Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page
One of the things I hadn’t mentioned from the Beginner’s Dungeon class I went to was the discussion of chemicals produced in the body during SM and their effects on both tops and bottoms. At the time, it all sort of went past me in a stream of “yeah yeah, endorphins, I know this.” Angela, one of the presenters, mentioned her first experience with cathartic crying during a scene, and how much it surprised her — she wasn’t unhappy, or upset, but there were the tears, flowing down her face.
For me, I have certainly found catharsis in crying, but only when I am upset, when I feel like I need to cry to release the tension and worries I’ve built up. It’s still linked to a negative emotional state, for me. And so, I’ve always associated crying during or after a scene with either something going wrong or reaching a dark emotional space that needs to be touched, but that isn’t pleasant.
The other day, after the first really long scene we’ve had in a while (and which was pretty much all flogging and spanking), I suddenly started to cry. My partner held me and comforted me, and I tried to tell him that I wasn’t upset, that nothing was wrong, that I didn’t know what the deal was with these tears out of nowhere. Mostly, it just came out as sobs, interspersed with laughter — an incredulous laugh, an “I can’t believe I’m crying, what the hell?”. And a few minutes later, after the crying had subsided, I mentioned to him the workshop I’d just been at, and started talking about how I thought the crying really was just catharsis not from emotional stress, but purely from all those chemicals I’d created while bottoming for a couple of hours. He just smiled. “I know. I knew you were fine, because you were laughing, too.”
The human body is pretty fucking weird.
The class was four hours long. Four. My head hurt by the time I left, and most of the material wasn’t even particularly new to me. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for someone who was truly a beginner, someone who actually needed the definitions of “subspace” and “aftercare.” I met one man who was in the same situation I was: has played privately for several years, but is just now dipping his toes into public play and the larger BDSM scene. Boi, who went with me, has the same background as well. I imagine that quite a few people there, if not the vast majority, were people who were not complete beginners, but who were apprehensive about bringing their sex life into this public arena.
I’ve assimilated a lot of the jargon and protocols of the scene while learning about kink from books and online, which made the class a little too basic for me, at times. But it also got me thinking about how interesting and bizarre it is that I can comfortably talk the talk without ever having been to a play party. I know basic safety issues and dungeon etiquette without having been taught them. I’m aware of which issues are controversial in the scene, and I don’t hold any of the false ideas about BDSM that the instructors spent so long dispelling.
Even if some of the material was old to me, the overall workshop was incredibly beneficial. There were definitely a few rules and points of protocol at the Citadel that I hadn’t known about, and that were good to learn. Breath play, in any form, is not allowed. I supposed I could have guessed that. “Mild” blood play and wax play are allowed, which surprised me, as long as the participants put down their own tarp beforehand and are careful about clean-up. Barriers are not required for oral sex, another happy surprise. As far as monitoring of scenes goes, I learned that DMs will check on anyone who safewords “red” and who is not immediately taken out of scene. The presenters assured me that it didn’t mean a DM would barge into a scene and force the person to stop immediately, but rather would err on the side of caution and talk to the bottom about whether or not they were really able to continue. They also mentioned that it’s a good idea to talk to the DMs around your area about what you’ll be doing if your scene is going to be “intense,” or involve heavy play. It’s a little difficult for me to figure out what that means, exactly, but it’s certainly good to keep in mind that when playing in a dungeon, a scene might be interrupted by a well-intentioned DM if you’re doing something that starts to look like “too much.” I think I’d like to learn more about DM protocol before I play publicly…
I also learned that fucking of any kind (with barriers, of course) is completely okay at the Citadel. This is pretty unusual for BDSM spaces, as I understand it. The presenters characterized those who were against public fucking in a play space as being uptight and feeling that kink was somehow superior to sex; one woman in attendance objected, in good humor, and indicated that she wasn’t too keen on it, but that she also wasn’t puritanical about her kink. (Is that an oxymoron?)
There was an interesting discussion of privacy and scene names, which I think I’ll write more about in a separate post.
Most of all, I had the happy impression that the scene, and play parties in particular, were totally welcoming of people who didn’t really want to make the scene their life. I left the workshop feeling not at all pressured into joining any discussion groups or listserves or volunteering or attending munches or anything else. Before, I had been afraid that it would seem improper to show up at Citadel workshops and parties with my partner, play only with each other, and never get involved with the scene in any deeper way. Now, I feel comfortable that maybe, there is a place for us there, too.
Which is good, because I think Saint Andrew’s Crosses are totally hot, and there’s really no space for one in my bedroom.