When scening, SaM and I engage in what is commonly called Role Playing. That term, in the past, gave me quite a bit of a problem. You see, like many kinksters of my generation, I grew up with tabletop role playing. Whether it was AD&D (2nd ed, of course), Rifts, Cyberpunk or any number of serious or silly game systems.
As I got older, and encountered the term within the context of kink, it always left me wondering just how in the world you could keep a straight face in the bedroom with that. The cliche of “I’m the evil wizard and you are the helpless elven princess, muahahaha!” really doesn’t do anything for us. If we need that level of characterization, we pull out the books and the dice and the character sheets and go to town.
Role playing in scene is, for us at least, much more subtle than that. We get to put on a face, a facade, a personality, that is not necessarily our “normal” one. There are a number of expressions, words or actions within a scene that we each wear to elicit a desired reaction out of the other or to enhance the sense of unreality of the scene.
Calling her a slut, a bitch or other such terms of endearment (heh) in scene are normal, given a certain mood. Her calling me master or similar is also normal in a scene.
I wear expressions in scene that are not normal for me in my mundane life. I sneer, I smirk, I’m very stern and demanding. Derision is a common mode for me at times when she’s being particularly shy about some command I’ve given her. Likewise, she’s shy, or petulant, or obstinent or even derisive in scene. She’s also submissive, or if things are going well near the end of a scene, completely wanton and begging for more.
None of these are feelings, emotions or expressions that even occur to me to wear during our day to day life outside of that role. Each of us deliberately wears, or allows, those emotions and expressions for the purpose of eliciting a response from the other, knowing that it is all part of the Role we’ve each taken on that evening.
During our day to day life, we’re affectionate, playful, and flirtatious. During scene, we’re often aggressive, cruel, manipulative, calculating and sadistic or submissive as the mood calls for.
As with the talbetop role-playing we did as young people, and even today engage in at times, when the game is over, we put away the dice, or the floggers, and go back to the real world. The things said in the bedroom stay there.
We trust each other, implicitly, to leave it there. We each know who we are, at our core, and that being called a slut in scene does not mean that SaM is a slut out of scene, nor does calling her a slut in scene mean that I think she is one, out of scene.
There are many things we both do and say in scene that fall under that same understanding. Once you realize that it really is as simple as ‘I say that to you because I love that look in your eyes” or “I allow you to do that to me because I love the way it feels and how it makes you so hard when you do it”, the rest is nothing but joy and love and adventure and oh, so awesomely erotic and sexy.
Something I see on a lot of beginner’s forums in the BDSM community is the question of how to get a sub to tell you what she wants. I also see subs asking how to tell her top what she wants. These aren’t really the same question, but I’m going to deal with them both here; as well as the corollary question of how to tell your top/sub what you want.
Both SAM and I talk a lot on here about communication. Without it, what we do borders way too closely on abuse. Being able to openly discuss uncomfortable, embarrassing or scary topics is a part of what makes our relationship as solid as it is.
There are two different places where communication is important. In scene and out of scene. In scene both of us need to be able to tell the other what is needed, to communicate mood, arousal, ideas, etc. Out of scene we must be able to talk to each other about what went right, what we enjoyed and most importantly what we didn’t enjoy or what went wrong; even if it wasn’t a safe-word situation.
I know that as someone in a polyamorous marriage, I don’t get jealous of other people in my husband’s life. I get jealous of the demands on his time. Love is infinite; there is room for many loves in any person’s life. What is not infinite, however, is time.
I get very jealous of time he spends elsewhere – and it’s not always another person. I get jealous of time he spends blogging, or doing photo shoots, or computer animation, or even the time he spends at work.
Someone on a forum asked a very, very excellent question. I know little about this person except that she’s new to the idea of BDSM, and she has a child.
“Does being in a master slave relationship have to continue outside the bedroom? Or do you take it outside of the bedroom?
From my point of view (and, fair warning, others will disagree with me very strongly), it is just not possible to have a “true 24/7” master-slave relationship in a modern Western world where the people in the relationship have any duties or responsibilities to other people. There is always going to be something in life that is going to require the master/slave dynamic to be set aside for periods of time. It is completely unrealistic to expect that one person is going to be able to devote every moment to obeying/pleasing their partner.
Used with permission:
“I have a burning question I need to answer if I’m ever going to be ok with myself as an occasional sub:
I value equality in relationships. I need to know my partner thinks of me as an equal human being and partner. I need him to know I feel the same way about him. But how can that be possible when I get off on calling him Sir and taking orders?!”
I had the same conflict for a while. Then I came to realize that my entire relationship with my husband is not, in fact, founded in my crotch.
Heh. He said “flogger elbow”.
Yes, it’s true, he doesn’t beat me enough. That damned flogger elbow is a bitch. Of course, we could just as easily state the myriad of true reasons he doesn’t beat me enough, but that would just wind up being as depressing as involuntary celibacy. I mean, where’s the humor in “well, this week it was food poisoning, and last week it was migraines, and the week before that we were both exhausted and I fell asleep on him, and the week before that… “? Not even remotely funny. Flogger elbow, now THAT’S funny!
But more to the point, I remember very clearly the Idiots, Inc. period in our lives. What a horrible, horrible company. He would come home angry, borderline homicidal, depressed, and feeling trapped. The ex-wife was being less than reasonable about pretty much everything. MY ex was being equally as retarded, and showing his mastery of Passive-Aggressive Bullying technique. This could easily have been a recipe for Relationship Disaster, by which I mean domestic abuse. Especially since I was new to BDSM at the time.
Too often, sadists in the BDSM lifestyle are portrayed as stern, overbearing, mean, even abusive men or women who enjoy causing pain and suffering just because they can. The image of a domineering woman and a simpering man or big burly man in leathers and weak abused woman cowering at his feet is all too common when thinking of what a sadist is.
First, I am a sadist. I enjoy the little cries of pain as the flogger comes down on a sub’s back, blushes of embarrassment when I unveil her to all and sundry at a play party, the sharp intake of breath as the needles slide into her breasts, the way she dances on the balls of her feet when I grab her nipples and pull her towards me and especially the momentary look of fire in her eyes just before the handprint on her cheek flares just as bright.
All of those things can, and often, are done by people in a mean, overbearing way. In scene, when appropriate for the mood, I too can take on that role. But without the whimsy and fun and laughter to balance it out, that role can get damned depressing.
I’ll give a couple of examples to highlight that balance.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve seen posts about how a submissive is supposed to act. Proper training this, and proper etiquette that, and a True Sub should Always Respect A Dom.
Not the sub’s dom. ANY dom.
Bullshit. Just because some moron has decided to wear all black with a flogger hanging off his belt and is calling himself Master God’sGift does not entitle him to respect from me. It doesn’t. If he’s got 20 years of experience and five subs hanging off his arm, it STILL doesn’t entitle him to respect from me.
Common courtesy, yes. Respect, no. Respect is earned, or it is meaningless. Utterly meaningless. It’s as meaningless as the “apology” that’s worded “I’m sorry if I offended you”.
A conversation a few days ago sparked a train of thought that led me to realize just how entwined the concept of safewords is with all of my interpersonal interactions; not just those that involve some BDSM element.
Due to the nature of play that I engage in with my wife, I have what you might call a background process that is always watching for an unexpected reaction to whatever I am doing at that moment. I’m not saying my sub is perfectly predictable, but if my swat of her ass with the flogger normally gets a moan, then a sharp intake of breath or scream is something that triggers that process. At that point, I will do a safety or mood check to make sure everything is still in the green.
This is a little earlier than I’d planned on publishing a second post, but a friend e-mailed me a pretty excellent question.
“Where the line is drawn between submission and abuse, from the perspective of the dom? For example, how does the dom know, when he says “you filthy whore”, that he is meeting the requirements of his sub and not emotionally abusing her, unless they have carefully laid out a blow-by-blow playbook in advance? It reminds me of what the old oval track racers used to say, “There’s no such thing as going too fast, until you crash. Then its too late.”
First, that’s what initial negotiations and discussions about limits are for. For some people, name-calling is a major turn-on. For some other people, it’s never, never okay under any circumstances. There’s no way to know in advance, unless you ask. Any responsible dom will ask a potential sub “What are your hard limits?” Any responsible sub will be very direct and honest about stating what those limits are.