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Thursday, December 30, 2010

When Good Etiquette Goes Bad: a short short story

I'm currently living in an area where manners mean a lot. By and large, people are friendly and polite as a matter of course. They smile at me on the street. They make small talk with strangers. After living here for over a year, I've started addressing older strangers as "sir" and "ma'am". It's a little old-fashioned, but it goes over well.

Unless I'm at a play party, in which case it is very bad form to assign those titles to someone with whom you don't actually have an existing power dynamic. Anyway, I don't want to be giving anyone ideas.

So I do a lot of "Excuse me, si... uh, 'scuse me."

I am going to be putting my foot in my mouth one of these days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

On Labeling Myself

One thing that keeps coming up lately is how I label myself. Since I've started labeling myself, I've been calling myself a submissive, and that's been varying degrees of accurate. For a long time it was completely true: I was primarily interested in being overpowered, in taking orders, in service, and in a system of punishment and rewards. That is a lot less true now. I know that a big part of that is my bad experience with it a couple of years ago. For a long while after that, I completely lost interest in submitting to someone else in any prolonged or serious way, and I've only recently started to think about wanting it again. That is, it's barely even a part of my fantasy life again; I just want to want it again.

That's probably another entry entirely, but the point is that it's barely accurate to call myself a submissive anymore.

It is still accurate, in a way, to call myself service-oriented, or at least to say that I'm into service, but I really shy away from doing that now. One really mundane reason is that I've been cleaning houses for money for the last few months, and that makes me a lot less excited even to clean my own house, much less that of someone who isn't paying me. The more insidious reason that I'm reluctant to say that I'm into service, though, is that I'm only into it in specific contexts, and a lot of people would love to take advantage of it.

Okay, let me be more clear. In a blog in which I talk about abuse constantly, "take advantage of" is pretty strong language. Here's what I mean by all of that: I like service, when it is eroticized. I like when the other person is also getting off on having me do things for them. I don't just get turned on by doing the vacuuming. (My job would be a lot more interesting if I did.) I know that there are people for whom the mere act of serving someone else is a total turn-on, but it just isn't for me. I don't necessarily want to make your dinner or scrub your sink; I want to please. I want to delight. Obviously, I want to arouse.

Here's the problem: most people really like to have things done for them. They want their dinner made. They want their sinks scrubbed. They want it for free. Heck, I want my dinner made and my sink scrubbed for free! If I found someone for whom making my dinner and cleaning my house was so intrinsically gratifying that they would happily do it for free, I'd be thrilled! I am not that person, though. And yet, as soon as I say I'm into service, I can see the eyes light up, and a moment later I am getting gleeful offers. When I try to explain the context situation, they say that it would be erotic for them! I could be naked while I cook! "No, thank you," I tell them.

It's hard to imagine ever accepting one of these offers; I think that service is probably something I'll reserve for intimate partners. After all, doing domestic service for someone who is in it for the free labor feels a bit like having someone fall asleep on me during oral sex. It's just humiliating - and not in the fun way. Not to mention that it is a dull-as-bones waste of my time.

On to: why no other label is good either.

Right now, I should probably just be calling myself a masochist. What I actually want is to have painful things done to me. The reason I don't use that label all the time is that I'm already tired of other masochists playing the who's-more-masochistic game of one-upsmanship, and I think that if I joined their ranks, I'd just be bringing it on myself. The other night, I had a woman ask me, very solemnly, if I'm a masochist or a pain slut. When said that I didn't know the difference, she explained that a masochist is into pain, but a pain slut is really, really into pain. ("I used to be a masochist, but I only recently became a pain slut.") I told her that I didn't know. Calling myself a masochist would just be inviting other people to challenge it - and god, will they ever - and I'm just not up for it.

Which leaves bottom. Bottom is true - and it sounds kind of cute! I feel like it's tough to take yourself too seriously when you're calling yourself a bottom. Am I being a jerk by saying that? Am I ignoring history and destroying context? Possibly. Very possibly.

On the other hand, bottom is just so vague, and seems like such a tiny part of who I am, sexually. It's appealingly neutral, but its neutrality makes it kind of disappointing to me. Not to mention that I switch, once in a blue moon.

I don't know. It was never reasonable to expect that my sexuality could be summed up with a word. Maybe I should stick with acronyms. SLUL: Submissive-Leaning UnLabeled. Or something like that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Fury of the Righteous (link time!)

When I started writing this, it was to fill a gap. I wasn't seeing what I wanted to see in terms of critical writing about the kink community. I hadn't read Clarisse Thorn yet. (Can I link to her in every post? Probably!) Until two days ago, I hadn't read Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed or listened to its creator's podcast, Kink on Tap. I'm not sure why I didn't listen to it before, except that I think I confused it with a different podcast that I tried and didn't like. I didn't give the blog a chance, in spite of the fact that everyone, everyone, everyone links to it, because I saw the name, and assumed that it would be about someone having all kinds of sexy sex in unexamined ways, and isn't the Master/Mistress of my passion an actual demigod? I was completely wrong. I feel like I should apologize to someone, and maybe I should apologize to myself for denying myself the absolute fucking thrill of reading posts like this incredible diatribe against the kink community.

[T]here is a fallacy, a lie, a self-protective disgusting self-consolement that the sex communities tell themselves to comfort themselves and hide their own massively, outrageously discriminatory practices[…]. And that lie is that those people simply “didn’t find the right space for them,” “wouldn’t fit in here anyway,” or some such bullshit. […S]ex communities do a fucking piss poor job of making it okay to want those things, and that in fact, sex communities are mostly filled with self-contented, complacent, lazy people whose actions make it clear they care more about getting their own lay than making it possible for other people to connect to them, or with others.

Miranda and I read it and gawked for a bit. I waved my arms around expressively. It feels so good to read that, we agreed.

So, go read it. I'm probably going to go comment on it.