Archive for the ‘Workshops’ Category

Overdue Update

….and another 3 weeks without a post. Where does the time go?

All of my writing energy is being eaten up by work (as in employment). Perhaps I just need to start staying late at the office once a week to write for myself, because I sure as hell am not motivated to turn on my laptop at home after a 9-hour day of writing and editing.

Anyway, here’s a brief update.

  1. The Anarchist BDSM group–which we’re now calling “Anarkink”–is going really well. We’re having an informal potluck next week and are planning a flogger-making and -using skillshare on January 22. Most exciting, to me, is that we’re starting to talk about a fundraiser party to be held after the SF Anarchist Bookfair (March 14), to feature a spanking booth, shibari demos, and more. The money will then be used to secure a regular meeting space for us, so that we won’t have to worry about asking people to pay to attend meetings or workshops.
  2. I joined FetLife and have totally been sucked in. If you’re on there, feel free to add me as a friend; my profile is here. Also, if you’re of the anarchist or anti-authoritarian persuasion, why not join the FetLife Anarchist BDSM group?
  3. I just read about an interesting event being organized in New York called KinkForAll.

    KinkForAll is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people of the kink, queer, sex-positive and related communities to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from all participants. [….] Attendees must give a talk or a presentation, help with one, or otherwise volunteer/contribute in some way to support the event. The people present at the event will select the demos or presentations they want to see.

    Doesn’t that sound intriguing? If you’re on the East Coast, you should check it out.

Hopefully, next week I’ll be back with a more thoughtful post…

Building an Alternative

On Friday night, I went to screwup, a trans/genderqueer BDSM group in San Francisco. Open to all genders, screwup is non-hierarchical and staunchly DIY in its philosophy; there’s no elected board, and workshops are put on by anyone who wants to do one. It’s all done on a volunteer basis, so workshops are free, with donations requested to cover the cost of renting a space.

Needless to say, I found all of this incredibly exciting and refreshing. I talked to one of the organizers at length about why screwup was formed—both as a response to BDSM spaces that didn’t really understand the specific needs of the trans community and as an alternative to a scene focused on traditional top-down power structures, for-profit workshops organized by “professionals” and “experts,” and expensive toys and fetish wear.

The topic of the evening was play piercing, something I felt was sort of beyond my reach without thorough training and instruction. I came away from the workshop realizing that it really, really wasn’t, and that there were probably a lot of things I’m currently afraid of trying that I could learn to do myself or with friends, with the appropriate safety measures and risk-awareness. At the end of the evening, we were encouraged to try piercing ourselves or others, and being too nervous to stick someone else, I did a simple piercing in my forearm. I was shocked: it was absurdly easy, and didn’t hurt a bit. (Obviously, having four or five of them probably would have started to hurt a lot more, not to mention having them inserted somewhere a bit more sensitive…)

But the point of this post isn’t really to talk about play piercing; the point is that there are people out there creating alternatives to the mainstream BDSM scene, that there are people who think that the best way to teach and learn techniques is through peer skill sharing and personal practice, not expensive classes and extensive training. It’s all very inspiring, and makes me more hopeful than ever that my friends and I can start something similar within the anarchist scene.

The Dominant Submissive

I subscribe to the RSS feed for the sfbay-bdsm group on Tribe, and someone recently posted about a class they’d attended called “The Dominant Submissive.”

The class apparently lauded the good qualities of a particular kind of submissive, one who was independent, stable, confident, opinionated, and strong. This, to the person giving the talk, was a “dominant submissive.” She continued by saying that such submissives were attractive to dominants, because they were a good “challenge” for the dom; they needed to be conquered instead of just lying down at his or her feet. She (a self-described dominant submissive) explained that she needed a very strong dom, someone who would accept her challenges and push her down.

All of this makes me a little uncomfortable. First of all, the “dominant submissive” construction implies that the un-adjectived “submissive” label describes a person who has none of these other positive qualities she listed off; the average submissive is thus dependent, unstable, unsure of himself, unthinking, and weak—a doormat. Is it not possible for someone to be just a submissive—to not resist, to enjoy the act of submitting without being forced into it, to be a willing slave—and to also be strong and in charge of her own desires, to speak her mind? Can a person not be both obedient and self-confident? It’s as if once deciding to submit, a person is suddenly now and forever a SLAVE, no rights whatsoever, no capacity for independent thought, no ability to speak out for herself.

And that’s total bullshit. Yes, of course there do exist submissives who are terribly unsure of themselves and wholly dependent on their masters. But that doesn’t mean those are qualities inherent to submission—”submissive” isn’t a personality type—or that we need a new category to separate that kind of submission from the good kind of submission.

Everyone—including bratty bottoms, humiliation-craving slaves, and service subs—has the right to own their own sexuality and their own desire. The fact that I willingly kneel does not mean I’m weaker than the one who wants to be forced there. It means that I derive more pleasure from that particular style of submission.

Which gets into the second thing that really confuses me. To me, the “dominant submissive” is a wholly different kink than what I have come to think of as submission. What this person was describing sounds to me like the sort of kink that comes out of me during a lot of “rape play” or forced submission scenes—the desire to fight, to struggle, to be pushed down roughly, to be controlled, to be bratty and even angry. It sounds completely different from the sort of kink that I usually enjoy, which is a more humble and self-given submission, a gift given, a choice made, a decision to kneel and obey. I certainly don’t think it’s any better or worse, but to me comes from a completely different place. The assumption that the average sub is just a weak pushover because they don’t like to resist or struggle during play seems, to me, like a simple bias in favor of one’s own preferred kink. If your biases lie on the other end, you could easily retort that the “dominant submissive” is really just a “resistant submissive,” one who doesn’t fully own her own submission and who relies on her dom to place her there; she, not the compliant or self-directed submissive, is the one who is weak. (Not that I necessarily think that; just to prove a point.)

Of course, this is all a reaction to an anonymous, secondhand description of a workshop I didn’t attend, so I suppose you can take all of it with a grain of salt. But I suspect that the speaker at this workshop is not alone in her assumptions.