Fiery, faerie sex 1

There is a word for having a fetish for fire: pyrophilia. It involves setting, or watching, fires for sexual arousal and gratification. 

Fire is dramatic!

It’s supposed to be different from pyromania, which is compulsively setting fires for other, non-sexual, reasons.

Me, I’ve been a psychiatric nurse, and I’ve studied psychology as part of an undergraduate degree. So although I’ve seen how the diagnostic system works in practice, I’m not any sort of expert at all. 

Still, I know there’s evidence that for various reasons (academic publishing pressures, the fact that getting conditions into the DSM makes it easier for patients to claim financial support for treatment, among others) psychiatrists are – perversely – rewarded for finding new diagnoses. So behaviour that has a range of motivations may get labelled as if the motives can be separated into, for example, sexual and non-sexual. 

Flames of passion, and so forth, didn’t become cliches for no reason at all

Still, a very small number of people have had their genitalia hooked up to various devices measuring sexual arousal, and responded more strongly to images of fire than to images of an attractive person of their preferred gender. The fire is hotter than the hottie. 

Still, in most cases it seems that there’s a range of motives when someone starts a fire, especially one that places lives and homes at risk. 

One motivation is hostility to the people who are likely to suffer from the fire’s impact. Even if they’re unknown, the arsonist may think of them as “rich bastards”, or “adults”, or whatever. They may also be a hated racial minority.

As well, there’s anger, especially in young men, that they’re not getting the things – female company, money, fame, respect, etc – they think they’re entitled to. There are other motives.

At the same time, fire is warmth, it’s energy, it’s wild, unpredictable and free. Though it can be tamed. Those are sexy qualities.

Guess who likes fire? Jerusalem Mortimer, that’s who

If I’m with a girl on a beach, and I pile up some driftwood and make a fire, and we sit together staring at it, the chances that we’ll have sex are as close to 100% as makes no difference.

Setting a safe fire, and enjoying it together, is one of the basic human sexual scripts.

And from hotties to flames of passion, burning love and fires of desire, so much of our sexual language uses fire images and metaphors. We’re just… drawn to fire. 

I’ve got a bdsm-flavoured fire story of my own to tell, I mean a true one. I’ll write it in the next couple of weeks.  

 

Don’t do that! 3

Remember: those knickers only count as consent if she’s signed them

Gavain thought. What had he learned about himself, from smacking Cassie’s bottom? “Spanking you felt good, I mean as a sensual experience. There’s that.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gawain. That’s so appalling I can’t even tell whether you’re trying to talk your way out of trouble. I tell you what, though.”

“What?”

“I know you. We’re friends. I know you’re not a psycho or a misogynist. But that pat on the ass thing, that gets harder when I’m getting closer to coming: I noticed that.”

“Didn’t feel subtle, then?”

“No woman wouldn’t notice. Thing is,not everyone knows you’re not a nutcase. So there are a lot of girls, probably the majority, who aren’t going to all that delighted when a man offers to hit them. Even if he means it in a nice sexy way. Cause they don’t think there is a nice way or a sexy way. So your chances of getting them back into your bed are close to zero.”

Gavain nodded, considering that. It seemed likely to be true. He said, “Yeah.”

There’s no sneaky way of spanking someone. They will notice.

“You know, even for girls who aren’t shocked, maybe even girls who’d like to be spanked more than me, it still feels like you’re trying to be sneaky. No one likes that.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re an ok person, and you pay attention when you’re fucking. I like the way you fuck. I bet lots of girls like fucking you. Or they would. So I’m not getting at you.”

“Yeah.”

“No! You don’t get to sulk! You’re the one who smacked my ass.”

Don’t do that again! 2

NOTE

This is Episode 2 of a short story. Well, it’s short by my standards: I expect it to take only three or four episodes. Episode 1 is here. Read it if you haven’t and you feel like it, then come back. 

Don’t Do That! 2

Gavain groaned. He had, indeed, spanked Cassie without her permission. He said, “I’m an idiot. I’m sorry. I mean, truly: I apologize.”

“God, you’re fish in a barrel. I was teasing you. You’re easy. Truth?”

“Ok.”

“It was mildly pleasant. It’s not one of my turn-ons, particularly, but I didn’t hate it. How, um, I suppose I should ask, how was it for you?”

“I’m not sure. I mean, your ass always feels good to me.” She looked irritated, so he corrected course.

“I don’t know,” he said. “When I had the thought about my, uh, client, I mean, when it occurred to me to spank her, I had a kind of flash, like a vision of what it’d be like. It was hot as fuck. I went, full on, this-is-awkward, unwanted erection. In about five seconds. Took ages to get it down again.”

“Did she notice?”

“Oh yeah. She laughed at me. A lot.”

“Oh, poor you.”

“God no. I was relieved. Could have been much worse.”

“I suppose. Anyway, what’s that got to do with how hot it was to spank me? Or not?”

“Because when I imagined it she was really into it. That’s what made it so hot.”

“So my reaction was… disappointing?” Cassie didn’t look sorry.

“I wasn’t sure if you hadn’t noticed, or you were putting up with it, or it was sort of okay but nothing special. So that wasn’t so hot.”

“On behalf of all womanhood, I apologize for not being a porn star. You’ll just have to put up with real girls.”

“You got a porn star’s ass. Very superior ass.”

“Huh.” But she waggled her ass, just the same.

Don’t do that! 1

Cassie astride and above him, jockeying vehemently with her eyes closed, was focused on her orgasm. She had no notion that he, specifically, was there. Gavain, providing her fulcrum, knew she’d reached her point of no return.

He moved his hand down from her hip and smacked her bottom, experimentally. There was a small sound, a slap, but she didn’t open her eyes or change her rhythm. Gavain considered the sensation. His handful of her ass felt great, of course, but it always did, whether she was still or bouncing, whether his hand arrived hard or soft.

But did he get off on spanking her? Did it add an edge to the already excellent experience of having sex with Cassie? He smacked her again, on the other side, a little harder. Cassie still didn’t open her eyes, but she expelled her breathe, once, hard, through her nose, and lowered her body so her breasts touched his chest and his cock slipped further into her. She sped up, frantic for speed.

By way of encouragement he smacked her in time with her movements, until she arched her back, all muscles clenched, and made her orgasm noise, low and loud. It sounded to Gavain like an engine racing between gears. He thought that was her, her enjoyment celebrated lustily with no concern for whether she sounded beautiful. He’d got over loving her, after she’d left him. But he still loved that.            

He let her rest, happy, without coming himself because she knew she’d want more in a few minutes, and it’d take him about twenty minutes to half an hour to recover if he came. He kissed her forehead and her ear, and she opened her eyes. “Hello you.”

Gavain said, “Hey you.” He put his hand back on her left buttock where he’d smacked it. There was a tiny glow of warmth.

Cassie frowned. “Um. Gavain, that was new. New for you, anyway. Were you trying to spank me?”

Gavain felt himself blushing. “It was… sort of an experiment. Did you mind? Or did you like it?”

“Um. It was ok. I didn’t mind. I suppose I wondered how come. Have you got some new girl who likes that?”

“Er, not exactly. Or not at all. There’s a girl, and I found myself thinking it’s be a really good idea, and amazingly hot, if I spanked her. And it wouldn’t be a great idea. It’d be a really stupid, unethical, terrible idea. To do anything with her. But I don’t think I’ve ever thought that about someone before.”

“Ahhhh huh.” Cassie wriggled very slowly on his cock, still inside her, but down to half hard. “So. This girl’s a client, yes?”

“Ump. She is.”

“She has that honor, my lord. And she probably does need spanking. But I can see that you can’t. But what were you doing with me?”

“I, uh, haven’t spanked anyone. I wanted to see if I thought it was hot.”

“So you conducted experiments with my ass. Non-consensual experiments.”

Gavain said, “Um…”

The politics of people who take part in bdsm

Still a right-wing shitbag, though.

I was at a munch a while back. I got into an argument with a guy who was a strong Liberal Party supporter (the right-wing party here, currently in government) about economics. He supported tax cuts to the rich, eliminating government involvement in the economy,  and so forth. He said these were classic Adam Smith ideas.

I’ve read essays about Adam Smith, which said he wasn’t simply a neo-liberal monetarist, but envisaged something a lot closer to the welfare state that his followers are busy dismantling.

So I argued that those aren’t actually a set of policies that Adam Smith would support. Our argument got a bit obscure. I’d say I lost, actually. I haven’t read Adam Smith directly, and he’d read The Wealth of Nations, so I couldn’t cite chapter and verse. I’d have been better off arguing that that tax cuts to the rich, and so forth, are terrible for the economy, because they make most people too poor to buy the extra things that keep the economy going above subsistence level. But though that’s true, the munch was a social occasion, and people tend to get angry when you get on to topics like that. So I picked the more academic issue.  

Anyway, most of the other people at the munch disliked the government, but mainly because it’s been pandering to the Christian right on gays and lesbians, funding to Christian schools and paying for Christian activists in non-Christian schools. That sort of thing. So our economics argument was boring, and they politely ignored it. 

From my point of view politics is mostly about economics: you need to tax those who can afford it so you can provide government services that make life better for everyone, especially health, education, welfare, public housing, and necessary infrastructure. Businesses do better where there’s a decent level of social infrastructure in place.

Other issues, even including things that I have passionate feelings about (for marriage equality, and against censorship, for example), are important, but less important than whether people can get jobs that pay them enough to live on, and get wage increases.

So that’s my politics. I’m largely socialist on economic issue, and pretty much anarchist on social and sexual issues. Anything sane adult humans want to do with other sane, consenting adult humans is ok with me. People having the right to say or write or hear or read what they want: that’s ok with me too.

(Racist, sexist, nasty, and generally horrible speech should be countered and mocked, not suppressed. Happy to argue that, in some other post, if people want.) 

Generally I hate Nazis. But this guy seems to know what he’s doing

As a bdsm pervert, I sometimes get annoyed by writers, especially those involved in pseudoscientific schools like psychoanalysis, making grand statements about the politics of people who take part in bdsm, or want to. The gist of those sweeping claims is that we’re all Nazis. We like leather boots and dressing in black: so did the SS! Case closed!

That gets old, and it was irritatingly silly and insulting the first time.  

As far as I can see, we people who involve ourselves in bdsm, or dream of it, cluster to the centrist left. There’s never been a research project on how people who do bdsm vote. So I can only base my claim on anecdotal evidence like my munch, and some logic.  

First, as I’ve argued before, turning power into a toy of erotic play is inherently subversive. It undermines power, and refuses to take it “seriously”. Power in bdsm doesn’t go to the man, or to the richest person. It doesn’t go to the person with the most impressive job or title. Power goes where cocks and cunts want it to go. and only stays there while the people involved are sexually pleased by that arrangement. Power in bdsm is sexual, it’s voluntarily given or assumed, and even if the play raises welts or draws blood it’s playful.

Bdsm culture emphasises informed consent. I think that emphasis is the reason why people who practice bdsm are, research studies have found, notably more sex-positive, more aware of consent and less sexist than the general population. 

We are more likely to be in the sex-positive feminist or feminist-supporting faction.

BDSM eroticises voluntary power differences, but it also eroticises consent. There is nothing hotter, to me, than a submissive’s bowed head and “yes, Sir”.  

Still, apart from general social and sexual liberalism, I’d guess that people who do bdsm aren’t, in general, far to the left or right of the rest of the population. Thpough we’re more likely to be in the anti-authoritarian faction of the left or right. But bdsm doesn’t force people into any political box.

Feminist women in bdsm may reasonably feel irritated when other feminists insist that their politics must be anti-feminist because of their sexual needs and choices.

So bdsm people are more likely to be liberal than authoritarian about sex, because authoritarian sexual attitudes are likely to do us harm. There may be a general lean to the centrist left on other issues, too.

Otherwise there’s no clear intrinsic political bias to bdsm, whose practitioners may be radical, conservative or entirely apolitical. People practice their bdsm, and their politics, as they do other things, according to their beliefs and the kind of people they are.

Maddie, consent, and throat-fucking

In the last episode of the Maddie saga the Wicked Headmaster character throat-fucked Maddie.

Oddly, that’s not a thing of mine, really. I do it if a submissive has told to me that that’s a turn-on for her. I don’t like to have to think of my cock as a choke hazard. 

Drop this, and it won’t break. Fact!

When I do want to deliver my best hard, fast and ruthless fuck, I prefer to be doing penis-in-vagina sex, because cunts are tough and evolved to take some fairly rough treatment. Much more so than the throat or the anus. I love having my cock sucked, and I’m charmed when a woman wants to show me clever things she can do. So I prefer having my cock sucked where my partner has some freedom of action. I also love anal sex, but there’s a definite limit to how rough you can be. 

So I didn’t want to write some throat-fucking erotica because that’s one of my key turn-ons. It came out of the characters. The Headmaster character was extremely turned on and wanted to come, quickly. That’s the reason that Maddie’s aware of, and she liked that sense of being used by him for his pleasure. 

I think that he also had a sense that Maddie would like that sensation of being helplessly taken. That’s already part of the vibe between them, so he stepped outside real-world bdsm rules but not the feelings and desires both characters have.

There’s a sense of care there, even when he’s apparently using her as a masturbation device. The way he pulls out after she gags and gives her time to catch her breath is a hint towards that. Though he doesn’t stop till a little bit after she gags, so she never has that unwelcome feeling that she’s in control.

So in their universe (which is absolutely not ours) he’s doing the right thing. There’s a kind of unspoken understanding between him and Maddie, and he keeps his end of the bargain.

I have a fairly 3-D sense of who Maddie is. She’s being very sexual and sexually driven, but she feels like a real person, to me. Partly because she’s based on real people, one in particular, who told me about acquiring an older Master when she was about Maddie’s age. (He wasn’t her Headmaster, though. No laws were broken, even in our world.) 

The headmaster at home, alone. relaxing In casual dress. Don’t panic!

The person who’s closer to a fantasy figure, I think, is her Headmaster, who has no doubts, is always sexy, and miraculously always knows just how cruel to be, in order to be kind.

Obviously, relying on “the vibe between us” wouldn’t be enough of a precaution, or enough consent, in the real world. I don’t think, in the real world, you get any points for introducing some new and challenging bdsm practice, and yelling, “Surprise!”

But fiction is a different thing. Characters can act on extreme emotional needs (as well as sexual needs) and we can enjoy their stories.

But we’re in our universe, which has all sorts of potential consequences, and they’re in their universe, which has fewer.

So long as we can tell their world from ours (and don’t do things like believing the Transformers movies are documentaries), I’m prepared, as Maddie’s narrator, to give them their heads and let them go where they like.

They just worry me sometimes, that’s all.

 

BTW: This post started as a response to a comment by Indigo Bird, here. Thanks for your comment! Indigo’s excellent blog on Art, Sexuality and Death, in later life, is here.

Defending the politics of bdsm 2: Bdsm and the state

The puritan feminist argument against bdsm includes the claim that bdsm works as part of the support for patriarchy, or male control of institutions and, of course, women.

Patriarchy in action? It doesn’t really look like it

The puritan case is partly based on the claim that bdsm is men dominating women. To make this claim you have to ignore the existence of lesbians and gays, and women dominants and male submissives. You also have to ignore the fact that we now know that the majority of both men and women involved in bdsm are switches, and will take either the dominant or submissive role according to mood and desire.

Some in the puritanical faction are aware of this, and try to wish it away by waving a sort of verbal wand at it: any “eroticising of power differences” supports patriarchy because, well, because.

One way of testing this is to look at what actually happens in most Western states.

We see that the institutions that do most to promote patriarchy and the subordination of women get encouragement from the state in every English-language-speaking country in the world, as well as most of the non-English-speaking Western states.

The Catholic and Baptist churches in particular, with their long-standing and still current opposition to having women in leadership roles, and opposition to women having control of their own bodies, particularly in relation to reproduction, get extensive funding from the state. That funding comes in the form of direct grants, in the form of tax-free status, in the form of (usually historical) gifts of land, and in the form of favored status when it comes to bidding to provide Government services. 

Church naming rights and livery; 100% tax-payer funding

Something that’s not understood by most people is that when Catholic spokespeople talk about providing hospitals the Catholic Church doesn’t provide those services with its own money. Those institutions are 100% funded from government health spending, even though they don’t offer all the services (eg abortion, and contraceptive information) that a publicly funded hospital should be offering.

In many countries the churches have special dispensation overriding laws relating to discriminating against people based on their religious belief or sexual orientation, particularly in employment. 

The point is that this is an example of how governments in the West endorse and support organisations that promote patriarchal power. That’s nothing like how governments treat bdsm, and people who take part in bdsm.

Bdsm erotica, the stories we tell and the media we tell them in, is banned in many jurisdictions. Bdsm clubs and premises are frequently raided. Consenting bdsm is still a crime in many countries, most notoriously the UK. People have gone to jail for practising consensual bdsm, and others have lost custody of their children. 

A bdsm master or mistress’s authority is never backed by the power of the state. I’m not arguing that it should be (of course it shouldn’t); I’m making the point that governments support and endorse institutions that help uphold male power and control, and they don’t support bdsm that way.

If bdsm really were a part of the ideological support for patriarchy, it’s puzzling that institutions upholding patriarchy, like police services and other law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, the mainstream media, the churches and so on, all seem to be unaware of the fact.

Instead bdsm practitioners, media and organisations (eg clubs) come under surveillance, police harassment, mainstream media shaming, and direct legal bans. 

Bdsm does not promote male dominance (generally, though a few Goreans and domestic-discipline Christians may), and it is certainly not an ally of patriarchy. We like our dominance consensual and our dominants to be sexy. 

Defending the politics of bdsm: power at the mercy of pleasure

Inequality in bdsm works very differently from the real power imbalances imposed by patriarchy. In bdsm, people choose their roles according to their own sexual desires, not their gender. A woman or man doing bdsm may choose a dominant or submissive role, or switch from one to the other, purely according to what pleases them. In bdsm “power” is erotic and fluid.

We are powerful guys, and we are Serious

The arbitrariness of “power” in bdsm contrasts with the seriousness with which power is held in patriarchy. By turning the symbols and even the idea of power into sexual playthings that may be taken seriously but may also be picked up, swapped or put down at whim, there’s a sense in which bdsm mocks and undermines real power.

Bdsm’s mild subversiveness is reinforced by the paradox of how power relationships work in bdsm.

The person who holds the outward signs of power, in bdsm, is not so powerful in reality.

The submissive holds the chain

A dominant may wear lots of black, carry a riding crop and snap out orders, but he or she is still subject to the submissive’s power. In the orders they give, the bonds they arrange and the services they demand, dominants must remain within a range defined and consented to by the submissive.

If the dominant goes far or repeatedly outside that circle of consent, the submissive is likely to end the dominant’s illusory power without notice.

People sometimes use the term “power exchange” to describe bdsm relationships, but not as much power really changes hands as may appear on the surface. Whether they are male or female, submissives retain more power than they and their dominants pretend.

Similarly, the economics of bdsm relationships differ from those of traditional marriage. In traditional relationships the person with the higher income holds more power, and that person is still likely to be a man. In bdsm the dominant partner is not necessarily a man, nor the person with the higher income. In bdsm, “power” is never what it seems on the surface. It does not follow gender. Nor does it follow money.

It follows desire. It follows love and lust.

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm: Consenting inequality

Much of the puritan feminist case against bdsm involves contempt for consent. People from that faction may recognise through gritted teeth that women may consent to taking part in bdsm, but that consent isn’t really either genuine or important. These women are doing something that that feminist faction disapproves of, and that is what counts. 

But there’s something extremely dangerous about any kind of politics or “analysis” that ignores or disparages consent.

Caring about consent, rigorously enforcing it in law, and so on, is something that keeps people, especially women, safe in sex.

That includes consent to inequality. To take a non-bdsm example, when a man and woman are sitting side-by-side, maybe looking at a park, or the sea, or whatever, the man might put an arm over a woman’s shoulder and draw her to him. They sit a little closer as lovers, side-by-side.

His action emphasised their physical inequality. Being larger (probably), he can put an arm over her shoulder without discomfort, which she may not be able to do with him.

He can pull her mass towards him with relatively little effort, while she might need to haul quite hard to get him to move closer.

But assuming they’re both feeling loving and affectionate, that action will make them both feel loved, loving and comfortable, although it is founded in sexual inequality.

Consenting inequality is common, and it’s a different thing from inequality that reduces people’s choices and is imposed on them without their consent.

To conflate the two kinds of inequality, ignoring agreement, pleasure and affection, shows little concern for human emotions or human rights.

It’s also true that inequality in bdsm is different from most forms of inequality, but that will be for future posts.

(I’ve got my girl with me, and I’m not doing much writing at the moment. Sorry.) 

 

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm 2: The false consciousness argument

There is a more complex case against bdsm than conservative authoritarians have ever argued, promoted by the feminist faction that allied itself with conservative authoritarians on erotic words and images, and bdsm.

Anti-bdsm feminists often speak as if there is a feminist position on bdsm and theirs is it, but this has never been the case. There are feminists on both sides of the debate.

This anti-bdsm case rests on the assumption is that bdsm is inherently an expression of patriarchy, of male dominance, so woman only have bdsm desires if their sexuality is distorted by patriarchy. Women who engage in bdsm have simply internalised patriarchal values, even if they delude themselves by thinking they are feminist.

By this theory they may think that they consent to bdsm activity, but this consent is not “real”.

This is because the power imbalance between men and women in our culture is so great and pervasive that women who consent to bdsm have been coerced into doing so by cultural factors beyond their control. This argument is also made of all women who consent to heterosexual intercourse, but that version of the argument is less often made within the hearing of allies on the religious right.

This readiness to diminish and dismiss the moral and political significance of women’s choices and consents is commonly justified by the claim that women who have and (what’s worse) act on bdsm desires are victims of “false consciousness”.

False consciousness is a term derived from Marxist theory, to mean the tendency of oppressed people to accept the ideology of their oppressors and therefore to fail to perceive that they are oppressed. The term was used to explain the awkward fact that in developed countries working people on low incomes tend not to support Marxist political parties or campaigns.

False consciousness can refer to something real. It may be useful to use the term in relation to African American slaves who had accepted the idea that slavery was a just institution. But the term is best used humbly and tentatively.

For example, the reluctance of working people to support Marxism might be a sign of false consciousness, but it might derive from realistic evaluation of what happened in the countries where Marxists got into power. In practice “false consciousness” is a rhetorical device for dismissing the views of the people on whose behalf one claims to speak, because if those people were allowed to speak or vote or act on their own behalf they would say and choose the wrong things.

In this perspective only some choices arise from false consciousness. Consenting to heterosexual intercourse, taking part in the writing or filming of pornography, or engaging in bdsm: these things can be ascribed to false consciousness. Engaging in non-penetrative lesbian sex, going to an anti-pornography rally, or taking part in hours of doctrinal discussion may not.

Moreover only some women are subject to false consciousness. Others are immune. Anti-bdsm feminists are confident enough in the authenticity of their own consciousnesses to make their own sexual decisions and to feel qualified to force sexual decisions (for example on the availability and therefore use of pornography) onto other women.

Feminist women who suffer from bdsm’s false consciousness are, surely, fortunate that other feminist women know better and are prepared to edit their sexual desires for them.

Or they may wish to tell them to take a running jump.

(To be continued)