Keith Haring: Spanker, sort of dommy

haringI knew a woman who’d fucked Keith Haring a few times. As she tells it – I’ve got various good reasons for believing her, by the way – it was a bit more than a one-nighter, but less than a relationship. He was more famously into guys, but there were women too.  

Anyway he’d spanked her, a lot. After the first night he tied her as well. He hadn’t asked for consent, but he’d sort of paused before going on, in an “is this ok?” sort of way.

 I guess that’s about a half mark, for bdsm ethics.

But she felt okay and that’s the best indicator. Everything else is more about politics than people. I trust people more. 

That’s all I’ve got, today: a meaningless anecdote about a dead New York artist. I’ve been working and my brain’s nearly off-line.  

That Maureen story: the WTF moment

I wrote a series of posts, “The shame of being a dom”, which included the story of Maureen. That story includes one completely WTF moment. We were discussing English literature because I was helping her with her assignment. Though it’s unwise to do this on a bed, naked, if you want to get any work done. 

I’d never made any bdsm approaches with her, not even something safe and mild like smacking her ass when she was about to come. She’d never had any bdsm experience of any kind, and, as far as she knew, any bdsm desires, dreams or fantasies. 

But still, this dialogue happened: 

Me: Well, you can say Milton’s Areopagitica is an ambivalent defence of free speech, and hey! you could link it to the Romantics’ idea that Satan was a sort of spirit of freedom. Must be at least 400 words in that. 

Maureen: Mmmm. I guess. So would you like to spank me? 

So, I thought at the time and afterwards, where the fuck did that come from? Why did she say that? I was glad she did say it, and the consequence was a relationship that turned out incredibly hot for both of us. But … why?

I asked her then and later, and she claimed she had no idea. She’d just thought it’d be something I liked. She never expected that she’d turn out to like it so much as well. 

I have one theory. I already had a library, a collection of books that followed me round from house to house, that was more than you could fit into a single car. (You’d need a couple of trucks, now. I know this, because when I left the city and moved up to the mountains, the books did take a couple of large trucks.) 

Why are these girls doing what they are doing, in this photograph? Charming, yes, but it is sexy?

Why are these girls doing what they are doing, in this photograph? Charming, yes, but it is sexy?

Anyway, one of my books was Les Jeux de Dames Cruelles, or The Games of cruel Women. This was a book of vintage erotic photographs, lithographs and postcards, which, despite the title, mainly featured cruel things being done to happy girls, not done by them. Though often it worked both ways: Fifi tied up Nanette, and took the cane to the poor girl’s helpless bottom. Maureen had really liked that book.

Vintage erotic photography has an odd effect. At one level its sexual charge is gone, because of all the differences of technology, and style – even when the models are naked, their hairstyles, the shape of their bodies, the way they pose their bodies – now seem awkward, and charming rather than sexy. “Look at her,” we might say, “quite a pretty girl, but does she really think that’s sexy?”

Anyway, Maureen noticed that the book fell open at certain places. She was right. There were some images I really liked, not because they were charming but because they were hot. She knew young men, and she knew that I’d held that book in one hand, and my cock in the other, and that explained the book’s tendency to open itself at the images that still held their sexual charge.

And so that’s how she knew that if she offered me her body, in submission, I would be most willing and overjoyed to take it. In my stylish and articulate way: 

Me: What? Uh, hrrrrrrm. Um-hrrrrrrm. Oh. Uh, yes. Yes, please. Absolutely. Yes.

The pride of being a dom

My mom would have insisted this was no way to treat a woman.

My mom would have insisted this was no way to treat a woman.

When I first started finding willing partners and doing bdsm I was worried about the apparent contradictions between being a dom, and having convictions about gender equality and strict rules against hitting women.

So I felt some shame about being a dom, and about my desires. 

But these days I’m absolutely shameless, even proud. Here are some key reasons why.

1   Respecting “yes”.

There’s still a duty of care even when someone says “yes”. Consent isn’t the only consideration you take into account. But if a submissive says, “hurt me, rule me, and fuck me when I’m crushed,” and that’s something you both want, then you have to respect the submissive’s right to consent and get what she wants.

(“She” wants? I thought about using inclusive pronouns, but that makes it sound as though I’m laying down universal rules. These are only my personal conclusions.)  

You can and should look out for your lovers, a duty that applies to submissives as much as to doms. Sometimes a submissive might beg for harder pain or tighter bonds because the moment is so good, and it may not always be safe and sensible to give her that. Still, unless you have a good safety concern, or it’s something that you personally don’t want to do (I won’t do scat or cut someone, for example, no matter how nicely the submissive might ask for it), you shouldn’t protect people from having their desires met.

 Respecting the “yes” as well as respecting no, and hard limits, is respecting the submissive.    

2   Respecting the power of sex

Hotness is good.

Hotness is good.

In my early bdsm career I was always troubled when I hurt a woman, even though she was a consenting submissive woman who loved the pain and wanted to be made to serve.

But I had the reassurance that came from the look on her face and the sounds she made when she came. I’d feel incredible pride in that.

And I knew the sexual joy (getting all William Blake-y here) that I’d just experienced. 

It’s a good idea to trust sexual pleasure when it’s mutual and strong. You can work out the intellectual issues later. 

3   Knowing yourself, and trusting yourself where you know you can

A lot of people think that bdsm must escalate, over time, as people supposedly get jaded and push out to further limits, so that one day, eventually, a spanker will be wanting to tear flesh with pincers, a la Sade.

Research has shown that this just isn’t true. People work up to the level of intensity that they’re comfortable with, and they stay there. That’s certainly been my experience.

Just before the grenades go off

Seconds before the grenades go off

Like everyone, I have a dark side.

For example, I’ve fantasised about throwing hand grenades into a Ku Klux Klan rally, leaving meat-spattered white sheets and groaning neo-Nazis crawling, blind with their own blood, on shattered, exposed bones across the dried-mud ground. Is that dark?

But my dark side doesn’t seem to have much to do with my dom side. 

Submissives have requested me to do things that are beyond my own usual limits, like drawing blood with a birch. I’ve told that story on this blog: look for the Vampire Girl tags. Another woman wanted me to use a wooden rod on her buttocks and thighs with all my strength, not judging or pulling the strokes, just going as hard as I could. 

Both times I found that my pleasure diminishes as I go further than I’m comfortable with. I can stretch a limit, but not far or for long.

So the monster in me isn’t hiding behind the dom. The dom loves giving pleasure through giving surrender. The monster seems to be hiding behind my politics, not my sexual desires.


4   Know the submissive, and watch her

Watching submissives closely is important to keeping them safe, and keeping them happy in that bdsm way that is mostly but not entirely sexual. Luckily, I’m turned on by submission, when a woman I desire submits to me, so I can watch a submissive being submissive, all day. 

Close communion comes from close observation. Close observation also tells me, as a dom, whether I’m doing good and not harm. And when I know I’m doing well and doing good, I can feel proud of it.

5   Respecting dominance

I know that I put a lot of work into domming. Regardless of how people interpret the dynamics of what happens between dominant and submissive, I know that I do more, I make more judgment calls, and the chances are that she will come quite a lot more often than me. 

(On a particular occasion I might, for example, come in her mouth and refuse her permission to come. But it tends to work out in her favour on average, over a period of time.) 

She gets to go into subspace when she finds the way, and though I know there’s a dom equivalent, I can’t allow myself to go there in a session. I need to stay alert, observant and active. There’s a degree of illusion-making, of legerdemain, in domming, where we give the submissive the pleasure of feeling that she is powerless and she serves, and she is not served. Providing that illusion involves skill and work and art. I am, submissive madam, your most arrogant servant.  

lovinI still think submission is a gift given to a dom. There are people who making barfing noises whenever someone says this, but it seems to me to be true.

I find the level of trust and generosity involved in giving someone submission is, ahem, moving and beautiful. 

At the same time, while a submissive gives a dominant one vast gift, a dominant gives a submissive many smaller gifts, which come down to forcing on her the things she most desires. 

So dominants have our own form of generosity. It took me a while to learn that and respect it, but that’s because I’m slow. 

Sing if you’re proud to be a dom, sing if you think it’s da bomb

swaggerSo it took me a while to work it all through, but these days I’m rather proud to be a dom. I enjoy it, and I can make a girl cry (another absolute taboo when I started) with a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. 

I don’t think I’ll ever want to take part in a Dom Pride march, though. Oh my dears, the swaggering.

Toothpaste on the clitoris: a follow-up

Back on April 4, 2013, I said I was going to apply toothpaste to the clitoris of a wriggly submissive women next week, and report back on the results. Well, I keep my promises. It’s just that sometimes (sometimes!) it takes me 17 months. 

So, the woman was called Lisa (which means she wasn’t called Lisa, but she will be here), and she’d been promised toothpaste. Not as a punishment, just as an experience. She was curious and excited, but also nervous, which was good. She undressed and stood with her hands behind her back and her feet apart while I explained the ground rules.

The safe word was “toothbrush,” if she really couldn’t stand it or she thought she was coming to harm.

"Keep still, girl."

“Keep still, girl.”

Otherwise she had to stand still, with her legs apart, and her hands resting on the back of a wooden chair for support. If she started wriggling, waggling or thrusting, I’d enjoy watching her, but I’d also punish her for it with the leather paddle.

She’d be paddled in the bent over and touching her toes position, with her feet apart, so that she couldn’t press herself against anything that might be comforting. There’d be a minimum of six strokes, but the paddling would only stop if she managed to keep completely still. 

I didn’t tell her that I was going to paddle her regardless, because I expected that she’d enjoy the two heats, one from her clitoris and one from her bottom, and the way they met and merged. But she knew that.

They seemed like good rules, and Lisa didn’t even bother to complain I was being unfair. So she lay back on the bed with her knees up and apart, and her feet on the edge of the bed.

I licked her until she starting breathing in the way that meant she was thinking about coming. I stopped abruptly when she caught her breath and tightened her stomach muscles. The point of no return was getting close.

"Open wide..." Actually, fingers are better than brushes, for getting toothpaste onto slippery surfaces.

“Open wide…” Actually, fingers are better than brushes, for getting toothpaste onto slippery surfaces.

I coated toothpaste all round the sides of her clit, dabbed a dollop on the tip, and then pressed it down and spread it.

The toothpaste was a slightly green colour, so it looked like she was wearing a little turquoise jewel on her cunt.

She got off the bed, and took up her position, standing straight, with her feet well apart and her hands on the back of the chair. The toothpaste had been on her clit for about five  minutes, and it was, apparently, pleasantly warm.

At eight minutes she made a little, worried sound, and there was a muscle all a-tremble on her left inner thigh.

I wasn’t going to punish her for that. I waited.


The next episode is here

First meetings: Bdsm, safety, and the invulnerability of doms

Another time I was talking to a woman on the phone, on the way to meeting her for the first time. She told me she’d heard of a woman who hated male doms and set traps for them.

batThe dom would turn up at her door, expecting to do his thing, or at least say hello and have a cup of tea, and once he was inside her brothers would come out with baseball bats and beat the shit out of him. It had happened, she claimed, to a dom she knew.

I didn’t feel too uneasy about meeting her, because she sounded sane and funny. Though if were writing a film I’d put that conversation scene in before the dom arrives and gets ritually slaughtered. Good horror movie scenario.

I did make sure that people knew where I was going, and had agreed to call the cops if I hadn’t called back in half an hour to say I was ok. Usually I make it a couple of hours before I check in, but while I really did feel that she was ok, at the same time that made me feel a little spooked.

And, when I turned up, it was fine. Bdsm, orgasms and laughs were had. She’d just been making conversation, slightly macabre conversation, and she hadn’t thought how alarming it sounded.

But it’s interesting how doms think of ourselves as invulnerable (maybe that’s more male doms, come to that), when, well, strictly speaking, we’re not either.

Anyway, safety is a thing for men as well as women, and for doms as well as submissives.

Bdsm: First meetings and safety

I went to meet a girl – we’ll call her Katey – so we could suss each other out and see if we wanted to do hot things with each other. We’d exchanged a few emails and talked on the phone before we met, but we were strangers, really. But when we met we hit it off, and we decided that right now was a good time to get down to it.

I’d told her I was going to clamp her nipples and give her 100 strokes of my belt, and then fuck her while her ass was hot. It was one of those things you say on the spur of the moment (well, I’d been thinking about it for at least ten minutes before I said it). It went down well so it became the plan.

cellWe went to Katey’s place. When she got out of the taxi she took her phone out, switched it off and dropped it in her bag. She dropped the bag on a table by the front door and went through into her her lounge.

Because she wasn’t going to need her phone that night.

She didn’t do this as a gesture; she didn’t even think about it.

It was nice to be trusted, a man she’d spent less than three hours with, who’d displayed enthusiastic interest in causing her pain. But …

Anyway, a couple of days later I told Katey off and spanked her for that. Felt no end of a hypocrite, though.

The point is that we do make quick judgments, based on how we read the voice and body language of the person we’re with. Relaxed, sense of humour, confidence, will all work to build trust, quickly.

But I’d hope that:

(1) people break rules like not fucking or doing bdsm on a first date if they want to, because random passionate sex is good and some rules are made to be broken, but

(2) they follow the other rules about making sure that someone knows where they are and who they’re with, on that first date, even when they fancy the other person.

Safety doesn’t have to get in lust’s way.

(Hat-yip: This in response to an issue raised in Cava Super-Nova’s excellent and eponymous blog.).

The bdsm Onion

Here’s a sample story from The Daily Flogger, the authentic and reliable source for all bdsm-themed news. Like The Onion, it can bring tears to your … oh, forget it. It’s an amusing site, if some of it’s a bit more mean-spirited than I strictly like. But funny is funny. I recommend taking a look. You can check the rest of the nooz here:

Woman Uses Safeword; Foils Rapist

August 11, 2014 




policeIn a shocking turn of events, Shawna Simonson found herself the victor in a battle of wills when she outsmarted her would-be rapist.

“We were alone in a dark parking lot. It was about 2 in the morning and I couldn’t find my keys.  Before I know it, he has a gun and throws me to the ground.  I could feel the gun pressed against my back and he was pulling my pants down.”

It was then that Simonson came up with an idea.  She screamed the word “Red,” the safeword from her local BDSM dungeon.

The attacker immediately stopped his assault and stood up, putting away the gun and ran off.

“I am still not sure what happened,” Simonson told The Daily Flogger, “it was funny to watch, because his pants were pulled down and his dick was hard.  It kinda bounced as he ran.”

Sven Woolewoo, proprietor of the local dungeon The Leather Dominion, explained the way safewords work.  “If you are into BDSM, they have a quasi magical power, the power to make bad things stop, simply because you say it.”

Local police say “that is the first time we have ever heard of that technique working.  We don’t recommend it, but then again, it probably can’t hurt.”

Simonson was grateful it worked, “I am just glad I didn’t go with ‘yellow.’  Who knows if he would have stopped or just checked in.”

photo credit: YVRBCbro cc

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?

A Dubrovnik whore as a metaphor for Balkan politics 2

So a sex worker walks into a bar in Dubrovnik. It’s after mid-night. She’s tired – everything about her body language says she’s tired, though she does the slut walk with real conviction. She’s pretty, in the classic short black skirt that shows her stocking tops. She needs, or at least wants, one more customer for the night. 

There were three men in the bar, not counting the bar staff. I was one of them, and she pretty much ignored me because I was eating. I’d been dragged out on a fishing trip, and I went for the sailing, but I don’t actually like fish. So I was starving when I finally got back. But a man having dinner is not a good bet for a quick pick-up. I was going to want to finish my goulash. 

Or maybe she just has standards. Anyway, she decided in a second’s glance that I wasn’t going to be a customer. She was right. 

That left two guys. They were young, they were fit, and they had haircuts that made me think they were possibly in the military. Or just some kind of gang. Anyway, they noticed the woman, and that she was selling sex, and they were both interested. 

At that point there could easily have been a mostly happy ending. The first one to whip out a credit card or a wodge of cash, and smile at the woman, would get to take her to his room, or to her place if the Hotel Imperial made it hard to take sex workers into your room.

The second guy would miss out, unless they liked two guys/one woman threesomes, but he could ask her if she had a friend and colleague, or just stay up a little later and wave her over when she was leaving.  

But instead things got competitive, politely at first. One guy waved at the other guy, meaning, “You go, because I renounce my claim in a grand gesture of generosity.” 

Now that would mean that the man who was waved at would get the girl, but that he would owe the other fellow, and be revealed as a less grand and generous man. So he waved back, meaning, “No, you go.” 

They kept this going for a while. Then the girl got bored, so she sat between them, giving them a show of leg to remind them that there are better things they could be doing with their time. She got half out of her chair to kiss one guy’s cheek while wiggling her ass at the other, and then turned and kissed the other guy’s cheek. 

croatiaSo the argument resumed, but now there were no more shows of generosity. They both wanted the girl. They shouted at each other, saying presumably insulting and threatening things in Croation or Bosnian or Serbian. Then one of them pushed the other. The other guy pushed back. Then they started throwing punches.

The woman got up and distracted them by leaning forward so they could stare down her blouse. The fight stopped. She made some suggestion, which was also in a language I didn’t understand, but it was probably sensible. (Maybe, “Gentlemen, I’m flattered. I can take you both, at once or serially. If it’s to be serially, why don’t you decide who goes first by flipping a coin?”) 

Anyway, things calmed down a little, because the men sat down, glaring at each other, and they only exchanged insults at a lowish shout. The whore waited patiently. 

taxiwhoreThe guys wound each other up and they stood up again. Once more, they started pushing and throwing punches. At that point the sex worker, who’d wasted over an hour of her time with these two, pulled out her phone and called a taxi. 

She left. But the two guys didn’t even notice. They were still fighting.

I finished my goulash and ordered a rakija, a really good one that’s based on distilled mistletoe. It was nearly two in the morning, now. The bar staff didn’t interrupt the fight, and I couldn’t blame them. It’s like breaking up a dog-fight; the human is likely to get bitten. Anyway, the guys were assholes, and I don’t think anyone else in that room minded if they hurt or injured each other. 

They were still going twenty minutes later. That was my cut-off point. It had been comedy, but I was getting tired and bored. I went to bed. 

No-one of the three got what they wanted. The girl got no money, and wasted over an hour of after midnight time when she plainly needed the sleep. Neither guy got laid. But at least they’d wake up in the morning with lots of new bruises. 

That’s another one of those parable things.

A Dubrovnik whore as a metaphor for Balkan politics 1

I was in Sarajevo on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand. It’s a disconcerting experience, going past rakija bars at 8 in the morning, and listening to fat men in in their forties, in faded cammo gear, croaking out nationalist songs. That’s because you know that when they were singing those songs just 20 years ago, they were raping and torturing women and murdering men they’d put in cages so they couldn’t fight.

I spent much of the night talking with a woman about what it was like being a little girl in Sarajevo, with Serbs lobbing mortars at you and pouring sniper fire onto your school, when you’re five years old. Apparently it’s not scary at the time. It’s only when you’ve finished running, and you’re safely behind stone or out of range, that you start to feel the fear.

Kids shouldn’t know that sort of thing about fear. No-one should. But she told me this without any anger, which is one of the more amazing things about humanity.

dubAnyway, the next night I was in Dubrovnik, in Croatia. A little after midnight I was on the terrace bar at the Hotel Imperial, looking down over the Adriatic and the old city. The old city of Dubrovnik is a walled Medieval town (see my picture to the left of this text). It’s been very skilfully restored after the Serbs – again – pounded it with shelling for three years.

There was a working girl there, in her mid-twenties, pretty and mostly well dressed. The way her skirt didn’t come down far enough to cover her stocking tops was part of her badge of office, as was her bag, and the walk. She was extremely good-looking, and by local standards I’m sure her rates were high. 

I’m not a potential customer for sex workers, but not because I disapprove of selling sex. I disapprove of the mistreatment of sex workers, which happens most and worst in countries where prostitution is illegal. But in countries where prostitution is legal, and working girls and boys can organise, buy or rent their own premises, and hire their own security, and don’t have to pay off the police and organised crime, I don’t have any ethical objection. It’s about decent working conditions. 

bad girlsBut I can’t imagine having sex with someone who doesn’t know me, and I have no reason to think she particularly, let alone passionately, wants to have sex with me. The idea of a woman putting up with sex with me is completely cock-crinkling. If she’d just as soon not be there then I’d just as soon not be there either, no matter how pretty she might be. 

Anyway, I’ll tell the rest of this story tomorrow.