I've been putting off writing this entry: it is far too big already. I want to write about how doms and subs interact outside of a clearly-negotiated play context - when the lines are blurred, and what people's expectations seem to be. I can tell that this is going to be terrifyingly long, and that I'm not going to explain myself nearly as well as I'd like to.
So I'm going to stall a little longer. I'm going to talk about names. In the proud blogger tradition, I'm using aliases for myself and the people I write about. In the proud nerd tradition, they are, so far, all literary references. Specifically, I have named myself Susan and my roommate Miranda after characters who had problematic relationships to magical worlds. Susan is the unfortunate Pevensie sibling who stops believing in Narnia - and starts showing a little too much interest in stockings and boys - and is thus barred from the Kingdom of Heaven (I mean, of Aslan). Miranda is Prospero's daughter in The Tempest, who gets to be on the receiving end of her father's magic quite often, and who gets to spend some serious quality time with the creature who attempted to rape her. Yes, I thought a lot about this. Yes, I am very pleased with myself.
Of course, I had to come up with a nickname for my ladyfriend as well, and since she's just as critical as either Miranda or myself, I needed one in the same vein. Wendy was the gimme, but Lost Girls has pretty much ruined that one for me. When I asked Miranda, she - without missing a beat - suggested Bella; I value my life too much to use that one. I'm sure there are better ones that I'm not thinking of, but I'm going to go with Mina. (You know who I mean, I know you do.)
I am so tired of doms who posture. I mean when a group of a certain kind of macho dom gets together and has a pissing contest. Not that they're showing off skills, which is cool, or passing around pictures of their rope work, which is also fine (although after a bit it begins to feel like looking at pictures of someone's pet. It's really for their benefit, and you have to love the pictures because they do.) I'm talking about the doms who constantly need to one-up each other with stories about their exploits in kink, and about their own domly prowess in particular. Something like this:
Master Beelzebub: I once left this girl hanging from my ceiling for two hours while my friends and I played Halo in the next room! She totally yelled at me afterward, until I told her what she could do with her mouth! [Heyo!]
Lord Dom-Dom Pop: Yeah, well, this one time my girl was being a brat, so I spilled my drink on the floor and made her lick it up!
(Ok, I should probably have more respect for the monikers that people choose for themselves, but it's too much fun to mock! A friend of mine refers to pushy doms with an inflated sense of their own importance and impressiveness as either Lord Flashpants or Zeus Thunderthighs. It makes me so happy.)
So, I'm bothered by these conversations not just because they are annoying, although they are. It's not just that they always have to happen at a loud volume, designed to attract the largest possible audience, at the expense of the most possible other conversations. I can put up with these posture-fests with only mild irritation as long as they are about scenes that sound like they were designed for everyone's enjoyment. What really bothers me is when I hear a conversation like the one above, wherein the participants are describing doing things to their partner(s) that the partner(s) don't want or like.
Okay, okay, I get that a lot of play is about just that. I personally enjoy being made to do things that I don't enjoy doing. I might enjoy being made to lick up Mina's drink, and I would even be fine with her telling people about it, as long as she didn't tell them that she forced me against my will to do something I didn't want to do.
This is the difference for me. If, during a scene, Mina spills her drink and tells me to lick it up, I tell her no, and she shoves my face into the puddle, that's fine. We are adults who have agreed to play together, agreed to the terms of the play, and agreed to a safe word, should anything go awry. We know that we are participating in a scene about power play: we are pretending that Mina has the right to push me around. We are pretending that I am unable to retaliate, should she do something really cruel. We are pretending that I am not pleased as punch to have a face full of, well, punch. Even if I'm grossed out, humiliated, furious, I am still enjoying myself, because I like to be pushed around. That is, after all, the point. When we do these things, we are playing. This is pretty 101.
It would not be okay if Mina then told a group of people about it, saying "I shoved Susan's face in a puddle of punch. Bitch hated it."
Never mind that Mina and I have an egalitarian relationship outside of the bedroom, and in public she can call my by my name or by the appropriate pronoun. It would be a problem even if we were D/s all the time. It would even be a problem if I wanted her to tell everyone I hated it. This is because she would still be pretending. And in pretending, she would be asking everyone in earshot to pretend along with her.
When Lord Dom-Dom Pop announces that he made his bitch sleep in the doghouse all night, that she hates his guts but she can't do a thing about it, he is asking us to acknowledge his power and his ladyfriend's helplessness and misery. Essentially, he is making us part of the scene, without the prior negotiation, trust, precautions, etc. He is playing with me without my permission. I am absolutely not okay with that.
I'm realizing that a discussion about power dynamics outside of scenes will have to be broken up over several entries, otherwise I'll never post anything and eventually end up with a book. I think I'll wait until I've been doing this for awhile, write a book about my blog, and wait for someone to make a movie about the book about my blog. God, I hate Julie Powell.