Elust 86

(My Wheldrake’s recent post appears in this edition.)

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Photo courtesy of Modesty Ablaze

Welcome to Elust 86

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #86 Start with the rules, come back October 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

On Self-Objectification

Female Orgasms – Addressing Women’s Sexuality

Migraine – A Sexual Spiritual Explanation

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Can You Train a Sub to Orgasm on Command?

Rupert Campbell-Black and me…

 

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

Yes I’m a Sexblogger and No I don’t care about your dick

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

BUTTER FOR LUBE… Salted or Unsalted?
KOTW:Static on the line
Control Queen
Well, That Didn’t Go According to Plan

Writing about Writing

A BDSM Vignette from Two Viewpoints

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Sex Negative

Erotic Fiction

The Cure
sports

Erotic Non-Fiction

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT – with a twist
Iris
A Polyquad Squad Orgasm
Beautiful Birthday Fuck
Purpose of Tasks
Do You Trust Me
The meanings of “good girl”

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

How Long Is Enough
The Virgin. Unlocking Feminine Power.
The Other Day
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
addressing doubts one step at a time
How D/s has taught me to stick up for myself

Body Talk and Sexual Health

Against All Odds

Poetry

Where I’m From

 

 

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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.

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!

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.

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.

Knightly Chivalry And Male Submission

One idea floating around in BDSM circles is that men who submit to women are like medieval knights, or at least that the knightly ideal defines one mode of submissive masculinity.

Think of King Arthur’s knights, bustling round the country with odd bits of feminine apparel waving from their lances – either running errands for some lady or questing for the Holy Grail (a transparent sex-symbol in itself). Twelfth century troubadours and Victorian pornographers worked with different imagery, but the emotions and archetypes are akin. Courtly love is transparent submissive fantasy:

Noble Lady, nothing do I ask of thee

But that thou shouldst take me for thy servant.

I would serve as one serves a good lord,

Whatever reward I might gain.

Behold, I am at thy command:

Sincere and humble, gay and courteous.

Neither bear nor lion art thou,

To kill me, as I here to thee surrender.

 

Bernart de Ventadorn (fl. c. 1150-1200?)

Creative Mythology, Vol.IV, p. 179

Joseph Campbell

That poem is very sweet, and echoes a good part of my feelings towards My Lady (I’m particularly glad that she isn’t a bear or lion). However, the surrender that knights traditionally offered to women seems incomplete to me, or even insincere. A knight was supposed to uphold his lady’s honour, undertake quests and perform glorious deeds in her name, and if necessary defend her to the death – but listening to her and doing what she said appeared to be a low priority. Guinevere didn’t get to tell Lancelot to stay home and muck out the stables of Camelot rather than going off to joust with yet another black knight. She didn’t even get to make him fight the people she considered enemies, as opposed to the ones he thought she needed to be protected from. She certainly didn’t tie him up and torture him for her pleasure, a point that doesn’t necessarily detract any further from her authority (perhaps Guinevere just wasn’t sadistic enough to be interested in doing any such thing) but does show that this “courtly love” business left out a facet of D/s that’s pretty important to some of us.

If I were going to dress up in armour and offer my sword to a queen or baroness, I’d want her to be more than a passive object of adoration and provider of a scarf to tie around my lance. Devotion and willingness to fight her battles would be important, but far from the whole story. I’d want the bejewelled lady in question to also be a firm and assertive taskmistress, prepared to decide whether I was going to spend a given weekend besieging Lot of Orkney, jousting with Uriens of Gore, looking for the Holy Grail, or indeed mucking out the stables. If I ignored her instructions or carried them out poorly, I’d expect to be taken out behind those same stables for a good thrashing, something else I don’t think ever happened to Lancelot. Ideally the bejewelled lady would have a wicked streak, like the enchantress Morgan le Fay, and would occasionally have me spend one of those weekends writhing in a torture chamber deep below the halls of Camelot.

As it happens, I’m not the only one who finds the idea of chivalry a bit lacking as a template for male submission.

Chivalry (and romance, which always seems to be monogamous) puts Woman, The Object of Desire, shiny, “pure,” “virginal,” and “good,” on a pedestal, only to be taken out by a man to sing odes to, to lay flowers at the feet of, to make promises to, until he no longer needs her and locks her back in her bower.

When described in those terms, chivalry doesn’t sound very submissive at all. I’m not surprised that there are dominant men, such as one Sir Real, who find the ideal of chivalry inspiring:

Second, I pride myself on being the consumate gentleman. I ascribe to the knightly principles of chivalry which include bravery, truth, honor, integrity, courtesy, and gallantry. In this context, the “Sir” aspect of the name appeals to me.

Bravery, truth, honour, integrity, courtesy and gallantry are great, but I’m sure Sir Real would agree that they don’t make a person submissive. Neither, really, does putting a woman on a pedestal and writing odes to her beauty. Submission is what might happen at the end of a long day’s ride, when the shadows were growing long and a brave knight errant was looking around for a likely place to pitch his tent. Seeing a faint light in the distance, he might spur his mount towards it, finding himself outside a little cottage with a thatched roof and a heathen rune scratched into the door. A hard-looking woman in a tattered cloak would appear when he knocked.

“Madam, kindly ask your husband if I might spend the night here before riding on at first light.”

She would look him up and down, eyes glinting.

“I have no husband, but you may share my bed if you do exactly as you are told and stay long enough to make breakfast.”

Part of him would be infuriated, of course. How dare a woman of low birth, some peasant slattern, presume to even contemplate taking him to her bed as an obedient plaything? It would hardly be unchivalrous to clamber back into the saddle and ride off to pitch his tent in some convenient clearing. But if I were writing the story, the knight would thank the woman for her hospitality, bow to her in all humility, and ask if he might take the time to see to his horse’s needs before going inside to see to hers.