Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

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30 Days of Kink: Ethics

This is the eleventh of my 30 Days of Kink, coming after quite a long hiatus. I will be answering each of the thirty questions in different posts. I thought these would be interesting to answer and (hopefully) interesting for you to read. These will be posted in order, but not always back-to-back (as I have shown).

Day 11: What are your views on the ethics of kink?

I’ve been stuck on this question for a while now, partially because I don’t know where to begin there is so much that could be covered with this question so I’m just going to start anywhere and see where this goes.

First, I have to define ethics. Ethics are a type of moral philosophy. In the realm of kink/BDSM/WIITWD1 it can apply to a variety of things but mostly I’m going to talk about the moral philosophy of kinky activity in general. That is how we make sure that the play we engage in is itself ethical.

I’m a firm believer in RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) and SSC (Safe Sane and Consensual) which are both familiar terminology in the BDSM/kink world. They are slightly different but essentially mean the same thing. Some people say RACK is better because some activities–breath play, for example–are rarely if ever “safe” but they can be done in a “risk aware” manner or you can do things to make them “safer”2. Basically this means not engaging in anything without consent or thought. The more you know about what you are doing the less likely you are to make a mistake and actually cause damage.

Consent and intent are what separates bdsm & kink from abuse. Which is also why I have a difficult time playing with anyone who is angry or who has been drinking, as it is far more difficult for the intent to be acceptable to me when either of those have occurred. Mollena wrote an amazing post about intent: “The intention of the person in a Leather or BDSM interaction is mutual satisfaction, whatever form or means that takes. Sometimes it looks so much like an abusive interaction that our only signal is context.”

I agree with her assessment, also, that intent matters far more than consent since so many of us, myself included, love to play with consent and push that line between consent and non-consent. However, if mutual satisfaction is not the intent of the interaction then where is the line between play and abuse? When does it become taking advantage of the other person? It’s called power exchange for a reason. Just like everything there is an exchange: an exchange of enjoyment, energy, pleasure, pain, satisfaction, power, etc.

There are outsiders who think of kink as horrible, wrong, terrifying, and so on simply because they don’t understand this simple difference. They assume that all participants must either have been (sexually) abused when they were a child or victims of patriarchal socialization (especially for female submissives & male dominants), that in order to engage in such practices there must be something wrong with us. Little do they know, playing with power and pain can be a way to empower ourselves, to break away from the socialization, to make up our own minds about what we want, to use a “base” tool (sexuality/sexual interaction) for a “higher” type of liberation3. Of course, not everyone is engaged in kinky activity in search of personal enlightenment but I do think it’s a by-product of it, or at least it can be. This topic is getting away from me a little bit, though, so I will bring it back to ethics.

Part of the appeal of kinky activities is often walking that line between consent and non-consent, between acceptable and too much, testing our limits and finding out if we can handle as much or more than we thought we could. The thrill of it is just as fun as the taboo. In order to play with the edge without going over it requires skill, knowledge, and communication. If the intent is negative or one-sided that makes it far too easy to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed or do negative damage.

  1. What It Is That We Do []
  2. just as it is now referred to as safer sex rather than safe sex []
  3. I put those both in quotes because I do not necessarily agree with all that connotes, but I do not have better language right now to express those ideas without writing many more paragraphs []

In 2011

someecards.com - Sorry that, statistically speaking, you probably won't fulfill your resolution

This and my In the Year… posts are becoming regular turn of the year features. I wrote In 2009 and In 2010 at the very beginning of the last two years and here is my list this year.

These are not resolutions. Like the ecard that I have featured above I do not believe in resolutions because there are too many connotations surrounding them. They’re usually just wishful thinking or short-term ideas that we tell ourselves due to the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. While resolutions can be genuine things we want to accomplish they often are just the same things we tell ourselves all the time that we want to do but never actually put the energy into doing them. That’s why I don’t make resolutions.

However, there is something to be said about taking the time once a year to reflect on the year that has passed and to look forward to the coming year. The change of the year is as good of a time as any to do this, and so I am.

These are goals, either things I’m currently working on or ones I would like to do and am dedicated to putting some energy toward. By putting them on here part of the idea is that I am now going to be held accountable for them and I will be able to look back a year from now and see if I have accomplished them.

  • Write More – Yes, I said this last year, but it needs repeating. This might just always be a goal of mine every year, but it’s definitely something I want to do. I really want to write more erotica and sexy stuff of that nature. I want to hone my writing skills by making writing a priority again. I have been lost and distracted for the past couple of years and I finally feel like I’m coming back into my own. If possible I want to publish something.
  • Focus My Projects & Get Organized – I need to figure out which of my projects are going to be focuses and which will not. Right now I have quite a few things that I am working on and that I make money through but I need to set a schedule and figure out what I can get rid of. I feel like I have far too many things to do sometimes and that I don’t end up getting them all done because of it. I need to figure out what I’m focusing on, set goals, and get things done. I need to organize my life and my time. It’s so easy for me to get distracted from writing or whatever it is I’m wanting to get accomplished and especially now that I’m working for myself I need to figure that out. I need to learn to prioritize.
  • Figure Out My Sex Work – So far I’ve been really enjoying camming and my sex work persona Scarlet Sophia. I have other ambitions as well and am trying to figure out all my boundaries there. I very much would like to be involved in some ethical queer porn this year and I’m playing with the idea of doing some ProDominant.
  • Spend Dedicated Intimate Time with Onyx – While we see a lot of each other on a regular basis most of our time is spent with us at our respective computers or watching something and I want to change that. Perhaps setting up regular “date” nights where we go out on the town or ones where we specifically stay in. I especially hope to have more dedicated kinky play time as even though our power dynamic is more prominent than ever we mostly engage in casual rough kinky sex rather than anything more elaborate, and sometimes that elaborate stuff is nice.
  • Attend More Classes/Workshops/Conferences – There are so many opportunities to do this here in Seattle and I haven’t taken advantage of them. My internet learnings aren’t enough I need to go out and take classes, meet people, all of that. My further goal is to actually present somewhere but I’m not sure on what topic yet.
  • Network and Put Myself Out There – While I’m getting known somewhat in the occult community here I also really want to get involved in the kink one here as well. I’ve been such a recluse for the last few years and I feel like I need to break out of that. I’m tired of being awkward in social situations and the only way I’m going to learn how to not be is to go out there and do it. Of course, this requires time, so that getting organized idea above might have to happen first.
  • Respond to Emails Faster – I’m seriously horrible at responding to emails. I’m not sure why, but I am. I want to change this, though. I have been slowly teaching myself in the last year or so to respond to emails as soon as possible, to not put it off, to make a draft to reply at very least so I can go back later without forgetting. I will become better at this through 2011 as well.

In the Year 2010

someecards.com - Let's resolve to repeat last year's mistakes

At the end of 2008 and 2009 I made posts exactly like this one, a “best of” post, if you will. Basically a highlight of the important things that happened in the year previous, which will be followed by a post of the things I hope to happen in the year to come.

While I didn’t achieve all the goals I set for 20101 I did achieve quite a few of them. I didn’t get either of the licenses I mentioned last year, both of which I would still like to get, actually, but I did find a partner (albeit an ex at the time), write more, comment more, figure out my job situation, work on getting out of debt (not there yet), and I was definitely more active. Pretty good, if you ask me. So here are some of the highlights of the year.

In 2010 (kind-of sort-of in chronological order)…

More? Of course there’s more. That short bullet-point list doesn’t account for everything I did in 2010, but it’s definitely a start. I didn’t mention my sex toy review site Wanton Lotus Reviews or my sex toy review round-up project Pleasurists which celebrated 100 issues. I didn’t talk about all the times that Onyx and I had sex or exchanged words of love. My posts for this past year haven’t even captured everything I have written about, this year was more about going out and doing.

I’m excited for the next year to come. I think it will be amazing.

  1. I do not like to call these resolutions but rather goals, expectations, and hopes for the next year. Resolutions have too many connotations associated with them. []

Holidays

I didn’t intend to be vacant for the holidays, it just sort of happened that way.

Thursday the 16th was Onyx’s birthday. It feels like we’ve been going going going ever since. The party we threw for Onyx’s bday was a great success, then the lunar eclipse on Monday night, then we went to a solstice party on Tuesday, performed a solstice ritual on Thursday, and met my sister and her boyfriend at the airport on Saturday during their five-hour layover, then had people over on Sunday for the Sacred Sexuality Book Club we are hosting. There were plenty of other things in between, but those were the big ones.

All this activity and socializing has been making me a little crazy, honestly. I’m a hardcore introvert, by which I mean I recharge by being alone and get zapped of energy while socializing with others. I have been so much of a hermit the last few years, as well, that I’m still adjusting to being so social. It’s nice, though, we finally have a good group of friends that we know and like and have activities that we engage in. Our hermit-like behavior is becoming more chosen than default.

Luckily since Sunday and for the rest of this week we have absolutely no plans outside of work and New Years Eve, our usual Thursday night and Sunday afternoon activities have been cancelled so we’ll have lots of time for ourselves, which we have desperately needed after the last couple of weeks.

Technically we don’t celebrate “Christmas,” though my family has an important tradition of gift giving. We sent out quite a few presents and received many as well, the biggest of which was a KitchenAid Stand Mixer that was a group effort from a handful of my relatives. I’ve already used it a couple times and it is amazing! Seriously worth the money. I kind of want to start a food blog now but there’s no way I have time for another blog, I hardly have the time to update what I already have.

There were plenty of other awesome presents as well, including lots of Cthulhu items, some geeky shirts, lots of socks (I seriously have an obsession), some books, and a pair of amazing kick-ass and comfy knee-high boots (my tied-for-favorite gift with the Stand Mixer. They will be featured in a Wanton Wednesday soon)! Overall it’s been a great last few weeks and I’m very much looking forward to this week of relaxation.

Even though Christmas itself has passed I am still going to leave you with my newest favorite sorta-Christmas song by Lon Milo DuQuette “If We Believed.”

Sex-Positivity

I don’t think I’ve read a better description or example of sex positivity before. It’s clear and concise and isn’t hinged upon using “positive” speech despite the sex-positive name:

Although fewer people would say that “I think anal sex is amazing” is a sex-negative statement, I consider it to be just as problematic as “I think anal sex is gross.” What makes something like this sex-negative isn’t whether one uses a positive or negative adjective. It’s that saying these sorts of things neglects the diversity of sexual experiences and pleasures.

Simply put, these sorts of things aren’t true. Anal sex is gross for some people and amazing for some people and boring for some people and exciting for some people. No matter what word you use to finish the sentence, you’re leaving out many people’s experiences and that is what makes it sex-negative.

On the other hand, when you say something like “I enjoy/dislike/fill-in-the-blank anal sex,” you’re practicing mindful speech. You’re explicitly recognizing that your experience is your own. You’re not making a sweeping statement and you’re not claiming that anyone else should have the same response that you have. It doesn’t matter whether the word you use is positive or negative in this example, either.

Sex-positivity isn’t about enjoying every possible way to have sex. Sex-positivity isn’t about only using positive words when talking about sex.

Sex-positivity is about making room for different people to have wildly different experiences. And in order to do so, we can practice using language that makes room for that. One of the best (and most difficult) ways to do that is to own our experiences and try to not make sweeping statements. It’s simultaneously quite simple and incredibly difficult, which is why so many people seem to not understand it. Well, that and the fact that there aren’t a lot of examples of mindful speech in the media- it doesn’t make for good soundbites. [emphasis mine]

This is from a post by Charlie Glickman on Good Vibrations Magazine called Owning Your Words: Sex-Positivity, Mindful Speech, and Why Some People Don’t Get It. I highly encourage you to read the entire article to get all of it in context, though what I quoted above is the crux of it. He has other awesome points that are just as important, however, so go read. I’ll be here when you get back.

Why does this matter? I’ve considered myself sex-positive for quite some time and this distinction is an important one. I’ve heard people saying that “sex-positivity” is some sort of trend word, which in some ways I think is true. There seems to be a big trend in those who write about sex and sexuality1 to adopt the term “sex-positive” even when it’s clear they know nothing about what it means.

Of course, being sex-positive and confronting your own internalized sex-negativity2 is a continual process, it’s not something you earn like a merit badge that you can then flash at people to prove that you are sex-positive. Saying you’re sex-positive only gets you so far if you don’t walk the walk. I love his point that it’s not about always saying something positive either, despite “positive” being right in the term itself. I think this is something people get hung up on and a very important point to make.

It may be some sort of trendy word to some, but for others of us it is something we strive for.

  1. as opposed to “sex bloggers” since I don’t really like that term []
  2. let’s face it, we all have some []

Lights, Camera…

Not too long ago near the beginning of this month I answered a post in the Seattle Area Personal Ads group on FetLife (login required) for a project titled Process of Pain for Raise Your Fist Productions. It explores masochism, giving a taste of what pain is, what masochists and sadists love about pain, how we play, and other various things. I was very interested in doing this and Onyx agreed to be part of it as well, as a part of being in the documentary was agreeing to do a scene on camera.

Last Monday Amanda came over and we shot a breast play scene. Onyx pulled and twisted my nipples, slapped my breasts, pulled my hair, slapped my face, and made me come on camera. He also used crops, a cane, and nipple clamps on me. It wasn’t a super heavy scene, though there was a good amount of pain, and we didn’t fuck on camera but I did come multiple times. Amanda said she got some very nice shots. She’s filming other couples for this as well and I’m sure I will post about it again when it is done. I’m very excited to see the finished result.

It’s brought up a lot of interesting things for me, as I’ve always loved porn and for a long time I’ve had a fantasy about doing it, though I’ve not always had the body-confidence that I have gained over the last few years. I’ve been seriously considering exploring phone sex work again in the last couple months, I made a couple NiteFlirt accounts but have not yet utilized them to their full potential, and now after this experience I’m seriously considering getting into ethical queer pornography as well.

I say ethical queer pornography because that’s the only type I would be willing to do. This documentary was a great first step, I think, it proved to me that it was something I could do on camera, and I enjoyed doing so. I have a lot of theatre background and have been on stage and in front of the camera many times so I always kind of new I would be able to do it, but there was always some doubt. Now that doubt is gone.

I’ve also recently been reconnecting with my Goddess Babalon after a slight deviation from her path and I believe that getting in to sex work and pornography would be a great act of devotion to her. She was part of the reason I started exploring phone sex work two years ago as well.

Since filming I came across this quote while reading Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left-Hand Path Sex Magic for the Sacred Sexuality Book Club Onyx and I are hosting at our place which first met today.

“The moral pornographer would be an artist who uses pornographic material as a part of the acceptance of the logic of a world of absolute sexual license for all the genders, and projects a model of the way such a world might work. His business would be the total demystification of the flesh and the subsequent revelation, through the infinite modulations of the sexual act… the pornographer has it in his power to become a terrorist of the imagination, a sexual guerilla whose purpose is to overturn our most basic notions of these relations, to reinstate sexuality as a primary mode of being rather than a specialized area of vacation from being and to show that the everyday meetings in the marriage bed are parodies of their own pretensions. –Angela Carter

Peacock Hair


Papageno 4 by selfmade1

I found and used this on last week’s Pleasurists and love it so much I wanted to share it here too. I’ve become enamored with peacock feathers lately and want to do this to my hair. That is all.

Re-Collaring

It was nothing strict or formal or fancy, we’ve never really been any of those things. We just talked.

We talked about how we got to collaring in the first place five years ago: when it happened, where it happened. We talked about the past five years and highlights of our relationship. We talked about how we got back to collaring and the changes that have taken place over the past year especially but over all our time together.

He told me he is proud to own me. I told him I am proud to be owned by him. And I am.

The hard cool steel slid around my neck and he screwed it in place. I have not taken it off since, nor do I plan to for as long as possible (probably not until the next time we fly, to be practical). It’s heavy and the weight of it constantly reminds me of his ownership. I love being reminded.

He used me then, emphasizing his ownership, dragging me into the bedroom by my hair and fucking me until we were both exhausted and spent. We cuddled and murmured our “I love you”s and talked more about the symbolism of the collar. He said he loves the way it looks. I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve come so far in the last five years. Both of us have changed so incredibly much, I would go so far as to say we just got more alike over the years, even more perfect of a fit. We’ve both settled so happily into these roles, as well, in a way I always dreamed that we would but always wondered if it was possible. Now I know it is. He’s amazing.

My new collar is a custom made 3/8 inch thick stealth collar from Ring of Steel. It has an onyx inlaid in the center and two garnets on either side for five gems in total. It’s so us, so perfect, and exactly what I wanted. He’s exactly what I wanted.

Vulnerability

I found this embedded in a post by maymay and loved it enough to want to share it while I’m working on many other posts. I’m working on some more kink-centered posts, as has been the theme lately, and should have some out soon especially my post about the re-collaring and a bit more on Owner/cuntpet. It’s wicked long, but worth it, if nothing else watch the last five minutes or so, but you should really listen to all of it.

Her conclusions are ideas that have been popping up for me over and over recently. I believe the idea that vulnerability is a strength in and of itself, that vulnerability and being completely autonomous and open and honest is something to strive for. Enjoy.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

“I know that vulnerability is kind of the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthyness but it appears that it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love”

The end:

“This is what I have found:
to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen;
to love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee, and that’s really hard, I can tell you as a parent that is excruciatingly difficult;
to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we’re wondering “can I love you this much? can I believe in this this passionately? can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen to just say “I/m just so greateful because to feel this vulnerable means I am alive”;
and the last, which I think is the most important is to believe that we’re enough, because when we work from a place that says “I’m enough” then we stop screaming and start listening and we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Ebb and Flow

Just like everything else the needs of poly people can change quite often. Since Onyx and I got back together and I returned to Seattle we have had quite a few casual play experiences but neither of us have really been interested in another new relationship. I think at least partially this is because we were both so burned by the last one, but mostly because of the change in our dynamic and activities.

We’ve both gotten considerably more involved in the local occult community than we ever really have been before while we’ve been together. Our D/s-slash-O/p relationship is also far more solid and working. Also we both are working a lot and I’ve been taking a certification class recently. Add all this up together and it means we have just about enough time for each other, let alone someone else.

This is one of the drawbacks of being poly: even with a desire for another relationship there is a point when it comes down to how much time you feasibly have for a new relationship. Now, all of this isn’t to say that either of us would be against a new relationship should something develop organically (the only way we would want it to anyway), but neither of us is actively looking for another partner.

That being said I do still feel the pang of desire for being with a woman. I need a woman in my life with which to have an intimate relationship, that is just a fundamental truth at this point. I’m confident, however, that I will find someone when the time is right. There are just too many things that I am working on and that Onyx and I are working on together so there isn’t much room for anything else. I am very much still poly, as is Onyx, but that doesn’t mean we’re out there actively looking for new relationships.

This isn’t abnormal for poly people, in fact while in the midst of writing this post I came upon the term polysaturated1 which describes what I’m feeling quite perfectly, except I only currently have one partner but many many activities.

This all said, not looking for a relationship also does not exclude the possibility of casual and play partners, in my opinion. Something with friendship and emotions but without being “serious” would be ideal for me at this point in time. I would love the opportunity for purposefully casual play with friends as we’ve already explored a little.

This desire has definitely encouraged me to get looking around more at the local kink community, which I am already making plans to get more into. Not just to find causal play partners but to friend friends first and foremost. While there is definitely bleed over between the occult and the kinky scenes here in Seattle it’s also not a ready topic to be broached with a new acquaintance at occult social events.

Anyone who is already friends with me on FetLife may have noticed that I’ve been on there more lately and I’ve especially been looking at events in my area and tirelessly ticking “going to” or “might be going to” when I find one that interests me. Onyx has been doing much the same. We already signed up for a Delving Into Power workshop with Lee Harrington in February which we’re both very much looking toward. Plus the weekend intensive class I’m taking is over next weekend so we will have more opportunity to go to events than we have in the last two months.

I’ve been slowly pulling our focus toward kink as well as everything else that we’re doing, as I’m sure you may have noticed if you’ve been reading this blog at all the last couple months. Whether or not this happened because of starting the 30 Days of Kink or I started the 30 Days of Kink because my focus was already shifting to kink-related areas is a definite chicken and egg scenario. Regardless, it’s happening.

I’m really looking forward to getting into the community here, and I’m sure I will share as that journey moves along. Perhaps the ebb and flow of poly needs and desires will change once again through this exploration.

  1. via Gabe on FetLife []

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