often. Even if they don't really want to do those things otherwise. Even if those things are actually bad for them. If you are habitually rewarding a person for bad behaviour, they will keep doing it because they want the reward. Curiously enough, outside the world of kink, this is known as a 'perverse incentive' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perverse_incentive). I've known certain masochists who were trained into behaving horribly, being genuinely rude and hurtful to people who weren't consenting to be a part of their scene, because it meant they would be 'in trouble' and get the punishment they really wanted.

I am a masochist, and sometimes I'm submissive, and I am not a brat.

It's still not an easy concept to explain in the abstract, so I'll work through an example:
A few years ago, I moved from a three bedroom house into a single room, and since I had way too much stuff in a very small space, I was struggling to keep it tidy. My primary partner at the time told me he planned to spank me every time he visited and saw that my room was messy. He thought he was being wonderfully helpful – and it would have made perfect sense, in the rest of the world. But for me, that was a stressful and hurtful position to be in, because spanking was something I enjoyed and wanted, this meant I had to choose between two situations I didn't want. If I had a tidy room, it would mean no lovely spankings, but if I left my room messy then I'd get spankings but I'd also have a room I hated to live in. Whatever I did, I lost. Eventually I burst into tears and begged him to please spank me when my room was tidy, or it would never be tidy again.

Don't get me wrong, 'bratting' works really well for some people. At times, it can be a really useful way to negotiate consent without dropping out of role in a scene. When I'm in charge I might threaten to spank someone if they poke their tongue out at me, and then I know, if they poke out their tongue it's a sign they want to get spanked. For some people it's a fun game to play, to see how much you can 'get away with' before you get punished. But (and a few people might find this rather surprising) my subbie side is not a bad girl. Submissive bunny desperately wants to please and hates the idea of doing something upsetting or wrong deliberately. If I've really done something wrong, a mere expression of disappointment is enough to devastate. Punishment of any sort is rather redundant, and physical violence when someone is genuinely angry at me just feels like abuse. I really, really don't want something I love (i.e. pain) associated with negativity and anger.

So how do you punish a masochist?

Well, for one thing, speaking for a moment from the dominant's perspective instead, and an occasional student of psychology, I would question the idea of 'punishment' at all. If you're genuinely in D/s for the purpose of behaviour modification, then there's a lot of research out there talking about how positive or negative reinforcement (i.e. rewarding good behaviour by offering something nice, or by taking away an adverse condition - "you will have to put up with this thing you don't like until you behave yourself properly") is more effective than punishment for long term change. If you're just doing it out of sadism, as an excuse to inflict some torture, then why not be more straightforward about it? “I want to see you suffer. Be a good girl and take it for me.” is, at least to me, hotter and more honest than “You're a bad girl, you need to be punished!” If that's not the way you're kinked, though, and you really, really want to punish, for correction, or just to be evil, then you have to consider what constitutes a reward or a punishment for the individual. Everyone has their own 'thing'. Some people love marmite, and would be really happy to be rewarded with a slice of marmite on toast. Other folks hate the stuff, and would see it as the worst punishment in the world. Same goes for pain, isolation, being enclosed, being paid attention to, being ignored, being humiliated... I could go on and on. For every person who likes something, there is someone who dislikes it. For every fetish there is a phobia. Yes, it requires communication, it requires paying attention. It might even lead to the terrifying possibility of intimacy. For me? Quite honestly, the thought of receiving a pedicure makes me squirm in discomfort. Try inflicting that on me if I'm not in a particularly agreeable headspace and the results will *not* be good.

But if you hate my essay, you're welcome to spank me for it. I'll just enjoy it

emanix: (restricted area)
Cut as scary topic with dire warnings, and definitely NSFW - you have been warned.  )

Play safe, folks.

[Additional update, July 2015: In case anyone has stumbled across this post whilst looking for tips on how to safely experiment with solo breath play (otherwise known as auto-erotic asphyxiation), the answer is quite honestly "you can't." Sorry. If you don't have a romantic partner and are determined to engage in any sort of breath play, even including the things I have listed as 'safer' in this post, you might want to consider finding a friend who is willing to 'spot' for you, who will be present in the room to provide first aid or call an ambulance in case things go wrong. Even with something as simple as unassisted breath-holding or tantric breathing, the risk of things going badly wrong goes up exponentially without at least a 'spotter' present. My personal position on solo breath play is PLEASE DON'T. There is no way to experiment safely with erotic asphyxiation on your own.]

Butterfly

May. 1st, 2009 05:49 am
emanix: (Default)
Roughly three years ago now, I began an anonymous online journal*, intending to write about my experiences entering into polyamory as a lifestyle (having known I wasn't happy with monogamy for a long time before that, but being derailed by partners, attitudes and random events that meant I was 'accidentally monogamous' for a long time). It didn't turn out to be quite what I intended.
What I actually recorded was three years of living as a poly person in a community of non-poly people. Monogamites, as I tend to think of them. Three years of being in the closet, and accepting that my innate identity was something to be shut away, hidden and brought out only in private, whispered about in dark corners and conducted furtively.
Three years of internalised shame and embarrassment, and paranoia, culminating in one abusive relationship to end all of them, which I only really woke up from when I had to get the police involved.
Very recently though, I turned a corner. Partly thanks to finally coming into contact with some members of the poly-activist community in London, where I am based, and gaining a support network for coming out in, and partly thanks to this post http://tacit.livejournal.com/207965.html - which crystallised some of the arguments I had actually made way back in early 2006, when I was debating whether or not to make my blog public and write as myself, and let myself get talked out of openness by well-meaning people, and partners who claimed to love me, but weren't accepting enough of my lifestyle to fight for my right to have it and be open about it.

Now... 

You know what? I am proud of what and who I am. I've thought long and hard about my life choices, and about what parts of my personality are mere preferences, and what parts are innate *me*, and ever since I can remember I have put a lot of work into being a good person, and an ethical person, and developing the right kind of communication skills, and patience to be who I want to be, (and lord knows that last one was hardest of all) all without feeling the need to be told what to do by a 'higher authority', be that teacher, religious leader, ephemeral spirits or whatever, and without feeling that I have to follow the herd either. I have applied principles of critical thinking to my own lifestyle and attitudes and come up with a set of personal codes that I believe is both ethical *and* rational. My opinion is valued amongst people I care about and respect, and there are things I want to say. Not as an anonymous 'masked crusader', but as me.

I am, amongst many other things, bisexual, polyamorous, a BDSM switch, a radical agnostic, ambidextrous, an artist with a scientific mind, a geek, a fighter, a drinker of huge amounts of tea, and a person who is deeply upset at the horrible things people do to each other on a daily basis and wants to fight it with big piles of love and joy.
I am proud of the fact that, barring abusive psycho-guy, I am still on good terms with all of my ex-partners. I am proud that even whilst I was in recovery from that relationship, people I hold dear still felt they could come to me for help and advice. I am proud that despite all temptation, I refuse to allow one, or even a series of painful relationships to sour my view of all people (I am wary, yes, but I refuse to treat people with the suspicion that was aimed at me).

Another thing I am is angry. Not so much at the partners who asked me to hide who I was, but at the fact that they felt they needed to, and the society that taught my lovers (and me) that it was the right way to be, however much we all ended up hurting because of it. Through allowing people to talk me out of a large chunk of my self-esteem, through allowing myself to be closeted by others, I feel I contributed ultimately to my own abuse.

In some ways, I am lucky. I have a large number of friends amongst whom I have always been 'out' about everything I am (To some I 'came out' as a geek long after I came out about everything else). My brother knows pretty much everything, and my mother, whilst not officially In The Know, has talked with me about the fact that I was 'seriously' dating two guys who knew about each other, and seen the toys in my room, and watched me letch over women, without anything more than a smile and a raised eyebrow (and in one case, perhaps a hint of envy).  I grew up with some open minded and intelligent friends - the geek crowd - and felt free to be whoever I wanted to be in the schoolyard, even if it wasn't the most popular person in the school. Also, as an artist, the chances of my losing my job over my sexuality or sexual preferences is really quite low - the odd client, perhaps, but certainly not my career as a whole. So I've felt comfortable with being out about everything I am amongst my friends for many years, but not online. After all - people might connect posts on poly or BDSM or bisexuality with my work, and that, social conditioning told me, would be BAD.

Bad Schmad, I feel these days that my arguments have more weight coming from a 'real' person rather than a possibly imaginary anonymous blogger, and I have learned a lot over my lifetime of being polyamorous in a world of monogamites that I think could be very useful to people in the situation I escaped from. Also I want to connect with people who are like me on a real-world basis, not behind a screen.

I'm coming out of my chrysalis, and I intend to *fly*.


* If at some point, I receive agreement from everyone mentioned in my anonymous journal that they are okay with it, I will add a link here, but I promised someone I was deeply in love with at the time that, even as a nickname, I wouldn't 'out' him, and I don't intend to knowingly break that even now.

July 2015

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