Posts Tagged ‘consent’
Written by Kristen. Follow her on Twitter @kitchentop.
I love getting marked up. I love the little dark fingerprints that fade to yellow on my upper arms, the purple signs of a shoulder bite, the teeth marks on my inner thighs. I don’t crave pain the way some masochists do. I like rough sex and I like when Sinclair brings it all to me, when they hold down my chest with all their weight while their cock’s inside, when they pin my arm behind me without worrying about whether they’re yanking too hard. I like deep, hard punching, especially across my wings, my shoulder blades and upper back, and I like a spanking, and I like when the feeling of floating, when I know I can handle more.
But what I really like are the bruises, bigger and more colorful in the light of day. I like the memory of what we did last night blooming on my skin as I strip for the morning’s shower. I like a big bouquet of them, spread across my shoulders and neck and thighs, proof that someone wanted me so badly they had to grab and bite and sometimes break skin. I like to show them off; when we lived apart, I would text Sinclair pictures of my bruises and we’d both shiver a little at the memory, and sometimes they post them here for the rest of the world to see.
There’s a funny competitive thing among kinky people – “Look how badass I am! I can take more pain than you – just look at the bruises!” – that I sometimes fall prey to. But it does feel like a badge of honor, a symbol of how far I went, how difficult it can be to let your mind go so that pain and pleasure meld and you can’t tell the difference anymore.
And for me it’s something more: yes, I chose this. My feminist boyfriend gave me bruises because I explicitly consented to them, because they made us both feel good, and I am allowed to choose that if I want to. In fact, with informed, aware consent, I can choose whatever I want. It might not be something you would choose for yourself, but that’s real choice, isn’t it? If I can choose to satisfy my desires with freaky shit you’d never want to do, or get a full-sleeve tattoo or plugs in my earlobes, I’m actually thinking through what I want – and getting it – instead of going along with what the world says I should want.
Bruises take work, to give and get. That giant purple mass on my upper arm required consent, negotiation, and enough endorphins (probably generated by some orgasms) that my body was primed to receive pain, courage, and hard biting. That splay of dark angel wings on my back probably took an hour, strong arms, a carefully timed warmup, and significant exertion. They are not evidence of anger or victimhood; they are evidence of skill.
Kristen and I spent the weekend in Chicago, in part to attend a concert, and in part because tomorrow, December 13th, is our third anniversary. This story does not involve daddy/girl play specifically, but there is once when she calls me Daddy. Because that’s what she does. It does involve some rough sex. Just a warning.
While Kristen showers, I put my cock on under my boxers, leaving my tank top on. She emerges with the white hotel towel wrapped around her, hair wet and dripping onto her shoulders. When she sits onto the bed I stand between her legs and pull her towel open, then grab her hand, lifting her to stand.
I pull her to the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling window that looked out onto the Chicago river, Lake Michigan, and a dozen other skyscrapers nearby to our hotel, leaving her towel on the bed. I take each of her wrists and press her hands into the cold glass, feeling the outside freezing temperature through the thin barrier.
“Leave your hands there,” I say. I press into the back of her body, kissing her neck. She shivers, a ripple up her spine, and I feel it. “I’m going to take you down. You can stop me anytime, but you’ll have to safeword out. I don’t care if you cry or fight me.” She’d been emotional all day, it is possible she’ll cry. And I’m guessing she needs the release.
So do I.
She nods. “Red?” She doesn’t have a usual safeword aside from yellow and red.
“That’s fine.” I reply. “Okay?”
She nods again. I kick her legs open, press harder into her, and drag my hands along her naked body, the curve of her ribs down to her hip, then over her ass, and I plunge two fingers between her lips, hard and right deep into her. She gasps, arches her back a little to push against me harder. I pull my fingers out and spit on them for lube, inadequate but better than nothing, and work them back in. Pushing deep. Fingering her g-spot and cervix and reaching around with the other hand to touch her clit.
The first time she comes, she drops her hands from the window, tits still pressing into it, cheek against it, her breath fogging up the glass. “Who said you could drop your hands,” I growl at her, and she raises them back up to shoulder height, moaning.
“Come for me again.” I work my fingers inside, mouth on her neck and next to her ear. “You see all those windows out there?” She opens her eyes, looking. We’d remarked the night before that we could watch the TV in the person’s apartment across the way. It wasn’t close enough for much detail, but shapes and people surely.
She swallows. “Yes.”
“Wouldn’t take much for someone to notice you here, getting fucked, getting played with. My little toy. Pretty girl, you think someone is watching you right now?” She comes again, twice more, shuddering against the window, torn between wanting to press into it to hold herself up and pulling away from its chilling temperature.
I want to get rough with her. I know it’s easier to do that—for her; she can take more—if she’s already come a few times, hence the warm up. I want it quick, urgent, and dirty.
I pull back, twist her shoulders to swivel her body around. “Down,” I said, pushing on her shoulders. She almost stumbles down onto her knees on the scratchy hotel carpet. I pull my cock out, the big one I like to fuck with, my favorite, the one that is a little too big for blow jobs, especially in her tiny mouth, even considering her skill.
But right now, I couldn’t care less.
I feed it to her, sliding it onto her tongue. “Put your hands behind your back.” She doesn’t need to be doing the work, this time. She is just a hole. She closes her lips over the head but not much deeper. “Get it all wet.” I pull out and rub it against her mouth. She swallows, works her mouth for more saliva, and opens again, and I push inside, deeper this time.
“Come on, you can do better than that. Take it. Take it down, good girl. Let’s see what you can do.”
She tries, but it isn’t enough. I grip her hair at the base of her neck and push, trapping her between the pressure from my hand and my cock. I thrust in a little deeper each time. I can see the teeth marks in the saliva on my cock. I almost tell her to stop using her teeth, but I don’t really care. I can’t feel it, anyway. If she needs to regulate that way, it’s fine.
I push too deep and she gags, closing her mouth, twisting away so I’m not lined up anymore. “Come on,” I urge again. “You’re fine. Do it again.”
She parts her lips and I shove in. Deep again, more, in and out, until she gags again. I give her a moment and touch my cock back to her lips. “You’re not done yet. Again.”
She looks up at me and swallows, hands still behind her back. “Stick your tongue out,” I say. She does, and I slap it with my cock, four, five times, then shove it in. She closes her lips and sucks, and a jolt of something goes up my spine.
“That’s good. That’s my good girl. That’s right.”
She sucks it well and I grip her head again, forcing it in deeper, holding her against my cock at the deepest point until she recoils. “Breathe,” I remind her. She gasps, regains her breath. I slap her tongue again, slap her cheek, and shove it back in.
I’m hard and thick, pulsing, in her mouth. I can smell the come on her thighs, dripping. Her cheeks hollow as she sucks and looks at me with pleading eyes.
I pull out and shove her again. “Down.” She flattened onto her belly, twists, on to the carpet. “Hands and knees,” I say, kicking at her thighs. “Crawl. Go.”
She moans and picks herself up, slowing moving the short distance from the window to the bed. I shove my heel into the flesh of her ass, knock her off balance. “Keep going.” I get a few kicks in with my bare foot, light and easy, but I feel it reverberate through her. She has been so quiet so far, dropping so quickly into that space of submission and giving over, barely talking, and I suspect this—making her crawl, kicking her—will just exacerbate that. But she is in it, feeling every touch and every inch, showing me everything with her eyes and the flushes on her skin.
“Up,” I say, and she slowly moves to stand, faces away from me, and I shove her, bend her over the bed, hand finding her hole again, spreading her lips open with my hand and positioning my cock. I spit down between her legs, into the crack of her ass, as low as I can, and make circles with the head of my cock to rub it around before pushing inside her. I pull her hips up as I thrust. “Arch your back. Give me that hole.”
She pushes back into me just as I thrust and I get that angle, that tension, that friction that I love, that shoots energy right up through my core and into my heart, throat, and up and out, back into her. I reach around for her clit while thrusting and I thrum it and she comes again, I feel her tighten around my cock but she doesn’t push me out. But the bed is not quite the right height, my knees are bent and I’m pulling her hips up to me, and I need another angle.
I pull out and pushed her legs together. “Turn.” She does, quickly. I shove her back onto the large king hotel mattress and grip her thighs, pushing them apart as I climb onto the bed between her legs and palm my cock, rubbing it against her slit again.
She moans and arches her back. Her cunt is pink and swollen. I spit again but she doesn’t need it, she’s wet and dripping with come.
I keep my cock in my hand and thrust in and out of her, shallow, a few times. She opens her mouth, hands above her head, fists reaching to grip the sheets, pushing against the headboard. I slide closer to her, in the deep V of her legs, pull out and slap her cunt with my cock, aiming the ridge of the head right at her clit. It works, and she comes quickly, come spraying as I keep slapping. I see it splash onto her breasts, onto my boxers. Good thing the hotel towel is under her. She convulses, thrashing against the bed.
“That is so good. So good baby girl, you feel so good.” She whimpers, crying out as I get harder, releasing and open but not in a big dramatic display. “That’s my girl. Come for me again, come on pretty girl—right on my cock, do it for me. Come on.” And she does, almost on cue, thrashing between me and the bed. I take her wrists into one hand, push against her, keep fucking. I’m close, working my clit against the harness strap as much as I’m working into her.
“Thank you Daddy, thank you Daddy,” she manages. Her low sweet voice sends a jolt through me.
“Open your mouth.” I release her hands, though keep my forearm on her shoulder, holding her down, and slide three fingers into her mouth. Her tongue is wet and soft. “Come on, do it. Suck me down. Take me in to all your little holes so I can fill you up. Come for me again. Come on, do it.” She does, mouth open around my fingers, body rattling, legs kicking on either side of me, gasping. My cock stays inside and I work it. “That’s not enough,” I growl into her ear. “Again. More. Come on, I know you can do it.” She comes again, bigger this time, yelling out, spine undulating. “Good, yes, that’s what I wanted, very nice. That’s my girl. That’s my little toy to play with, my little holes to fuck. Such a good girl.”
She quiets and I pull up to slap my cock against her cunt again, making her come a few more times before I’m done with her, pulling back.
I didn’t come. I am still dressed, wearing the boxers and tank top I slept in. She barely touched me. But I’m as satisfied as if I came twice (a rarity), content and buzzing as I lay down next to her and gather her into my arms.
We kiss, curl into each other. When she gets her voice back, she takes a minute to tell me what she liked—”I liked it when you kicked me, made me crawl,” “I liked being against the window,” “I liked coming over and over for you,” “I like when you tell me what to do”—which she knows I like to hear as part of my aftercare. Lessens my top guilt. I hold her close and stroke her skin.
We lay together a while as our bodies quiet and calm, then I strip and get into the shower. Later in the day, doing one last sweep over the hotel room before we leave, I notice her handprints still on the window, and a lip print where her face was pressed up against it. Usually I hate leaving the oils of my hands in prints on glass, too aware of janitorial jobs that must clean up after carelessness, but this time, it’s so pretty, I can’t bring myself to wipe them away.
I woke early the other day, with that familiar urge to hold and protect and control Kristen, maybe it’s the subconscious absorption of her smooth naked skin all night long, how sweet her body feels in my arms as we both turn and slumber, maybe it’s when we go in and out of whatever tough times we’re having, either about each other or just our individual general struggles against the world, maybe it’s just how I am wired, to protect and shelter, and sometimes control and dominate.
I began touching her before she was fully awake. She and I have talked about this, I have permission to take her whenever I want to, particularly in the mornings, she likes to be awakened that way. I kissed her neck and collarbone and breasts and shoulders, let my hand trail slow and soft over her skin as she murmured little sighs and stirred gently, eyelids heavy, not really awake and not really trying to be.
Slipping her panties down and off of her, I stayed low on the bed and kept my hands on her hips, using my elbows to spread her thighs open, the soft and sweet indirect morning light just enough to see the pink and pretty lips of her pussy. Delicate and velvety and I wanted to taste her, lowered my mouth down to run my tongue along the length of her slit. Just the tip of my tongue, breath hot on her cunt, keeping my mouth hovering above her and my hands gripping her hips. She squirmed. Pressed her thighs into the bed, pressed up as high as she could against my mouth, tensed everywhere.
I let my tongue flatten and drag softly, softly along her pussy again, from her hole up to her clit, and rest there, using the soft inner part of my lips to suck and tease.
Kristen comes easily this way. Tongue on her clit, one finger just one knuckle in and circling around the opening of her cunt, she quickly thrashes her arms down into the mattress and gasps, twisting her head and jerking her legs straight. I soften the pressure and go back in, tongue wide and lapping again, with quicker, smaller movements over her clit, until she comes again, crying out a little louder this time, and I shift up the bed to kiss her, hold her close for a moment.
I had set it up a week ago: taken the new fleece-lined wrist cuffs and secured them to another set of cuffs I’d placed around the bars of my headboard with some snap hooks. Kristen likes to struggle, likes to thrash around, and a little bit of restraint goes a long way: it gives her the opportunity to push or pull against something, lets a few more of her muscles tense and tighten and release a little deeper (and plus she doesn’t hit me in the face quite as easily). I took the fleece-lined cuffs down and buckled them around her wrists, then the easy click of the snap hooks secured her wrists to the bedframe.
She immediately calmed and quieted, not out of boredom but out of relaxation, watching me as I moved back down between her legs and set again to tonguing her pussy, making her come. This time I slid two fingers into her pussy, sucking her lips into my mouth and spreading them open with my hands to get to her clit. She strained against the cuffs and I felt the muscles in her stomach and ass tighten every time she pulled against the headboard.
I lost track of how many times she came in my mouth. Sometimes I let up, gave her a break, paused between orgasms, other times I just kept going and she did, too. I brought my elbows up to press her legs apart, kept my fingers inside her or spreading her lips open. I held her hips, pinched her nipples, gripped her ankles, held her legs up by the back of her thighs. I reached for the conveniently located pump bottle of Maximus lube on the nightstand and got a dollop on my third finger so I could slide it into her ass, just a little, filling her up, sucking her clit as swollen as I could and letting up just as she was about to come, changing my stroke down to a tickle until she contracted hard around my fingers and came again, again, again.
I lost track of time. I stopped caring if she was being too loud for this time in the morning, whether my neighbors would be home. I wanted to get my camera out, take up-close macro shots of the curves and lines and folds of her pussy, oh so pink and swollen and beautiful.
Not that she would have minded me doing that, but I didn’t. Next time, perhaps. That image of her arms and legs and pussy spread is still so clear in my mind, still a lovely mental image I’ve replayed more than a few times since then.
The cuffs were easy to unhook, left no marks, no bruises, no dye, were very comfortable. I pulled her close and noticed it was well past time to get up. “Morning, beautiful girl,” I murmured into her hair.
The Fleece Lined Buckling Cuffs w/Scalloped Edge and KinkLab Nickel-Plated Snap Hooks (4-Pack) were sent to me to review from JT’s Stockroom. Check them out for all kinds of other fantastic bondage toys.
I’m heading back to Seattle next weekend, May 22-23, for the Sex 2.0 Conference!
I’ll be presenting a workshop on Yes, No, and Consent, based on the article I wrote a while back and some subsequent conversations and feedback. Here’s the description:
Yes, No, and Consent:
It tends to be a basic assumption in kinky and sex-positive communities that sexy explorations must be done consensually, that both parties must express a YES (verbally or non-verbally), especially when getting into the dirty stuff. And many of us know that in order to say YES, we have to be able to say NO, to have full agency and full options available to us. But what about when you want something, your partner says they are into it, but you feel guilty? How do we take the YES more seriously? How can you use social media & the internet as explorations of communication, increasing the desire and friction in your sex life?
I don’t know which day or time I’ll be presenting, but I’ll let you know when I do know. If you’re in Seattle, please do consider coming! It’s a relatively inexpensive conference, and I always hear amazing things about it. I wanted to go when it was in DC last year, but couldn’t make it.
I went to college in Seattle (at the University of Washington, majoring in Gender Studies and Creative Writing, graduated in 2004), and lived there for almost seven years. I can’t wait to go walk around Greenlake, eat at Rom Mai Thai on Broadway, get a beer at the Elysian, and have a happy hour $4 double whiskey at the Rosebud. I only wish Pete’s Pizza hadn’t closed, I’ve never had calzones that good anywhere else. I haven’t been back in a while, I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m realizing that I’m a little bit obsessed with consent, in perhaps a way that is too much. I mean, it is not a bad thing to get someone’s consent in sexual play, and there are many ways to do so. But I’m starting to see ways that I’m conscious of consent or non-consent in many other aspects of my life.
One of the reasons I don’t really like sex in public is because of the other people who may witness it. Some people find the getting caught part the part that is thrilling, and some folks find the threat of getting caught (though not actually getting caught) thrilling. I do like being in such lust and desire that you can’t keep your hands off the one you’re with long enough to get home and really have to take them, have to have them, right now, right here, but I don’t want that to have anything to do with being in public or potentially watched by strangers, because the strangers are not consenting. No matter how sex-positive (or sex-negative) they might be, they are not consenting to seeing someone else having sex right now, right here, and I guess that I feel like doing it, then, is a little bit rude.
Now, consenting strangers, like at a sex party? Sure. No problem. I’m glad to have sex in front of other people, though I’m more of a voyeur than I am an exhibitionist, I do like showing off my partner and what she can do, how she looks, how I can make her scream and gasp and cry and come.
When I perform at a reading series and decided to read some erotica, I try always to warn folks at the beginning of the reading, to tell them what the content will be (just broadly—a blow job, some fucking—without ruining the “plot,” of course). Sometimes one is just not in the mood to listen to explicit sex, certainly I am not in the mood sometimes, and have been at events where someone busts into some really explicit sex (or violence, or something else a bit controversial) and often the audience gets very uncomfortable. It’s not that I don’t sometimes want the audience to be uncomfortable, when listening to my work, or that I think anyone who has a problem with sex should necessarily leave if given a warning, just that it’s easier to kind of brace yourself if you have some vague expectation of what’s upcoming.
This consent obsession happens in my own apartment, too. I noticed it just recently, when I was, yet again, shushing Kristen as we were fucking, probably in the morning, possibly when either my roommate was around or when my new neighbors with their young child were loud enough to hear through the walls. I know my roommate knows that I have a lot of sex, and I know he doesn’t really mind, but still, I try to be respectful.
I was discussing this with Kristen a little bit lately, this particular one about being quiet when we have sex at my place, and she pushed me a little to think about it. Especially in terms of the neighbors. “That’s just something that happens in New York City apartments,” she shrugged. The walls are thin, we live close together, cramped in this big ol’ city. And sheesh, there are way worse sounds to hear than your neighbors having good sex—hell, maybe they’re pervy enough to really like hearing their neighbors get it on, and it ends up inspiring them to have sex, too. Sometimes I really do let it get in the way of really letting go when we’re fucking, and I don’t want that to happen.
(Hey look, Sinclair is putting other people’s perceived—not even actual!—needs in front of her own. Surprise, surprise. Yeah, working on it.)
I’ve been noticing this lately in terms of my email inboxes, too. I have a public email inbox, and twitter stream, and thus sometimes I get things in my inbox that I don’t consent to, that I don’t ask for, from products and ads and offers to hate mail. One of the things about email is that it’s really hard to receive an email, see who it’s from, see the subject line, and then either not open it or delete it without reading it, and thus I have ended up reading all sorts of things that I didn’t really want to. I’ve kept this in mind when sometimes writing long sappy emails to my exes in my mind, too, thinking, are they consenting to receiving this email? Do they want to hear from me? It’s different to send a note saying, hey, thinking of you, hope you are well, verses sending a two-page long story-of-my-life and pouring-my-heart-out emotional letter.
Perhaps it’s a form of containment.
That’s not to say that I don’t love and appreciate the occasional emails in my inbox about my work, folks pouring out their hearts and emotions and sex lives, telling me about gender and their partners or exes and how my work has changed how they are relating to their relationship, sex, or gender issues. I do love that. I’m so glad my work isn’t going out there into some big black void. And I know that when I reveal this kind of personal stuff about my own gender, sexuality, sex life, relationship, and emotional life, it makes it easier to open up about yours in response, and I cherish that opening. It’s inspiring and beautiful and I love that kind of connection with other folks.
I suppose that’s just one of the side effects of having a public email address—and I’m starting to really envy folks like Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Havi Brooks of The Fluent Self who have shut down their email inboxes entirely. I know that wouldn’t exactly solve the problem, and I do like to have a place where folks can write to me. And the only thing I can do about this is to note the ways that I sometimes throw things in other people’s inboxes that they don’t consent to, and be aware of that.
I still have my own issues with trusting the agency of my partner, too. My relationship with Kristen was kinda tough over the holidays, and one of the things that came out of that was some distrust on my part of the D/s dynamic that I’d come to love and cherish. I second-guessed myself and her to the point that I wasn’t trusting what either of us were saying, I was (subconsciously or unconsciously) convinced that there was something else I wasn’t seeing, something I didn’t know about that would come bubbling up (again) and … be scary. But, so what if it does? That could certainly happen! There’s always more stuff to figure out that comes up and demands to be dealt with. So what. More and more, I trust that I—and Kristen and I together—have the tools to deal with that stuff, whatever it is. And when I can bring this all into articulation, it’s very clear that I haven’t been trusting our dynamic enough and have needed to relax and let go a little more (instead of gripping tight and trying to keep control and protect and help, yet again).
Maybe my “consent obsession” is slightly more accurately described as an obsession with control—or perhaps that’s related, though not entirely the same, like an overlapping Venn diagram. Regardless, it’s something I notice coming up in various places in my life, and I want to be more aware, mindful, and intentional with what I choose to do with it when it arises.
Come join me at the Lesbian Sex Mafia‘s February workshop!
LSM Presents: Gendering Power: How to Spice Up Your Role Play
with Sinclair Sexsmith
Where: LGBT Center, 208 West 13th Street (bet 7th and 8th Ave.)
When: Friday, February 19, 2010 at 8:00-10:00PM
Cost: $5/LSM members, $10/Non members
An interactive workshop on how the addition of gender to power dynamics in sexual role play scenarios can increase desire, vulnerability, and intimacy, as well as explore deep inner personal gender identities.
In much of the workshops and trainings around sexuality and sexual expression that I have attended, we have often started with one basic concept: saying no.
For example, I have been part of a circle of pairs where the instruction was for the person on the outside of the circle to think of a place on their body that would really like to be massaged right now. Hands, feet, wrists, scalp, shoulders – wherever there might be some great tension released. And the instruction was to ask the person on the inside circle, politely, “would you please massage my ____.” The person on the inside was instructed to say “No.” They could say, “I’m sorry, not right now.” Or, “I really can’t, no.” Or to couch it in some other softer “no,” but the instruction was specifically to practice saying it – even if they actually wanted to give the massage! (There would be time for that, later.)
The point of that exercise is to practice saying no. To know that it’s okay to say no. To have permission to say no – to have instruction, even, to say no. It’s actually really hard! But it’s so, so important, especially when building trust, especially when deepening a relationship, especially when working to assert your own needs and desires, as I feel probably all of us struggle with, in some ways.
The idea behind this, in erotic work is without no, there is no YES. And the YES is what we’d like to get to. The delicious, hungry YES, which is so excited and juicy and ready for what’s coming.
Without the ability to say no, the yes is virtually meaningless. Without the reassurance of my partner or girlfriend or lover or wife or toy or submissive saying no to me every once in a while, how can I be sure that she really can say no? It feels good, to me, to hear someone create limits on something, because then I have a better idea of how far I can go. I hate to discover dealbreakers in the middle of something, that is not good.
That’s pretty explanatory, right? The no-gives-yes-value thing?
This happens in relationships, too, not just with sex. For example, my friend and her girlfriend were planning to do something, one of those big relationship things. The details are a bit unimportant, but it’s something her girlfriend had expressed skepticism about in the past, and my friend was really into it. At the last minute, her girlfriend decided no, actually, it isn’t something she wanted to do. Oops sorry! My friend was mad, for a while. We talked and talked and she was upset. After the dust cleared a little, though, my friend said she was really grateful to her girlfriend for being honest. She was really grateful that her girlfriend wouldn’t be the kind of person who would just go along with something her partner wanted, even if it wasn’t something that she truly wanted herself. How much worse would the resentment build up if she had gone and done it anyway, secretly knowing she didn’t want to! How much more tension and stress would their relationship be under! My friend’s girlfriend risked hurting my friend’s feelings, and risked the consequences of being honest, but also has a lot of trust and faith that they will be able to talk through things, to reach some sort of mutually appreciated conclusion. And my friend has said, many times, since, I value honesty over consistency any day.
They are closer, as a result. Telling the truth doesn’t have to mean being disappointing or disappointed, it doesn’t have to mean steps back in a relationship. I would rather be with someone who I could trust to tell me no when they felt no and tell me yes when they felt yes. And if she never tells me no, can I be sure she really can?
Audacia Ray has said that working in the sex industry taught her to say no. She’s also said, “‘No’ is a complete sentence!” (especially when she and I have talked about how overcommitted we are), which I find myself saying to myself in my head frequently. Lots of the productivity blogs talk about turning things down as a way to really take control over your own time and owning your own sovereignty. This is important in sex play and relationships, too.
I know lots of these concepts around “saying no” are taught in sexual assault, survivor, reclaiming sexuality, and power play workshops all over, but I want to reiterate where it comes from, because the next part is this: about saying yes.
As I have been writing about a bit lately, I have struggled with being a top and dominant in bed. Sometimes, upon expressing to my lover something that I’ve wanted to do, and after they say, excitedly, that they have always wanted to do that too, I still have trouble, I still doubt that it’s okay, I still hesitated.
It’s like what J. said, in a comment on the Reconciling the Identities of Butch Top and Feminist essay:
Recently, my partner and I have been experimenting with some new things in bed and I was constantly asking her if she was okay with what we were doing. I was so worried that I asked her several times in a row, not taking her first yes for what it was. She told me that if I’m going to trust when she says no, I also have to trust when she says yes.
Bingo. I love that explanation of this process – so succinct. Yes, exactly.
As the dominant, I think I can ask whether my submissive is okay with what we are doing (or going to do), even more than once, until I am satisfactorily convinced of her consent, but – BUT! – it is also my job to trust her answer, to believe her, and to let that be enough.
If she consents, and uses it against me later, that is, most likely, NOT MY FAULT and she is a jerk. (See Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast Episode #165 where a guy gives his boyfriend permission to fuck other guys, then gets completely pissed and refuses to see him again after he does. Not okay!)
If I have chosen to date this girl, then personally I do have some sort of assumption that her consent means that she knows herself, and she is able to gauge her own reactions, and has enough self-knowledge that she will know whether being in whatever situation we’re discussing will make her freak out or not.
I can, of course, check in with her during the scene (hopefully in ways that do not break the scene entirely – see The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book for more about that), but I also have to accept that if something was wrong she would tell me or communicate it to me somehow, and that it is not my job to be a mind reader. It is my job to ask when I notice something, it is her job to communicate with me actively.
This is one of those ways that BDSM is actually Relationship Communications 401, way beyond the basics. And this is why I personally have had a tough time playing with people who were not self-aware, people who were not impeccable communicators, and people who were not afraid to be honest and assert what they needed.
This stuff is really damn hard, I know. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want, let alone being able to articulate it. But if we can’t trust each other to say yes, and no, and mean it, then we can’t go farther, we can’t play with consent and force, we can’t establish deeper trust to be able to get to the darker, juicy stuff, like domination and submission outside the bedroom, and role play, and deep, late night conversations untangling some of our control issues. Ideally, a good relationship works to bring parts of you to light that weren’t quite visible before, and supports you as you work through them, and possibly enhance or change them – and I have found no better tool for that than the many varied practices of BDSM.