Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Knife Play

Last night, my partner and did not go to the knife play workshop we’d both been looking forward to for months. I have pretty much the worst cold I’ve ever had, and we both decided it wouldn’t be worth it to go to something like that if I was going to be too sick to enjoy it.


Knife play is something we’ve been talking about for a little while, and something that I’ve wanted for a very long time.  The idea of actually cutting me, however, was a hard limit for him until recently, because he didn’t feel comfortable with drawing blood.  (That ended the night he accidentally drew blood while using a pinwheel on my back, and found that his reaction was decidedly different than he’d expected; a few minutes later, he whispered, “I never thought I’d say this, but I really wish I could cut you right now.”)

So we both want it, but as of yet, haven’t played with it at all — it seems like something so potentially dangerous that we’d really need to have some hands-on instruction the first time. But now I’m wondering: is that really the case? Is there any safe way to practice cutting another person, or any safe way to do it without going to a class or workshop?

For knife players out there: how did you first start? How did you learn how deep you could cut, and how did you choose your first knives?

Anti-BDSM Anarchist Dogma

For someone who’s chosen to stamp “anarchist” on the banner of her blog, I’ve said suspiciously little here about the intersection of my politics and my sexuality. In part, that’s because I’m sort of at a loss for what I would say.

But now, I’ve been talking to Submissive Boi about her workshop/panel on BDSM for an upcoming anarchist conference, and it’s probably about damn time that I start reflecting a bit on this topic.

I think I should start with the reason why this workshop is even going to be included at this conference, which has the theme, this year, of “dogma and religion.” When Boi proposed this to the conference organizers, the first question they had was, naturally, “so how does that relate to dogma?” She responded that she felt it was important to question sexual dogmas within the anarchist scene, specifically the notion that one’s sexuality should look like one’s politics, i.e. egalitarian, non-hierarchical, etc.

At times, I’ve wondered about how widespread this is: anarchists feeling that BDSM is “problematic” because it looks authoritarian (=wrong). But then, I’ve thought, “Come on. Are there really that many anarchists out there who think BDSM is a problem, or who judge kinky folk for playing with power? In the mainstream feminist scene, sure. But among anarchists?”

Recently, Boi wrote about an experience with a potential lover, another anarchist and a big fan of de Sade. Naturally she expected that he was a sadist as well as a Sadean — but when pressed on the issue, it turned out that not only was he not inclined toward sexual sadism, he actually had some degree of contempt for submissives and bottoms, saying that he thought they could be pathetic. He explained to her that he wouldn’t want to be in a D/s relationship, because, as she recalls, “if he was someone’s top there would be no line drawn for him and that his dom personality would carry in the rest of the relationship.”

This came as something of a shock to me. I realized that the only conversations around BDSM that I’ve had, of late, have either been with my partner or the smart and politically-savvy kinky bloggers I’ve found online, and that this has encased me in a sort of bubble. I’ve come to expect that BDSM is something largely accepted as not being in conflict with one’s politics — accepted as play, not reality — and that while people may be squicked by some of it, or make jokes about it, it wasn’t really a big issue.

But it is. There are still intelligent people in my extended community who think it’s okay to speak derisively of women and men who are sexually submissive, or who assume that BDSM play in the bedroom will result in a normalized, consistent streak of patriarchal or authoritarian dominance in their everyday lives. And it’s really difficult for me to respond to that with anything but, “No, you’re just wrong!”

So hopefully, over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a more articulate response than that. I’ll be talking about political correctness and its history in the radical feminist movement, reviewing the few materials already in existence on BDSM and anarchism, and considering just how much my sexuality affects my everyday life, my behavior and personality, and how I relate to non-sexual power dynamics. The big question, for me, is: if BDSM is “just sex,” a form of play unrelated to my “normal” life (if I separate my sexual identity as a submissive from my political identity as an anarchist), then how can I explain something like this?

If you have anything to contribute to a discussion of BDSM and anarchism, have ideas for the panel, or would like to attend the conference (March 23 in Berkeley), you should hit up Boi at or write to me at subversivesub [at] gmail [dot] com.

Trust After Mistakes

It’s taken me a long time to get over my fear that my partner will make a mistake while dominating me, unintentionally doing something that actually injures me or crosses a boundary I’m not ready to cross. In the past, it’s been really difficult for me to “come back” to a scene if anything goes wrong — and for me, all it takes for something to “go wrong” is for me to have any sense that my partner is not fully in control of the situation. All it takes is a stroke aimed at my ass to go to my lower back or my leg, and I become afraid. It doesn’t really matter whether or not the action itself hurt or disturbed me; it’s all about maintaining my trust that he’ll take care of me in a scene, that he is competent and conscious enough to handle anything that comes up. But I’ve realized that what that means, sometimes, is that I’m holding him to an impossible standard: I expect him to be the perfect dom, to never make a mistake.

(NOTE: This post contains explicit sexual imagery and descriptions of BDSM play.)

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