For the love

For the love

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Submission is not pathological

Mistress and I were talking the other day and She mentioned that a friend of Hers, who knows about our Lovestyle, is always trying to discover some secret sign of abuse in Her background. Just to be clear, there is none. So the probing, gentle or not, gets tiring because it says, "There is something wrong with You."

I've also heard several people speak about the high incidence of self-identified survivors of abuse in the BDSM-sphere. The connection that is generally made is, "You were abused and that is what made you what you are." Again, the belief behind it is that anyone and everyone who enjoys this as a playtime, pastime, lifestyle, or lovestyle has something wrong with them.

It's total crap. Period.

It is leftover psychobabble from a time when sadism and masochism were identified as mental disorders...right alongside with homosexuality. Now, some people still think that gay people are crazy. But, by and large, our society has evolved beyond that infantile thinking. As gays have come out of the closet and taken their rightful place in society, it has become more and more difficult to see them as being inherently "wrong."

But whereas gay activists have made these enormous strides (and even though enormous ground remains to be taken), BDSM really hasn't had a public face. The HIV/AIDS epidemic forced gay men, in particular, to demand political and social power. The continued segregation of marital rights for most of the country keeps them marching (something I support). But the BDSM-sphere never had a deadly disease that seemed to target its members and, as far as I'm aware, no one has ever been denied marital rights because they are kinky.

Think quick: Name a movie that specifically revolves around a BDSM relationship. Most people, if they think of anything, come up with either "Secretary" or "9 1/2 Weeks." Neither is an example of a healthy, consensual BDSM relationship.

Now name a character on TV that shows sexual dominance or submission in a healthy manner. The programs most likely to deal with these issues are police dramas - Law and Order or CSI or something. But they are ALWAYS investigating a crime when BDSM comes up. CSI flirted with the idea of having a recurring Femdom character, but it was never developed and it was based on a lot of stereotypes (in part, because She was a pro-domme).

When the American Psychiatric Association has long since evolved to consider sadism, as an example, as a problem only if one of two conditions exist: 1) if the patient has "acted on these urges [to hurt someone for their own pleasure] with a non-consenting person;" or 2) if "the urges, or behaviors caused marked distress or interpersonal difficulty." So "safe, sane, and consensual" sadism is only a problem if the person doesn't want to be a sadist.

But most Americans don't even know about the APA's definitions. Most Americans operate from a "gut level" instinct...which generally means they subconsciously rely on stereotypes and judgments they learned prior to become an adult. That means, basically, that most adults are walking around with a 1980 or earlier mentality when it comes to BDSM.

This accounts for the public perception that "something is wrong" with BDSM-ers. But what accounts for the seemingly high level of abuse?

Well, for one thing, more kids are abused than any of us likes to think about. It is not a rare thing at all. However, most people don't actually think that what happened to them was abuse. We all tend to think that we grew up "normal" until we discover differently. There is also the power of denial and repression to deal with. If a person doesn't want to think of what happened to them; then they won't.

BDSM forces one to face their most intimate desires and fears. By its very nature, BDSM forces a person to be more in touch with their sexuality than the general public is. This means we, as a group, are more likely to both know if we were abused and to admit it openly if we were abused.

Everything we experience makes us into the persons that we are. So, undoubtedly, anyone who was abused carries that experience into their BDSM relationship - and that means there is extra baggage to deal with. I've had very open and frank discussions with Mistress Delila about the abuse I suffered as a child because I'm not always able to tell when something isn't going right for me. I have to depend on Her to read She needs to know. And I need Her to know (probably in more detail than She likes).

So what I'm saying is this: BDSM-ers are not more likely to have been abused. We're just more likely to talk about it. But when that is added to the widely held belief that BDSM is a pathological response to abuse as a becomes almost legendary. So the urban legend that everyone in BDSM is a survivor of abuse is a strongly held one, at least in some quarters.

Here's the thing: I was abused as a child. I understand what it means to be a powerless victim. I also now have the experience of being a submissive to a wonderfully Dominant Woman. I understand what it means to be a powerless lover. The two are not the same, or even similar. Even a casual observer should be able to understand the difference.

Childhood abuse is a horrible thing that some people never get beyond. Just like rape is a horrible thing that some people never get beyond. But some people are able to heal from the trauma of rape and have a healthy and loving sexual relationship with their partner.Their sexual desires are not a result of being raped. They are simply healthy and affirming and wonderful. The same thing is true of childhood abuse and sexual submission and/or dominance. Even in a person who was abused as a child, once they heal, their submission or dominance can be healthy and affirming and wonderful.

I'm sure there are people for whom Femdom/malesub is a pathological response to something in their past. I'm sure there are people for whom Femdom/malesub causes immense psychological pain because they want what is "wrong." But it is not any different from other relationship types in the truth of that statement. ANYTHING behavior can be pathological.

For me, malesub represents the apex of my ability to show love to a woman. I am fully engaged in seeing Her as a woman, a person worthy of receiving the totality of my affection and desire. I surrender to Her fully, because to hold anything at all back would be to love Her less. It is not just is a transcendent state that connects me to Her intimately in a way nothing else ever can or will.

It also puts me in a state where I can RECEIVE love and affirmation as a man, a person worthy of receiving the totality of Her affection and desire. She takes me fully because I am Hers to claim and because Her love allows for nothing less. I have to judge, from the light in Her eyes and the glow on Her face that is also a transcendent state for Her.

That is not pathological. It is beautiful. In a time where there is no end to the voices decrying the loss of human connection with each other; it is the type of soulful connection that desperately needs to be held up as an example to which we all should aspire.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Touch- From My side...

Ah yes, the first meeting...  such sweet memories.

I agreed to meet him publicly, but not go up to his room.  Dinner, that was all.  The warm laugh and gentle voice that I had already grown fond of, were both seated behind the saddest set of milk chocolate-brown eyes. His forehead was knitted and the warm smile did not hide... something.  I did not quite know what it was, but I knew it was not something malevolent. I have learned to trust My inner voice, the part of Me that judges good and bad.  I can feel wickedness from quite a distance and have come to believe "that gut feeling."  My gut did not sense anything bad in him.

We sat in My car, talking and without warning, he grabbed My arm and shoved My hand under his shirt to his stomach. Normally I would have pulled away and torn the grabber to shreds. But there it was... the answer to what was behind those eyes: hunger and need. Now, as a Dominant, hunger and need can be good, or bad.  Often times the needs of the sub (in My case, pet) can be so consuming that they don't even see Me.  Any port... storm or not.  I had dealt with that in My early Domme days, and did not plan to go there again.

This was not the case with My tomio.  His need was primal, but in a wonderful way.  He truly melted under My touch, and I could feel him soaking Me in, but in the most delicious way: like good Italian bread soaks up olive oil and balsamic was the combination of My touch and his need that was something amazing.  I have never felt such an intense need before, but instead of being put off, or offended by it, I was comforted. He did not just need  someone, anyone...  he needed ME. It truly felt like there was something chemical in the reaction to My touch to his skin.  His forehead smoothed, his head bowed and he relaxed into My touch in a way that took My breath away.  I knew, as he did, that it was just right.  I leaned My head over and he gently leaned into it.  We sat silently.  We did not need words.  The connection knitted into place without effort, and My heart slowed as his did.

I knew that he truly was going to be able to submit entirely and that was what I had hungered for, for a long time.  He was not a new submissive, he had just not "played" in person.  At that instant, with My hand on his soft skin, I knew that if I was patient, gentle and loving that he would be the pet of My dreams.

I was right... he is.

Submission to touching

I found this little gem today, and it truly resonated for me. It resonated because...I truly need touch. I cannot function without it.

Our first face-to-face meeting was when She picked me up at a hotel to take me to dinner. As We sat there, staring at each other and trying to decide if what We had been feeling was still there...something inside of me literally broke. I think I may have gasped as I grabbed at Her hand and shoved it under my shirt so that Her palm rested against my skin. Then I sat there, nearly crying, my head bowed, and waited for Her to scold me for being so forward.

And She didn't.

I don't know what Our first touch was like for Her, but for me it was like...coming home for the first time in my life. I'm not someone who generally puts much stock in auras or energies and whatnot, but Her hand on my flesh fed me that night. I felt bottomless as I leaned my head against Hers and She gently stroked Her fingers against my skin.

She ran Her hand over my scalp (I'd begun shaving my head about six months prior to our meeting). It was if angels were singing an old chorus from my childhood church days, "Ye who are weary come home!"

And I was so weary. So hungry. So empty. And She stood at the brink of the abyss and began filling it, drop by drop, touch by tender touch.

It was that moment in the car, when I first felt Her touch, that I knew I belonged to Her, and with Her.

I say that there is good karma in holding a crying man. Taking his head to your breast calls to some deep emotional place of desperate want and nurture, and the tears come in even the most dominant, independent and hard of men.

I am far from dominant. But Mistress Delila has held me while I cried, and She has held my head against Her breasts to comfort me. I would not belong to Her as I do had She not done so.

For a lover, there is no replacing a woman's hands grazing his chest lightly in post-coital bliss. There is no substitute for her hair falling across his body as she lays in the crook of his arm. There is no equal to her breast, warm and welcoming. Even hand-holding becomes a sacred thing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The porn issue...

There is an interesting exchange at The Good Men Project (a name I fairly despise) about honesty and pornography in a relationship. The starting point is a "study" published in Newsweek that linked the viewing of porn more than once in the last month with going to strip clubs, phone sex, and prostitution...and said it made men more violent. I think the "study" as well as the reporting on it is pretty poorly done, and obviously better suited for editorial writing than feature writing. But that's a topic for another day.

I was a serial consumer of pornography for several years before beginning my relationship with Mistress Delila. At one point, I considered it an addiction. I spent money I couldn't afford and stole time and energy away from my primary relationships. But it was not the fault of porn...the fact is that I wasted at least as much time and energy in pure fantasy during my first marriage without the presence of pornography. I hope this isn't too long of an explanation.

When I was growing up, I never saw evidence of a healthy sexual relationship. My conservative Christian upbringing saw it as something dirty, filthy, and disgusting that was a gift of God to be shared only with the one you would spend your entire life with. Between that mixed message and my natural submissiveness, I had very little direct experience with sex. But I had an intense and well-developed fantasy life.

It was through pornography that I first learned of BDSM. When I was left questioning my gender identity, it was through watching porn that I was able to determine what did and did not resonate with me. It helped me understand that I enjoyed my male sexuality far too much to actually want to be a woman. And it helped me identify which kinds of submission did not work for me.

To have done the same thing without porn would have taken several dozen sexual partners, and at least as many potentially dangerous activities and attempts. Whatever else can be said about porn, it helped me connect the feelings of my fantasies with images and those images then led me to understand my innermost needs and desires.

One of the first discussions I had with Mistress Delila was about pornography. I told her how often I was using it (several times per day) and I explained what I was watching and why. I offered to share it with her, but she was really uninterested in that (and I understand why). One day I deleted everything from my hard-drive, stopped all memberships, and simply stopped. I sent her an email, explaining my actions and explaining why I had taken them. She approved.

The reasoning on my part was that I simply did not need or want porn anymore. I wanted Her to be in complete control of the expression of my sexuality (which is fundamentally the major expression of my's a paradox, I know). It was impossible for me to have the kind of relationship with Her that I wanted and to still consume pornography.

As Our relationship deepened, She made it a formal part of Our relationship that I was not allowed to slip back into old habits. And I have never missed it. But there is a very important reason why I haven't missed it and I think that is something that is missing from most discussions on porn.

She listens to me. She genuinely wants to know what turns me on and why. I know She has limits, and I know that, if I were ever to seriously want to talk about why I wanted something that was off-limits, She would listen to me and do so without judgment (note: Our limits actually coincide nicely, so this is only hypothetical). In fact, when things have come up that I was not able to discuss, She refused to let me off the hook and kept gently prodding and leading me to a safe place where I could talk...and it sometimes came out in a huge gushing mess.

This is how She loves me. And it is a kind of love I have never received before...or perhaps I've never been able to receive it because I've never had this kind of formalized D/s dynamic.

Having said all of this, I cannot say that pornography had a purely positive effect in my life. It skewed some expectations and it played up my anxiety about my body and its ability to perform.  It led to the unrealistic expectation that sex is always fast and easy and partners always move in perfect communion without any effort of communication.

In this, however, porn is simply an amplification of all of the negative body image messages that we are bombarded with from all directions. It is not divorced from our culture, but rather a microcosm of it that concentrates all of the expectations and forces of gender rigidity into sexual activity. In that, it is highly toxic.

But I think it is simply idiotic to claim that viewing porn once a month is the same as getting a lap dance in the strip clubs or actually picking up a hooker. It strains credulity beyond the breaking point to claim that it leads men to become violent. I do not think, however, it is asking too much for people in a committed relationship to be honest with each other...but that relationship must be safe and without the fear of backlash in order for that to happen.

Mistress Delila has given me that, and it's a wonderful gift. But I know that everyone is not nearly as lucky as I am. And I think we would all do well to be a lot less judgmental about other people's sexuality, and give them credit for knowing the limits of the relationships in which they live. We need more understanding and love and less hype and hysteria.

And I hope I have contributed to that in some small way.