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.

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.

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!

Earning Pleasure The Hard Way

By Wheldrake, with my commentary.

When I began taking orders from My Lady back in 2012, I expected that putting some restrictions on my masturbatory activities would be fairly high on her agenda. However, she turned out to be surprisingly permissive on this point until just a couple of months ago, when she must have decided an invisible chastity belt would look good on her boy. Suddenly, my days of onanistic freedom were over, and I was only allowed to bring myself to orgasm if I fulfilled certain strict conditions.

[My interspersed remarks appear in italics like this. Celebration of International Masturbation Month (May) prompted the first set of restrictions. He had to request permission in advance, a system I found unsatisfying, in part due to differences in our time zones and email access.]

For June, the condition was that I needed to inflict some significant pain on myself, and send My Lady a report about the pain-infliction session illustrated with at least one photo, in order to earn the right to masturbate once to the point of ejaculation.

[My well-informed boy had told me that June 2 was the Marquis de Sade’s birthday.]

My Lady and I both thought that my report might make a good blog post, so it’s reproduced below – complete with a photo I took during the session, and with the little errors and infelicities that crept in as I typed.

 * * *

——– Original Message ——–

Subject:  Pain report

Date:  Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:12:40

From: Wheldrake

To: Dilo Keith

The clamps are now nicely laid out on the desk by the computer, ma’am, ready to be picked up and applied to my tender scrotum and foreskin. I’m planning to report in “real time” over the course of a ten-minute session, like I did when I put the clamps on my nipples. Once again, the clamps are close to, but not quite at, their maximum tightness. I can feel a knot of nervous anticipation in my belly as I prepare to take the plunge. Scrotum first, or foreskin first? Scrotum, I think. It’s now 3:54 and I’ll start at exactly 3:55, for tidiness. Shit, I’m actually going to do this.

3:55. And we’re off. I’m already half-regretting the decision to put one on my foreskin, ma’am, because that’s the one that really hurts. The one on my scrotum is surprisingly bearable, and in fact I can hardly feel it at all. Perhaps that’s because the one on my foreskin is turning out to be so much of a distraction. I gasped in a way that I’m sure you would have enjoyed hearing when it bit down. Nevertheless, it didn’t hurt as much as clamping my nipples did last time.

3:57. The pain is now quite manageable, though there still a dull ache radiating from the foreskin clamp. I have to admit that I feel a bit of a sick twinge when I look down and see the metal biting into the most intimate parts of my anatomy. I’m sitting at the moment, and I guess I’ll feel more of the weight of the chain when I stand up to take photos. Let’s see what happens.

3:58. I’m now on my feet, ma’am, typing a bit more awkwardly. The weight of the chain is actually making the scrotum clamp hurt a little, though for some reason it’s not having much effect on the foreskin clamp. I feel like I’m getting off a bit too easy, so I’ll try bouncing up and down on my toes a bit.

 [Isn’t he delicious?]

4:00. Okay, that hurt, by shaking the foreskin clamp. I’ll take my photos, and then perhaps do a couple of jumping jacks for the grand finale. Whew. The foreskin clamp is still hurting, actually, and I’m also dripping. I’ll wipe that up before taking the photos.

4:03. Fluid wiped up, and photos taken, one from the side and one from the front. The chain was swinging a bit as each photo was taken, so it’s slightly blurred, but you’ll get the idea. My genitals are clearly and fully exposed, of course.

[I assumed he included the last sentence for the reason you’ll learn below. For the purposes of exposing him to readers and providing visual documentation, one photo is enough.]

4:04. All right, time for the grand finale. My foreskin is probably going to hate me for this…

4:05. Ow! Three quick jumping jacks, but yes, my foreskin suffered. It felt like it was tearing loose, and the chain really rattled, too. Time for the clamps to come off.

4:06. Removal wasn’t too painful, and it was a relief to see the metal jaws relinquish their grip. I’ll attach the photos, ma’am, and then proceed with whisky-drinking and general winding-down. I’m already looking forward to tonight’s orgasm, which will feel well-earned if I think back to those jumping jacks.

[He earned an additional reward for this performance.]

 * * *

The orgasm did indeed feel well-earned. Another consequence of that session, or more specifically of the photos I took, is that My Lady has now seen my penis – as have you, dear reader. She doesn’t seem to think her newfound visual acquaintance with what she calls my “boy bits” is any big deal, but I feel as though I’ve just surrendered one of the last bastions of my privacy and taken another significant step into deeper vulnerability and subservience. I’m sure many more steps still lie ahead.