Traditional sexual consent vs bdsm consent

When I was growing up I didn’t know any other people who had bdsm dreams and desires. I wasn’t sure if there even were any girls into bdsm in the whole world, and I was certain that there weren’t any in the farming town I grew up in. So getting consent to do bdsm-y sexual things wasn’t even an issue for me.  But at least there were girls who liked sex, so I did learn the traditional script for getting consent for non-bdsm sex.

It’s a sexually asymmetrical script. That is, it’s sexist. A woman is supposed to give subtle, non-verbal signals of her interest in a man. Things that seem obvious to her, that men hardly ever even notice. A man is allowed to show sexual interest more openly.

He can gaze at a woman, make compliments, stand close to her, try to make himself helpful if she’s doing something, talk and listen to her answers, and try to be clever and funny. He’s supposed to monitor the response, not that she has to make one.

If she frowns, freezes, calls someone else over, changes the subject to something dull, sighs, looks bored, turns away, then he should go away. But if he seems to be being smiled at, he can continue. Eventually he can touch her hand, or her waist or shoulder, though avoiding areas of the body that are marked as sexual.

If she seems comfortable with that “casual” touch, he might stay with that for a time. When it seems natural, which might be a minute later but it might be days, he can try to kiss her. He’s supposed to keep his hands somewhere neutral, and leave space to back out if the kiss isn’t well received.

Ah, the universal language of flowers. Usually they say, "sorry, I spent the afternoon fucking someone else, and I feel a bit bad about that, so here's some flowers." Note: flowers won't get you laid, but they are good for whipping breasts with.

Ah, the universal language of flowers. Usually they say, “sorry, I spent the afternoon fucking someone else, and I feel a bit bad about that, so here’s some flowers.” Note: flowers mostly won’t get you laid, but they are good for whipping breasts.

She doesn’t have to say anything, because she doesn’t have to acknowledge that anything is happening. If she’s not pleased, she can withdraw her body, or her warmth, or tell him to fuck off. If any of those things happen he should say sorry and back away. If there are no signals either way, the man will probably pause, then move forward carefully. If he seems still to be getting smiles, then he can try for an open mouth kiss with his hand touching sexual areas: her ass, a breast. That also might happen seconds later, or days.

If that’s well received then sexual consent is usually assumed, though the man can lose consent by doing something stupid and off-putting. From that point the woman can withdraw consent, but she has to be explicit about doing so. That’s the version I was taught by girls and, I suppose, my parents. There’s another version of the script in which the woman isn’t allowed to withdraw consent once she’s shown any sort of keenness. It’s a script that doesn’t have much trouble turning rapey. 

The man who’s advanced to this point and been accepted no longer has a moral right to stop. For a man to bow out at this stage, within this script, is nasty, hurtful and humiliating behavior.

These scripts are like dancing, because they allow creative variations, and some people can perform them gracefully while others are crap at them. Still, they’re based on the idea that women shouldn’t want and shouldn’t be able to show sexual interest or desire too quickly or easily, or too openly.

In the script’s harshest forms a woman only has the right to be silent or else to stop a man’s advance, and a man may have moved from eye contact to sexual touching with nothing more than her inaction as his indication of consent. The script maximizes opportunities for men and women to misunderstand each other and hurt each other. It seems designed to create misunderstanding.

contractWhen I was a child, before I knew about this script, I’d assumed that men and women would be frank with each other about their sexual interest or lack of it. A woman or a man would plainly declare their interest and the other person would give them an honest and open response. If they were both interested, they’d talk about what they wanted and then get on with it, doing their best to find and give pleasure as they’d agreed.

Yeah, what a silly idea. But the funny thing is that this is pretty much how consent is negotiated in bdsm. People who enjoy bdsm generally avoid ambiguity over sexual desire and intentions.

This may be because we’re usually more specific about the kind of partner we’re looking for. We usually prefer one sex and some specifications about appearance, as non-bdsm people do, but as well as that we’re usually looking for a dominant or submissive partner in particular, and within that group we’re looking for someone prefers the specific practices that we like, and to roughly the same degree of intensity.

Also, the consequences of miscommunication can be greater in bdsm. So in bdsm courtship people tend to be explicit about what they want and who they want it with. 

Even before I knew the rules of bdsm courtship, I knew that I kind of disapproved of the rules of non-bdsm courtship. The bdsm world seems to have taken a far less sexist approach, and a much more ethical one.

That is, it’s better in principle. Assholes, liars, manipulators, nutters and rapists can still misuse any system, but at least in bdsm the ground rules are fairer and clearer.

What do people think?

Chloe’s game 20

“You never really wore your skirt like that, did you? 

“God no. We were so respectable. I wouldn’t have got past the gates like that.”

“So when did you … ?”

Voguequeen sewing pattern.

Voguequeen sewing pattern.

“Take up the hem? I had my old sewing gear in my bedroom. Since they weren’t letting me do anything else with my evenings.”

“Oh.” So she had been defying her parents while we’d stayed with them. In two widely separated bedrooms and near-constant supervision. So there had been a kind of solidarity. I wished she’d told me.

“And then there was the Dubbin. I felt very filthy using that.”

“Dubbin?” I remembered the tin of lubricant.

I’d been looking forward to buggering her with that. “I, uh, suppose you would feel filthy.”

“Rubbing it into that belt. It’s stuff for leather care. You rub it into the leather to make it flexible. For when you use it on me. You do know what Dubbin is, don’t you?”

“Course I do,” I said, irritated.

We took the wine back to bed. Another thing I decided was that this sort of game, which was at once more playful and more serious than any of my previous experiences, was exhausting. I had a half-hard penis, and I had an idea that I should rub cold cream into Chloe’s skin, but I fell asleep without doing anything about either.

The next morning Chloe woke up softly affectionate, though not in a sexual mood. I was relieved to be cuddled, since I was always aware that regardless of what consents had been given and what the events had meant at the time, I’d set out to hurt her. I’d certainly succeeded. So it was a relief still to be loved.

Chloe’s game 19

The word for serving sushi on the body of a naked woman is called "nyotaimori". Oddly enough, it's a Japanese word...

The word for serving sushi on the body of a naked woman is “nyotaimori”. Oddly enough, it’s a Japanese word…

I fell asleep too, waking when Chloe rose at midnight to have a shower. She was a pale girl, who glowed in moonlight like a ghost. But her arse and upper thighs were dark and almost invisible.

I put together sushi and cucumber from her fridge, and poured wine, demonstrating my committed opposition to patriarchal oppression, et cetera, which I tended to do after delivering any sort of thrashing.

(That was then. My level of service to submissives has deteriorated, I’m afraid.) 

Chloe’s buttocks and thighs, when she returned from the shower, were much cooler and, disappointingly, already much paler. But she still chose to lie facedown on her couch while I hand fed her sushi and held her glass to her lips.

I told her how much I’d loved her game, saying to her some of the things I’ve written above. In return Chloe told me that the strap had hurt, certainly, but except for a couple of the lashes – like so many people with our desires, she liked the feel of words – where I’d misjudged my aim or the force of the swing, it had been a satisfying hurt.

She liked its leathery weight, the way it impacted and kept a warm buzzing in her skin until the next lash. Somewhere around the twentieth stroke she’d stopped caring about individual impacts. Her whipping became a continuous experience that included but did not focus on the strap landing across her bottom; it flowed, building up heat, intensity and the deep, sexual sort of pain.

And she’d liked being commanded. She’d determined in advance that she would do whatever I said, so that in the moment she could feel, helplessly, that she had to obey. She wanted us to do more of that. Just in play, of course, she said: try it outside this room, and I’ll kick your balls in …  

I let that pass.

Chloe’s game 18

Naughty schoolgirl and strict teacher is one of the tackiest scenarios in all pornography. It’s silly, clichéd, and politically suspect. But it had just introduced me to pleasures that I intended to explore and repeat.

I’d liked Chloe’s obedience, playful though it had been. I’d liked giving orders. Chloe’s show of respectful surrender, sir, and the way I’d asserted myself in response: that was exciting.

danaeI hadn’t used a real instrument before. I hadn’t made a woman raise her voice in pain before. Both had overjoyed me. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the fact that Chloe’s cries of pain had turned me on, but I couldn’t deny it.

There was a hairbrush and a ruler in that drawer, and I knew that I’d use both on Chloe, hard, before this weekend was over. I wanted to hear her song of pain again and again, and to hurt and fuck and comfort the girl who sang it.

The game might be silly, but it took me to darker and more truthful places than I’d ever been before.

Till then I’d always tried to maintain and emphasise equality between my partners and me, even during bdsm sex. I’d get permission before I hurt her or tied her, not only before any session, but before proceeding with any action during a session. Consent had to be continuously asserted.

But Chloe had simply given me her submission and put me in control. Submission turned out to be more exciting than permission.

I wanted more of it. Within that game I could have it, and Chloe could have her pleasures, while – outside the game – we maintained the equality that we both believed in.

Chloe’s game 17

At a signal from Chloe – she said, “Are you going to fuck me”, with slight impatience, rather than, “Please fuck me, sir”, which told me that the game was over and we were back in propriae personae – I helped her up, embraced and praised her, and helped get that uniform off, undoing buttons and tugging with clumsy impatience, then shed my own clothes and pulled her to bed.

ridinChloe wouldn’t let her strapped skin touch the sheet, let alone lie on her back. I wanted to fuck her from behind, sinking my cock between her glowing buttocks, but she ruled that out too. She wanted nothing harder than air to touch her bottom. So I lay on my back and let her straddle me.

She leaned down to kiss me and didn’t break the kiss while she lowered herself onto my cock, filling herself.

Then she sat up to ride, her nipples drawing pink spirals in the air as she bounced above me.

One last surge of cruelty took me as she was close to coming, and I reached back and smacked her burning skin while she grunted and galloped; and for the first time in months she made her crying and hiccoughing noise, as she came and fell forward onto me.

But this time there was laughter in the mix.

Chloe rested on me and I held her until she snored gently, her nose healthily cold against my neck. I lay awake and considered my new experiences. 

Chloe’s game 16

We developed a rhythm, Chloe and I, the swing and thwap of the strap, her cry and the new stripe, or, once the strap had already reached most of her skin, the deepening of an existing pink-red area, her frantic dance, and, when she raised her hips again, the swing of the strap. I think the strokes were about twenty to thirty seconds apart.But we were dancing, not thinking, or counting time.

strapyThis was very different from the spankings I’d given her. I missed the tactile pleasure of my hand on her heated skin, but there were compensations. Her posture was so blatantly submissive, and because the strap required me to stand a little further back, I had distance and time to study her.

I stopped the strapping twice, at intervals of about ten minutes, to stroke her cunt. The first time I was still reassuring myself that she loved this. That first time I used my fingers, because it was important to know she was wet.

The second time, I pleasured her cunt with the strap itself. I didn’t need to know she was happy; of course she was. And I thought she’d like the symbolism of being pleasured with the leather that I was using to hurting her. We breathed together while she devoted herself, all of her awareness, to the slow rubbing of girlskin against that old belt. 

When she was nearly ready to come, I stepped back and resumed the strapping.

Neither of us knew how many strokes I gave her. By the latter stages Chloe’s skin glowed dark pink from the upper slopes of her buttocks to about two inches down her thighs, with strips of brighter red where the leather had landed on earlier stripes, and only isolated glimpses of white skin.

Chloe danced and bucked without pausing, and I’d stopped waiting for her to keep still and present herself. I just waited till her hips were at the lowest point in her dance and swung the leather to impact on her bottom as it rose.

I couldn’t aim with any great accuracy, but at least I could judge the timing. The strapping lasted about half an hour. Chloe glowed, not only with sweat.  

Chloe’s game 15

Chloe turned her head away when my arm moved, fixing her gaze on the chair seat. The strap landed with an astonishingly loud crack, wrapping itself round the lower slopes of Chloe’s buttocks.

The effect was dramatic. Chloe’s head shot up, and she sang out “heee-uuu”. On one hearing, that soprano cry became one of my sexual tastes. I wanted to hear it again.

strapped sg 1I also liked the shockwave in Chloe’s flesh, as the heavy strap impacted, though because she was fit it lasted only a second. I watched the miracle of her skin changing colour, a brilliant pink stripe emerging, blooming like a stop-motion flower, about three inches across, with sharply defined edges.

It bobbed and weaved, that stripe, as Chloe’s hips bucked in the seconds after that impact, throwing off the pain like a horse trying to throw a rider.

I waited until she’d settled and arched her bottom up again. I aimed to leave the next stripe just above the first, neither overlapping nor leaving a gap. That was misplaced confidence; no-one should expect to land a strap accurately without practice. The strap landed high, leaving a sloping welt across the top of Chloe’s left buttock and wrapping painfully high across her right hip. Chloe’s cry was higher in pitch and volume. It was the wrong sort of pain.

But I swallowed the apology I wanted to speak, because it would break the mood and make things worse. I said, in the harshest, angriest voice I could manage, “Get that bottom up, girl. You’re getting strapped. And keep still!”

That was kinder.

For the third stroke, and all those subsequent, I aimed for the fleshiest part of her buttocks, reasoning that since my aim was lousy I’d achieve a reasonable spread of strokes just by accident, and that at least the strokes would land somewhere well padded.

Chloe’s game 14

Chloe’s hands gripped the seat as fiercely as the sides of a dentist’s chair. She was excited but she was, naturally, fearful. Chloe looked up at me as I raised the strap. I felt its weight rest over my shoulder and down my back, and gazed at her, measuring. 

When I swung my arm down, and first deliberately hurt and marked Chloe with that strap, we’d both be different people. And after we’d done that, we’d do it again, and again, as it became something that we did: Jaime whips Chloe with a leather strap, you know, they do that.

I wanted to say something important but I could only think of clichés from the texts.

strapped sg 2“All right, Chloe, you’ve asked for a good strapping” – at least that was true within the game and outside it – “and now you’re going to get it. I want you to be a brave girl for me. And … um … I expect you to stay in position. If you let go of the chair, Chloe, I’ll start the strokes again. Understood?”

Chloe was having trouble speaking. But she managed to say, hoarse-throated, “Yes, sir, I understand.” 

“If you get up, I’ll start again and double the number of strokes. Do you hear me?”

 Chloe heard me, sir. Not that the threat had any meaning. I hadn’t thought about how many strokes – I’d call them lashes, the next time I spoke of them – I was going to give her, so there was no number to double.

I hoped Chloe thought that all this waiting had been stylishly cruel, but it was time to stop thinking. I took a breath and swung the strap laterally through the air.

Chloe’s game 13

“O my god.” I had watched Chloe bending over with intense fascination. I might have preferred her to be naked, but the uniform was still an interestingly perverse touch. “Yes. Yes, I think I want you very much like this.”

“Thank you, sir.” 

strapped sg 4I took the strap and tried to tap it against Chloe’s bottom. But a strap does not tap. Without force, it flops. So I swung the leather lightly, testing, and it collided with the rounded centres of Chloe’s buttocks with a reasonably satisfying smack and a sigh from Chloe. But it left no mark, and I wanted Chloe to be marked.

I swung again, a little harder. I got a louder clap, though no sound or movement from Chloe. It left a faint pink stripe, three inches wide, across Chloe’s white skin. I decided that about twice as hard as that should be about right.

I gazed at her. She waited to accept whatever I might do. Her face was pale, composed, serious. I put the strap down, and Mr Mortimer shrugged in disbelief at that and left. But I didn’t need him any more.

 I put my hand on her left hand. I couldn’t reach her face to kiss her, so I kissed her bottom. She smelled aroused, headily so. I said, “Chloe, you look so beautiful.” I stepped back to see if she smiled at that. She did. That reminded me of something. “You’re a good girl.”  

I picked up the strap, and our agenda.

Chloe’s game 12

“Oh, I do. Very much.” Chloe touched my cock, stroking me through my pants. We leaned against each other, silent for some time. Mr Mortimer had taken me this far. But I was starting to lose him. Or I was merging with him. Eventually I said, “But I’m going to make your bottom even prettier. How am I going to do that, Chloe?”

“Are you going to strap me, sir?”

“Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Unh.” I took her hand away from my cock, so I could think. “Let’s see. Ah. Bend over the back of the chair, Chloe. Um. And reach forward, as far down as you can manage. Grab hold of the front chair legs if you can. Then spread your legs. Now, girl.”

strapped sg 3“Yes, sir.” Chloe took the chair and turned the seat to the wall, so I would have plenty of room. She rested her belly against the chair back and bent over. She pulled up the hem of the skirt so it was well clear of her waist, and reached down to grasp the front chair legs, under the seat.

But she was, after all, a tiny woman, and that posture lifted her feet completely off the ground. She settled for holding the edge of the seat, standing on tiptoe.

She kicked the panties completely off and put her ankles outside the chair legs. She arched her back invitingly. Soft, round ivory she was, and gloriously muscular.

“Is this how you want me, sir?”