Archive for the ‘bdsm scene’ Tag

Cruelty and Catharsis

In my bed I had been warm, but on the floor, I was shivering even with a blanket over me. I curled up, wanting to play but not wanting to leave the confines of the blanket, not wanting to suffer the coldness of the room or the discomfort of the floor. I was tired and cranky. And as he pulled the blanket off of me and stood over me, I realized that the only way I was going to be able to play would be if my discomfort were a part of the scene, and if it were to be constant, unrelenting discomfort, unrelenting pain. I needed to be able to be cranky and to squirm and shake and cry, and for that to be okay, for it not to stop the scene.

“Can we not stop unless I safeword?” I asked him. “Of course,” he said.

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

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Sex and Play

My partner and I had a long conversation the other night about what “playing” means to each of us. I had mentioned that we hadn’t played in a while, and that I’d really like to take a night to just do that. What he pointed out, and what I hadn’t really thought much about, is that he really has no idea what I mean when I say I want to “play.” What sort of activities are and are not included in playing? What distinguishes that from just sex?

Most of the time, when we engage in any sort of BDSM activity, it isn’t a scene — it’s sex enhanced by things like pain, d/s, and the like. It’s simply what naturally comes out of each of us when we start to fool around. It isn’t something that’s been planned or scheduled beforehand. And it’s not what I have in mind, not exactly, when I ask to set aside time in the evening to “play.”

A lot of the confusion around these terms is really rooted in what defines BDSM and distinguishes it from “just sex.” I feel a very big difference between having d/s-flavored sex and “having a scene” or “playing.” My partner feels that it’s all the same sort of play, just in varying degrees of intensity.

It’s been really hard to tease out exactly what I do have in mind when I ask to “play,” or when I ask for a “scene.” (The latter term is probably a better one for what I’m trying to describe.) I think a large part of that is wanting, as a bottom, for my partner to simply come up with something fun and to direct how everything proceeds — not knowing exactly what he’s going to do or ask of me makes everything a little scarier and a lot hotter. And so, my answers to “what do you mean by ‘play’?” have generally been along the lines of “something more deliberate” and “something more drawn out, longer than usual.” Pretty vague, and not very useful to him. At the same time, I don’t want to say, “Well, I’d like you to put a collar on me, and pull my pants down — but don’t take your clothes off at all — and then chain me to the bed, and then leave just long enough for me to start getting aggravated, and then come back in and use the flogger on me for a while, and then take me down and…” I don’t want to make him feel restricted, or like he has to perform a certain set of things for me to be satisfied.

When we really got into it, I was surprised at how simple and mundane the conditions were that led me to think of something as either “sex” or “play.” The first was location: any sort of sexual activity that takes place in bed, especially after we’ve “gone to bed” (to ostensibly go to sleep), is categorized in my head as “sex.” The exceptions to this rule come about when some sort of toy is used, something that I associate strictly with BDSM play (ropes, cuffs, clothespins, collar, etc.), or when pain play is involved (such as pinching and spanking) without any other sort of sexual activity going on. (More on this below.) Conversely, I’m more likely to think of sex that takes place on the floor or in some other location as “play.” I also think of any sort of subtle d/s that goes on outside the bedroom (and especially if other people are around) as “play,” regardless of how intense or mild it is.

The second factor is time: “Playing” simply takes longer than “sex,” at least in my head, and it’s something that happens well before it’s time to go to sleep. It’s something that we deliberately set aside time in the day for (especially if we can make it coincide with the roommates being out of the house). I think of playing as something that usually takes a few hours.

The third factor is sex: While I certainly enjoy all kinds of penetrative and non-penetrative sex (including oral and masturbation), it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of playing. For me, while playing can involve sex of various kinds (and generally I want it to, at least at some point), it also involves activities that are done just for the enjoyment of dominance and pain. This includes things like bondage, boot worship/licking, cutting, spanking, flogging, and the like. The interesting (and confusing) thing is that for me, everything changes once sex enters the mix. If my partner spanks or pinches me while fucking me, that’s rough sex. If he orders me to remain still and digs his nails into me, holding his grip firmly while watching me squirm, that’s play — even if the pain intensity is the same.

On the other hand, I’ve also had experiences that I’d classify as “sex within a scene.” This would be something like painful penetration used as a means of establishing dominance, or forced penetration with an object, or possibly a rape scene. And of course, I don’t think that a d/s scene concluding with sex is at all bad; in fact, I think I’d be pretty disappointed if it didn’t.

I’d be interested to hear if other people share any of these complex and perhaps somewhat arbitrary distinctions between “sex” and “play”…

Beginner’s Dungeon

I went to a “Beginner’s Dungeon” class at the Citadel last night, one in a series of workshops put on by Edukink for those new to the scene.

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.