What a Submissive Isn’t

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Lets just start with we are not damsels in distress…so please stop trying to save us. We aren’t tied to the train tracks screaming for help. I can guarantee you that if we are tied to the tracks we are just where we want to be and loving every moment of it.

The Sub stereotype of being mistreated really rubs me the wrong way. We aren’t scared little girls in need of a hero.

And then there is the Dom stereotype of being an abuser. They aren’t bad guys lurking in alleys waiting to grab the first unsuspecting woman that comes along.

As sad as it is…this is our reality. Not in the sense that we practice these types of things but because vanilla society refuses to try to educate themselves on our lifestyle. Before they make a judgment on who we are and what we practice they should find info on how things in the BDSM lifestyle really work. Most would be very surprised on what they find.

That is the reason I write blogs and journal entries like these. Not to complain but to get as much good info out there as we can. I also think part of the problem is that we keep so tight to our circles that outsiders don’t see how we interact. Now don’t get me wrong I know why we do this and I totally get it. But maybe if vanilla people realized how many people they come across each day that live the BDSM lifestyle and how normal we all are it would change.

As scary as it is to think about being so open and the consequences that come with those actions maybe we need to be bolder. Every once in awhile I say something that lets the cat out of the bag. I did it just the other day. I was at the ER and a guy asked to sit next to me and referred to me not biting. I replied only if I’m asked to. His eyebrows rose and he replied hell yeah. I know not all of us can do this for various reasons…family…job…etc. And I’m one of them for good reason. And shame isn’t why. All the people in my life that are not judgmental know. That includes my mother. But not all of us have this brick wall closing us in. So maybe we should speak out and educate the vanilla public on the facts. We aren’t crazy or monsters waiting to attach. What we do in our bedroom is no different than the choices they make in theirs. And the people that practice the BDSM lifestyle might surprise you. We are moms, dads, doctors, lawyers, judges, etc. Not some crazy maniac waiting in the darkness to attach unsuspecting victims at will.

I’ll get off my soapbox and get to what I really wanted this blog to be about.

What a Submissive ISN’T…

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We aren’t weak at all. In fact most subs are some of the strongest people out there. They run their own businesses and most are alphas by day. A weak sub won’t find a good Dom that is the slightest bit interested. Doms don’t want someone that will bend to their every whim. They want someone that will bend because they choose to. A Dom gets nothing from a weak sub. Dominance is a challenge and with a weak sub that challenge is lost.

You will find I’m a very strong and independent person. I would never allow anyone to come in and take over my life. By day I run my own business and after my day is done I want to turn over the reins to someone I trust to meet my needs and I strive to meet his. A sub does have some say so in the dynamic. And yes they do as their Dom says but that is after everything is negotiated and a trust bond is formed. Even then we can say no if we feel the need.

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Subs aren’t mindless beings that need someone to tell them when…how…and where to do things. Most subs are highly educated go-getters. They have high power jobs and don’t need someone to lead the way. This idea is a total misconception.

I’m an educated person and make my ideas well known. Like with this blog post for example. A mindless sub couldn’t step out and voice their thoughts and opinions. Being a sub does not stop you from being you. It just enhances you in many wonderful ways. I’m no ones robot.

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Being a sub isn’t a mental illness any more than having vanilla sex is a mental illness. There have been studies that have proven that it isn’t a mental illness. If you have a therapist that says it is then you need to find a new one that knows their stuff about the BDSM lifestyle. And yes they are out there.

I have suffered with depression my whole life. I do what I need to do keep it under control. But let me say that I had this issue when I led a vanilla lifestyle and it has eased sense I have accepted who I am and what makes me happy. Did BDSM make me better? No, but allowing myself to just go with what makes me happy has been a beautiful thing. It was about the acceptance of myself not the lifestyle. I would never tell someone that BDSM will change their life for the better. It won’t treat your mental issues.

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Being a sub has nothing to do with low self-esteem. We are some of the most confident and strong willed people you will meet. Most subs would be totally offended by this statement. It says we are just weak doormats that can’t love ourselves. This is so far from the truth.

I admit at times I get down on myself but I think we all do. But to be really honest I hold myself in high esteem. I know that I am talented…a good mother…a great sub, etc. Not that I’m tooting my own horn but I don’t put myself down and berate myself constantly. So low self-esteem isn’t a good quality for a sub. We need to be strong, confident and in control of our outlook on ourselves. Doms don’t like weak women that constantly need to be reassured that we are okay. They want a woman that holds her head high and carries herself with confidence.

 

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Now this one I will break down a bit. What the average person’s idea on abuse is can be very different than the way a sub looks at this topic.

Most subs know the difference between abuse and dominance. With abuse there is no safe word and no negotiations. Abusers don’t care about the person they control by force. They take what they want and don’t care who they hurt in the process. A good Dom doesn’t act this way. If yours does then there is a serious problem. You need to rethink the dynamic. This is not the actions of a good Dom.

An educated sub knows that they have options and can change their minds. Now I’m not saying to abuse your safe word but knowing you have one and it will be respected is key. One of the biggest ways to avoid abuse it to play with people you know. Never trust someone you just met to tie you up and then be at their mercy. That is just common sense but it is worth saying.

For me abuse can happen in a lot of different ways. If you are not respected or you don’t get options well that is abuse. If your safe word is ignored then that is a huge red flag. No one should be in fear at any time in a D’s relationship. It should be a very trusting and nurturing experience. Not one you dread.

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A D’s relationship is about a power exchange. We decide who…when…where. And we also decide on who we will give this power over to. To say a sub is powerless is a vanilla way of seeing things with blinders on. A good Dom only has as much power as the sub is willing to give up. Don’t get confused about the sub listening and following their Dom’s directions. No, that is after a Dom has proven himself to be worthy and the sub trust him to her very soul. Just remember it is a power exhange and those two words say it all.

My closing thoughts…

I thrive with a good Dom at my side. But I have to have a Dom that I can trust whole-heartedly. If the trust isn’t there then I move on. See I make the decision on the Dom I choose to trust and let into my bed. But I also enjoy my total submission to the right Dom. It is a fifty-fifty decision until a meeting of the minds happens. Then the beauty of submission begins.

Play Safe,

SK

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#FreakyFriday: 10 Things To Do When Consent Is Violated

by Lord Unicron

A note regarding the featured image: This image was originally featured on EverydayFeminism.com for an article that discusses the “gray area myth” of consent. Neither I nor Covert and Carnal own the rights to this image, and it is included here for educational, non-profit use and illustration only as provided for under US fair use laws.

There are very few absolutes in the kink world. What repulses me may be just the thing that gets every nerve ending in your body singing the Hallelujah chorus. What you as a D-type wouldn’t do to your s-type in your darkest, most depraved nightmares I may do to my s-type just because it’s Tuesday night and I’m bored. You may like pee, scat or whatever; I want no part of either of them. You and your s-type may like to play so hard one or both of you is bleeding at the end. Blood’s a hard limit for me.

AND THAT’S FINE!

But when it comes to consent, I do think there should be a uniform standard of behavior for how consent violations (CVs from here) are dealt with by both parties. What follows is the protocol I follow for dealing with CVs. If you have a better, more effective or more efficient way, please leave a comment at the end of the post to present your point of view for discussion! I am not the sole repository of all knowledge and wisdom regarding kink, nor do I pretend to be. There is always a better way out there if you’re willing to look hard enough, and for all my experience, I am constantly seeking out new things. Your help in this endeavor is appreciated, as I wish to learn as much or more than I teach!

I talked on Tuesday about my hard limits, and my personal parameters by which they are set and enforced. Today, I want to look at ways to deal with CVs on both sides of the slash, in an appropriate, reasoned and mature fashion. The idea is not to put anyone on the defensive, but to make it clear that certain acts or behaviors are not okay. And, since it’s Friday, I figured a “listicle” is about due. Let’s take a closer look at 10 things to do when consent is violated.

*Note: Everything following goes for both sides of the slash, unless specifically noted.

For the recipient

Stop CVs before they start.

Having a clearly defined set of hard limits is never a bad idea. These should be reviewed as an ongoing part of your negotiations, regardless of which side of the slash you occupy. Having them in writing tends to lend them a little authority and a certain frisson of seriousness that expressing them verbally doesn’t seem to convey. Make sure your partner is clear on your hard limits as they apply to the scene or relationship before you ever get started. This is one case where an ounce of prevention is worth a metric fuckton of cure.

Stop the scene!

I’m using “scene” here to mean a kink scene, a conversation or any other interaction where hard limits could be violated (which is ALL of them), so adjust as appropriate. This is a good time to reiterate that PEOPLE SCREW UP! D-types do it. So do s-types. It’s called being human. However, just because you’re in the middle of a scene, conversation or what have you does not mean that consent violations should not be addressed right away, if at all possible. Obviously it’s hard to give a safeword when you’ve got a ball gag in your mouth and you’re trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, but you should still have a way to stop the scene. For scenes involving gags, a quick, short series of grunts may be an alternative. “Three grunts means RED, right?” However you do it, stop the scene as soon as you can. Sooner is better!

Stay calm.

There are some times and situations where this isn’t possible. No one expects an s-type to stay calm when a dragon tail opens her back to the bone and she’s bleeding all over Hell’s half-acre, nor is it reasonable to expect a D-type to be chill when the s-type does something that causes a panic attack. However, when and where possible, staying calm and collected while being firm about the scene needing to stop while the problem is dealt with is the best way to resolve the situation before it has a chance to escalate into something really ugly.

Explain exactly what the violation was.

Phrasing the violation the right way can solve a host of problems right away. I find it useful to explain the violation like so: “When you ________, it makes me feel __________. It’s hurtful, harmful and one of my hard limits. Can you explain why you chose to do that?” This gives the other party an opportunity to understand where you’re coming from and make a sincere apology and/or present any ameliorating facts. Understanding your partner’s headspace and how they understood the information you conveyed can help both of you reach a deeper understanding. This is not always appropriate or desirable, but when possible, it’s better to seek common ground than to go off half-cocked.

Use your judgment and your words.

If the violation is severe enough to warrant immediate action, take it. Explain clearly and succinctly why the violation is beyond your tolerance and what remedial action, if any, must be undertaken. In cases where the violation is serious enough to warrant an immediate termination of the relationship, saying something like “You knew X was a hard limit of mine. You chose to break it. I cannot trust you and do not wish to continue this with you, because you have made it clear that my hard limits are a secondary consideration for you.” Once you do this, stick to your guns. Especially if there is an ongoing pattern of behavior, this may be the only way to make the point that the behavior is unacceptable. Always remember Maya Angelou’s words: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

ONLY YOU CAN SAY WHAT CONSTITUTES A FORGIVABLE VERSUS AN UNFORGIVABLE BREACH OF LIMITS. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO A PERSON WHO WILLFULLY CHOOSES TO HURT THEM IN A WAY THAT CANNOT BE READILY HEALED.

For the violator:

Safewords mean STOP.

Either side may invoke the safeword in a scene. D-types often forget that they have just as much right to end a scene as the s-type does. Safewords or other indicators that the scene needs to end must be honored by both sides if they are to have any meaning at all. If the scene is halted, there is a reason.

Check in immediately.

When the scene stops, the first question to ask is, “Are you okay? What do you need?” The person who didn’t call the safeword should be the one to ask this question, because no one calls red “just cuz.”

Stay calm.

Having a scene ended prematurely can sometimes trigger an anger response. This is understandable. However, when the safeword is given, it is important to remember that you and your partner agreed to stop the scene if necessary. Just because you don’t think anything happened that warranted ending the scene does not make you right. Remain calm and collected, instead of throwing a fit.

Listen to what you’re being told.

No one likes being told they screwed up. That’s human nature. However, you owe it to your partner to listen without judgment and try to put yourself in their place. If your hard limits overlap your partner’s and you broke them, it’s on you to muster the empathy to be able to see it from their side without trying to jump to your own defense until you have all the information. Communication consists at least as much in listening as it does in saying your piece.

Comply or begone.

Once you have all the information, if the violation is not egregious enough to warrant someone walking out the door, you now have a choice to make: comply or begone. This may mean something as simple as, “I’m sorry and that won’t happen again,” followed by starting aftercare. It could be as big as the other person walking away permanently. Everyone makes mistakes and errors in judgment, especially in the heat of the moment. There is a difference between this and acting with deliberate, malicious intent. Any relationship where both partners are not scrupulously honest with themselves and their partners about their actions and motivations is by definition toxic. Regardless of the side of the slash you occupy, if you cannot be honest with yourself and your partner, and/or cannot and/or will not comply with their hard limits in order to make your play and relationship a safe place for both sides to explore and grow, then you need not be there. This is one of the few situations in which everything is black and white, in my opinion.

THERE ARE NO SHADES OF GRAY WHEN IT COMES TO CONSENT.

Having said all this, I’m curious to hear what your experiences with and opinions about consent are. Please leave a comment below! If you prefer, you may email covertandcarnal@gmail.com to speak to the staff, or send me a message directly at iamlordunicron@gmail.com. Please check back on #TastyTuesday to see what next week’s discussion is, stay kinky and have a safe and sexy weekend!

Best,

Lord Unicron

 

#TastyTuesday: A Question Of Consent

by Lord Unicron

I’m going to go in a slightly different direction this week, because I want to talk about something that is CRITICALLY important to the health and safety of everyone in a D/s relationship, as well as the wider community:

CONSENT

Consent is the foundation of everything that a healthy relationship should be. This is equally true of the person you meet on Match.com or the person you beat on at the dungeon. In the BDSM lifestyle, consent is all-important because it can make the difference between a successful scene that grants the physical and emotional release both sides desire and a dangerous debacle, complete with legal entanglements and lasting physical, emotional and psychological damage or even death.

There are a lot of ways to violate consent. While the community often buzzes about D-types who break boundaries, little if anything is ever said about s-types who do the same. Granted, this is because when a D-type does it, it’s usually in a big, splashy way and all too often occurs in front of witnesses. Consent violations that happen from the s-side of the slash are usually subtler and much less overt. There can also be a question in the D-type’s mind of whether or not what happened was an “according to Hoyle” consent violation in the first place.

The other problem is, s-types are encouraged to talk about consent violations. Most of the time, there’s no negative impetus against the s-type for doing so. When community “leaders” are implicated in CVs, as I’m going to refer to them from here on to try to do my carpal tunnel syndrome a favor, this can be a definite negative against the s-type, because supporters tend to rally around “pillars of the community,” no matter what community we’re talking about. But there is minimal support or sympathy in the community for D-types whose consent has been violated. This is one place where the illusion of control that the D-type supposedly has works against them.

Neither side of the slash is immune from bad behavior!!!!

I cannot stress this point enough. It does not matter who did it. CVs are devastating to both sides and to the trust they’ve built with each other. A D-type who deliberately draws blood or engages in sexual contact with an s-type when that was either not negotiated or set as a hard limit is and should rightly be called out as a predator, and I will never argue that point. Likewise, accidents and misunderstandings can and do happen. A cursory glance at the writings on FetLife can tell you this, and the Web is chock full of horror stories about how misunderstandings can get out of hand. I’m not talking about accidents or miscues here, but willful, deliberate, premeditated choices to commit a CV on the other person.

A D-type beating an s-type until she’s bloody, ignoring a safeword or doing something that another person clearly heard the two negotiating as out of bounds is obvious, and D-types who do this can and should be called to account for it. But what would a CV from the s-side look like? How can you tell if it’s happening?

Note: The following are real-life examples I have either had done to me or witnessed at firsthand. I will not name names, but the guilty parties know full well who they are and I do not currently speak to or acknowledge them in any way. I do not and will not endorse CVs on either side, and this includes tolerating around me those who I know for a fact to have engaged in same.

Exhibit A: An s-type at a party I attended some months ago did not make a full disclosure of substances she had partaken in some hours before a rope scene. She had eaten a doughnut as her sustenance for an entire day, and then washed down a painkiller with a very strong cocktail. Fortunately, the D-type doing the tying (not me) noticed that she was acting strange and pulled her out of the scene before things could escalate to a dangerous level. I quickly severed all ties with this s-type, because if she could do it to someone else, she could and most likely would do it to me at some point in the future. Her defense for not giving a complete rundown of her current state before play?

“I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Now, some readers may be looking at this and thinking I was unduly harsh in my decision to decline to pursue any possibility of playing with this s-type in the future. However, I reject this notion on the grounds that by not giving the D-type a complete precis of her physical, emotional and mental state before pickup play, she took away the D-type’s right to informed consent. Had she admitted her condition, the D-type said, she would never have agreed to the scene in the first place. I consider this to be akin to rape, because in both cases the right to consent and self-determination as to whether the contact in question is appropriate are taken away.

Exhibit B: An s-type whom I loved dearly decided she did not want to be involved with me on a romantic level. Being dumped is always messy, but I tried to make the best of it and remain friends with her. Still, I knew some limits had to be set for this to be a tolerable state of affairs for me. I specified that I did not want to know what she got up to at events or with whom, I didn’t care to see or hear about the marks, and in general the only thing I needed or wanted to know was whether she had a good time. I asked this of her in an effort to preserve my heart, which her rejection had wounded cruelly. She agreed and said she understood.

One week later, she texted me while I was in the bathtub, telling me all about the wonderful pickup play scene she’d had. I told her she was violating my consent and reminded her I didn’t need or want to know. She pursued the conversation. I cut her off.

Over the next two months, we stayed in sporadic contact. She broke every promise she made to me. She still wanted to tell me about the scenes she was having elsewhere. Later, I met another s-type and we went to an event hosted by a friend of hers. I asked her beforehand not to acknowledge me and to keep a safe distance, because I didn’t feel safe or comfortable around her. She agreed to this. No sooner did I walk through the door than I saw her off in a corner, serving coffee. She waved at me.

Her excuse for repeatedly breaking the limits I established?

“But I only did it ONCE!”

Again, none of these on their own sounds like a big deal…until you consider that she managed to find ways to keep herself inconveniently within earshot and line of sight. By 11:30, I’d had enough and my s-type and I departed. I made it half a block before an anxiety attack drove me to my knees, leaving me hyperventilating and exhibiting all the classic symptoms of cardiac arrest. My s-type had dialed “9-1” into her phone by the time I finally got myself under control.

This series of CVs wasn’t grandiose…but it was devastating just the same. And they left me thinking long and hard about how to prevent future occurrences.

Hard Limits

Because of these incidents and a dozen others like them, I changed how I went about expressing what is and is not a consent violation in my estimation. Today, my hard limits are clearly and explicitly stated. I state them right up front in my FetLife profile. I state them on the House Unicron website. I reiterate them constantly in my daily dealings to clarify that no, my limits haven’t changed. I learned to do this the hard way: by experiencing and witnessing CVs often enough and traumatically enough that it made an explicit, black-and-white statement crucial to my ability to function safely and successfully in this lifestyle. They are not flexible and I deal harshly and decisively with those who violate them at this point in the game, because I have seen and experienced the havoc that permitting bad behavior, including CVs, can wreak.

So, here’s my recipe for setting hard limits. Adjust as you see fit for your own purposes.

Know thyself.

You cannot set hard limits if you don’t know what they are. Any behavior that upsets, disgusts, alarms or harms you in ANY dimension should be considered a hard limit. In my case, some of my hard limits seem fairly extreme…until you consider the damage that not having these limits in place has caused in the past. Your hard limits should not only reflect what you expect from others, but what you offer in return.

Be prepared to reciprocate.

Whichever side of the slash you’re on, you do NOT have the right to establish a hard limit that you yourself have no intention of upholding. Double standards can be fun in certain kinds of play, such as a mindfuck, but hard limits are hard limits are hard limits, period, full stop, end of discussion. An s-type can’t insist on a D-type observing and honoring her hard limits and then break his (adjust genders as appropriate for your dynamic and situation) or vice versa. In other words, if you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to your partner.Yes, this is a reiteration of my previous point…because I happen to think it is THE primary cause of CVs from both sides of the slash.

State your hard limits clearly and explicitly.

Simple, plain English is the rule here. Don’t be coy or use cloaked, coded, flowery or “legal” language to try to get your point across. My hard limits are as simple to read and understand as the Ten Commandments, and are phrased in a way that leaves no question as to my meaning or intent. In fact, the very title, “I DO NOT CONSENT,” states plainly that these are not items for negotiation, discussion or debate. They are what they are, and anyone who wishes to deal with me will honor them.

Be ruthless in your enforcement.

Violate my hard limits and you’re done, plain and simple. No second chances. No protestations of “But I only did it ONCE!” No reprieve, no parole, no mercy. These limits also apply to my dealings in the wider world. I accept that not everyone knows or is aware of my limits, especially in the vanilla world, and so I check those who violate them ONCE and make it clear they do not get a second warning. I enforce my hard limits because they define not only how I expect to be treated, but how I treat others as well: with dignity, honor and respect for their needs, tastes, preferences and feelings. Just like you can’t set a hard limit you won’t honor when it applies to your own behavior, you cannot expect people to take your hard limits seriously if you do not enforce them when necessary.

Your hard limits are an expression of how you see the world, what you want and need from your partner and what you offer them in return. Having solidly established, clearly explained hard limits can make or break a D/s dynamic, a friendship or a workplace relationship. Make sure you have your hard limits set in stone and that your partner is clear about what they are. In a truly successful dynamic, your hard limits and your partner’s will mesh in such a way that CVs should never occur.

Please join me on #FreakyFriday, when I’ll be discussing practical limits and what to do when they are violated.

Until Friday,

Best,

Lord Unicron

Starting off too hard can kill your dynamic before it ever gets properly off the ground. Incorporating kink into your activities can be as elaborate as ropes, restraints and impact implements, or as simple as adding in erotic tickling. As with any other BDSM/kink activity, enthusiastic consent should always be obtained prior to play.