roots and essenceLast Saturday evening as our local BDSM group's gathering for coffee and conversation ended, a few of us hung around for a while. We were discussing munch, meeting and play-party etiquette in general. Eventually the talk turned to protocol. Reference was made to "Old Guard" traditions and attitudes. Our consensus was that for our group at least, protocol should be more a matter of what was deemed appropriate by any given D/s couple by them for them, rather than standards of speech and behavior to which the group would expect adherence from everyone. We do have certain written rules by which prospective members (and annually, existing members) agree to abide. They're essentially just common-sense good social behavior, respect for confidentiality, etc.
Anyway, the comments about Old Guard ways seemed to be based on a general mutual understanding that there was a time in the history of our lifestyle when a certain formality played more of a role than it does now. As the evening grew later, L and I left the coffeehouse to go out for pizza with another couple from the group and our dinner conversation was pretty vanilla.
Once we arrived home, however, L asked me to tell her what "Old Guard" meant. This surprised me a bit. Her exposure to the lifestyle predates mine by a few years, but it was a name with which she was not familiar. As I began to try to explain I realized that I was not being particularly articulate, so I located some articles by Jack Rinella, Jay Wiseman and Guy Baldwin that I'd saved on my computer. I skimmed through those quickly and read enough to her from them that she felt she had a basic understanding.
Since that evening, though, I've found myself thinking often about the history of what we now call BDSM, and about the relative importance of that history. I've long thought of the D/s lifestyle as a singularly personal thing, and believed that the fact that there is no single universally accepted way to do it right is largely a blessing.
Fifty years ago the "forefathers" of our lifestyle were small, very private, strict, and highly structured groups of gay men. Membership was typically achieved through a long process of training, discipline, and sponsorship. Obviously old ways of doing things are not necessarily superior, just as new ways are not better just because they're new. Was the Old Guard way nothing more than one solution for a specific group of people living in a particular time and place? Have we lost something important as the lifestyle community has become more visible, (relatively) more mainstream, and more sexually/socially diverse?
As the week wore on, though, a phrase that I encountered in the articles I mentioned above kept coming to mind. Back in what's typically thought of as the heyday of the Old Guard, those-things-that-we-do were not called "BDSM". Apparently they didn't even use "S&M" very often. "Rough sex" is the descriptive phrase that I've seen pop up again and again.
Another question I've been mentally pursuing this week is: what is the true essence of BDSM? Is it even possible to sufficiently generalize enough to so distill it? Is it "rough sex"? Is it those old-fashioned values of discipline, obedience, integrity and honor? Or is it something else?
At this point I'm far from an answer that will satisfy me (much less one that I'd advocate to someone else). Still, I believe these are things worthy of consideration and I doubt that I'll have them out of my head anytime soon. So, be forewarned. These quasi-amorphous topics will probably be showing up again here in coming days. If you'd like to comment, point me toward some essay that you think is especially illuminating, etc. please feel free to do so either here or by email.
posted by John | 11:17 PM [permalink] | |
Thursday, October 28, 2004
catching upIt has felt good to be working on this weblog once again, even if most of the work recently has been more about style and layout than content.
Looking back over what I've written here since I began the project, it seems that many (most) of my posts have been "topic-oriented," rather than talking about day-to-day life. I'm not sure why things have developed that way. Surely, the mundanities of everyday are not the best fodder for riveting narratives ...but there IS a great deal about daily life with L that I love, and enjoy sharing when there's an opportunity. So I'm thinking that perhaps a little deliberate change of pace here might be a good thing.
Saturday was wonderful. Neither of us had to work, so we savored a leisurely morning drinking coffee and talking. In the afternoon, I delivered on a promise I'd made a day or two before: we had an extremely nice, long play session. I used the occasion to use several new little things I'd purchased the weekend before on a trip to a tack store in another town as well as a newly acquired set of ankle cuffs. Mostly, though, the afternoon was devoted to working with L's favorite... my elkhide flogger.
Earlier in the week when telling her of my plan, I had assured her that I was going to "flog the hell out of her" (a quaint little phrase she often uses when speaking of what she likes to have done!). By the time I began the cooldown phase of the scene, L was very, very deep in subspace. I wrapped her in a blanket, then cuddled and caressed her for a long time, telling her how much I love her and what a source of joy and pride she is for me. Once she was able to speak English again, I asked her if she felt that she had indeed had the hell flogged out of her. She smiled broadly and whispered, "yes."
As is usually the case when we play at home, aftercare was very sensual, very erotic for the both of us. It almost always leads to a "sex session" of comparable duration to our play session, and Saturday was no exception. We had to hurry a bit later to get showered, dressed and ready to leave for a little get-together that our local BDSM group was having at a favorite coffeehouse.
It was nice seeing those friends and meeting a couple of prospective new members. It was even nicer to watch L throughout the entire evening. She absolutely glowed.
posted by John | 1:18 PM [permalink] | |
Monday, October 25, 2004
a little more housekeepingO.K., I think I have fixed the problem Bliatz pointed out to be some time ago related to font color vs. background color in my posts. Removing one rogue line of CSS seems to have done the trick. The page should look very much the same in both IE and Mozilla-esque browsers now (at least it does to me).
Other new things to see are new links to two weblogs written by male dominants: The Maelstrom and urbanstud. I've only relatively recently begun reading them both, but plan on making a habit of it. I've also updated my link to Neko's blog, Letters To An Angel. It now resides at its own domanin: www.letterstoanangel.com, and somehow manages to keep getting better and better.
The final item to announce is the addition of a new link in my "By Submissives" section. Though it's a very new journal, this one's rather special to me. It's written by my submissive, the love and light of my life. She's a gifted and insightful writer, as will become obvious to all who read as the project grows and develops I am certain. It's called Body of Work.
posted by John | 9:23 PM [permalink] | |
Saturday, October 23, 2004
housekeepingI made a few minor changes here. One weblog that I had listed in my "By Submissives" section had been updated only once in nearly three months, so I reluctantly removed it.
Another change was something I should have done weeks ago. Bliatz pointed out to me that This Big Hush is a collaborative work and should be categorized as a "Group Blog".
Still another change will likely be coming here soon: a slight revamping of the color scheme. Bliatz remarked in a comment some time back, "Can't you do something about your template? Black on dark grey is virtually unreadable..." I had been fairly fond of the way the site looked to me, as viewed on my computer in IE6. Recently, though, I had occasion to open it in the latest version of Mozilla Firefox and saw a markedly different appearance. Readers (if there are any left) who have problems with this currently should see an improvement by the end of next week. (Hopefully sooner.)
posted by John | 1:22 PM [permalink] | |
Friday, October 22, 2004
kudosIt's raining. I love rainy nights. Hmmm... puts me in mind of an old Eddie Rabbit song [oops! dating myself a bit there.]
I've spent some time this evening doing something I truly enjoy, reading some of my favorite lifestyle-themed weblogs, and wondering why I haven't been doing this more often.
A few years ago when I finally ventured beyond the bounds of "online" BDSM into the "real-world" lifestyle I was (for whatever reason) pleasantly surprised by the levels of intelligence, understanding, empathy and erudition among those I met and with whom I became associated. Perhaps unduely surprised, but happily nonetheless. That feeling is mirrored and perhaps even magnified toward the authors of the blogs I (try to) read regularly.
Kudos to you all: To those with whom I've interacted face-to-face who've helped me grow and become, and to those whose written words have served and continue to serve as a perpetual fount of stimulation, entertainment and inspiration for me.
posted by John | 11:15 PM [permalink] | |
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
a virtueA couple of months ago, I made my first try at writing a little about a Dominant's responsibilities. It was a relatively short and rather rambling article. I hope one day reasonably soon to return to that subject matter again, but for the moment I'm returning to a statement I made in that particular post.
In talking about helping a submissive overcome "resistance," I opined:
For the dominant it requires an inexhausible supply of patience, an acceptance of the fact that these things are going to happen, and an unflagging willingness to help her work through them.
I've had occasion to think about the value of patience recently as a result of a couple of discussions L and I have enjoyed.
I had been talking about some directions in which I anticipated her growth as a submissive would take her. There was a hint of misunderstanding as to whether these thoughts of mine were something along the lines of expectations, or "goals." In actuality it was more speculation than expectation on my part (at least in the sense of the connotation of "expectation" as something that would cause me disappointment if not lived-up-to).
As I endeavored to explain my thinking to her, I found myself particularly wanting to assure her that if/when these things happened, they would happen naturally and at their own pace. I wanted to be certain she understood that no matter the length of time involved (weeks, months, or years) I would not grow impatient because the things under discussion were things that would/could only happen on their own, rather than through any conscious effort by either or both of us.
As I thought more about this talk later, I reflected upon how very important patience can be for a Dom. I had earlier written about its value in handling frustration and maintaining self-control, but there's an aspect I had neglected in that post.
Patience on the part of a Dominant, i.e., real, tangible patience ...patience a submissive can truly see and feel... is one of the finest gifts a Dom can give. Being patient does not imply the fostering of a permissive environment in which whatever a submissive does is more-or-less O.K. Expectations and goals can surely be legitimate parts of a D/s relationship, and there are times when meeting them should be insisted upon. It is equally valid (IMHO) to say, however, that a submissive should know that sincerely and and diligently and consciencously doing his/her best IS enough.
A submissive who enjoys the safety-net of her Dominant's patience is probably going to be more willing to challenge the boundaries of her comfort zone, more willing to allow her Dom to stretch her limits, more willing to "push the envelope" in general, because she knows that the one who cares for her as no other does recognizes that she's human. He accepts that she's going to stumble from time to time, and will be there to help her to her feet again. He expects her best, but is satisfied with just exactly that ...even when "best" isn't perfection.
Perhaps I'm over-simplifying to call this sort of nurturing just "patience," but patience is surely an integral part of it. So in a world where the lines between vice and virtue are often blurred, here's one thing at least that should remain clearly in virtue's column.
posted by John | 6:58 PM [permalink] | |