Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My local bdsm community; or Sex is complicated.

When I'm not writing I have a harder time remembering my resolutions and I don't feel like I make progress in "processing" because I just say the same thing over and over. I like to pretend that when I write I occasionally mix it up and say different things and reach new-to-me conclusions or connections. This is what I tell myself to justify my continual verbal diarrhea.

My kind of rough plan at this point (in my head so far) is that I will finish editing a friend's book by the end of June (I'm honest about my limited time available for such work) and then I need to start editing No Secrets again because I would like to put the kickstarter up during the summer. I think it would be nice to have it end on my birthday. After I see if I can get funding for a print edition (so I don't have to front all the money [that I don't have]) [incidentally--the ebook has paid for the editor and has mostly paid for the ISBN number. It's only been out for nearly three months. I'm thrilled.] I will deal with that. Then I can turn my full attention to Part Two. If Noah says it is ok I want to spend October doing pre-writing stuff and then see if NaNoWriMo is sufficiently inspirational again this year. What do you think, Noah?

It's hard trying to work on multiple projects in my head at once. Things get kind of muddled. Although I have to say that editing my friend's book right now is ideal in terms of making me think about how I want to phrase things in Part Two (capitalized because for the moment it is the working title and that makes it a proper noun--I'm kind of obsessed with thinking about when capitol letters are appropriate right now).

I'm thinking about the bdsm community. What am I going to choose to write about? How am I going to show what happened? I don't want this to be another "telling" book. I want this book to do more showing of what happened and that means cherry picking experiences I had and creating dialogue for them. Dialogue scares the shit out of me. I don't want to remember something differently than someone else and be called a liar. Instead I will call it fiction and improvise freely to make my point. I'M NOT ACTUALLY SAYING YOU SAID IT. SEE IT'S FICTION!!! That's my motto right now. And yes, I am yelling it in my head.

I came into a very particular community at a very particular time. I traveled a great deal during the four years I was heavily involved in the bdsm scene. I got to find out that people in Australia and England and the East Coast of the US treats things quite differently people do in the bay area. Holy moly the Seattle scene is different. And Portland was different again. There are a bunch more cities I could list off but that seems silly. I got out of my bubble as often as possible. At the time I don't think I knew I was trying to learn bdsm in a studying kind of way. I wanted to find out what it meant to different people.

I only knew what my local community taught me at first. That was a fairly biased starting point. I went to the Wednesday munch in Palo Alto for four years. I rarely missed a munch in that time period. I went religiously. It is the longest period of my life of having an intensive social experience. I have certainly known people for longer than that--Britt and Jenny are the best examples of that. We have come-and-go relationships and we have rarely spent all that much time together. I saw the Wednesday munch crowd (there was a sizable 'normal' crowd) at least weekly and often more than once a week. That's a lot of contact for me.

When I try to think of how to describe the crowd I am struck by how afraid I am. Most of the folks who still hang out near the munch like me well enough. I don't want to fuck that up by writing about the experience I had. I don't want them to know that sometimes they weren't very nice to me and they didn't even know they were doing something challenging. I'm pretty sure that folks were trying to be nice to me. It isn't their fault I am damaged. I came pre-fucked up.

I'm beating around the bush and wasting time. Most of the folks who were part of that social group can be charitably described as being socially awkward. When you get together and hang out with people for years and years just because you all like deviant sex you are going to have an odd group. People different types of deviant sex, by and large. My opinion is that community focus comes about through a sort of peer pressure and exposure. Themes emerge. Seattle is known for blood play and suspension. In Australia they talk about "performing" and many people in their community will not play in private. They think it all must be done on a stage in front of an audience or you are weird for doing it. I thought that was hilarious.

In Palo Alto when I was part of the crowd there was a heavy emphasis on straight up fetish gear (mostly latex though no one scorned leather or pvc) and pushing people to the edge of their pain limits. The crowd really thrived on trying to break people. Not everyone. Just the loudest players who played the most often.

I get the impression that many of the people who were there for the social aspects were not looking to be bad ass players but they certainly were happy to egg the conversation on. I spent a lot of time there knowing that I was mostly attractive because of my age and willingness to do whatever someone wanted me to. I don't play with safewords. In general that just means I don't say no regardless of what someone wants to do.

But I'm really harsh and abrasively defensive with everyone I don't want to play with. I think that got worse not better over the years of spending so much time in La Dolce Vita (the name of the cafĂ© the munch was in). The group was very dismissive of the intelligence of women. Most of the men in the crowd worked in tech. Almost none of the women were computer people. As a female friend said to me years ago (roughly paraphrased because the passage of time is like that): "Of course they treat you like you are stupid. You don't even work in the computer field." If you aren't a geek you are shit. Check. Got it. I wonder why I have such a fucking chip on my shoulder about the topic.

I had a bunch of men I would talk to. I did have female friends but they tended to pay less focused attention to me. The men appreciated me sitting on their laps and being flirtatious. Most of the men in that crowd had virtually zero traditional sex in their lives. I find that fascinating. There were a fair number of single guys who were single for many years and some married guys who had wives who just... didn't. I was quite happy to fill their need for feeling interesting  and wanted. I'm not very good at talking to men without acting out in a somewhat sexual manner. All of a sudden I was the best thing ever.  It's not that I was ever that hot, I'm not, and it's not that I was ever going to fuck them, I didn't, but I looked hard at them. I got to know them and had a consistent relationship. It was quite lovely in a variety of ways.

I'm willing to bet they would still enjoy having a friendship with me even if I didn't sit on their laps and uhm move about. I have always had issues with compulsive sexual acting out. I was really grateful that Tom told me early on he wanted monogamy. I got to stop having to follow through on my teasing. I could tell people in advance that I was in a monogamous relationship so what I was doing had limits. When you are talking to men who aren't getting any sexual activity and you say you will tease but not go all the way they get to make the decision and avoid anger. It stays friendly and light. They don't start getting more interested and pushing. Monogamy gave me a lot of freedom. These guys were all good friends with my boyfriend and they had known him first. They weren't going to push my limits because they didn't want to step on Tom's toes.

Once I broke up with Tom and moved around the community a bit more freely I had several sexual assaults in a short period of time. I think my local community is quite misogynistic. It is my experience that men who aggressively want violent sex often have no interest in asking for consent first because they would risk hearing "no". Fetishists are different. Most fetishists (in my little corner of the world--who knows about your corner of the world) are not particularly aggressive about sex. There is a lot of bdsm play that lives in this weird gray area of sensory experience that feels unrelated to ones genitals. It may be pleasurable to each individual but they shouldn't be sharing that feeling. It's about them each having the body experience they want. Being encased from head to foot in latex makes sex basically impossible. Sure you can do some masturbation, but who counts that?

My local community had a bizarre focus on no-sex. Bdsm is not about sex! It's a "hobby". It's members are enthusiasts. I know it wasn't just Tom. I went to a party every month with this crowd. I think I can count on my fingers how many times anyone had sex at one of those parties. I went to more than fifty of those parties. If I count up all of the times someone was having sex and I was not involved the numbers fit on one hand with room to spare. That's kind of odd for an event that is ostensibly sex focused.

That was where I spent my early adulthood in the sex community. I found a no-sex ghetto. It was hilarious. It was really weird to me that I managed to find the group that didn't have sex. It massively shaped my attitude about bdsm. It has been a weird journey to try and combine the two. Noah is the sort who doesn't play without sex. Sex is the point. That other stuff is kind of interesting for a bit but really we are here for sex. Let's not kid ourselves.

It is a night and day contrast. Tom and I had sex in fewer than 5% of our scenes. Roughly. I didn't actually count. We just didn't have much sex. Sex was different. I think that sex was too emotionally vulnerable. He doesn't like being vulnerable. With sex you can't control a lot of it. Bodies are unpredictable. Tom has trouble orgasming. He doesn't really do it any way other than masturbating by himself. Having a partner there is distracting. I am a competitive person and I learned how to get him off through oral and vaginal sex. I know I can count the number of times I achieved those goals on my fingers. It was too hard, honestly. Over an hour of oral sex makes your jaw hurt something fierce. Tom has an enormous cock. It hurts no matter where he puts it. Sex was really complicated.

So I lived in this strange world where people liked having me around to wear fetish gear in front of them because they liked seeing it and I was appreciated for hinting at sex and not delivering. It was a strange period in my life.

Tom wanted me to learn how to tie him up. He likes the experience. I was under contract so I couldn't say no. I didn't want to learn how to top. I was correct in assuming that once I was known for having those skills I would be asked to do them a lot. I have no sexual interest in having someone helpless. Just not my kink. But I have a lot of interest in meeting my friends' needs and helping them have happier lives. I topped a lot. I'm sure it was a mixed bag experience for people because I'm an inconsistent top. I either broadcast that I'm doing this because I feel like I have to (how sexy is that? not at all) or I ask people how/where they want to be pushed. I like doing very intense scenes both as a top and as a bottom.

When I top I only do a few activities. I'm a very competent suspension top. I certainly can and do floor bondage on occasion but I really prefer suspension where possible. For me it is about the trust involved. Tying someone up on the floor always leaves me thinking, "Oh shit what now?" I often feel uncomfortable touching people. I don't know what the fuck to do. I've never figured it out well. I was taught it wasn't about sex so I feel uncomfortable going there. Not to mention that I don't find submissive people sexually attractive so... yeah. I don't want to go after peoples genitals. I actually did a lot of sex play with Tom when he was tied up. That was the big exception. (I swear to God I have asked for permission to talk about this at least three times and he says it is ok.) He liked doing the forced feminization then getting tied up and "taken" thing. I feel bad about these events in a variety of ways. He wanted to be forced to be like a woman (which I have weird feminist feelings about) and then raped. Lots of men fantasize about what it is like to have this happen.

I have this really uncomfortable set of emotions around these men thinking it might be fun to have my life for a few hours. I know that there are people who have never been raped who do rape play. I have mixed feelings about people thinking that rape is hot. There are things about rape that are hot, I get that. Power imbalance feels sexy. It's just one way of imagining a power imbalance.

I imagine it would feel different for a woman who has never been raped to dress her boyfriend up in a dress and sodomize him. I have a whole complex swirl of emotions around, "See. I'm supposed to like it when people "rape" me. Obviously I am just interpreting things wrong in other situations in my life. I was supposed to enjoy them. Does that mean I am bad because I didn't enjoy it when Jeremy sodomized me? Am I broken? Was I just not quite big enough? What? What did I do wrong?"

For me to do rape play as the top I have to play very carefully close to becoming my father. These things just pass right along don't they?

And he didn't want to be raped "as a man". He wanted to be forced to be something weaker. Something that could be raped. I have some complex fucking emotions around that. The biggest part of me tries to believe that it is ok for people to have whatever sexual predilections they have. I just don't need to do it with them.

I spent years at that munch listening to the loud, overbearing men lecture me about Libertarianism (I still haven't resigned my party affiliation), cars, guns, and computers. I was welcome to develop an active interest in all of the above with them. If I had a dissenting opinion I could either deal with being shouted down (and called a bitch) or keep my fucking mouth shut. I learned to keep my mouth shut. Tom and I didn't argue very much. We got along very well. I didn't say a lot.

I sat on their laps and flirted and was looked at while not talking. That was what I was wanted for. That is what I felt was wanted from me. They haven't made a lot of effort to continue to know me. When I broke up with Tom I stopped going to the munch and the monthly party. That was his space. Apparently all of those friends were his friends too. I didn't try real hard to pull anyone out of the crowd with me and they haven't tried to stay in contact with me. Several of them have given me half-hearted "sure we should do dinner some time" shit. When I ask for a date I get brushed off with, "I'm really busy right now and I will get back to you". Crickets.

I didn't really want to be the fetish doll for the rest of my life. I want to be allowed to have dissenting opinions without being told I am a bitch. I asked him flat out, "If I was a guy would you call me an asshole for saying that?"
"No. I wouldn't call him anything. I would just think he had strong opinions."
"Then why did you call me a bitch?"
"Because you are one."

Why do I want monogamy with Noah? Because when I ran into that guy fairly recently I totally offered to have sex with him. I have thought about it for many years. So I told him flat out that I thought about it. For the record I did this before we agreed to monogamy. I have withdrawn all of the offers I was flinging out left and right.

I think it is time for me to move on to a new stage in life where I can recognize that people who only want to spend time with me because I will have sex with them are people I don't actually need in my life. I have gone literally my entire life using sex as a way of developing relationships. I have a very hard time having contact with people without feeling like I owe them something for putting up with my company and I have so little to offer.

I can see Shanna figuring out how to organize groups of kids to engage in play she directs. It's fascinating to watch. It gives me a lot of insight into how and when I locked on to sex as a coping strategy. I think that it wouldn't have worked as well if I had been in one place. You run out of people eventually. Or you end up in cyclical patterns with one abusive partner. I had endless people to try out my opening moves on. It means I didn't have to do the uncomfortable work of trying something else in order to make friends. I just did the same thing over and over again. When whatever sexual relationship I arranged kind of fizzled out I was dropped like a hot potato. I was usually not acknowledged again while I lived in that place.

I need to stop fucking people because then I feel shamed out of communities. I feel like if I am no longer offering up sexual interaction I don't have a lot to offer. So I shut my mouth and feel unwanted and I leave.

There is a new family in our homeschooling group. The mom has moved a lot all her life. I've been talking to her about displacement and getting to know new people. It's really interesting. She doesn't have any abuse in her background. Her family isn't warm but they aren't abusive.

I have totally glossed over the beating part of bdsm so far. I grew up in the "hit her harder" school of thought. We were a crowd of very heavy players and we felt distinct pride about that. I showed up to this crowd when I was eighteen. I spent my nineteenth birthday feeling like I didn't get to say no when everyone at the party wanted to line up to hit me. I never did a group spanking thing again. After that I learned that I was allowed to say no.

But you have to be careful. You can have rules like "I'm monogamous" because of course guys recognize that some guys are possessive of their pussy. But you have to be as available as someone else wants or you are a bitch. Telling guys no makes them hate you. There is a fine line between not looking like a good person to ask (and being roundly ignored as a result) and looking absolutely available. If he has the nerve to ask you really should say yes. You wouldn't want to be part of the Embargo, now would you?

Sexual longing is so big. It encompasses so much of who a person is. My munch was full of male fetishists (there are not nearly as many women who are into it) who didn't have sex. Either because they couldn't because they didn't have a willing partner or because they didn't enjoy it that much. Sometimes I feel like a liar when I identify myself as part of the sex community. There wasn't much fucking going on. But the needs came from similar places. Instead we encased one another in latex or rope. We beat the shit out of one another and called it love. "I know you have a need to feel pain, let me help you with that."

I have a hard time with going to parties and not playing. I don't play because I want to, exactly. I play because I feel compelled to. I feel compelled to meet someones needs. Either they want to hurt me or they want to be hurt. I don't really play with people anymore unless they manage to hit that button. Well, uhm, before that monogamy switch. Ahem.

I don't know how to channel this with Noah. I'm really struggling. I know that part of it is that I'm having a weird psychological reaction to the fact that I shouldn't feel shame about what Noah and I do. What we do is given the thumbs up by every legal, moral, and ethical standpoint one can have. We have remarkably vanilla, standard PIV (penis in vagina) sex.

I'm not really a deviant any more. Was I ever one? I struggle with that. I think I wanted what I did when I was younger. But why did I run so hard and so far away from it? Why did I go find a partner who would not be capable of playing out similar roles with me forever? I often feel like I do things wrong for Noah. I'm not very good at the things he prefers. I feel like I am better suited to being in a relationship where I am continually silenced because then my depression is apparently entirely invisible.  Isn't that better? No? I don't know.

I haven't been hit to the point of getting a bruise in a long time. It used to be my main hobby. Well, the bruise wasn't entirely the point. We all loved comparing our bruises though. It was proof that we could handle it. That we liked intense play. We wanted to bear the intensity that someone else wanted to dish out. That proved how submissive we were. I don't want that shit any more. I'm tired of having to accept pain in order to prove I like someone. If you fucking like me, don't hurt me.

But but... it gets me off. Really. I'm having a hard time with how difficult it is to get off if I am not in pain. I've had a long life to acclimate to believing that I should experience pain as a normal part of sexual activity and I am supposed to shut up about it and smile. And get off. Because then it is better for the person hurting me. They have proof that what they are doing is justified.

I have a lot of complex feelings about that time in my life. I used to put up personal ads for girls. They would come over and we would have awesome, wild, vanilla sex and then they would go away and never be seen again. That was the only way I could have sex that wasn't painful at that point in my life. Tom was simply too large to ever be comfortable. It always hurt. I just didn't talk about it. He didn't really know. And I am god damn good actress. I should have been in porn. I pretend sex is awesome better than most people.

Tom never ever once pushed past me actually saying "no". Our relationship existed entirely within the realm of me actively consenting to what happened to me. Most of the time I scripted the play. He told me what porn websites he liked (insex.com was his very favorite) and I spent a lot of my free time looking at the pictures trying to figure out what I could handle doing. I tried to write a story with those pictures in my head. I would then tell him the story and how I wanted to play and he would do it. I picked a lot of really brutal play. I'm always interested in proving that I can take pain. At least these days I have gotten over punching games.

For a long time it felt like I was building towards the goal of being able to take enough pain that I could lie on the floor unable to stand and still say, "Beige".

I want to be hurt. Deep inside me I want to hurt. I want to feel pain more than I want to breathe. Tom and I had a system that worked for several years. When I was getting antsy I didn't talk about what I was feeling, I asked for a beating. It kept me distracted. Focusing on my beatings was far more socially acceptable than cutting. This way I got to be cool at the same time instead of a damaged little freak. I don't think it was good for me to hang out with the "hit her harder" camp. I am very competitive in my head.

I feel the need to point out that I know people who take way more intense beatings than I ever have or want to. That's ok! I'm done trying to climb that ladder. I don't want to be the biggest masochist. I think I only need to be picked up by my pectoral muscles before being shaken like a dog once. I thought I was going to lose my mind from pain. I couldn't get away from it. It was every where. It chased me through every back corner of my mind and screamed pain and pain and pain. Giving birth was not that painful. During labor I always had a corner of my mind that I could hide in for brief breaks. (Unmedicated home birth, for the record. After nine days of labor. I hemorrhaged and almost died. It was festive.)

I think I am comfortable saying that I have had the most intense scenes I ever want to have. I'm done climbing that mountain. Those were my personal peaks. I want to not go anywhere near them again. That was a very dark and scary place for me. I don't think that all masochists have as little respect for their bodies as I do for mine but I am not that sturdy. I didn't really enjoy all that much of it. I was way past the point when I was doing it for my own masochism. I like to play with sadists. Actual sadists. The kind who like it best when their partner genuinely isn't having fun. They are willing to really hurt me. After all the years of cutting I have done it seemed kind of ridiculous for me to explore the lighter side of beatings. I didn't bother. I like single tail whips. I like having my flesh ripped open. I like canes that leave welts that last for weeks. If I don't have long-term reminders it is like it never happened. It is like I am not serving my purpose.

Noah and I have a hard doing sm play together. It's complicated.

I wish I knew what I wanted from sex. I wish I had a better understanding of what parts I am doing because I like them. What I like is that my partner is having fun. But that's a lie. There is stuff I wish Noah did. I haven't really been talking about them so I can't get mad at him for not doing them. I consider that to be an inconvenient proviso for life. I can't get mad at people for not reading my mind. I'm not sure how to find enough time to think about this in my life. I don't think about sex much when my kids are around. That is just off-limits for me. I'm with them so much that I don't have a lot of hours of the day when I am able to think about sex. I don't feel like I am finding a way to figure out new things. I am stuck on old tapes because holy crisco I don't need something else to be working on really intensely in my personal life.

This is how these things die. They become not a priority. I don't know how to maintain balance and give everything in my life the attention it deserves. I'm not big enough. I look out at the next few years and see no sign of increased time for sex. Not really. Not for many years, probably. Between the kids and other things that pull our energy I just don't see much happening. This is how bed death happens.

We still have sex a few times most weeks. We do skip weeks. It's just not that high of a priority. Too many conflicting factors have to be in alignment. And then we are too tired to do anything all that exciting. I like the intimacy of sex a great deal or I wouldn't be having it at all right now. Physically it is sometimes annoying and we have an understanding that I "take one for the team" at times. This is part of that sex that women don't exactly want but they have any way.

This is so complicated. I love Noah. I want him to be happy with me. Noah loves me and wants me to be happy. We are trying to walk a very narrow line between his interest in having sex daily (and sex where I protest is really fairly hot) and the fact that being actually raped over and over again isn't ok.

I have to get something out of it too. It doesn't have to be the same thing he gets. If I don't get anything at all out of it, then I shouldn't be doing it. I'm ok with the fact that life has some weird trade offs. I get to pick what the hill is this time. I don't have to have one goal at all times. I don't get off very often. I know that I can predictably do that if I tell him how to inflict pain. I generally don't want to feel pain so I don't ask him to do that. As a result my body is dramatically less responsive and I often feel physically kind of uncomfortable during the act. But I love knowing that I am meeting his needs. This is something that he really needs in order to be a happy person. He will still be here whether I put out or not. But he will be sad and withdrawn. He won't feel very loved. He will feel rejected. He doesn't ask me for sex. I have to initiate the vast majority of our sex. I spend every day looking at him. When he is sad, I know I need to.

This sex stuff is so complicated. Noah and I are a good match largely because of the way we have complimentary compulsive sexual behavior. Woo. And we really are learning how to be nice to each other. He likes having sex with me when I'm fighting but he doesn't push for it. He certainly doesn't initiate it. I have to verbally request it. Usually by saying, "I want to wrestle and lose." He perks up more than a child on Christmas.

Noah is my provider. He is my protector from the big bad world in some very material ways. Yes it is hot for him to feel like he is strong. He really isn't the type to get into sports or other public ways of proving his manliness. He's a geek. He's realistic. But he does notice that he needs to work on getting stronger because I'm about to beat him.

It's very complicated, this liking to lose. This liking of pain. It's all wrapped up. It's all wrapped up in thinking that taking pain is required of me. That I am only interesting if I am taking pain of some sort.

I didn't start talking about my childhood in a public way until after I had mostly retreated from the public scene. They people I had all of my adult relationships with in the bdsm community knew very little about me. I think I talked to a few people one on one a little. I had a few conversations with motherly women. I had female mentors.

That's all the time for today.

4 comments:

  1. When you talk of the BDSM community, I can't help but think of Singapore: pretty and well manicures but oddly sterile and lacking in feeling.

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  2. > What do you think, Noah?

    Sure, works for me. NaNoWriMo again is probably a great idea.

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  3. I think it is imperative to learn boundaries. Saying No can be hot, really. It means that you respect yourself. And anyone worthy as a partner ought to know that that partner has boundaries and self respect.

    I have more to say on this topic. Call if you want a different view.

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    Replies
    1. I'd love to call. I'll see if I can find a non-screaming time soon. :)

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