Armchair Subs

One commonly given piece of advice to those who are new to BDSM is to read.  Go online, browse writings, blogs, fetlife groups, etc.  Educate yourself.  There’s one problem with this: There are built-in assumptions that the reader will be able to discern between the solid advice they’re reading and the total crap.

I hit that trap head-on when I was new.  As I read so many things online I told myself, “I thought I was a sub, but I guess not.  After all, I’m not willing to give total control of my finances, I don’t submit to just anyone who capitalizes their pronouns, and I have limits.”  I questioned whether BDSM was for me since apparently I wasn’t doing it right.  I almost didn’t get involved in the local BDSM community because I was worried I didn’t fit the mold.  Luckily I ran into a few people who told me it wasn’t like that in real life, and that provided me the encouragement I needed.

I run into this in lots of new people as well.  Quite a few new people have very, um,  misguided ideas of what the BDSM community is about and how it operates.  Many of them have the same reservations I had about getting involved because of that.  So I try to blast those fallacies out and replace them with some general ideas of how this works in the real world.

People give total garbage advice online.  One gem I saw recently was in regard to cuckolding.  Someone who was new was trying to understand how anyone can get off on cheating.  I explained the whole consent thing and that it’s only cheating if the sub doesn’t consent to that.  Some Official Internet Expert chimed in with (paraphrasing here) “Dominant women can do as they want.  They know what’s best for us.  It’s not cheating because she can do whatever she wants with no regard to the sub or the relationship.”  This guy, as is the case with most Official Internet Experts, was single and not involved in any kind of in-person BDSM community.

These are the kinds of people pro-doms often cater to.  They generally have this big totalitarian fantasy that they want to live for a short time until they get their rocks off.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, there is something wrong with pushing that on other people and telling them they’re wrong for not doing things the same way.  BDSM is an incredibly individual experience.  Telling someone they’re not doing it right because they have limits is a dangerous approach.  The people receiving that advice may feel pressured to push themselves well past a level of activity they’re ok with.  While many people are able to take the advice they read with a grain of salt, some are more prone to sacrifice to some degree their desires over to the will of another.  This is why education is important.  This is why I find myself countering the online wanker armies at every turn.  And I encourage you to do the same.

Forgive and Forget? How about No?

Forgiveness is a loaded word.  People give it connotations of weakness, or act as if forgiving means absolving that person of responsibility for their choices. I don’t buy it.  My experience with forgiveness is quite different.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.  It doesn’t mean that you no longer hold the other person responsible for their actions.  It means you’re not going to obsess over it anymore.  It means you have more important things to spend your heart on.  It means making a choice to live in the present rather than always looking back.  It can be hard to see just how much luggage we’re dragging around.  After a prior relationship, I went through the healing process and thought I was mostly out of the woods.  But then I started talking about it instead of working through it all myself.  It hit me then just how much crap  I was still carrying around.  I realized then that I had a lot more work to do.  And I made up my mind to pursue serenity.  Not for anyone else’s benefit, but for mine.

It’s easy to stay angry, but there comes a point when it becomes unhealthy.  I personally don’t want to lug around all that crud.  The anger goes nowhere; It stays within, festering, burning, but not harming the person it’s directed at.  If you’re angry with someone right now, I’m willing to bet you’re thinking about them far more than they’re thinking about you. The anger eats a hole in your belly.  That anger takes up valuable real estate in which you could be putting other more enjoyable emotions.  Which sounds more appealing- Holding on to negative feelings indefinitely or getting rid of all that garbage and living your life with a grin?  If you immediately get flooded with negative emotion upon hearing a certain name or seeing their face, they still have power over you.

It’s alright to be angry for a time.  Embrace the anger, feel it fully.  But don’t live there forever.  Don’t let that anger define you.  If you let anger take over your life, you have lost far more than you could ever imagine.  When you’re 80, will you look back fondly on those years you spent seething about this other person who has long since forgotten about you?  Alternately, you could get off your ass and create lasting memories with people who actually care about you.  Then you’ll have something to relish.

Prospering in Pervy Pick-up Play

Setting up scenes at BDSM events can sometimes be tricky.  Whether it’s with someone you already know or a total stranger, people often have trouble with some step of the process.

When it comes to pick-up play with someone you don’t know well (or at all) I’ve found it best to watch them play with someone else first to gauge their play style.  If you have time, checking out their profile on Fet isn’t a bad idea either; that will give you insight into their philosophy on various aspects of BDSM, their interests, and different aspects of their personality.

Getting a little background on someone you don’t know is important.  At one weekend event, I saw someone I found attractive, and she had an armband on that indicated she was a top open to casual play.  It was late in the night, so I decided to approach her the next night.  The next night, her pupils were huge, she was wobbling when she stood, and she was slurring her words.  That was a close call.  Had I played with her, that could’ve ended badly.

Asking is where many people stumble.  One thing I’ve found to work well is to offer rather than ask.  When you ask, it puts the other person on the spot because you’re essentially demanding an answer pretty much immediately.  If they’re interested, that’s not an issue, but if they’re not, then they have to shoot you down.  And that can be awkward.  Plenty of people feel like asses when they shoot someone down too.  By offering, you’re being more courteous to the other person, giving them the opportunity to sidestep that awkwardness.  Here’s how that typically runs in my experience:

“If you’re interested in playing tonight, just come find me.  I’ll be around.”

“I’d like that.”

or:

“If you’re interested in playing tonight, just come find me.  I’ll be around.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

The latter is an easy rejection.  Far less awkward to give than a direct “no”.  Obviously to use this approach you need to be able to read those cues and not pester the other person.

Once you’ve established that you both want to play, negotiating comes next.  If you just say, “Oh, I don’t know, I’m up for whatever you want to do” then you deserve to be smacked in the face with a large mackerel.  You don’t need to put out a detailed list of your interests, but just name a few forms of play you really like.  If the other person is well-known for a certain type of play that you want to experience, say so.  Having no interests or saying you’re into everything is boring.

Be sure you mention your limits, any health issues,  and your aftercare needs.  While unintentionally hitting an unknown landmine can always happen, it’s far less likely if you do these things.

My Testicles are Demanding to Know What the Hell Happened.

I never thought I’d say this, but I went over a year (and counting) without an orgasm.  While chastity has been a form of play I’ve been into for years, constantly pushing further with it, I didn’t think it’d ever get to this point.  My first experiences with chastity were only a couple days at a time.  Days turned into weeks, then months, and now over a year.  Some things I’ve learned over this past year:

  • I eventually plateau.  The horniness does build the longer I’m denied, but once it reaches a certain point, it doesn’t go any higher.  That level can also drift back downward, even after being denied for a really long time.
  • There are occasions when it’s much easier than expected.  Some days I don’t even think about the fact that I can’t orgasm.  This is a good thing; otherwise, I’d find it hard to concentrate at work or other important times.  If it got to the point where it was interfering with my life, that’d be a huge issue.
  • How worked up I am is usually directly proportional to the amount of teasing and/or play I’m experiencing.  The teasing doesn’t have to be direct sexual contact; it can be a form of play I enjoy, more of a vanilla sexual flirting, scent, or even verbal taunting.  That level of hornification then stays with me for at least a day or two.  The more intense the teasing, and the longer it lasts, the longer I stay worked up afterward.  Without that, I can go back down to almost normal levels of horny.
  • I have more willpower than I thought.  Then again, maybe it’s just experience.  I’m a sober alcoholic.  After a decade of sobriety, I’m rather well-practiced in restraint.  And not drinking is a hell of a lot more difficult than not orgasming.
  • Motivation is part of the willpower.  I know if I orgasmed without permission, not only would T be disappointed in me, but I’d be disappointed in myself and beat myself up over it for a long time.  Plus, she’s made it clear that there would be very unpleasant consequences if I did orgasm.
  • Knowing my release date or a minimum limit (“You won’t orgasm until at least this date…”) puts my mind into cruise control.  I don’t get as worked up in that case.  I know I won’t be orgasming any time until then, so it’s pointless to even hope for it.  Instead, I just buckle in for the long haul.  My testicles put on little sunglasses and ease back into a recliner.
  • I don’t experience blue balls.  Some report it as pain in the balls after being teased and denied.  That just doesn’t happen with me.  It’s ok though- There’s still ball-kicking for that.
  • Casual play partners taunting me about not being able to orgasm adds another level of sexitude to the experience. It’s  like a group of people ganging up on me, even though they’re not the ones controlling my orgasms.
  • I don’t really look at much porn when I’m in chastity since I know it will only get me even more worked up.  Didn’t take me long to learn that lesson.
  • Likewise with masturbating.  When I’m not in a cock cage, I’m free to masturbate as long as I don’t cum.  But I know that would only drive me even further up the wall, so I don’t do it.  Unless, of course, T makes me edge.

This past year has been a strange ride.  It’s still odd for me to think that I didn’t orgasm in all of 2014.  An entire year.  It’s hot and horrific at the same time.  Like many other things I’ve experienced in BDSM, this isn’t something I ever envisioned myself doing.  I’m very curious to see what other surprises are around the corner.

The Headache That’s Totally Worth It

When friends or random internet people are on the fence about starting another group or event in their local community, I typically encourage them; the more options people have for things to do, the better.  Those who go are also more likely to find like-minded people at more specialized events.  Back in the olden days of yore, there were two munches locally per month, as well as one demo.  Now, there’s more than that in just one week.  We have roughly 20 active local groups.  There are so many events now that it’s impossible to go to everything that I want to.  It’s a fantastic problem to have.

But I also let these friends know about the most likely problems they’ll face so they can be better prepared:

  • Running a group immediately makes you a target.  There are those who will spread rumors about you.  Some will smile and call you friend, then talk trash about you as soon as you leave.  Filtering these people out of your life can prove more difficult than you’d think.
  • You will eventually have some form of consent violation take place at one of your events.  Whatever decision you make in dealing with this will be wrong.
  • You won’t make money on this.  In fact, you’re likely to lose money if you aren’t smart about it.
  • Armchair quarterbacks are everywhere.  Every decision you make will be loudly criticized.  People will complain about how you’re doing everything wrong while simultaneously refusing to lift a finger themselves.  Be ready to publicly defend every decision you make.
  • It will feel like a job at times.  An obligation.  You won’t feel like going, putting in the effort, or being social.  You’re exhausted, stressed, had a horrible day at work, and your dog pooped on the rug.  But you slap on a smile and get out there anyway.
  • Other times, it’s nearly effortless and a total blast.
  • There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into it.  Hours of planning, difficult conversations, private messages, and dirty work that people never see.  The larger the group/event, the more that goes into it.  You will have to deal with grumpy or unreliable venue owners, zoning laws, accessibility issues, people breaking their word, and other such pleasantries.
  • Avoiding a clique-ish environment can be trickier than it seems.  One thing that helps is to break away from your close friends and go talk to the new people.  Make them feel welcome, introduce them around.
  • You will have to arrive well before everyone else and leave long after they’re all in bed for the night.
  • You will have to remove people from events and deal with people who engage in creepy behavior.
  • You will always be “on” at events, whether you realize it or not.  You will scan the room for excessively dangerous play, consent issues, clueless behavior, creepers, etc. even if you’re not working a DM shift.  You will be called on to put out small fires all night.
  • People will look to you for guidance, good example, and education.  You will need to have your shit together.
  • There will eventually be a medical problem at one of your events.  Be ready.  When it happens, everyone will get the deer-in-the-headlights expression and look at you.  I recommend knowing CPR and defibrillator use, the heimlich, and basic first aid.  Learn the symptoms of various neurological (spinal cord and brain) injuries, as they can mess up your day quite a bit.

So why do it?  I can’t speak for others. Here are my reasons:

  • I have a soft spot for new people, as I had a tough time myself when I was first breaking into the community. I nearly gave up on it soon after joining; I don’t want others to do that.
  • I want to give back to the community that has benefited me.
  • I enjoy the fact that I’m helping to take a bite out of all the crotchwagons who try to vomit their venom all over the place.
  • There is also the basic realization I had when it comes to some special-interest groups: If I don’t do it, no one else will.  If you want to make it happen, you have to get off your ass and do it.
  • Running things serves as an ice-breaker.  I suck at small talk and meeting people.  Running events introduces me to more people than I’d meet normally.
  • I like educating, chipping away at stereotypes and misconceptions, and helping to break stigma.  All the mistakes I made (and continue to make) can be useful tools for teaching others to not make those same mistakes themselves.

 

 

Parallel Pervy People

In America, we have a happy tradition in which people wake up obscenely early on the day after Thanksgiving and proceed to elbow each other in the face in an effort to save a few bucks on something they don’t need.  Known as Black Friday, this day provides a stark counterpoint to the preceding day on which people get together with loved ones, feel warm and fuzzy, and proclaim thanks for the things they have.

Having worked in retail while I was in college, I’ve experienced Black Friday from the wrong end many times.  Because of this, I’ve discovered there is a strong parallel between certain Black Friday shoppers and members of the BDSM community:

  • People who wander in wide-eyed, aimlessly drifting around, unsure of what they’ll find, but happy to be partaking in the experience.
  • Those who are only after one specific thing.  They only pay attention to their one goal and ignore everything and everyone else.  They sometimes shove people out of the way to get what they want.  It’s often very clear what they’re after.  It’s also just as clear that they don’t care about anyone who can’t be useful in helping them achieve this goal.
  • The first-time Black Friday shoppers (or community members) who see all the bad things happening and get overwhelmed.  They then go on a social justice campaign to change peoples’ minds and tell them they should avoid certain retailers (or the community) altogether rather than just not being assholes.
  • The hardened, jaded employees (or community members) who calmly accept the way things are and have no hope of changing them.  The attitude is generally, “It’s always been this way, always will be.  We’re just replaceable cogs in the machine.”
  • The pineapple-dick who treats the service staff poorly, whether it’s a cashier or the waitstaff at a munch.
  • Those who want their hands held the entire way.  They want to be led to the correct department, shown the item they want, and have to have all the product’s features read aloud to them.  The community equivalent want to be spoon-fed all the event details of every event in their area (even though those details are clearly posted in multiple places online) and want someone to personally introduce them to everyone at the munch.    Occasionally they even want others to set up their scenes for them.
  • People who go out shopping on Black Friday and act shocked at the amount of traffic and lack of parking spaces.  The BDSM version of this person floats throughout the community and gets offended that others engage in types of play (or use language) that they personally find distasteful.
  • The ones who like to stir the pot.  The Black Friday version relishes the struggle and delights in making this day more difficult for those around them.  The BDSM version tries to cause public arguments solely for entertainment; there is no goal of betterment in mind, just needlessly pitting people against each other.

In regard to both Black Friday and the BDSM community, things would run much smoother if people simply stopped being twatcannons and started treating each other well.  That is also one of the main tenets at the core of pretty much every major religion: Be nice, take care of each other, and don’t be a dick.  But I’m not holding my breath on that actually happening.

Get Yourself Some Snazz.

In this part of the country (Pittsburgh) it’s easy for a man to stand out visually.  Around here, most guys’ idea of dressing up for a night out consists of throwing on their good Steelers jersey, putting on clean sneakers, and maybe ditching the ball cap.  Women often tell me things like, “You should teach my man how to dress.”  While I’d be up for that, there is the tiny little issue of consent.  If I go over and start rattling off unsolicited advice, I’m going to irritate him and look like a dickwagon in the process.  This subject might make a good class, but I doubt it’d be well attended.  So for those interested (or those who want to drop a few hints in someone’s direction) I present to you roo-roo’s Semi-Official Guide to Dressing like a Big Kid™.

  • One of the most important factors is fit.  A lot of men wear shirts that are one or two sizes too large.  Wearing clothes that fit properly makes you look more in shape and put-together, and less like a little boy playing dress-up.  You could have a $3,000 Armani suit and a $30 suit from the thrift store; if you take that $30 suit to the tailor, it will look much better on you than the suit that cost 100 times as much.   Even if you (and the store staff) think something fits well, try on the next size down anyway; you might be surprised.  At the other extreme, if you can’t move easily while wearing it, or if you feel like you’re going to bust some seams, it’s likely too tight.
  • One specific example of fit:  On most shirts there is a seam where the sleeve meets the body.  The top of this seam should rest on the “corner” of your shoulder.  If the seam is further down your bicep/tricep, it’s too big.
  • Also in regard to fit:  Know your measurements or have them written down somewhere.  Any tailor will do this for you for free or very cheap.  It makes buying clothes much easier, especially when you buy online.
  • Adding a blazer makes almost any outfit sharper.  Even if you’re wearing a plain shirt and jeans, if you throw a blazer on, people will ask, “Why are you so dressed up?”
  • Try swapping out the sneakers in favor of leather shoes or boots.
  • Darker jeans don’t look quite as casual as lighter jeans.  If you’re going out, this is a good thing.  Darker jeans are also less likely to show stains.
  • While we’re on the topic of pants, swap your jeans out of the rotation occasionally.  There are the old standbys of chinos or corduroy, but manufacturers are now creating pants that are a hybrid of chinos and jeans.  Leave the running pants or sweatpants for the gym.
  • Small touches like a pocket square or an odd tie knot will catch peoples’ eye.
  • It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Keep your clothing vaguely appropriate for the event/venue.  Wearing a suit to a barbecue isn’t the way to go.  Likewise, putting on slick leather shoes with no tread for a metal concert will most likely make things much harder for you in the mosh pit.  Tossing on a blazer before running Tough Mudder probably isn’t the best idea either.
  • Don’t conflate quality with high prices.  If you know where to shop or are patient enough to wait for markdowns, you can afford clothing that you normally wouldn’t be able to.  Dappered is a terrific resource for this as well as for general advice on looking sharp.  Hit secondhand stores too- They often have solid offerings for excellent prices (but be sure to inspect for damage before buying.)   Buy things out of season: get sweaters in summer, shorts in winter.  Sign up for the email lists from stores and manufacturers; most will send out frequent coupon codes.  Sell crystal meth in your spare time to make extra cash.
  • Don’t concern yourself with the latest fashion trends on the runway.  It’s all horribly overpriced and looks odd.  Classic mens’ looks, on the other hand, never go out of style.
  • Feel free to emulate others’ looks.  Some may take ideas from celebrities.  Others see gay men as being more stylish and try to absorb some ideas from them.  Even magazines and catalogs can provide inspiration.
  • Get a watch.  So many people have ditched watches because they use their phones now for telling time (kids these days, with their newfangled technology.)  A watch is faster, looks more elegant, and you can wear it to BDSM events where phones are prohibited.  It can also be an effective conversation starter at events like that, since the cell-phone-reliant people will be phoneless and ask you for the time.
  • Forget about all the old “rules” you may have heard- No white after Labor Day, no brown in town, belt must be exactly the same shade as shoes, socks have to perfectly match shoes, etc.  These rules are outdated and are no longer relevant.
  • Ask for help.  Getting started in dressing better can feel wobbly at first.  Ask multiple people you trust for their opinions on what you should change, keep, or upgrade.
  • Pay attention to compliments.  When someone compliments you on what you’re wearing, remember what they’re complimenting.  Maybe it’s the color, the fabric, or the way it fits.  If you get multiple compliments on that particular thing, you now have a solid starting point for something that works well for you.
  • Likewise, pay attention when other men get compliments.  Then steal their ideas.
  • If you live in a larger metropolitan area, you most likely learned all this in elementary school.  In that case, you just wasted three minutes of your life reading this post.  I will now proceed to point and laugh at you.
  • Ha ha.