trying it outIn an interesting post today on Randomness, B wrote about dominants testing new toys on themselves. This reminded me of something I'd found on my computer not too long ago, the text of something I had written in an early and very short-lived attempt at blogging about two and a half years ago. Here's an excerpt:
[T]here is [an] aspect [of the lifestyle] which, although it doesn't quite carry the weight of universal dogma, IS regarded by many as something of a prerequisite. This issue is phrased in a variety of ways. "You can't take a sub there if you haven't been there yourself." "The best dominants started out as submissives." "A dominant should know what a toy feels like before ever using it on a sub."
The proponents of this prerequisite make the argument that this sort of thing provides a dominant with insight that can be gained no other way. Yet I question that. Among submissives, different things *feel* differently to different people. What is pleasureable to one is excruciating to another, and may be a hard limit to someone else. It can be suggested that the knowledge of what a flogger feels like to Dom "A" may even give that dominant a false sense of security. Differences in personal tastes, pain thresholds and neurological processing (among other factors) determine how the force of an impact will be interpreted, felt. If Dom "A" has been on the receiving end of a particular cat o' nine, he does know how it feels...TO HIM -- but not necessarily how it feels to submissive "B". Losing sight of that, projecting his own expectations onto sub "B," could very well result in a hasty end to a scene. Or, for that matter, should Dom "A" have a much lower tolerance for pain (which contrary to the belief of some, is *not* a character flaw), he may be so light in his touch that the play experience does not fulfill the desires and needs of sub "B".
So, if the insight into how it feels is not a reliable resource for dominants, what else might they gain from the experience? If Dom "A" is just not *wired* to enjoy pain, if Dom "A" has no desire to submit, or even to bottom, then the experience is reduced to not much more than just proving that he or she can endure some pain in return for the respect of those in the lifestyle who are convinced that it's necessary.
My views have changed since then, though I still think there's some validity in what I tried to say there. A few months after writing this, I tried bottoming to a Domme friend to see what I could learn from such experiences. What I learned mostly was that I could tolerate a fair amount of pain if I convinced myself that I "had to," but that there was no enjoyment for me in either the pain or the restraint.
These days I never use a new toy (purchased or handmade) on someone else without trying it on myself first with a fair amount of impact... mainly trying to guage the nature of the sensation (thuddy versus stingy, etc.). I've not tried B's method of evaluation, i.e., taking a few swats with the item in question from C, but I'm thinking that this would not be a bad idea ...especially with toys of a new type. By means of a healthy amount of feedback from L, I believe I've gained a decent working understanding of how things feel to her, such that I can guess pretty well what new editions of toys we use a lot (e.g., floggers) will deliver. But the next time we expand our arsenal of implements of destruction with something altogether new, I think I'll have to give the B Technique a try.
I'm still fairly convinced that it's possible to be too confident one knows what something feels like when applying it to a new play partner. If I'm going to make a mistake re intensity, I'd want it to be too little rather than too much, so I'll always hope to err on the side of safety.
posted by John | 9:04 PM [permalink]