Friday, July 31, 2009

Musings on dynamics

I'm endlessly fascinated by the uniqueness of individuals and the dynamics which compel, obsess and immerse each of them in their intensity and distinctiveness. The BDSM world, because of the nature of the relationships, provides even more fodder for thought.

I was up early this morning – too early – for an appointment and thus had time to kill (an unusual occurrence in my life – hell I almost didn’t know what to do with “time”). So, with a little bit of a luxurious commodity usually far too scarce, I indulged and surfed the web, specifically checking out other blogrolls.

In reading some of the entries on a surprisingly eclectic group of writings, I realized I continue to wonder about what motivates, what inspires, WHY certain activities and dynamics work for certain people, particularly in the rather unusual arena of BDSM.

It’s no secret that in my past dynamic, I was an advocate of a certain degree of pain- nothing extreme, nothing outrageous but to some tastes in a more vanilla world, probably far too intense. Spankings, flogging, pinches and rough use, all can act as a focus and a form of meditation for me.

The reality is that over many years, I have come to understand that each dynamic is unique in itself. While the internet world somehow tries to impose a clear set of rules, delineate a quantifiable set of circumstances, reactions and definitions of what comprises a specific dynamic, what makes a “real” dominant or a “true” submissive, it is incontrovertible I think that because each of IS unique, it is absurd to think that ANY dynamic is readily quantifiable.

And thus, thus, I know that while there are those would find my relationship a mystery (hell, I STILL do), I in turn find myself confused, perplexed yet truly curious as to WHY certain actions, reactions and dynamics work for others.

For instance, I just don’t get certain, apparently common, practices among certain couples.

NOT criticizing – god knows what two consenting adults choose to do among themselves or with other consenting adults is SO their business and no one else’s, but just CURIOUS.

For instance, I don’t get the oft-discussed concept of “lending” out submissives as part of the esoteric and deliberately obfuscating “training”. And before I continue, can I tell you in my opinion and my opinion ONLY I think that what I see out there termed “training” is a big load of hooey and provides fodder to a lot of predators who use it as a tool to confuse, intimidate and control naieve wanna-be submissives who first dip their toes in the internet pools.

But, seriously, WHAT does that teach the submissive? This is a serious question. And WHAT does the dominant get out of it? I’m truly curious.

For instance, I’ve read that it strips a woman of her will completely – reduces her to an object to be manipulated and used – well, that’s where the confusion comes in for me. How does that benefit the dominant? How does it fulfill the submissive?

And then there are the myriad of blogs I see where it seems to me, cruelty is an integral part of the relationship – where women (because it is always women) are smacked for no discernible transgression, or hurt simply “because” – again, I’m wondering, what does this serve? What does it teach?

As stated earlier, I have no issue with pain, but the rational part of selkie seeks a reason, a motivation, a POINT to it – when I used to get flogged, bound, pricked, needled, or whatever it was a dance … a dance the two of us were bound up in and captivated by, a progression of physical responses elicited and emotions engendered, a dance where the focus was applied physically yet resonated at a much deeper level. And throughout, there was always an internal awareness on my part that my physical, mental and emotional equilibrium were being carefully nurtured, monitored and observed.

Some years ago, I wrote a blog on my perceptions of why for some individuals, extreme masochism worked – but even in some of the more intense relationships of which I was aware, there was an obvious caring and deep connection between the sadist and masochist. There were moments of deep intimacy, sweetness and caring that somehow balanced the more extreme physical acts.

But surfing today (and before – it is not something I do at all very much anymore), I find myself confused and perplexed why some women tolerate what appears from their own words to be a relationship entirely comprised of physical, mental and emotional cruelty – yet by adding the BDSM designation, somehow removing it from the realm of abuse.

I do not deny an adult’s right to make choices in the dynamic they choose to inhabit – that smacks of paternalism and is offensive and high handed.

But I guess what I’m wondering is do you think these individuals truly find some form of fulfillment in being treated like they have absolutely no worth OR are they victims of unscrupulous, manipulative partners who inevitably use, abuse and then move on?

I could cite some of the blogs of which I speak, but I think I’ll refrain. Because ultimately, the issues I wonder about are universal.

I don’t get what the motivation and point is of simply hurting someone in passing, when they have done nothing to elicit any type of punishment. I don’t get how passing around a submissive to other partners “teaches” her… teaches her what? And what does the dominant get from it?

I understand sadism, truly I do – I KNOW that sometimes, you hurt your submissive just because it feels so damn GOOD – and in a healthy, emotionally powerful dynamic, that can provide a wonderful nuance to both, but treating her like crap on an ongoing basis, without a commensurate understanding and nurturing of her mind and emotional equilibrium just doesn’t seem like a positive experience to me- yet I see these blogs everywhere.

Comments anyone? Anyone else find this confusing? Or have any explanations?


littleone said...

you know what selkie.. i couldn't agree more with you...... i too have read (and do read regularly) some blogs that sound just a tad too much like abuse under the disguise of BDSM and it worries me a little.

Not for the ones being abused or doing the abusing..but for the silly addle brained newbies that will read these blogs and think that is the way it should be... and then either strive for it.. or run screaming from the lifestyle because they see the abusive nature of what they are reading...

i wrote an article (many eons ago) for a BDSM magazine here in the Great White North entitled BDSM versus Abuse (or something like that - i was never very good at finding catchy titles) i should find it and post it to my blog...

take care

morningstar (owned by Warren)

selkie said...

morningstar, you just pointed out EXACTLY why these writings leave me so uncomfortable. Naieve individuals seeking to explore stirrings might internalize that as the "norm". Woudl love to see the article.

Chloe said...

I love this post. I'm going to have to THINK about it s'more though.

~Chloe, unsure about just about everything.

Christina said...

You've prefaced here all the things that I find so perplexing about the very 'taboo' BDSM lifestyle. Ive been curious since apring of 2001 when I ventured into the world of internet smut so rampant at The idea of 'spanking' and how the woman was soothed afterwards rocked my socks, lol. And thus I read articles about what is meant by submission. Purchased books - The loving Dominant; Erotic Surrender - A submissive's journey; Why is my friend kinky. But when it came to why a submissive would crawl on all 4's; eat out of a dog's dish; get slapped around; all for the idea of 'Pleasure'. To me that is abuse and thus I would walk away thinking D/s was not for me. But then last year august 2008 I ventured back into searching mature interest chatrooms on AOL and allowed into my Instant Messaging experience someone from Nyc who professed to be a Dominant not 24/7 but someone who also was Hedonistic. Ive wanted to meet this man now for a year but because he is not Monogamous and will not take precautions such as condoms because to him that's so mechanical. But he takes precautions by getting hepatitis b & c shots and frequent bloodwork. And so, I think my days of wanting to be a summissive are over; I shall just continue to be the curious onlooker!

Sara said...

Selkie, I'm right there with you. I don't see drinking from a dog bowl as abuse, necessarily. (I mean yuck, and why...but whatever floats your boat?) I get that there are women who take erotic pleasure from humiliation, and although I am not one of those, I 'get' it. However, I also think there are so many people who suffer from emotional dysfunction...low self esteem, anger issues, etc, and in the vanilla world, it is easier to recognize them and their behaviors. In BDSM it is better disguised, and that concerns me. I worry for the newer submissives who wade in too fast, and might think of they want to live some part of this lifestyle, they have to allow things that feel hurtful in a bad way. I worry about the dominants who are really predators in dom clothing. I worry about the submissives who are in a relationship that tears them down, diminishes their sense of self worth and emotional health, and they believe they are trading that for "love" because it LOOKS a lot like a 'healthy' BDSM relationship. Bottom line, while I don't think you can peg one particular practice as good or bad, I believe there IS a difference between healthy and not healthy, sane and insane, and BDSM doesn't fundamentally change those lines. Good post!

Liras said...

The doms do it because they can. Sharing a sub, beating one, filming her licking her own piss off the floor, fisting, what have you.

At times, that is the point. It is done because it can be so.

No mystical light embracing us all at the end of the tunnel of D/s.

Some subs are not happy unless they are ground past the dirt. A dom who seeks to give them that, will.

The subs in those relationships take it because they think they should. It might be truly satisfying to them but if it is not, they will concoct an explanation.

I do not read a number of sub blogs because I am not as high-minded and hopeful as you--I am content to let them suffer.

I see pointless cruelty and I can't get anything from reading about it. Not that it matters in the dynamic between them, of course.

I have been noticing that some women are proud to be more submissive than the norm. Perhaps they gather satisfaction from proving that they can take more pain than others, suffer more.

There is a danger of that, for new entrants to the kinky realm may think that abusive D/s is the true kind.

I am too much of a top to worry over it. The subs would argue me down that they were just fine and so on, stay out of their business.

Ok. If they say so.

I call it abuse, they call it love and fulfilled passion.

Good post, as always.

Jz said...

Thank you for this musing. I'm still new to this world and know there's a much bigger picture than I'm aware of, - however...
This issue has stuck in my craw a bit, too.

Submission is, for me, a way of integrating and becoming more completely myself. How does participating in the destruction of my self-respect have anything to do with that?

Furthermore, while I'm happy to submit myself to my guy, if he were to try and strip me of my dignity and self-respect, I'm no longer myself. So what he'd be getting is no longer something either of us can value. What's the point of that?

I also agree with Liras' observation that some women seem "proud to be more submissive than the norm." Sometimes it feels that people are treating this all as a competition, rather than the deeply personal exploration I see it as.

Another good post. Thanks.

M:e said...

Great post. Like others, I do worry about the effect some blogs might have on those just beginning their D/s explorations.

I've found over time I've stopped visiting the blogs where the relationships seem unhealthy, because I've found they sap my energy.

D/s has the power to be enhancing to a relationship, but also extremely destructive. I count my blessings each day to have been gifted with a nurturing yet challenging partner to walk this path with.

love and hugs xxx

Buffalo said...

How much of what you read is fact as opposed to fantasy and total BS?

Could the difference between some BDSM practices and abusive behavior be only a matter of consent - at least tacit consent?

Amber said...

I wrote a blog about this oh, maybe four years ago now, also disturbed by some of the attitudes I noticed. Not the acts themselves or the types of relationship or anything like that but...the attitude. Sometimes the attitude seems abusive/victim-y. My question back then was, when is it abuse and when isn't it?

And I still don't know. :(

Although Buffalo is right too; I've realized since that a shockingly high proportion of what we read is complete and utter BS.

Anonymous said...

Selkie I truly do not get it either.

vanimp said...

I don't get it either. My brain demands reasons behind everything. When I don't get valid viewpoints and discussions then I begin to disect things and find my own answers.

I enjoy erotic pain but not being treated like a piece of shit and yes I have seen it too on a few blogs. This stupid notion of which subbie/slave can take more, get beat more, humiliated more, who can go to the highest extremes and be applauded and held in some form of idolistic revere that they do it better than anyone else and if you don't then you are not "true" is just plain silly.

It is a worry for those newer to D/s that they should adhere to this type of behaviour without question and take what is given to them because it is an "honour". I dumped a dominant's sorry ass because he deemed it okay to decide that isolation and water dunking would help me get over childhood trauma. He pulled the Master card I pulled the "goodbye" one. I deemed it dangerous and unhealthy beahviour and not respecting my limits. Emotional harm is not my cup of tea.

Breaking a sub/slave is not D/s as far as I am concerned.

Loving Annie said...

Not all people are healthy. So they will make choices that do not benefit them.

It doesn't make sense if your goal is to be effective/happy and your behaviors reflect that.

It does make sense to people who don't want to work on their issues - and so can continue to create them.

You are just observing the difference.

It's like seeing anyone smoke a cigarrette now with all we know about cancer so prevalent. It doesn't make any sense. Unless you don't care about your health and its eventual repercussions - and then to you it makes perfect sense to puff away.

Self-destructive habits are also an addiction. Emotional pain is something people indulge in as much as any other familiar source of drama and stress.

Florida Dom said...

Selkie: I think it's hard to generalize because there are so many levels of BDSM. What might be abuse in one case would release countless endorphins in another. If a sub has multiple orgasms while being beaten -- and some do -- it's hard to say that's abuse.

I think one good idea is for a sub to have a safeword to call a halt if things go too far. But I think each relationship is different. There's no one size fits all in this lifestyle. Grant, no one should accept abuse but I think we have to be careful in judging what consenting adults do.

Mariana said...

Some years ago I stumbled upon a submissive woman's site, and she said something that I keep coming back to whenever I'm puzzled, as you are, about what people get out of some sexual practice that doesn't resonate with me at all. She said it made her feel sexy.

These days I just try to put myself in the other person's shoes and ask how "it" would make feel sexy. In the example you gave I reckon it probably appeals to someone who is insecure. Knowing that her dom is not the only man who wants her can make her feel hotter, and maybe she feels grateful that her dom wants her to have that experience, no guilt trip. I don't know if I'm right about any of this at all, I'm just saying that if there is any real pleasure involved then it's invariably because it makes people feel sexy. If there's no pleasure, it's (self) abuse. It's allowing yourself to be degraded because you don't think you're entitled to your feelings, and that'll always get one into trouble.