A Male Submissive Watches “The Duke of Burgundy”

An imperious, severely dressed lady instructs a young female servant to wash a pile of underwear, by hand. Unfortunately, the servant overlooks one pair, and in the lady’s judgement fails to clean the others “properly”. The lady hauls her into the bathroom for “a little punishment”, closing the door firmly once the two of them are inside. “Lie down,” the lady says coolly. “Open your mouth.” From behind the door, a gush of liquid is heard, followed by the servant girl’s hapless sputtering and gasping.

 ***

 That bit of apparent cruelty occurs near the beginning of writer-director Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy (2014), an intelligent and well-crafted film about a BDSM relationship involving two intriguing female characters. It’s a long way from being Hawt Lesbian Porn, and indeed the sex and kink between young Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) and the imposing Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) are kept offscreen to an extent that comes across as prudish and contrived. In most other ways, however, The Duke of Burgundy is pretty darn good, if a little pretentious and ponderously artistic in places. The writing and acting are excellent, and the women have been beautifully filmed going about their fictional lives in a strange, surreal milieu that looks in many ways like it might be some quiet European village in the early 20th century. However, the population in Evelyn and Cynthia’s world is entirely female, and the popular pastimes seem to be studying insects and, of course, indulging in the pleasures and torments of BDSM.

The best thing about The Duke of Burgundy is how cleverly Strickland first presents Evelyn as Cynthia’s obedient, downtrodden slave girl and then spends the rest of the movie using snippets of interaction between the women to show that their relationship is actually very different. The balance of this post is more like an extended rumination on that relationship than a conventional film review, and there are plenty of spoilers, so I suggest that you watch the movie – if it sounds interesting to you, and if you haven’t seen it already – before reading further.

***

Not long after Evelyn receives her “little punishment” behind the closed door of the bathroom, we see Cynthia preparing for another session. She dresses carefully, drinks plenty of water, and consults a handwritten index card that Evelyn has provided:

“My Dearest,

When I ring the door bell, please keep me waiting. A minimum of thirty seconds and a maximum of five minutes. Somewhere in the middle would be perfect. Perhaps around two minutes, thirty. But don’t do that every time, otherwise it becomes predictable. Please wear the dark red wig…”

The long-suffering Cynthia could be a case study in the distinction between dominance and service topping, as she pours physical and mental energy into playing the sadistic oppressor in endless little dramas of Evelyn’s devising. Evelyn’s appetite for the ostensibly subordinate role is seemingly insatiable, but so is her appetite for control over the parameters of each scenario and indeed over Cynthia herself. She doesn’t hesitate to snap her fingers next to the ear of a sleeping Cynthia when she wants to be caressed and threatened, or to hiss at Cynthia a couple of minutes later to “Improvise!” when the older woman’s inspiration falters and she briefly falls silent. “Try to have more conviction in your voice next time,” Evelyn says after she’s had her orgasm, though she admittedly says it hesitantly and even rather sweetly.

Even more amusing, from the viewpoint of a BDSMer who can’t help seeing Evelyn as a caricature of a certain type of greedy, self-centred bottom, is a plotline involving Evelyn’s desire to be confined overnight. She resourcefully finds a huge old wooden chest downstairs, empties it out, and gets Cynthia to help her lug it up to the bedroom. Unfortunately, Cynthia’s back gives out just as the task is being completed, and Evelyn proves to be a highly unsatisfactory nurse, massaging Cynthia for a while but eventually abandoning the task despite Cynthia’s pleas for her to continue. Evelyn does provide a pill and a glass of water, but no sooner has Cynthia sat up than Evelyn also provides one of her index cards, to Cynthia’s exasperation. We soon see Evelyn being tied up and locked in the chest, only for her to wake Cynthia in the dead of night by calling out urgently. At first it sounds almost like she’s coaching Cynthia to “be nasty”, but it turns out she’s actually saying “pinastri”, and Cynthia’s hurried, solicitous response indicates that this is Evelyn’s safeword. She releases Evelyn from the box and asks what’s wrong, only to be told the problem is a mosquito bite. “Maybe you can put me back in there, but just don’t tie me,” Evelyn suggests in her eager way, but Cynthia will have none of it. “Come to bed,” she insists – and Evelyn, though she protests ineffectually, ends up obeying a genuine instruction for a change. It perhaps bears pointing out that “pinastri” is actually an insect reference, though neither Sphinx pinastri (the pine-hawk moth) nor Hamearis lucina (the Duke of Burgundy, a kind of butterfly) is especially important to the plot of the movie.

There are other moments in the film when Cynthia appears to be in the driver’s seat, though they’re few and far between. The most significant takes place on Evelyn’s birthday, when Cynthia is angry at Evelyn for having polished another woman’s boots. Cynthia forces Evelyn to bake her own birthday cake and then, wearing comfortable clothes instead of one of the elaborate outfits Evelyn has purchased for her, digs in while Evelyn lies unhappily at her feet. “Pinastri,” Evelyn says almost immediately, only for a foot to descend gently but abruptly across her mouth. “Oh, if we could all just say pinastri to end our torments,” Cynthia intones, and for once she comes across as fully in control and determined to play her own game rather than Evelyn’s. Of course, it’s possible that Cynthia is just getting back at Evelyn for extracurricular boot-polishing here, rather than indulging a genuine dominant streak. Cynthia is a very interesting character, much more rounded and complex than the average fantasy dominatrix. Being Evelyn’s service top clearly doesn’t suit her, and she often gives the impression that she’d prefer a vanilla relationship, but her flashes of real authority make me wonder if her ideal partner would actually be a slave girl who was prepared to drop the silly choreography and concentrate on doing as she was bloody well told. Either way, if I lived next door I’d probably be asking My Lady’s permission to drop by Cynthia’s house and offer her a proper backrub.

Peter Strickland could perhaps be accused of suggesting that all BDSM is essentially contrived, that we submissives are just a caste of manipulative thrill-seekers pushing metaphorical if not literal index cards at the forbearing dominants who cater to our whims. Not having telepathic powers, though, I’m hesitant to read this much into his depiction of one particular relationship, and it seems equally possible that he simply conceived of Evelyn as a bad, bratty slave girl and Cynthia as a haplessly over-indulgent mistress. Be that as it may, you’ll have to excuse me – I’ve got some index cards to write up.

(No, not really. I shudder to think of how My Lady might react if I ever tried such a thing – and I wouldn’t want to anyway.)

A BDSM Vignette from Two Viewpoints

Paul

By the time they’d finished washing down pieces of Marion’s birthday cake with good Indonesian coffee, Paul was feeling surprisingly happy and relaxed. He’d hoped that his wife and mistress would want to do something kinky to him on her special day, and he’d been more than a little disappointed when she’d told him to get ready to host a quiet dinner with Brian and Eleanor, two long-time friends of hers that he knew only slightly. They were a retired military couple, a good two decades older than he and Marion, and he privately considered them stuffy and tiresome. Eleanor seemed to have something on her mind tonight, and was joining only half-heartedly in the conversation, but Brian was as animated and talkative as Paul had ever seen him. A quiet dinner in decent company wasn’t really so bad, and maybe Marion would still sink her claws into him after their guests had left.

The thought made him glance in his wife’s direction, but her chair was empty. She must have slipped off to the bathroom, or out to the patio for a quick smoke, while he’d been caught up in Brian’s story about visiting Hong Kong as a young man.

“I think it’s time,” Marion said from somewhere behind him, “for us to move on with our evening.”

Paul had no idea what she meant, but Brian and Eleanor both rose immediately to their feet. Eleanor gave him an enigmatic smile.

“You stand up too, Paul,” Brian said, his tone suddenly that of a man used to giving orders. The note of authority was so compelling that Paul shot up from the table immediately. Brian grabbed his wrists, pulling them together behind his back, and Eleanor reached into the purse she’d slung casually over the back of her chair and withdrew a pair of wicked-looking nipple clamps.

“What’s going on here?” Paul asked nervously, too taken aback to struggle or protest in stronger terms. “Are you two both… I mean, are you going to…”

Marion grabbed his hair, from behind, in a way that he recognised. “Shut the fuck up,” she said directly into his ear, in the crisp, precise voice that he’d learned to associate with her most sadistic moods. “All you need to know about this situation is that you are going to be Brian and Eleanor’s slave, as well as mine, for the rest of the night. Do anything they say, and submit to anything they do to you.”

Eleanor’s smile widened, and she began to slowly unbutton his shirt.

***

Marion

Marion’s slave and husband Paul was so endearingly predictable. Before her birthday he’d been excited as a puppy, obviously hoping for a kinky adventure, and he’d been crestfallen when she’d ordered him to prepare to host a dinner with her old friends Brian and Eleanor. Paul apparently thought of them as a couple of white-haired bores, and so far she’d been careful not to do anything to dispel that impression. Now, however, it was almost time for Paul to discover that there was more to Brian and Eleanor than met the eye. Eleanor was doing a very bad job of containing her impatience, barely talking and glancing hungrily in Paul’s direction every few minutes, but Brian seemed to be revelling in the business of putting Paul at ease. As they finished their coffee, Brian had Paul caught up in some story about the Far East, and Marion decided it was time to make her move. When Paul wasn’t looking, she slipped out of her chair and stepped behind him.

“I think it’s time,” she declared, “for us to move on with our evening.”

At that prearranged signal, Brian and Eleanor rose smoothly to their feet, and Eleanor gave Paul a weird smile. Marion regretted not being able to see Paul’s face, which was probably a mask of confusion.

“You stand up too, Paul,” Brian said crisply, in the commanding voice that he’d once told her dated back to his career as a military police officer. Nowadays that voice was part of what made him a truly intimidating dominant, and Marion wasn’t surprised when Paul instantly obeyed. Heat rose between her legs as Brian pulled Paul’s hands behind his back, just like they’d planned, and Eleanor eagerly fished her favourite nipple clamps out of the purse she’d strategically hung on the back of her chair.

“What’s going on here?” Paul blurted. “Are you two both… I mean, are you going to…” Her boy was floundering, and Marion decided to step in. She moved closer and grabbed his hair in a way that she knew would get his attention.

“Shut the fuck up,” she said into his ear with what she thought was about the right amount of menace. “All you need to know about this situation is that you are going to be Brian and Eleanor’s slave, as well as mine, for the rest of the night. Do anything they say, and submit to anything they do to you.”

That clearly worked for Eleanor. Her smile widened, and she began to slowly unbutton Paul’s shirt.

***

Which version of this brief vignette did you like better? They describe the same action, convey about the same information, and contain an equal number of words (424 in each case). However, the first is written from the viewpoint of Paul the male submissive, and the second from that of Marion the female dominant. I didn’t recruit Paul and Marion as first-person narrators, but I did give the reader access to Paul’s thoughts, perceptions and knowledge in the first version and to Marion’s in the second.

Before embarking on this exercise, I assumed that Paul’s viewpoint would turn out to be the more interesting and compelling. Perhaps I was a little biased in that judgement by my own identity as a male submissive, but I also had in mind the advantages of making the protagonist of any story somewhat vulnerable and denying him or her the knowledge of certain crucial facts. Submissives don’t normally encounter real danger to life and limb, but they do have adventures that test their resolve and endurance, and they often don’t know what their dominants have planned for them on any given day. In the first version of the vignette, the reader can vicariously share in Paul’s confusion and consternation when Brian and Eleanor move in on him, and easily imagine his reaction – perhaps a mixture of relief and trepidation? – when Marion reveals her plans for the evening. Submissives are underdogs and victims of circumstance, and those qualities make for an exciting main character. There’s a reason Lord of the Rings concentrates on Frodo’s perspective, rather than Sauron’s.

What I didn’t fully appreciate when I started, though, was that the dominant’s perspective could be equally fun in a somewhat different way. There’s no rule that says the reader needs immediate access to all the thoughts of a character whose viewpoint is being considered, so Marion’s plans for Paul and her knowledge of Brian and Eleanor’s dominant side can emerge gradually as the action develops. Instead of vicariously sharing Paul’s uncertainty, the reader gets to share her anticipation, while possibly feeling some sympathy for Paul as it becomes increasingly clear that the other three characters are preparing to make him their plaything. I’m tempted to conclude that hot kinky action can be fun from any viewpoint, and also that Lord of the Rings from Sauron’s perspective might actually have been a pretty interesting book.

Postscript: After reading my first draft of this post, My Lady ordered me to link to the following pieces by Xan West, one of her favourite authors, that discuss the dominant’s perspective in both reality and fiction: Kinky erotica from the top’s point of view and I’m Not Just Doing It for You. They’re both pretty good, but I’d particularly recommend the first one, which makes the excellent point that dominants can be more interesting as characters when they have some vulnerabilities of their own.

Dominant Doppelgangers, Dominant Opposites

In an erotic story I’ll probably never find the time to write, the submissive protagonist – let’s call him, say, Rupert – will come across an ornate, obviously antique mirror in a neglected corner of a house he inherited from an eccentric aunt. Rupert will be contemplating his own reflection, thinking it looks wrong in some subtle way he can’t quite pinpoint, when the man on the other side of the glass will step casually out of the mirror and begin giving him commands. Subservient to his own long-suppressed dominant side, which the power of the mirror will have captured and imbued with physical reality, Rupert will bow his head and begin to obey without a word of argument. As he sheds his clothes and sinks to his knees in front of his new master, it will occur to him that his aunt used to spend surprising amounts of time behind closed doors in this same wing of the house, doing heaven knows what.

***

Like Lewis Carroll and many other writers, I find mirrors evocative, but my submissive side is also intrigued by the idea of being dominated by someone very like myself – if not a doppelganger out of a magic mirror, than another straight, white male academic on the verge of middle age. His background, experiences and sensibilities would all be similar to mine, except of course that he’d be dominant and sadistic rather than submissive and ambivalently masochistic. In some ways, all that common ground would be reassuring. My doppelganger and I would rarely misunderstand each other, and our shared attitudes and cultural reference points would give us plenty to talk about when he wasn’t actively bossing me around or standing over my naked, writhing body with riding crop in hand. Perhaps he’d share enough of my foibles and shortcomings that he wouldn’t be inclined to discipline me too harshly for them, and enough of my vices to be lenient about letting me partake. To the extant that humans naturally identify and sympathise with people similar to themselves, my dominant doppelganger might be a relatively gentle master, careful not to push too hard and quick to extend mercy.

When he did choose to get tough with me, though, or to indulge his sadistic side at my expense, he’d have a formidable hand to play. Our similarities would make it easy for him to get inside my head and push my buttons, and he’d have little trouble figuring out what rewards to offer when he wanted to motivate me and what deprivations and discomforts to impose when he wanted to torment or punish. He’d know just what to say and how to behave in order to keep me on my toes, lull me into complacency, put frenzied butterflies in my stomach, or elicit any number of other reactions. He’d be able to read me like an open book, play me like a fiddle, or reduce me to trembling submissive jelly any time he wanted. He’d know all about the kinds of suffering I could easily withstand, and also the kinds I couldn’t. The other side of that coin is that I’d also have some intuitive understanding of how to push his buttons, which might be useful when I wanted to beg a favour or plead for lenience. But given the power imbalance between dominant and submissive, I expect the advantages of our mutual familiarity would lie mostly on his end of the whip.

***

Another kind of magic mirror might summon up a dominant who was the unsuspecting victim’s polar opposite, a mysterious figure that insinuated itself like a ghost into the background of the reflected image but then announced its all-too-real physical presence by tapping the victim sharply on the shoulder and issuing some first instructions in a firm, authoritarian voice. In my case this kind of mirror-dominant would have to be a woman, to contrast with me as much as possible, and she’d have to be rather old or rather young (the former, to my way of thinking, would mesh more easily with her authority, but I have to admit it would be interesting to take orders from a woman who was barely legal). She’d be from a different culture and country, perhaps from the other side of the world, and her upbringing and perspective would be vastly divergent from my own. My values, loyalties and deepest ideals would seem ludicrous to her, possibly even incomprehensible. Hers might strike me about the same way, if I dared to judge.

Such a dominant would probably have a little more difficulty figuring me out than the doppelganger from the first kind of magic mirror. She’d know that she could make me suffer by beating or starving me, because those things are pretty much human universals, and she’d probably understand intuitively that she could reward or indulge me with orgasms, alcohol, free time, or a few other obvious pleasures. The more nuanced and individual aspects of my personality, though, might take her a good while to understand and work out how to manipulate.

Nevertheless, she probably would learn all about me in time, given a touch of intelligence, mental flexibility and motivation. I’d be obliged to answer any questions she might think to ask, and of course she could experiment with different rules, regimens, torments and communication styles until she figured out how to make me respond in the ways she found most pleasing and advantageous. Meanwhile, I’d be in the hands of a dominant who regarded me as a barbarian, a misguided fool, a silly young boy or deluded old man, perhaps even a natural enemy. I couldn’t expect much in the way of empathy, sympathy or even understanding. Rather than enjoying relatively comfortable interaction with someone I saw eye-to-eye with, I’d find myself dealing with a taskmistress who had little reason to think of me as a reasonable human being. Equally, I’d have to get used to serving and obeying a dominant whose priorities and preferences seemed almost alien, and whose wishes were difficult to anticipate. Perhaps I’d slowly develop a better grasp of what made her tick, and perhaps she’d eventually come to appreciate and value me, but on the whole I think she’d seem enigmatic and inhuman till death (or some other eventuality) did us part. When I really think about it, that sort of dominant seems much more intimidating – and therefore, I must admit, more thrilling to my submissive side – than a doppelganger could ever be.

***

The one major spanner in the works of that analysis, though, is the issue of gender. To a point, I think gender would work like anything else – age, national origin, basic philosophical commitments – in that similarity and difference would each have their hazards and their compensating silver linings. A male dominant would find my body and my sexuality to be familiar territory, and could use that knowledge against me in all kinds of ways. If a male dominant either caressed my balls or gave them a smack, he’d have a pretty good idea of what kind of sensation I’d experience as a result, and if he imposed a period of chastity then he’d know what sort of frustration and discomfort he was condemning me to. On the bright side, perhaps he’d be relatively permissive about “guy things” like masturbation, pornography and alcohol consumption, since they’d probably be as basic to his life as they are to mine. A woman might be stricter on those fronts, and less forgiving of lapses, but she’d probably also have a harder time working out how to exploit my body’s specifically male vulnerabilities and how she could make use of my sexual needs to control, reward and punish me.

In the special case of gender, though, there are important complications, some of which are a product of my fundamental heterosexuality. When I’m being worked over by a woman, the eroticism engendered by my helplessness and suffering coexists with the straightforward sexiness that flows from her proximity. Even if I’m hooded or blindfolded so that I can’t steal glances, I can still appreciate her scent, her voice, the intimacy of her hands on my body. All those things tend to make the experience seem softer and less oppressive, and give me something to think about besides pain and fear. If the person holding the flogger is a man, on the other hand, proximity and intimacy are if anything a bit distasteful, just one more small torment to be endured. The whole interaction ends up feeling starker and harsher, which is exciting but also somewhat unnerving.

Quite apart from my lack of sexual attraction to dominant men, I find them especially daunting because I simply perceive them as more imposing in some subtle way than their female equivalents. It’s deeply ironic, considering how much I appreciate female dominance and strong women in general, but there’s an unreconstructed circuit buried somewhere in the depths of my brain that associates authority and toughness – not to mention lust and sadism, and the rougher, more dramatic side of life in general – with masculinity. Fantasising about female tyrants who delight in having trembling victims of both sexes hauled off to dark dungeons and well-stocked torture chambers somehow doesn’t stop me from instinctively expecting real women to be gentler than men, and more inclined to mercy and sympathy. My polar opposite might be more frightening than my doppelganger in most respects, but her femaleness would at least make submission to her feel a little safer and sexier.

***

In fact, one reason I find sadistic female dominants so compelling is precisely because their very existence flies in the face of the stereotypes about feminine kindness and compassion that cast an unwanted shadow over my perceptions. I’m practically awestruck by My Lady’s penchant for inflicting pain and other forms of suffering on willing victims like myself, and almost equally appreciative of her capacity for being hard with me – setting firm rules, holding me accountable, unapologetically ordering me to do things that please and benefit her regardless of how I might feel about them. To be fair, she’s often willing to be a bit flexible, and she makes allowances for the fact that I’m only human and sometimes mess up or find myself hopelessly overcommitted. In a lot of ways, despite the difference in gender, she’s more of a doppelganger than a polar opposite; My Lady and I are both thoughtful, rather introverted people, in love with the written word and prone to analysing things to death before making up our minds about them. However, the rapport and mutual understanding that exist between us don’t seem to soften her treatment of her boy, which is all to the good considering that softness is the last thing I need or want from her. Perhaps another few years of her firm hand and stinging cane will even erase the insidious tendency to link femaleness to fuzzy pink sweetness that I’ve either absorbed from the surrounding culture or inherited as evolutionary baggage. I’ve already learned a healthy respect for her authority and a thoroughly erotic fear of her flights of sadism, but for the moment I can’t help finding her enthusiasm for witnessing BDSM action (and, gulp, sex) between dominant and submissive men to be one of the most fear-inducing things about her. If my doppelganger ever did step out of a magic mirror, blazing with sadistic intensity and eager to get his hands on my subservient body, she’d probably hand me over to him in a second – as long as she got to stick around and watch the show.

Confessions of an Ambivalent Masochist

I’m not sure whether I should call myself a masochist. My body has no secret alchemy that transforms pain into pleasure, and I don’t even usually feel a blissful rush of endorphins in the aftermath of a good thrashing. On a few occasions I’ve experienced something like a giddy, flighty high after a close encounter with a sadist, and I guess endorphins were probably to blame, but “blame” is exactly the word from my subjective and probably hopelessly warped point of view. Endorphins aren’t something I crave or even welcome in the sacred precincts of the torture chamber, because they interfere with what I perceive as the purity of the experience.

What I do crave, and feel profoundly grateful to My Lady for providing on a regular basis, is abject suffering inflicted with a high level of thoughtfulness, deliberation, creativity, and responsibility. Having considered the matter carefully, I don’t think the motivation of the person dishing out the suffering is particularly important to me. Though I’ve never been seriously tormented by anyone other than a sadist who enjoyed watching me squirm, I can imagine (ignoring, in some cases, the bounds of verisimilitude) other possibilities that seem equally erotic: a submissive instructed by someone else to work me over, a professional torturer just doing her job, a slave trainer breaking me in to transform me into a more valuable commodity, a prison guard seeing to it that I’m properly punished for real or imagined misdeeds, even a heathen priestess subjecting me to some bizarre ritual.

I’m also far from insensible to the many different guises in which suffering can approach, beyond the sting of the cane and the thud of the paddle. Oh goddesses of agony, leave me squatting in a tiny cage for hours on end! Bind me till I cramp, exercise me to exhaustion, bore me to tears, make my food bland and meagre, chill my showers, harden my mattress, clutter my to-do list with menial tasks, parade me naked, deluge me with urine, work me round the clock, priff my shuckle (I don’t even know what that one means), make me sweat, deny me orgasms and good books, scrape the hair off my chest with a rusty razor, hang me upside down, lock me in the basement, leave me out in the sleet, shove dildos down my throat and up my ass, forbid me to listen to anything but Justin Bieber, throw me in the deep end, pelt my nude body with snowballs and beanbags, probe the depths of my urethra, drive me round the bend, scare me shitless, clip my wings, shatter my illusions, rain on my parade, take me to the woodshed, force me into perspiring intimacy with another male body, eat my lunch, kick my butt, hunt me down, box my ears, burst my bubble, bust my balls, put me up for jury duty, make me lick your wasabi-smeared boots and kiss the thorns on your roses!

It’s all good, quite honestly. If what another person is inflicting on me is at all uncomfortable, harsh or unpleasant, if it’s vexing or cruel or degrading, if goes some way towards making me feel helpless, frightened, downtrodden and miserable, if it seems like a mean and nasty thing to do to someone, then I’ll almost certainly welcome it at some level, provided consent is in place and the treatment being applied won’t somehow wreck my life. The only real exception that comes to mind is the kind of humiliation that involves telling me I’m worthless, stupid or otherwise contemptible, or that I don’t deserve my tormentor’s attention. I do long to be valued, if only (or perhaps especially) as an entertainingly responsive plaything.

Nevertheless, I do acknowledge sheer physical pain as the queen of torments, as the essence of suffering in its most raw, intense and unadulterated form. Being hurt by a sadist captures my attention and underlines her power over me like nothing else in the world, and incidentally makes me moan, whimper, writhe in my bonds, and wish desperately to be elsewhere while simultaneously savouring every second of the rare and extraordinary thrill ride I’m experiencing. That contradictory response is a tricky thing, and I suppose it makes me a complicated and difficult submissive in some respects, as if my mind is operating at two distinct levels. Superficial Wheldrake is a straightforward character who likes beer and pizza, hates pain, and would rather be pretty much anywhere else than tied up in a torture chamber. Deep Wheldrake, on the other hand, is a subtle, twisted inner presence whose greatest joy in life is peering out from the shadowy recesses of my psyche and watching poor Superficial Wheldrake get terrorised and tormented by sadistic oppressors, whether the torment involves Queen Pain or only some of her handmaidens. Superficial Wheldrake values things that are congenial and pleasureable, whereas Deep Wheldrake is more drawn to things that are interesting and exciting – and there seems, for whatever reason, to be nothing he finds more interesting and exciting than the experience of being deliberately but consensually made to suffer.

It’s Deep Wheldrake who is writing now, as Superficial Wheldrake is an agreeable fellow who doesn’t assert himself much as long as he’s physically and mentally comfortable. Under those circumstances Deep Wheldrake can come to the fore, explain his perspective, and sometimes even get Superficial Wheldrake into terrible trouble. It was Deep Wheldrake who agreed to submit to My Lady, and Superficial Wheldrake who had to feel her cane while Deep Wheldrake (deeply shrouded, at that point, in the blazing curtains of Superficial Wheldrake’s suffering) silently cheered her on and worshipped at the altar of her sadism. I expect a Freudian would identify Superficial Wheldrake with my id and ego, and Deep Wheldrake with my superego.

The following quote, from The Story of O, goes some way towards capturing my feelings about being helpless in the hands of an expert tormentor:

O had never really understood, but she had finally come to accept as an undeniable and important verity, this constant and contradictory jumble of her emotions: she liked the idea of torture, but when she was being tortured herself she would have betrayed the whole world to escape it, and yet when it was over she was happy to have gone through it, happier still if it had been especially cruel and prolonged.

I first discovered that passage in a different translation, I think, but I’ve liked it ever since I was barely legal. For me, however, the underlying dynamic is that Deep Wheldrake is usually at the helm when I’m not actually being tortured; and Deep Wheldrake, naturally, both likes the idea of torture and is happy to look back on it in retrospect. When the torture is actually happening, though, Deep Wheldrake tends to find himself elbowed aside by mewling, desperate Superficial Wheldrake – although of course Deep Wheldrake is still down there somewhere, not plotting to betray the world but rather savouring Superficial Wheldrake’s hot tears of desperation. Superficial Wheldrake’s tears and Deep Wheldrake’s excitement both tend to be more muted if the torture involves something other than physical pain – mere discomfort, say, or some form of degradation – but the basic psychology is basically the same. If I’m a masochist, then my masochism is a broad thing that embraces the erotic possibilities of a whole cornucopia of large and small cruelties, indignities and impositions.

But am I a masochist at all? I honestly don’t know, and I try not to worry too much about the label as opposed to the reality of my emotional response to being consensually tormented. I do know that part of me craves suffering in nearly all its myriad forms, and part of me doesn’t. But it’s usually Deep Wheldrake who gets to sit down in the sober light of day and make decisions about what experiences and interactions I’m going to commit to, and poor Superficial Wheldrake who then has to live with the agonising consequences. It’s a very specific and lopsided kind of ambivalence, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s widely shared among my fellow submissives.

The Joy of Fear

Another Halloween has come and gone, and the goblins must be safely back in their caves under the hills. That particular holiday is mostly just silly, campy fun, at least for adults, but it’s also a journey through the harmless border regions of the sinister. Every Halloween we rediscover the exhilaration of playing around with imagery that taps into some of our primal terrors – the walking dead, monsters that blur the line between human and beast, things that go bump in the night. A hint of dread, divorced from any possibility of real harm, can be a wonderful intoxicant.

Halloween is, of course, popular among BDSMers, for more than one reason. People who enjoy dressing up in extravagant leather, rubber and latex outfits (a subset of the BDSM community that doesn’t include me or, as far as I know, My Lady) probably find that slipping into a costume at the end of October comes naturally, but I think there’s also a deeper affinity based on the idea of safely exploring the darker side of human experience. A dominant sadist, like a Halloween vampire, is cloaked in an aura of exciting menace but can be trusted not to pose a real threat to life and limb. However, the average party-goer in a vampire costume is unlikely to sink his or her teeth into anyone, whereas a sadist presented with a willing victim just might – metaphorically, and perhaps at some point quite literally.

Being taken on that kind of journey by a sadist, as I know from personal experience with My Lady and others, can involve a heady and bewildering mixture of sensations and mental states. Pain is the key ingredient, at least normally, but it can be accompanied by things like discomfort, degradation, helplessness, vulnerability, and even desperation. For me, however, the prevailing emotional texture of such adventures is defined by various kinds of fear, at every stage – fear of the sadist herself, and of what she might do to me. It begins with the nervous anticipation of knowing that a skilled and enthusiastic tormentor is going to make me suffer, an ominous feeling that rises to a crescendo as I find myself being prepared to receive her cruel attentions. There might be a slow walk to a well-equipped room in a suburban basement, a casual order to strip partly or completely naked, an implacable tightening of cuffs around my wrists and a gentle caress of dark fabric settling over my eyes. Nudity, blindness and physical helplessness bring a terrible and wonderful sense of vulnerability, an inescapable awareness of being in someone else’s power. As blows begin to fall and strong fingers begin to pinch and prod at the most delicate parts of my body, the agony is mixed with an inevitable fear that it might get far worse, that I might end up shrieking and sobbing and pleading desperately for just a little mercy. Certain cues can induce a more immediate terror: the swish of a cane from somewhere behind me, a threat whispered or growled into my ear, a hand meandering across my thigh towards my defenceless crotch. And when the torment is over, for the moment, I can start to worry about what ordeal might come next.

My Lady’s ability to scare me isn’t limited to the rare occasions when she can get her hands on me in person. I don’t think I’ve ever, since I first surrendered to her control, opened an email from her without at least a little thrill of trepidation. Subject lines such as the dreaded “Instructions” and the thankfully infrequent “Punishment” ratchet up the tension, but even messages with totally innocuous headings can contain alarming surprises. My Lady is, after all, a whip-smart and wickedly inventive dominant who has had a few years to get to know me and figure out how to push my buttons, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her knowledge and imagination to come up with unexpected ways to make me squirm. A few quick lines of text is all she needs to torture my naked flesh with clamps or clothespins, slide a plug deep into my submissive ass, harness my cock and balls in that tight leather and metal restraint she made me buy several months ago, or impose new restrictions on my culinary and masturbatory pleasures. It would be a miracle of complacency if I wasn’t scared of the woman.

What makes my fear of My Lady exhilarating and arousing, instead of miserable and debilitating, is that I know I can trust her not to go too far. She’s not going to kill, maim, infect or traumatise me, and she’s not going to send illustrated reports on my submissive side to my friends, family or coworkers. My dread of the suffering she inflicts so expertly and gleefully is quite real, but knowing that I won’t be harmed in the process (at least, beyond the odd welt or bite mark) prevents any slide into the sick horror I imagine I’d feel if I were kidnapped by mobsters or terrorists. The great paradox of my inner erotic life is that suffering at the hands of someone like My Lady is also tremendously exciting, and the fear both fuels the excitement and combines with it to create an irresistible cocktail. I’m sure that I could get something out of submitting to a dominant who didn’t frighten me, but a vital component would be missing from the experience – as if I was being stalked through a haunted house by a vampire without any fangs.

Life in the Invisible Chastity Belt

Monks and nuns are supposed to live according to the dictates of poverty, chastity and obedience, and as a submissive I’ve acquired direct experience with two of those things. My Lady has never tried to keep me in poverty or otherwise control my finances, but obedience has been the cornerstone of our relationship from the day I surrendered to her authority. Chastity, on the other hand, came much later.

I was far from disappointed with My Lady’s initial lack of interest in limiting my masturbatory activities, but I was a little surprised. Orgasm restrictions are a recurring theme in stories and online discussions about male submission, to the point where they’re a major focus of entire blogs like Steeled Snake and Denying Thumper, and my one serious BDSM relationship before I began submitting to My Lady was with a woman who actually did include a ban on ejaculating without permission in the list of rules she laid down at the very beginning. So when My Lady took charge of me back in 2012, I assumed my onanistic freedom would be coming to an end in pretty short order. What I didn’t fully appreciate, however, was the impact of her background on her approach to handling submissive men. Because she spent many vanilla years as a lesbian and many kinky years as a pansexual submissive, she had never developed much enthusiasm for controlling male genitals or learned a great deal about that form of dominance. As a result, she wasn’t particularly interested in the contents of my briefs, especially given the long-distance nature of our relationship.

For the first few months, then, the topic of masturbatory restrictions barely came up in our correspondence. As My Lady slowly became more familiar with my submissive side and my sexuality, however, she began to take more of an interest in my private parts and what I did with them. There was a period of over a year when I had to keep a record of my sexual activity for her occasional perusal, but could still indulge freely while she observed, learned, and mulled over possibilities. Then, near the end of March 2014, she finally lowered the boom with a characteristically understated instruction at the end of one of her emails:

While tidying the bathroom today, I found a note to myself about limiting your masturbation… Unless otherwise directed… you may not come or do more than your casual stroking until April, my time.

“Casual stroking” was a term we’d been using to describe any kind of masturbatory activity that stopped short of ejaculation, so I could still play with myself. Nevertheless, I was glad the end of the month was only a few days away, and I wrote back that I was “looking forward to April”. My Lady’s reply was ominous:

Don’t be too sure of that.

In April I was indeed allowed to ejaculate as often as I wanted – but I had to ingest my own semen each time. In May, the price of an orgasm was pain, to be inflicted on myself before each masturbation session. It turned out that the last few days of March weren’t just a short-lived experiment in chastity, but the introduction of a new state of affairs in which my orgasms were going to be as strictly and meticulously rationed as they were in my previous BDSM relationship. My Lady imposed the change suddenly, firmly and without fanfare, but after collecting plenty of pertinent information in the form of the sexual diary, which is typical of the way she wields her authority over me. She’s not a theatrical or flashy dominant, but she’s a scarily thorough and deliberate one, and when she gives instructions she expects immediate and total compliance as a matter of course.

Since then, the exact rules limiting my access to sexual pleasure have continued to change occasionally at My Lady’s whim. Most of the time, I simply have to ask permission for each orgasm in advance. Once in a while she’ll just say yes, but more often there’s a condition attached – ingestion, clamps on my nipples while I masturbate, or something equally painful and/or degrading. She’s never given me a flat “no” and left me to stew in my own frustrated arousal, but I’m nervously aware of the possibility whenever I ask “My Lady, may I ejaculate soon?” Therefore, I try not to tempt fate (or rather, tempt her) by asking too often.

Of all the ways My Lady constrains and torments me, the tight control she exerts over my orgasms is probably the facet of her dominance that goes the furthest in making me feel helpless and subservient. From what I’ve seen, this kind of reaction to being kept in either a physical or a metaphorical chastity belt is common among submissive men, which is why male chastity is such a widespread theme in both erotic fiction and real kinky relationships. Taking away a man’s freedom to masturbate not only deprives him of one of life’s great pleasures and asserts control over the most intimate parts of his body, but also makes him dependent on the dominant for periodic release of his semen, which may be necessary in order to avoid physical discomfort. I won’t try to speak for submissive women (though I’d be interested to hear from readers who have experience with female chastity, on either side of the equation), but we boys tend to be putty in the hands of anyone who’s in a position to tell us when we’re allowed to get our rocks off – and when we’re not. Of course, being controlled in that way is also exciting, and for me at least the fact that the keys to my invisible chastity belt are in the hands of a woman rather than a man adds an element of intrigue. My Lady has never personally experienced the surging pleasure of male orgasm or the aching frustration of male chastity, but she sure knows how to indulge me with the first of those things and torment me with the second.

The fact that I’ve already slowed down a fair bit, sexually speaking, definitely makes it easier to endure this aspect of my submission to My Lady. Even in my mid-twenties I was still masturbating almost every day, but that stopped abruptly when I fell into the hands of my previous dominant. More than a decade later, I’d probably ejaculate every few days if I had the freedom to do so, but a week or so of deprivation – which is par for the course now that I’m in My Lady’s invisible chastity belt – is bearable if not exactly comfortable. Drinking alcohol seems to take the edge off a bit, as do my bouts of casual stroking. It also helps that I get occasional breaks from My Lady’s control when I’m with my vanilla partner, who is also long-distance. On the other hand, pornography, erotic writing, or anything else that gets me thinking about sex, dominance and submission revs up the engines and makes chastity harder to endure.

My Lady and I have occasionally discussed chastity devices, with an eye on the extensive and slightly unnerving (from my viewpoint) range of male ones on the market. I think she’d enjoy the security of knowing my genitals were actually locked up, and being physically unable to play with myself would undoubtedly make me feel more submissive than ever. However, the practical problems surrounding things like hygiene, airport scanners and the logistics of ultra-long-distance keyholding will almost certainly keep my invisible chastity belt from turning into a tangible one, for the foreseeable future. Luckily, My Lady knows I’ll obey her rules and faithfully report any lapses, so the invisible belt works as well as anything for keeping her boy on the straight and narrow. On my side, I wake up every morning knowing that my cock and balls are under a woman’s firm control, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Seven Dimensions of Dominance

Wearing My Lady’s collar, figuratively and often literally, doesn’t stop me from thinking about the qualities I find appealing in dominants in general. What follows is a list of the top few, approximately in descending order of importance. I’m not nearly presumptuous enough to regard them as some kind of gold standard that everyone should follow, and I’m well aware that many people will have different ideas as to what attributes are suitable and desirable for a dominant to possess – My Lady, for example, doesn’t share all my views on this subject. Nevertheless, the list does lay out the qualities I personally admire in a dominant and feel drawn to, for whatever that might be worth.

  1. Responsibility. Considers the impact her actions and instructions (I’d rather stick to the case of a female dominant than keep writing out things like “her or his actions and instructions”) will have on her submissives, and tries hard to avoid hurting them except in ways that she intends and they’ve consented to. Consistently acts like one of the adults in the room, and doesn’t shrink from making tough decisions when necessary. Can be trusted with a high level of control over a submissive’s body, reputation, emotional well-being, and/or bank account. Would never describe herself as a “brat”.
  1. Authority. Likes telling other people what to do, and finds it fulfilling and erotic to be obeyed. Has no problem delegating complex tasks to people she trusts, but can also give detailed instructions and keep a submissive on a very short leash when she considers it warranted. Is good at making decisions, including decisions that affect others, and at formulating rules and routines for her submissives to follow. Communicates orders clearly, and doesn’t hesitate to ask uncomfortable questions and insist on explicit, substantive answers. Holds submissives accountable for their actions, and disciplines them firmly when appropriate. Can be demanding, intimidating and uncompromising. Huge bonus points for an interest in using bondage and confinement to maintain direct physical control over submissives, in either the short term or the long term.
  1. Sadism. Enjoys making people suffer, watching people suffer, and thinking about ways to make people suffer. Routinely inflicts pain on submissives for her pleasure, not just for disciplinary purposes. Huge bonus points for an interest in subjecting submissives to types of unpleasantness other than physical pain, such as fear, discomfort, degradation, nervousness, sexual frustration and even boredom.
  1. Expertise. Has mastered some safe, highly effective techniques for restraining willing victims and making them suffer. Also has a bag of interpersonal tricks for keeping submissives on their toes, catching them off-balance, staying one step ahead of them, and bossing them around in terms that greatly encourage obedience. Knows pretty much what she wants and how to get it. Bonus points for both a penchant for meticulous planning and an ability to improvise.
  1. Imagination. Possesses a wicked creative streak and frequently comes up with new ways to enjoy and torment her submissives, or new variations on her tried and tested methods. Loves to surprise submissives by issuing instructions they would never have expected from her, or using them in ways they could never have anticipated.
  1. Enthusiasm. Takes great pleasure in her dominant role, and is willing to put serious time, energy and money into honing skills, acquiring equipment and orchestrating kinky adventures for herself and her submissives. Loves to mull over sinister possibilities for things she might do to compliant men and/or women, or make them do for her. A little note of excitement may creep into her voice when she discusses her exploits, or dominance and sadism in general.
  1. Tough-mindedness. Is not easily shocked, alarmed or offended. Has no interest in condemning sometimes-controversial practices like raceplay, ageplay, or consensual non-consensuality (definitions in this handy glossary) – and may actively embrace any or all of those things, depending on her own inclinations. Doesn’t feel guilty or conflicted about what she does to submissives, provided they’ve clearly said “yes”, or recoil automatically from words like force, abuse, cruelty and evil when they’re being used to describe consensual activity. Understands the difference between fantasy and reality, and opposes attempts to constrain or police the former. Tends not to get gushy, or at least not too gushy, over puppies and baby pandas. May well own a gun, enjoy watching a good boxing match, and/or support the death penalty.

The first three characteristics on that list are, to me, the holy trinity of BDSM. A dominant needs authority and sadism in order for submission to her to feel erotic, and needs responsibility in order for submission to her to feel safe. Although I’ve been using feminine pronouns up to this point, and although dominant women will always hold a special fascination and magnetism for me, my inclinations by now are sufficiently pansubmissive that I’d find literally any adult well-endowed with those vital three qualities – male or female, young or old, of any creed or colour – at least somewhat appealing as a potential captor, tormentor and overseer. The other four are something of a bonus, and there are many more I could have included in this category. In no particular order, the list includes: maturity, intelligence, libido, physical size and strength, gravitas, humour, emotional stability, financial resources, groundedness, openness, kinky connections, many books, decadent tastes, macabre sensibilities, a capacity for self-indulgence, and a few rough edges. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten.

Most of the attributes I’ve mentioned in this post, such as imagination, are ones that I appreciate in people in general. A few are more specific to dominant individuals; but for the most part, the ingredients for a dominant I would be especially eager to submit to are about the same as the ones for a person I would be interested in hanging out with socially, plus a few extras like authority and sadism. My Lady is imbued with all seven of the qualities I’ve described in detail, admittedly to varying degrees, and with many of the others listed at the end of the last paragraph. Whenever I open an email from her, there’s at least a little twinge of both excitement and trepidation, and that’s enough in itself to tell me that I belong at her feet.

Are there qualities that you find especially appealing in a dominant, or in a submissive? Feel free to post your own list!

BDSM Vignette: Up on the Stage

Two of my recurring little fantasies are being tortured in front of a crowd of spectators and being “whored out” by a dominant, either for kinky purposes or for mundane tasks like editing. I should stress that the following vignette, which combines the two, is pure fiction – but if you think you might have a use for me, and have something to offer in exchange, you can always try contacting My Lady. She rather likes the idea of making her boy’s services available to others.

***

I’d been told to arrive in the coffee shop at 5 pm sharp and look for two people in leather jackets, one red and one white. The place was nearly deserted, and I spotted them right away. They were both women, looking more stylish than kinky, and they’d established themselves at a table in one corner.

“Wheldrake?” asked the older of the two women, the one in white, who was perhaps in her fifties and had a businesslike air about her. Her short hair was dyed a bright blond colour beneath her dark little cap.

“Yes, indeed.” I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to sit, or ask questions, but the blond woman waved vaguely at the counter.

“Grab a coffee if you want one.” They already both had drinks sitting in front of them.

“I think I’m all right, thanks.”

“Have a seat, then.” She nodded to one of the empty chairs at the round table they’d chosen. “My name is Rae, and my partner is Charlene.” I assumed it was a working partnership rather than a romantic one, though I wasn’t entirely sure. Charlene was taller than Rae and a fair bit younger, with long brown hair tied back in a loose braid.

“You’ve been filled in, I assume, on the plan for this evening,” Rae said, once I’d settled into a chair.

“I was told I’d be meeting people here,” I replied cautiously, “and that you’d drive me to Ms Winters’ place. Once I get there I’ll spend the evening being, um, worked over for the amusement of Ms Winters and her guests.”

“You’re going to spend the evening being tortured,” Charlene put in with a half-smile. “Within reasonable limits, but human rights lawyers would be screaming about torture if we did the same things to captured terrorists.”

“Are the two of you going to be the ones doing the torturing?”

“Maybe a little of it,” Charlene said a bit cryptically, and Rae chuckled.

“I hope we get to,” she told me without a hint of apology, “but it depends on how the evening goes. I know Ms Winters has been looking forward to tonight, and has a lot of plans for you. Your dominant Dilo told her that you’d be excellent for her purposes, and she trusts Dilo’s judgement.”

“That’s rather flattering,” I remarked, trying to lighten the mood a little.

“What we’re going to do,” Rae told me, ploughing straight on, “is take you to the house, spend a few minutes getting you ready – which won’t involve anything painful or sexual – and then lock you in a cage. That will be the beginning of an ordeal, if you want to think of it that way, that will last until midnight. At 12 sharp the festivities will stop, and one of us will drive you back to your hotel. At that point Ms Winters will also transfer $1000 into Dilo’s account.”

It found it hard to believe that a few hours of my suffering could possibly be worth that kind of money, but of course the amount had been settled between My Lady and the mysterious Ms Winters well before I even knew that I was going to be spending this rainy November evening as her plaything.

“Before we lock the cage, we’ll ask you if you’re sure you want to stay. If you say yes to us at that point, you’re going to be at the house until midnight no matter how much you beg and plead to be let off the hook. Ms Winters doesn’t do safewords. If you change your mind at any time before the lock goes on the cage, just let us know and we’ll drive you straight to your hotel, no questions asked. Of course, Dilo won’t get her money if that happens, but that’s between you and her.”

The thought of having to explain to My Lady that she was $1000 out of pocket because I’d lost my nerve and fled from Ms Winters made me inwardly cringe. “I’ll definitely be staying,” I said aloud.

“Ms Winters will be glad to hear that,” Charlene assured me with that sly smile of hers. She glanced at her watch. “Are we about ready to head to the car? Any questions before we take you for a ride, Wheldrake?”

“Just one. What should I call you?”

Rae shrugged. “Call us Rae and Charlene, if you need to call us anything, but make sure you do what we tell you. Let’s get moving, shall we?”

The car was sleek, black and expensive-looking. Charlene opened the back door on the passenger side, and Rae motioned me in with a jaunty sweep of her arm. I took a seat, and when I was securely buckled in they pushed the door closed and climbed into the front. We slid out smoothly into the traffic, with Rae at the wheel.

“How do you feel about hip-hop, Wheldrake?” she asked.

“Not my favourite,” I replied honestly. “But I’m in no position to complain, if that’s what you want to listen to.”

“You’re not in the cage yet,” she pointed out. “Would classic rock suit you better?”

“Definitely. Thanks for that.” She cranked it up fairly loud, so that we at least had a good soundtrack as we made our way through the gathering dusk. The coffee shop was on the edge of downtown, more or less, and now we were heading out towards the suburbs. Rae and Charlene talked to each other a little, about the weather and the traffic, but didn’t seem inclined to speak to me at all. I can’t say I felt particularly like talking either, as I stared out the window and wondered what I was getting myself into. My Lady had hinted to me previously that Ms Winters was pretty well off, and sure enough we seemed to be heading into a landscape of manicured lawns and big, sprawling houses behind stone walls with imposing iron gates. I bit my lip when one of those gates swung open for us, and we cruised up a long driveway to a house that seemed absolutely enormous once we were close to it.

“Welcome to the Palace of Pain,” Charlene told me cheerfully as we all got out of the car.

“Is it really going to be that awful?”

“You’ll scream yourself hoarse well before midnight, if experience with the boys and girls we’ve brought here in the past is any guide. Right this way, please.”

They led me through a small side door, down an unassuming passageway, and into a room with a hardwood floor , a sink in one corner, and a table against one wall. The only other piece of furniture was a metal cage, mounted on wheels and probably about a metre high, wide and deep. The thing was lightly constructed, with slender bars, but still looked perfectly secure.

“This must be the cage,” I remarked inanely.

“You guessed,” Rae grinned as she closed the door behind us. “We’re on a schedule, so we’d better keep things moving. There’s a bathroom right in there, if you need or want it. This will be your last chance to use a toilet in private between now and midnight, so I suggest you take advantage of it.” She gestured towards another door, near the sink. I wasn’t feeling desperate to empty my bladder, but did so anyway, just in case. There was another sink in the bathroom, which seemed a little redundant, but I used it to wash my hands. After a moment’s thought I rinsed the head of my cock as well, on the theory that Ms Winters and her friends might want to play with it.

When I emerged from the bathroom Rae handed me a glass of water, which I was more than happy to gulp down. She gave me a long, appraising look as I set the empty glass on the table.

“Time to get serious,” she announced. “Put your shoes in this box, please. Also your watch and belt.”

The box was functional-looking and made of white plastic. I divested myself of the items she’d mentioned and drew myself up, waiting for further instructions. I could hear the blood surging in my ears.

“Empty your pockets into the box as well.”

I obeyed quickly, not unhappy to get my phone, wallet and other odds and ends out of the way. Nevertheless, I felt strangely helpless and vulnerable when I had handed everything over.

“That’s it?” Rae asked. Although I still wasn’t in the cage, she was getting considerably more brusque with me. “You don’t have anything left except your clothes?”

“Just my clothes.”

“I’m going to pat you down to make sure,” Charlene announced. “I’ll have to touch you pretty much everywhere, but I’ll keep it professional. Hands up flat against the wall, please, and legs apart.”

I assumed the position promptly, and found the light pressure of her hands far from unpleasant as she moved them meticulously over my body. She was thorough, as she’d promised she would be, and I was almost disappointed when she finally stepped away.

“Perfect,” she said, and I took that as my cue to push away from the wall and stand normally.

“Then it’s time for the cage,” Rae decreed. “Do you want a hug first?”

The offer was so incongruous that I might easily have burst out laughing, but somehow I didn’t. “Yes please,” I said in a small voice, and Rae pulled me into a tight, warm embrace. Her lips pressed briefly but firmly against my cheek.

“Good luck,” she murmured. “Ms Winters is the most sadistic person I’ve ever met, but she isn’t a psychopath. No matter how scary things get out there, and no matter how painful, you won’t be in any real danger.”

Charlene hugged me as well, without speaking, but when she released me I saw that Rae was holding the door of the cage wide open and looking at me expectantly, all business again. I took a deep breath and crawled in, trying not to think about the possible consequences. The cage was spacious enough, giving me plenty of room to manoeuvre, though I knew I wouldn’t be able to stretch out, stand up or even comfortably kneel up.

“I should draw your attention to the cameras mounted in the four upper corners,” Rae told me. “They’re nothing fancy, but they do the job. They have regular and infra-red modes, plus sound, and someone will be keeping an eye and ear on you at all times. While in the cage you’re expected to sit quietly, avoid tampering with the cameras or trying to reach out through the bars, keep your clothes on, and keep your hands well away from your crotch. Clear?”

“Clear.”

“Then we can go ahead.” She pushed the cage door shut and held up a steel padlock. In contrast to the cage itself, it looked much more solid than was really necessary. “Do you want me to lock you in, Wheldrake? If you say yes, there’s no turning back. You can take a couple of minutes to make up your mind if you need to.”

“Please go ahead,” I told her at once.

“Yes sir,” said Rae ironically, and snapped the padlock into place.

Charlene was already reaching under the cage. She pulled out an expanse of black cloth, like a conjuror performing a less than spectacular trick, and the two women drew it carefully over the roof of the cage and down to the bottoms of the walls. With the cloth in place the interior of the cage wasn’t exactly pitch black, but it was certainly dark. The cameras, I supposed, would switch to infra-red. The cage began to move, rolling across the hardwood floor and then out into the corridor.

“Jesus,” Charlene said. “From now on Ms Winters should only take girls and ninety-pound weaklings.”

Rae laughed. “She’d get bored. Just keep pulling – it’s good exercise.”

Despite the grousing, the cage continued to roll along smoothly, then abruptly came to a halt. I shivered, but the black cloth stayed in place and I heard no instructions. Music started up, the kind of light and happy-sounding jazz that I’ve always found basically irritating. This time, of course, no one asked my opinion about the choice of music. I was in the cage.

It was impossible to tell how much time was passing, but eventually I began to hear voices – mostly those of women, but with some deeper male ones mixed in. Now and then a wave of laughter would sweep through whatever assembly was gathering. I lowered my head in something like fear when the music finally stopped, and the group fell silent.

“Welcome to the main entertainment I have lined up for you this evening,” an amplified female voice proclaimed from somewhere nearby. With no further ado, the sheet of fabric that had been covering the cage was suddenly whisked away, leaving me blinking in the sudden glare of spotlights that were aimed in my direction.

“It’s my pleasure to introduce Wheldrake,” the amplified voice continued. “He takes orders from my good friend Dilo, and she agreed to rent his body out to us for a very reasonable price. She swears he’ll be an interesting victim, and I usually find her reliable in these matters. Turn towards the audience, Wheldrake, so they can have a look at your pretty face.”

Despite being sceptical about the “pretty” part, I immediately spun around in the cage, wanting to please my captors. The cage was on a kind of elevated stage surrounded by a few rows of chairs, perhaps half of which were occupied by women and a sprinkling of men. Some of them applauded as I turned to face them, and their expressions seemed to glow with cruel anticipation. I shrank back against the bars of the cage but I had nowhere to run, let alone hide. Glancing nervously around, I caught sight of the woman who was speaking into the microphone, standing off to my left. She was tall and curvy, with shoulder-length black hair and a blunt, hard face that was far from conventionally beautiful. If this was the infamous Ms Winters, she looked like a formidable woman indeed.

“As usual, we have a strong and skillful pair of hands to help us with the boy. Most of you know John Dufreyne, a man who knows everything about working over male bodies. Come on down, John!”

He had clearly been waiting for his cue, because he emerged immediately from a door at the back of the room. People turned in their chairs and craned their necks to look as he made his leisurely way towards the stage, and I sucked in a nervous breath. John Dufreyne was a powerful-looking man with dark skin and a shaven head, considerably taller than me and broad across the shoulders. Members of the audience reached out and touched him as he walked past their chairs, as if he was a boxer heading to the ring. He seemed to take no notice, but bounded up on the stage and immediately peeled off his black T-shirt to another round of applause. He was still wearing loose pants of the same colour, but I could see that he was intimidatingly muscular at least from the waist up. However, his air of perfect assurance was somehow even more terrifying than his physique. I wondered if he was a friend of Ms Winters or an employee, or even her submissive.

“Are you ready to see some action?” the black-haired woman practically purred into the microphone. She smiled in response to the chorus of applause and shouting, and fished a key out from between her breasts. I watched with an inward shudder as she pressed the key into John’s outstretched hand.

“Get Wheldrake out of the cage and warm him up for us,” she commanded. “Take your time, and don’t be too gentle.”

“Yes, Ms Winters,” John replied in a deep voice. At least I knew whom I was dealing with, but that provided little consolation as John stooped down and unlocked the cage. To my surprise, he didn’t open it at once, but instead smashed his open palm down on the bars above my head. I cringed as my little metal prison rattled around me. He circled the cage like a panther, grinning and looking me in the eye as his hand struck at the walls and roof. With every crashing blow I felt a little more frightened, a little more helpless. It was all I could do not to moan aloud when he flung the cage door open and grabbed the front of my shirt, but I scrambled out obediently rather than making him drag me by brute force.

John took my arm and hauled me to my feet, which only made me more viscerally aware of how he towered over me. His strong hands turned me towards the audience, so that I was looking down at a few dozen faces that stared back at me with expressions ranging from mild interest to cruel anticipation. He caught me from behind in a powerful embrace, pinning my arms to my sides, and lifted me effortlessly off my feet to a burst of applause and laughter. When he set me down his left arm stayed in place, ensuring that I went exactly nowhere, while his right groped relentlessly at my chest and thighs and crotch. I squirmed, but there was no escape. He had me turned partly to the side now, so that the audience had a clear view when he suddenly licked the back of my neck. Taken by surprise, I shuddered in his arms.

My tormentor forced me to my knees, so easily that I felt like a small, helpless boy. He walked a slow circle around me, not hurrying, as I forced myself to keep still with my hands at my sides. I felt him pull off one of my socks, with that same slow deliberation, sparking a murmur and another ripple of laughter from the crowd. Maybe he held the sock up to them, or something. He took the other one a moment later, then immediately reached around me from behind and above to unbutton my shirt. I bit my lip as he drew it off my shoulders and took it away, leaving me barefoot and stripped to the waist.

John took my arm and seemed about to haul me to my feet again, but Ms Winters interrupted. “Bring him over here to pay his respects, while he’s on his knees,” she insisted. John put his hand on the back of my neck to guide me, but I was already shuffling across the stage towards the woman who had rented me for the evening. She stood over me, a tyrannical figure in a long black dress that sparkled in the light.

“I know foot-kissing is a special thing between you and Dilo,” she told me, “and I won’t try to interfere with that. Put your forehead down on the floor, here at my feet.”

I obeyed at once, kowtowing to her. There was another round of applause. Ms Winters hadn’t told me how long to stay in place, so I simply kept my head down until I felt the tip of her shoe prod roughly at one of my shoulders.

“Enough, boy. Kneel up.” This time she made no move to intervene when John grabbed me and made me stand. I didn’t think I’d spent more than ten or fifteen seconds at Ms Winters’ feet, but someone – presumably John – had wheeled the cage out of the way and somehow lowered a horizontal bar on a chain from the high ceiling. At either end of the bar dangled a leather cuff.

I raised my hands without being told, and John buckled the cuffs around my wrists. I pulled at them experimentally, and found that I was perfectly helpless.

He unfastened the single button at the top of my jeans, but didn’t peel them off or even unzip them. Instead, he smacked my left buttock with his open hand, hard enough to make me gasp in pain. Again he circled me, powerful and menacing, and every so often a hand shot out to land a stinging slap on my thigh, my chest or shoulder, or perhaps my ass. Once or twice he hit me lightly across the face, to a throaty murmur of approval. Now that I was standing and looking out at the crowd, I could see that there were twenty or thirty people in attendance, including only a handful of men. Their clothing and demeanour ranged from very casual to a little on the formal side, and their expressions from mild interest to intense, predatory anticipation. I spotted Rae and Charlene at the back of the room, apart from the others, looking inscrutable.

John finally did unzip my pants, and they slid halfway down my thighs almost immediately. He pulled them to my ankles and I obediently stepped out of them, wanting to please and knowing resistance would be futile in any case. It felt surreal, though, to be standing restrained in front of a crowd in just the purple briefs My Lady had instructed me to put on for the occasion.

“Punch him!” someone yelled, and John obligingly drove his fist into my belly. There wasn’t a great deal of force behind the blow, but it still made me groan in pain. He began to throw harder, more stinging punches at the better-padded parts of my body he’d been slapping a minute ago, and I grunted and gasped and writhed like a fish on a hook. I sighed in relief when he stopped for a moment and turned me around, presenting my back to the crowd. He pulled down that side of my underwear, exposing my buttocks, and then began to spank with fierce, deliberate blows. I whimpered and danced, pulling helplessly at the cuffs that held me fast.

People were calling out to him to finish stripping me, and he finally complied, leaving me buck naked but still turned away from the audience. I expected more spanking, or perhaps more punches, but to my surprise he went to a little cabinet set into the back wall of the stage. When he returned he was carrying a metal bar with a leather cuff at either end, and I took deep, nervous breaths as he fastened the cuffs around my ankles and then spun me back around to face the crowd. Suddenly I was completely exposed to them, completely vulnerable. It didn’t help that I was stiff as a board, excited by my helplessness and by the scrutiny of the women.

“We’ll give the boy a few minutes to catch his breath, now that we can see his body properly,” Ms Winters announced. “Perhaps some of you would like to come up here and introduce yourselves.”

Almost all of the assembled men and women took that as a cue to make for the stage, and suddenly I was mobbed. I soon learned that they considered it perfectly acceptable to introduce themselves simply by touching me, or even by inflicting a little pain. A tall, wiry woman pinched my nipple hard enough to make me wince, just as a strong hand cupped my right buttock.

“Do you always clench up like this?” a man’s voice asked, sounding amused.

“Dilo warned me he had a problem with that,” Ms Winters cut in. “Are you scared, Wheldrake? Do you think we’re about to start hitting you back there?”

“I suppose I’m just a little nervous,” I replied, deliberately unclenching as best I could.

“Well, try to relax. After all, this show isn’t even really on the road yet.” I felt her cool hand take possession of my other cheek, the sharp nails digging in just a little. “And I want to hear you say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ when you speak to anyone in this room.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I managed to gasp out, and she chuckled and moved away to make room for her guests. I tried to respond graciously to the ones who did introduce themselves by name, and endure with a modicum of poise the insistent hands that ranged over my body.

A plump woman with bare arms and long, tousled hair sidled up to me and rested a casual hand on my shoulder. “I’m Nicole,” she announced, “and I’m going to be egging them on all night because I want to watch them fucking break you. Don’t take it personally, though – I just have a thing for dudes in distress, and you look like you’re going to be fun.” She caressed my flank, smiling.

“My sentiments exactly,” another female voice said from behind me. I felt teeth sink into my shoulder, though not with any great force.

An unusual trio, a man and two women, were closing in on me from the front. They were all east Asian, and the man and one of the women looked to be well into their forties. The other woman was much younger, and her glasses, nape-length hair and Berkeley T-shirt gave her the air of a studious undergraduate.

“This must be Julia,” Ms Winters almost purred as they approached.

“That’s right,” the older woman said. “We’ve always said she could come with us to one of your soirees when she turned eighteen, and her birthday was a couple of weeks ago.”

“Welcome,” Ms Winters told her, sounding genuinely pleased. “I’ll make sure you get a chance to lay a good beating on our plaything sometime this evening, if you want to.”

“I think I’d like that,” Julia replied a little timidly. The man I assumed was her father, meanwhile, was kneading experimentally at my chest, his hands strong and assertive.

“I’ll bet you could really make him squeal,” he opined.

“Can I talk to him?” Julia asks.

“Yes, of course.”

Julia looked me in the eye, and seemed to be considering her options. “What made you decide to be here?” she asked finally.

“It wasn’t entirely my decision, ma’am,” I replied. Her father was still groping my upper body, and her mother had taken to tracing meandering lines across my chest with one sharp fingernail. It didn’t hurt, exactly, but it definitely wasn’t comfortable.

“I take orders from a woman I call My Lady,” I continued, trying to talk as if being interrogated about my submissive side by an 18-year-old while her parents toyed with my nude, restrained body was entirely normal. “She decided to lend me to Ms Winters for the evening, in return for a payment. I suppose you could say she whored me out, ma’am.”

I expected Julia to laugh, but she didn’t. “So how do you feel about being, um, whored out?”

“Nervous, ma’am, but I have to admit it’s also exciting. This looks like it’s shaping up to be a memorable evening, and the whole situation makes me feel very subservient to My Lady. I find that fulfilling at a deep, fundamental level.”

“I don’t really get it,” she confessed, “but it sounds like you’re here voluntarily, just like everyone said. That means I can touch you.” With that established, she put her hands on my chest and drew them slowly down my torso, smiling.

“You can pinch his nipples, if you want,” her mother suggested. “Make him squirm a little.”

Julia hesitantly took my nipples between her fingertips, but barely bore down at all.

“Harder than that.”

Her fingers tightened, and I gasped and jerked in my restraints despite my best efforts. Julia looked startled, but dropped her hands to my crotch without any prompting. She held my penis for only a second, but seemed much more interested in my balls, rolling them around in the palm of her hand.

“They’re not like I imagined at all,” she remarked. “They’re so – so loose.”

“Feel free to squeeze, honey,” Julia’s mother said encouragingly. I groaned as her hand clenched around my scrotum, but mercifully she released me almost at once. She kissed the corner of my mouth, shyly, and then turned away.

“You guys were right,” I heard her enthuse to her parents as they went back to their seats. “This is awesome. I love the way he has to call me ma’am.”

They were among the last of the audience to leave the stage. When everyone was back in place, Ms Winters put a hand on my shoulder and addressed the crowd.

“The boy’s had enough of a breather, I think. What shall we do with him now?”

I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the response from the assembled group. People were calling out for paddles, floggers, straps, clamps, even knives. I shuffled back the few centimetres that my restraints allowed, genuinely intimidated.

“Cane him!” Nicole shouted, and leaned back in her chair with a grin.

After a minute Ms Winters held up her hand for quiet. “We’ll get to everything,” she assured them. “But John, I want you to start him off with a slow, hard flogging.”

There was a pause, then a burst of clapping. He was probably holding up the dreaded implement, somewhere behind me. Then leather tails descended across my shoulders in a powerful, stinging blow, and I moaned in pain. The crowd answered with a roar of predatory excitement. I shuddered in my restraints, knowing that my evening on the stage had only just begun.

The Elegant, Implacable Efficiency of Handcuffs

I can appreciate the visual appeal of a body in the embrace of elaborate Japanese ropework or the quirky creativity of immobilising a man in an upright coffin with an inflatable lining, but on the whole My Lady and I are both on a different and much more pragmatic page when it comes to bondage. The best restraints, as far as we’re concerned, are ones that permit a dominant (like her) to reduce a submissive (like me) to a state of abject powerlessness and vulnerability as easily as possible. It’s not about aesthetics, sensuality, the latest gear, or complexity for its own sake; it’s about making the dominant’s power over the submissive concrete, physical, and unchallengeable. A boy kneeling naked but unrestrained at a woman’s feet could, in theory, get up and run off at any moment. A boy chained by the ankle to a ring in the floor will be staying right there, like it or not, until someone lets him go.

Chained ankles have their merits, but My Lady and I both have a particular appreciation for the elegant, implacable efficiency of handcuffs, especially when used to lock, say, a man’s wrists together behind his back. A few precise clicks of steel against steel, and the prisoner is abject and deliciously vulnerable, his arms unceremoniously rendered useless. He has no way to fend off hands groping the most intimate parts of his body, straps and canes licking at his flesh, even hungry mouths kissing, sucking or biting. He’s also easy to control, unable to mount much resistance against captors who might choose to drag him down the stairs to some hidden dungeon or perhaps bundle him into a vehicle so that he can be taken somewhere really scary. A man with his hands cuffed behind him is a man who is pretty much at someone’s mercy.

Under normal circumstances, My Lady doesn’t have any way of subjecting me to that level of helplessness. We live far enough apart that she can’t generally even keep tabs on me except through the e-mail reports I’m required to send at least every couple of days, let alone put me in handcuffs or any other form of restraint. I obey her instructions and follow her rules because of the seriousness of my decision to voluntarily surrender to her authority, not because she has mechanisms in place to literally force me to do what she says. When the going gets tough, it’s my own commitment to being her servant, plaything and willing victim that makes me leave the nipple clamps in place for every second of the time she decreed, or stick to her limits on alcohol consumption when I would dearly love just one more drink, or take a deep breath and slide the butt plug deep into my subservient ass.

When I visited her late last year, however, she took advantage of the situation to experiment with more tangible forms of control. Taking me to a kinky party in a house with an incredibly well-equipped basement gave her a golden opportunity. At one point I found myself being ushered by My Lady and one of our hosts into a cage that was low enough to make standing, kneeling or even sitting impossible, though I had plenty of room to stretch out on my front, back or side. After the cage door was closed and locked, though, they were quick to snatch away even that limited freedom of movement. They ordered me onto my back, cuffed my wrists to the bars on opposite sides of the cage, and cuffed my ankles together outside the bars at the foot. And there I was, unable to roll over or even scratch my itches, held immobile by leather and steel as the party went on around me. People ambled by, carried on conversations, sometimes even leaned or sat on the cage as they chatted. “Are you still there?” a woman asked me at one point, sounding amused. I was clothed all through this little ordeal, but my shirt was open, and eventually My Lady dropped by to check on me and reached into the cage to give one of my nipples a gentle pinch. Even if I’d been unrestrained, I would never have dared to try to stop her, or even to pull away. But knowing I physically couldn’t do anything to evade or fend off her touch took my sense of helplessness and subservience to a whole new level.

The next day, My Lady and her partner did put me in handcuffs. However, they found it practical to lock my wrists together in front of my body, so I was spared the more abject helplessness of having them pinioned behind my back. Next time, I might very well not be so lucky.

Hints, Commands and Explicitness

I’m required to run all my posts by My Lady before I put them on the blog. Sometimes she waves them through, and sometimes she tells me to make changes. When I sent a draft of my earlier post on “hot dystopias”, she responded with:

I like your blog post overall and, in particular, your perspective on the eroticism you found in 1984.

I was gratified, naturally – praise from My Lady means a lot to me, partly because I’m under her control and partly because she’s sharp and discerning – but I was also in a bit of a quandary. She hadn’t actually told me whether to proceed with the post or not. After thinking about it briefly I published the post, but wrote back:

I went ahead and put up the blog post, ma’am, with the usual last-minute tweaks to the wording. You didn’t explicitly instruct me to post it, of course, but I took your positive evaluation of the post as a kind of implicit green light. I hope that wasn’t a mistake, or at least not one severe enough to make you decide to hand me over to the Thought Police.

This led to an e-mail exchange about communication styles and ways of conveying instructions. My Lady brought up the influence of gender:

I’ve been learning that men are less willing to make assumptions, even when the context or other factors makes the meaning quite clear…

My experience matches My Lady’s in that I do think men tend to be a little more explicit than women, and perhaps deal less well with lack of explicitness from others. I don’t pretend to understand the root causes of that general pattern, but in my own case I think there’s a personality-related reason and a D/s-related reason for my preference for explicitness.

The personality-related reason is just that I attach a lot of value to clarity. Once upon a time I was a bookish, awkward teenager, less than adept at reading social cues, and I learned that I often had difficulty understanding others and making myself understood. As a result, I worked hard to avoid misunderstandings, not always successfully. Many years later, I still have my moments of confusion in social situations, though they don’t happen as often as they used to. I’ve become better at parsing what people say, and interpreting what they do. I’ve also learned that when I don’t quite understand what’s going on, taking a minute to formulate and ask a couple of polite but direct questions can help immensely. When e-mailing or texting, I can take a bit more time and write rather than talk, so I find it even easier to put together the right questions when someone is communicating in a way I find vague or unclear. Nevertheless, I appreciate people who write and say what they mean, and I try to be equally direct with others even if I come across as a little blunt. It just seems better that way for everyone involved, although my concept of “better” may be unduly influenced by my preoccupation with avoiding misunderstandings.

My D/s-related reason is that I think explicitness is a quality that befits both submissives and dominants, for different reasons. When I write to My Lady about what I’ve been thinking, feeling and doing lately, or answer a question she’s asked, laying all the pertinent information on the table without any waffling or obfuscation is an act of submission in itself. If I have to report something that I find embarrassing or distasteful to discuss, or something I suspect will displease her, I often have to grit my teeth in order to resist the temptation to gloss over critical details or retreat into vagueness. However, that semi-confessional process can also be pretty hot, underneath the emotional discomfort. At some deeper level it’s exciting and erotic that I’m not entitled to conceal my thoughts and actions from My Lady behind a smokescreen of equivocal words, any more than I’m entitled to conceal my body with clothes when she wants to see me naked (we’re well past that early, though prolonged, stage when she still hadn’t seen my penis).

If submissive explicitness is about not being permitted to use obscurity as a way of maintaining privacy, dominant explicitness is about exerting confident, precise control over a subordinate. The clearer My Lady’s instructions, the less room I have for interpretation in carrying them out. Moreover, considerate people often “test the waters” by dropping hints about what they might want before they actually ask for it. When My Lady gives me instructions without any prior beating around the bush, especially orders that require me to do something difficult, taxing or hard to endure, she’s denying me the respect for my feelings and preferences that I can usually expect as an adult in polite society. Instead, I’m being treated as someone who can simply be told what to do, which pushes buttons that make me feel deeply, excitingly subservient to her. The more explicit and thorough the instructions, the more I feel uncompromisingly dominated, and it also helps if the instructions are issued a style that My Lady and I sometimes called “unadorned” – no softening or sugarcoating, no pleases, thank yous, or other little expressions of courtesy. Do this, boy. Don’t do that. You may do this, you may not do that. Do this other thing by Monday, in exactly the way I’m about to describe. Do it wearing only your collar, and send a photo. Do it whether you want to or not – although she never has to actually spell that one out, because it goes without saying.

I do understand that less explicit forms of communication also have their possibilities. My Lady will sometimes drop ominous hints about what she might have in store for me in the future, which is probably more unnerving for me, amusing for her and erotic for both of us than a straightforward explanation of her plans would be. I can see, too, how it would be fun for a dominant to issue incomplete or ambiguous instructions, and then sit back and enjoy watching her boy struggle to work out how to obey. Games like this aside, My Lady likes submissives to learn her needs and develop some ability to anticipate them, and to demonstrate their intelligence by working out what she wants them to do. In fact, she says that giving precise orders doesn’t come naturally to her, although I can testify from experience that she’s awfully good at it. Probably it helps that she’s well aware that the explicit approach can be both practical, in some situations, and very erotic. For my part, I can understand how leaving me to figure out her needs and desires might sometimes be easier for her, even if I might find the process difficult. My Lady doesn’t always choose to make things easy for me, and of course I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are also times when a more or less subtle suggestion from a dominant can be like the crack of a whip. A few months ago I finally had the opportunity to spend a weekend visiting My Lady and her partner, who shares fully in her authority over me but normally doesn’t do much about it or communicate with me directly. They had me spend a few sweaty hours each day helping them with some fairly heavy-duty yard work, and on Sunday this extended far enough into the afternoon that we had an outdoor lunch break. At one point My Lady reminded me that my break wasn’t to be too “leisurely”, and although her tone was quite casual I still felt sharply reminded of my subservience – it was one of those moments when I would have loved to spontaneously kneel down, press my lips to her boots and spend a few minutes just revelling in her power over me. Unfortunately, we were visible from the road and I had work to do, and I wouldn’t go throwing myself at My Lady’s feet without permission anyway.

In my experience, however, things like that are the exception. Usually it’s explicit commands rather than little hints that make my lips hunger for a taste of My Lady’s boots, and on my side I try to be very clear and straightforward in my communications with her for the sake of submissive transparency. Enough about me, though. If you are dominant and/or submissive, how do you like to communicate with your partner(s)? How do you like your partner(s) to communicate with you?

Wicked Wonderland – New Lyrics to an Old Song

To my submissive brain there’s something intrinsically erotic about winter, the season when nature becomes stark, unforgiving and even a bit cruel. At its best, winter torments us with cold, howling winds, shows us who’s boss by dumping snow all over our streets and driveways, and gives us a dominant’s harsh choice between confining ourselves to warm homes and cars or shivering outside in the dark. I think winter is terrific.

Perhaps this attitude to winter partly explains why new, BDSM-flavoured lyrics to an old holiday song began to come into my head on Christmas morning. When I sent the finished verses to My Lady, she instructed me to turn them into a post, so I’ll present them without further ado.

Wicked Wonderland

On my chest, clamps are gleaming
Down my flanks, sweat is streaming
My shackles are tight
I’m moaning tonight
Writhing in your wicked wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
In your cage, I’m the new bird,
Your knife and your tongs
Elicit strange songs
Terrors of your wicked wonderland.

In the meadow I’ll build you a snowman,
With a badge that says Big Sheriff Brown
You’ll say “Arrest this boy”
And he’ll say “Sure, ma’am,
“Just let me cuff his wrists and take him down.”

Later on, you’ll conspire
With your friends, by the fire
And I’ll be afraid
Of the plans that you’ve made,
Ruling in your wicked wonderland.

Posted in Whimsy. Tags: , , . 1 Comment »

Hot Dystopias – My Fantasies Of Totalitarian Control

I’ve never heard George Orwell described as an erotic writer, but 1984 contains passages that work for me at that level. The following one, for example, leading up to the arrest of the protagonist Winston and his lover Julia:

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late – no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen to the floor, uncovering the telescreen behind it.

“Now they can see us,” said Julia.

“Now we can see you,” said the voice. “Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.”

They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he could feel Julia’s body shaking. Or perhaps it was merely the shaking of his own. He could just stop his teeth from chattering, but his knees were beyond his control. There was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and outside. The yard seemed to be full of men.

The control exerted over Winston and Julia by the totalitarian system personified as Big Brother is entirely non-consensual, of course, not to mention brutal and suffocating. I’m in no rush to trade my mutually fulfilling BDSM relationship with My Lady for a one-way ticket to some cruel dystopia. Nevertheless, dystopias can be amazingly hot as settings for submissive fantasies of the starker and more impersonal variety. The same dark little part of my psyche that is deeply fascinated by prisons and incarceration is irresistibly drawn to the idea of living in a society where I would be subject to strict rules and constant surveillance, and risk being told to stand still and await arrest with my hands behind my head if I stepped out of line. As a devotee of female power I’d just prefer that the iron voice from the wall belonged to Big Sister, rather than Big Brother.

The kind of system described in 1984 is just one possibility, though. Hot dystopias come in endless varieties, united only by the incorporation of various forms of inequality, coercion, exploitation, sadism and totalitarian control into the social fabric. A capitalist version of 1984 might feature lifelong “unpaid internships” that amounted to virtual slavery, or perhaps a system of voluntary but literal and legally binding slavery to which the poor would flock out of desperation. A variation on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a futuristic novel in which only people who had completed a term of military service were treated as full citizens with voting rights, could require young men and women to submit to two years of indentured servitude in exchange for citizenship. Or perhaps just the men would be expected to submit, not just for a couple of years but for the rest of their natural lives? As each generation reached the age of majority, everyone would then be acutely aware that the women were headed for productive and fulfilling careers whereas the men were going to end up as their abject slaves.

Under that system, as I imagine it, a man would be allowed to celebrate his 21st birthday, but afterwards he’d have exactly 180 days to report to his local Male Employment Recruitment Centre (I like to think Orwell would approve of the name). At the Centre he’d be taken into custody, branded with a unique number, and subjected to a battery of assessment procedures that would determine his future placement. Some men would be sold to women as personal slaves, others would made available to corporations and other employers as highly trainable slave workers, and the most unfortunate (except possibly those who ended up as the personal slaves of very sadistic owners) would be sent to grim labour camps where they’d toil away under relentless overseers who might be either androids or women with bionic enhancements that gave them overwhelming physical strength.

Democracy and equality are so nice by comparison, and also (that dark little part of my psyche insists) so painfully boring. It’s a good thing I have My Lady to tell me what to do, ensure I’m never burdened with too much freedom, comfort or dignity, and make me squeal now and then.

S & M (Semantics And Meanings): Slave

I think of myself as My Lady’s submissive, or simply her boy, rather than her slave. In a lot of ways, I must admit, the level of control she exercises over me approaches what might seem appropriate for a slave: I have to sleep in a leather collar with a little metal tag that has the equivalent of “Dilo Keith’s” on one side and “BT 005” (because I’m apparently the fifth “boytoy” she’s taken in hand over the years) on the other, I’m not to eat chocolate or masturbate to orgasm without her permission, I can only wear underwear of certain colours, and there’s a limit on how much alcohol I’m allowed to drink late at night when I’m home alone. These rules aren’t terribly onerous, but I’m well aware that she could choose to tighten them up or add new ones at any time. She’s already hinting, for example, that there’s going to be some kind of mandatory exercise regimen in my life pretty soon.

On the other hand, I have outside commitments that preclude throwing myself at My Lady’s feet and declaring that she’s welcome to tattoo me, brand me, relocate me, lock me in her basement forever, give me to a friend, sell me to an interested party, send me off to join the Foreign Legion, or make me go cartwheeling down Main Street without any clothes on. At this stage of my life, I think I’d have to feel something close to that level of devotion to someone before being prepared to describe myself as her slave. Whether I would be brave enough to offer myself as a slave to My Lady if the outside commitments magically melted away is an interesting question, and whether My Lady would consider accepting the offer is another.

However, the line between submissive and slave will inevitably be fuzzy and subjective in societies that have dispensed with a legally binding form of slavery. Most of us probably have a sense that slaves are more deeply committed than submissives, metaphorically buried up to the neck in servitude rather than merely up to the waist, but I’m not aware of any specific, widely accepted criteria for distinguishing one kind of “s-type” from the other. Classifications, including the one by Diane Vera posted on this site, can be helpful in distinguishing among different kinds and degrees of submission but don’t provide an authoritative answer to the question of what level of surrender a person has to reach in order to qualify as a slave. This leaves us subservient men and women free to consult our own feelings, and of course the feelings of those who command us, and simply decide how best to describe ourselves.

If you are intensely devoted to another person, if you feel deliciously owned and controlled, you might prefer to call yourself either a slave or a highly dedicated submissive. If you have a more casual relationship with a dominant, you might call yourself either a submissive or a slave who serves on specific, limited terms – historically, after all, slaves were sometimes quite independent of their owners. Either way, you might also identify as a servant, boy, girl, slut, bitch, pet or plaything, or as something else entirely. Regardless of who ends up with what label, we can still learn – and take vicarious pleasure – from each other’s experiences.

Do you identify yourself, or identify someone who follows your instructions, as a slave or submissive? If so, how did you decide which word to use?