I Want You to Thrive: How to Use the Submissive Playground “Tracks”

january-subplayAs a Dominant, my job is not to teach you how to submit—other submissives and your own inner wisdom holds techniques and tips for that. (That’s why the course has fourteen guest educators who are mostly switches and submissives.)

My job as a Dominant is:

  1. To create a space for your submission to walk into and feel held, safe, and able to deeply explore.
  2. To set you up with rules to follow, protocol to practice, and goals to meet that are reasonable, clear, and manageable. I want you to go away from encounters feeling awesome, strong, bad-ass, energized, well-used, respected, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll both feel a little bit transformed.
  3. To keep checking in to the Big Picture of our mutual goals, and keep tweaking our rules and protocol so that we are doing the best we can to move closer to them.

In Submissive Playground specifically, my goals for the submissive “players” who participate in the course are:

  1. To have fun! To identify and suspend some of the judgment we’ve accidentally absorbed about what “real” submission is and what it means to submit well, and to instead dive into myriad ways to do it, and figure out what works best for us right now.
  2. To do experiments with our bodies (and hearts and minds), to “collect the data” from the experiments, and to keep moving forward.
  3. To connect with community and witness the many ways a D/s path is possible, and to support each other in the different ways that we pursue these arts.
  4. To support you in identifying your “growth edges,” the places you’d like to transform and learn and grow, and to offer resources on your journey. (And to identify some of my own growth edges, too!)

These goals, and this premise, is what the whole Submissive Playground ecourse is built on.

The content in Submissive Playground keeps growing. This is the third time rife & I will be doing the course, and this time I’m adding Maisha Aza and Axe from the Masocast as guest speakers. The guest speakers who have said yes and provided videos so far are primarily white and cis women or genderqueer folks, so I have some particular perspectives I want to make sure to seek out and include. It’s great to have the full course and now be able to hand pick more contributors who have different identity backgrounds.

(I am still specifically looking for submissive-identified folks who are people of color, of any gender, though I do particularly need more perspectives from cis men and trans women. If you are this or know someone you recommend please let me know!)

So the material is vast. We have guest videos from FOURTEEN PEOPLE, we have porn to watch, erotica to read by Jeff Mann from the Daddies anthology and by BB Rydell from Say Please and Kathleen Delaney-Adams from Best Bondage Erotica, we have technique articles by slave david stein, we have an audio interview with Raven Kaldera.

But that’s just the beginning!

In the course, there are also many other ways to interact and get value.

1. The Materials

That would be the dirty stories, how-to articles, and porn that I’ve already mentioned. It’s all the things to read and watch and interact with, the graphics rife has made, a custom-made Lust Language quiz, plus some BONUS materials when rife and I had too many good materials not to include.

2. The Experiment

This is the “go do this activity” part. There’s one per module (and four modules total—Bondage, Discipline, Service, and Masochism) and it’s the thing that you go try out in your life—there are ways to do it with a partner or by yourself.

3. Submissive Journals Homework

The journals part of the homework is thoughtful written responses to #1, The Materials, and #2, The Experiment. It is kind of like discussion questions in a class, a series of questions to get you thinking about and interacting with the materials and your experiment in a deeper way. This has been a big hit for journallers, folks who are into self-reflection and self-examination, and who like writing.

Doing #3 kind of requires that you keep up with #1 and #2, at least in part.

4. All-Player Live Video Sessions

This is the “live” part of the course. All the participants, plus me and rife, meet up every other week throughout the course to talk about all the #1 Materials, #2 Experiment, and #3 Homework, and to share our stories of discovery with one another. This happens in Spreecast, so there’s a chat function and you can come on video (but only if you want to) and talk to me and everybody in the course. These have been so very fun! They have set dates & times:

  • BONDAGE: Saturday, January 31, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • DISCIPLINE: Thursday, February 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • SERVICE: Saturday, February 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • MASOCHISM: Thursday, March 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • WRAP-UP: Saturday, March 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT

And they are all recorded so you can go back to them and watch them later if you aren’t able to miss the live calls.

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Oh wait! Let me tell you about The Star Chart!

Throughout the course, Star & Mentor Players have access to the Star Chart, which is a place to keep track of the different pieces of the course and what you’re consuming. It’s like having your own sticker chart on the wall where everybody can see how you are doing your chores.

5. Submissive Community

This is the part, more than any of the others, that participants have said was really life-changing. Making connections to folks on a similar submissive path from around the world has been amazing! Friendships have been born and connections have been made. I firmly believe that identity explorations are easier when there’s a community context, because you have not only support but also many representations of how this particular identity manifests. In the course, we have a chat during the live video sessions, there is a message board available for your perusal and in-depth conversations, and you’re hooked up with a “subby buddy” with whom you can dive in and converse more deeply about the course.

6. One on One Sessions

Last but not least, the individual sessions track of the Submissive Playground course is where you and I get to dive deeper into your particular journey with submission and offer some support around whatever your growth edge is. One session is included with the Star Package, and FOUR sessions are included with the Mentor Package (which is why it’s called the Mentor Package, cuz you get some significant mentorship for your D/s path over eight weeks). Anybody in the course can add on additional sessions for a reduced rate, though, so just contact me if you want one. (Note: I’m not really doing 1-1 work with clients this year, instead I’m focusing on teaching and ecourses. So this is a great way to have some 1-1 time with me!)

Oh yeah, and rife is also limitedly available for sessions. After watching his videos in the course and hearing him speak about submission, you might really want some support directly from him and his brilliant submissive theory.

And that’s pretty much the course!

So if you’re not sure you have time to devote to a course, my suggestion is to check out the various contents, decide which one or two or three you are going to prioritize, and leave the rest behind. Sure, you can dig in to them if you find yourself inspired, but you will know you are totally on top of your commitment to the course when you finish up the work for your Track, and you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing more.

Because hey, I don’t want to add to your endless to do list! You’re busy! And you should be out making money and getting laid and changing the world for the better, I don’t want to get in the way of that kind of important stuff.

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Plus, many subs are the A+ student type.

You don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself on my behalf. You can still get TONS out of this course even if you don’t do half of it. And, you can always download the materials after the course if you want to keep them and do them later!

Maybe your work or home schedule is such that you just can’t make the All-Player Video Sessions, for example. That’s okay! You can watch them later, or you can skip them altogether and dive into the materials yourself. (Sometimes I give a context or some content in those video sessions that I am encouraging us to explore during that unit, but you can do it on your own.)

Does that all make sense? I want this experience to be exciting, fun, and energizing for you, not a drain or an extra obligation. And rather than dropping off mid-course because you aren’t caught up, what if you set lower expectations on yourself and then felt AWESOME when you completed them? This is recreational, for your growth and pleasure.

I want to set you up to succeed, and to thrive.

“I know I’m submissive. But where do I start?” aka “I just read Fifty Shades of Grey and I want THAT.”

1. Read a fucking book

Read fiction, sure—Carrie’s Story, The Marketplace series, Mr. Benson, The Leather Daddy and the Femme (these are some of my personal favorites)—hell, even Fifty Shades of Grey—read the fiction, but know that it is designed for one thing: Arousal. The reality of it is both much, much sexier, erotic, and mind-blowing and also sometimes very different, full of realistic mundane problems that aren’t sexy at all.

Read non-fiction. There are many good ones: ask a bookseller at your favorite local bookstore for recommendations on where to start if you’re exploring kink (I know, it’s old fashioned, but do it anyway.) Go in to your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop (is there not a good directory for those online yet!?) and ask them for their book recommendations. Go to your favorite queer sex blogger’s list of recommended BDSM books on Amazon and browse around. Go intellectual-butt-sniffing (aka, look over their bookshelves) at your bibliophile friend’s place.

All of those recommendations are worth reading, but these are essential. Consider them assigned to you as homework.

You can do this step while you also do the other steps, but do not skip it.

2. Find a buddy

It doesn’t really matter where you find your buddy, but you gotta have that person you can talk to about this thing that is growing and that you are beginning to voice and give weight and value to. It’s great if that person has lots more information about kink than you do, if they can guide you on the path, if they can be your mentor, but that’s not the most important thing.

They must:

  • Feel safe to talk to
  • Listen to what you’re curious about
  • Be supportive and not judgmental, not shaming of your interests
  • Ask interesting questions

And, most importantly:

When you leave the conversations with this friend, you feel invigorated, empowered, stronger, braver. <— Pay attention to this, to how you feel after visiting with your friends and relations in general. You don’t need anyone else stomping on this new baby-green identity that is just starting to sprout and grow. It needs some scaffolding, a tomato cage of strength and nurturance around it, one that won’t disrupt it’s growth but is there if it needs something to hold on to, some guidance of how to get to the sun, some support if the fruits get too heavy.

Find those tomato-cage friends and lovers and confidants and beloveds. Identify them. They are out there. You probably already know a few of them.

3. Brave up and go to a Thing

BDSM, kink, and fetish events abound. You may not find “your people” or “your community” or your next mind-blowing fuck at the first, second, third, fifth, or even twentieth event you attend—but then again, you might.

Depending on where you live, this might be harder than it sounds. Your Thing might have to be on another coast, in another city, while visiting that one friend from college who is always posts “interesting” things on Facebook.

Look up whatever might be happening in your local kink community on Fetlife. (I wish I knew of another good source for you, but that’s the best I’ve got. And hey, I’ll be your friend!) Yes, you might have to wade through unsolicited solicitations. Yes, you might not have the exact right orientation or gender or fetish event that you’d really most want, in your heart-of-hearts, to attend. But that’s okay. You don’t have to go to the only very most perfect events. Go to the events that kind of weird you out, that you don’t get, that you are totally “meh” about.

Regardless of the Thing, you’ll learn. Pay attention. Put your phone away and really listen. Think about it as if you’re a scientist studying what these kinksters do. Why do they like it? What’s amazing about it? What makes them squirm, in good ways or bad ways? Even if it isn’t for you, you can still observe and learn.

The more brave you are, the more you’ll feel strong and capable and badass, and the more you’ll be able to do.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be in person, though I do encourage you to make sure to attend at least one kinky event every two months. But if socializing is too too hard, if your schedule just doesn’t work, it could be online. Lots of kinksters host online events. I’m just about to launch Submissive Playground for the second time, which is a more in-depth study for anybody who knows they’re submissive (of some kind) and wants to explore more submissive headspace. It’s great for folks who are beginners, for folks who have done so much kinky bottoming that they are practically bored and stagnant, for people without much kink community around them geographically, and for people wanting to dip their toes back in after something hard happened (be it a breakup or a bad scene).

Regardless, the point is to prioritize your kink. Prioritize your submission. It’s important, and nothing to be ashamed of.

4. Brave up and ask a top to play

Step 0: Go to a kink/bdsm/fetish Thing.

Step 1: Identify the hottest person in the room. If you’re trying to develop your submissive self, then filter for whether or not that person is a top. (Hint: You might not know until you talk to them!)

Step 2: Dare yourself to find a reason to talk to them, and say hi. Maybe it’s to give a compliment (people like compliments!) or ask a question (it’s flattering for someone to be curious!).

Step 3: Find common ground, and elevate the discussion. (This is something my mom taught me and I think about it all the time.)

Step 4: If you’ve talked for 2-5 minutes at the event and are still curious and have more compliments to give, offer your phone number. Ask if they’re on Fetlife and give them your user name. Say that you’d love to be in touch and talk more.

Step 5: If you’re really bold, ask them on a date. If you are less bold, ask them on a date via whatever contact information they give you or when they find you on social media or email you later.

One more note about asking tops to play:

They are not better than you are, they are not (inherently) sexier than you are, they are not more entitled to play than you are, just because they are a top and you are/might be a bottom. Tops sometimes act like they own the scene, but they don’t. They need you just as much as you need them, and they are just as nervous/excited/lonely/wishing for the right person to come along as you are.

Sometimes s-types are nervous about asking for dates or being forward, because that is seen as a trait that dominants or tops have. I say, fuck that. There are absolutely ways to hit on someone from a submissive or bottomy or masochistic perspective. The more you hit on people and the more trial and error you do, the more play you’ll get and the more you’ll be able to read the signs better and better.

Rife has some great tips for how to get more kinky play from a submissive’s perspective—Watch for his video on that later this week!

5. One last tip to help you open up your submissive world:

Recognize that no matter what you consume about submission, there’s no one right way to do it, and your way is just as good as anyone elses. You don’t have to love service, or being hit, or playing in public, or being naked, or having your orgasms controlled, or body fluids, or blood, or ANY thing at all really. Your kinks are okay and your icks are just fine too.

Whatever you learn through any sources you take in, people or meetings or mentors or books or events or lovers—you get to remix everything into your own identity, and who you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, is exactly right.

PS: AMAZING illustration by rife, who drew an infographic for the stages of kink and power dynamic identity development and formation. (I helped with some words and theories.) Watch for the full thing to be posted in a few days!

Review: Leather Ever After edited by Sassafras Lowrey (book)

leather-ever-aftercover1I’m back in Texas, visiting Rife, and we have had a great time reading Leather Ever After aloud to each other in the hammock.

Once upon a time, in a dungeon far, far away the kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert beloved fairy tales with tales of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons …

In Leather Ever After, celebrated queer author Sassafras Lowrey brings together some of the most beloved leather writers in an enchanting collection published by Ravenous Romance with a foreword by Laura Antoniou! Leather Ever After is Learn more about about Leather Ever After at LeatherEverAfter.wordpress.com and to get more information about Sassafras and hir work visit www.SassafrasLowrey.com.

It’s a star-packed anthology: the forward was written by Laura Antoniou (if you haven’t read The Marketplace series, I highly recommend them!), and also features stories by Lee Harrington, Miel Rose, DL King, Ali Oh, Raven Kaldera, Sossity Chiricuzio, Mollena Williams, and of course the anthology’s editor.

My favorites have been the ones set with modern language—Lee Harrington’s piece was unexpected and fantastic. I won’t ruin it by telling you which story it is, there’s kind of a slow reveal toward the end as the clues start adding up, but I loved the leather twist on it. It’s been much fun to read and discuss and get turned on and talk about fantasy and fairy tales.

Pick up Leather Ever After on Amazon or order it from your local awesome bookstore.

This Week! Best Lesbian Erotica & the Lesbian Sex Mafia in New York City

I’ll be reading some erotica on Thursday night in the East Village with the Best! Lesbian! Erotica! reading at Drunken! Careening! Writers! that BLE series editor Kathleen Warnock runs.

And! Also! I’m still on the board of the Lesbian Sex Mafia, and Lee Harrington is teaching an amazing D/s class on Friday night at the GBLT Center. I’ll be running the workshop that night, doing the announcements and getting everyone settled to pay attention to Lee’s brilliance, and taking a lot of notes about D/s. I’ve been thinking a LOT about D/s lately, about protocols and rituals and rules and punishments … still thinking about ways to write about all the things I’ve been learning.

Meanwhile, here’s the details on the events in New York City Thursday and Friday.

Best Lesbian Erotica @ Drunken! Careening! Writers!

KGB Bar
85 E. 4th St.
NYC
7pm FREE

Rebecca Lynne Fullan
Sid March
…and special surprise guests!
with your hostess, Kathleen Warnock
copies of BLE ’13 will be available for sale

Our “special surprise guests” will be Sinclair Sexsmith and Lea DeLaria (eds of the last 2 editions), and they will be reading from their work!

Rebecca Lynne Fullan is a writer of various stripes, most of them human. She lives, writes, reads, and learns in New York City. This story is for her girlfriend, Charlotte, and written with special gratitude to the BMVCOE, who know about magic. Come visit her here: rebeccalynnefullan.wordpress.com.

Sid March is the disastrously queer daughter of Neptune, a gifted escape artist, and an excellent party planner. A nomadic being with half a dozen hometowns, Sid writes obsessively when no one is watching as a way to tame her insatiable Wanderlust.

Best Lesbian Erotica is published by Cleis Press, the largest independent queer publishing company in the United States. Kathleen Warnock is the series editor, and Jewelle Gomez selected and introduced this year’s collection.

Drunken! Careening! Writers! is a reading series based on the proposition that all readings should be by: 1) Good Writers; 2) Who read their work well; 3) Something in it makes people laugh (nervous laughter counts). And 15 minutes tops.

Lesbian Sex Mafia presents Beyond Bowed Heads: Rituals for Dominance and Submission with Lee Harrington

lesbiansexmafia.org

Rituals are a key part of any D/s relationship, whether we acknowledge them or not. From casual kisses as the door to formal slave poses, ritual objects such as collars to slave contracts, the BDSM world is rife with concepts of ritual- but what is a ritual? What are the levels of ritualistic interaction we have between one another? Let’s look at rituals for day to day life (including how to get out of work or parent space), sacred time, intense connection, erotic play, solidifying relationships, changes within our relationships, and the taboo subject of the devastating loss of a relationship or its natural end. From terminology to developing your own code of ethical interaction, this class covers a bevy of styles and types of interpersonal reactions.

Where: The LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (7th/8th Ave), New York, NY
Date/Time: Friday December 21, 2012, 8:00-10:00 PM. Our annual workshop at which all genders are welcome.
Cost: LSM Members: $5/Non Members: $10

About Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known spiritual and erotic educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist and award-winning author and editor on human sexuality and sacred experience. He is a nice guy with a disarmingly down to earth approach to the fact that we are each beautifully complex ecosystems, and we deserve to examine the human experience from that lens. He’s been traveling the globe (from Seattle to Sydney, Berlin to Boston), teaching and talking about sexuality, psychology, faith, desire and more, and has no intention to stop any time soon. He has been an academic and an adult film performer, a world class sexual adventurer, an outspoken philosopher, is a kink/bondage expert, and has been blogging about sex and spirituality since 1998.

His books include “Playing Well With Others: Your Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Negotiating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities” (with Mollena Williams), “Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond,” “Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macramé,” the “Toybag Guide to Age Play,” and “Shed Skins: Journeying in Self-Portraits.” He has also worked as an anthology editor on such projects as “Rope, Bondage, and Power” and “Spirit of Desire: Personal Explorations of Sacred Kink,” while contributing actively to other anthologies, magazines, blogs and collaborations internationally. Check out the trouble Lee has been getting into, as well as his regular podcast, tour schedule, free essays, videos and more over at www.PassionAndSoul.com.