Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BDSM: Part II – Misconceptions and Eye-Openers

This four-part series discusses the BDSM Workshop for Writers taught by Dr. Charley Ferrer in New York last month. Don't forget to check Kathy Kulig's blog for her own series about the weekend.


Used to be, I thought of BDSM as only whips and  handcuffs and dungeons. 

Heavy-duty metal cuffs
 
Now? I know that’s part of BDSM.

We all know BDSM includes bondage and discipline, dominance and submission (D/s), sadism and masochism. But I was a little surprised to see so much diversity in that all-inclusive term. BDSM is a category the way “human” is a category (quoting Dr. Charley here).

There are tons of books devoted to the subject, so this isn’t meant to be anywhere near comprehensive. I’m coming at this only from what I learned (and unlearned) during the BDSM Writers Workshop I took to enhance my erotic romances published with Ellora’s Cave.

Misconceptions such as:

·   BDSM clubs are sex clubs. Not true, at least if you’re talking about open clubs. No sexual penetration is allowed. Orgasms only as a byproduct, it seems, of the function (electrical play, flogging, etc.)

·   Any dominant person is automatically a Master. Wrong. You don't call yourself a Master, the title is bestowed on you in honor of your age, knowledge and experience, even in a D/s relationship.

·   The Dominant is a pervert, a sadist, an abuser who has to be in charge. Wrong. The “power exchange” is the most important aspect of the Dominant/submissive relationship. The submissive is in charge, based on pre-determined boundaries which the Dominant agrees to (but may want to push). The sub can always call a stop to the play. (A "slave" is somewhat different and may be the subject of a later blog.)

·   BDSM is a 24/7 proposition, a lifetime (or at least long-term commitment). Wrong. Many folks only want to play on occasion, and sometimes with only one or two elements, such as exhibitionism or voyeurism or wearing leather.

·   As soon as you enter into a D/s relationship, you get collared. Wrong. Giving or receiving a collar to the BDSM adherent is like a wedding ring. It is earned by mutual trust, commitment, communication and length of time together.

·   Male subs are weaklings. Wrong. It takes a lot of strength and courage to kneel before another person and offer your trust. Many high-powered executives—doctors, CEOs, investment brokers—feel the need to be submissive after a rough day at the office.

·   A “Switch” is bi-sexual. Those terms are not interchangeable. Bi-sexual means you are not averse to having sexual relations with both male and female partners. You are a Switch if you occasionally like to “top” (be dominant) as well as “bottom” (be submissive). If you are a true Dom or a true sub, you will never be a switch; it simply isn’t in your nature.

     And speaking of “topping”, Top is not a synonym for Dominant. A Top is most likely a sub who is performing a service to someone else, probably at the request of his/her own Dom.

 As well as correcting misconceptions, the weekend also brought some eye-openers:

·   Communicating is one of the most vital components of the lifestyle. Not only filling out a checklist so both parties know where they stand, but constantly asking, “Are you okay?” while the receiver is bound or blindfolded and being subjected to whatever they’ve agreed to. And every Dominant worth the name will insist on “safe words” that will stop the play – “Red” being the most prevalent because it’s a universal “stop” sign, and “Yellow” for “Wait, let’s take a breather, I’m not ready to stop but something is wrong…”    “No” and “Stop” are not safe words.

·   Every club will have a Dungeon Master or two, usually wearing some kind of ID (perhaps a neon vest like a school-crossing guard) who wanders around checking for distress or mishandling or safety (such as keeping watchers from being too close during knife play or making sure a fire extinguisher is nearby for fire play).  

Testing St. Andrew's Cross
·   BDSM covers a lot of kinks, not just D/s scenes. Tickling? Check. Spanking? There are parties where nothing but spanking occurs. Foot fetish? Sure, sounds logical, who wouldn’t want a foot massage? But boot fetish? Did you know there are serious groups devoted solely to bootblacking? Polishing a pair of boots with loving, sensual strokes, and having competitions to see who does it best? All part of BDSM.

·   Aftercare is every bit as important as the scene itself. Holding, cuddling, stroking the receiver, making sure he/she has water and sugar until s/he comes out of the hazy feeling and is able to walk, think, function again.

·   BDSM practitioners are, by and large, not only friendly but warm and loving and eager to discuss their experiences and answer questions. They also, it goes without saying, are comfortable in their own bodies and their nudity.

·   Dr. Charley proclaimed me an S.A.M. Apparently I’m a Smart-Ass Masochist. Only time will tell.

·   Of the seven other writer participants, I pegged a sadist, a couple of subs, a voyeur, a couple of polyamorists, and one I couldn’t typecast.

Most importantly, remember SSC: safe, sane, consensual. Every BDSM adherent subscribes to this. If they don’t, beginners should run, not walk, away from them. For stronger, harder (more experienced) "edge play", some adhere to RACK: risk aware consensual kink.

Next week I’ll be revealing some of my personal experiences at Paddles. Please come back.

Were any of my statements an eye-opener for you? Did I correct any misconceptions you had about BDSM? I'd love to hear from you.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. My first BDSM-ish book just released (the characters are a Dom and a sub, but they are just beginning their relationship, so while there's some discussion of BDSM and a little power play, they don't actually engage in BDSM in this story) and I'm constantly looking to learn more about the lifestyle, both for my books and for myself.

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  2. Boy - things have changed since my "scraf" and open leather bra days. Great post. I am so interested in learning more through your posts. Feel like I may have to take a small trip back to the day - humm wonder if teh hub would come - no pun intended- with me.

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  3. And remember your safe word should never be "more"...I think there's a joke in there...reminds me I still have to read Part 1 btw...
    Cheers,
    Alan.

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  4. Very interesting. It appears I'm kinkier than I thought, and I'm most likely a sadist. LOL Great article.

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  5. Fascinating. I love reading BDSM, but had a lot of misconceptions. Don't think I'm ready to write it yet, but I'd like to.

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  6. Wonderful post Cris!
    It's such a relief to see others view this with an open mind and realize the vast degree of variety that fits under the BDSM tent. There's a million shades of kink!
    XXOO Kat

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  7. Thanks, everyone, for commenting. It's good to know that BDSM is a subject of interest to so many. There's soooo much to write about. Tracey and Alan, thanks for the chuckles. Kathye, will you tell us more about your leather bra? Sounds intriguing.

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  8. So glad to see this wonderfully enlightening column, Cris. I was aware of these details due to my own investigations and study, but continue to see the misconceptions (particularly in the current 50 Shades frenzy) pronounced loudly and often. Your blog is a "must read" for them all.

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  9. Great post, Cris. Love reading what you got from your side of the workshop and visit at Paddles. We did learn so much. Glad we're posting these blogs together to see what each of us got out of our weekend. Learned and unlearned as you said. LOL

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  10. Thanks, Lise. You might want to spread the word about my blog LOL

    Kathy, it was a great workshop experience, wasn't it?

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  11. It was my pleasure having you at the workshop, Cris. Can't wait to have you return next year in August 2013. It's always a thrill for me to see what participants learn when I conduct workshops. I'm thrilled you've learned so much. Can't wait to read your new book.

    Live with passion,

    Dr. Charley Ferrer

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  12. The bra really was only straps and band under the breasts. The X that lifted and separated did a lot for my "posture." LOL

    Of course, that was my much thinner days. LOL

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  13. Great post, Cris. Sounds like a great workshop :)

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  14. I can't believe that you went to a BDSM club and didn't play. Last time I went to there, I was busy all night.

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  15. Stick around, Eileen! This is a 4-part series, and I'm saving the best for last *heh heh*.

    Kathye, sounds like an interesting bra! No inserts? Just the straps? Yeah, sounds like it belongs in a BDSM club.

    Thanks, Shoshanna. You could probably teach a class there, huh?

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