FAbQ: What Is a Dominant or Submissive and How Do I Know What I Am?

This is intended to be a regular feature on this blog, in which I try to talk about the absolute basics. I personally won’t be able to teach you elaborate rope tricks or fancy ways to flog or how to make someone orgasm on command. The goal here is to cover the things people say they wish someone told them when they were new, and to answer the Frequently Asked beginner Questions.

This time I’m going to look at dominance, submission, how to figure out what to call yourself and most importantly, the sanity rules.

What is this, anyway?

One of the first pieces of confusion that comes up for new people is finding out how the Dom/sub thing works in real life. Sure a host of porn covers the things they might do, but it really doesn’t explain possibilities in reference to how it tends to go down with real couples and also people are generally not given a sane approximation of the limitations of a D/s (that’s Dominance/submission or Dom/sub) relationship. It also doesn’t let you figure out what to call yourself if you’ve only ever had fantasies.

First, the sanity check.

  • All submissives do not have to do what all dominants say just because Dominants are dominant.
  • Individual submissives do not have to do what their particular dominant says they should do, without prior negotiation. If you agree to a D/s relationship this is not automatic implicit consent.
  • There is no central licensing system for dominants or guild system of training. Despite desperate hopes, even tales of “Old Guard” or “Leather Families” do not replace common sense in the quality of the dominant. The dominant can be as inexperienced or more inexperienced than the sub.
  • Every D/s relationship is different. Some involve sadomasochism, some do not. Some are built on pure obedience, some involve deliberate disobedience on the part of the sub.
  • Dominance and submission are identification labels not personality types. Doms can be shy and quiet and nervous, while subs can be aggressive and outspoken and have fantastic careers.

Now, some terms:

Dominant: The dominant person is a relationship is the one who is in charge. Dom, domme, dominatrix, master, mistress are all used to refer to this sort of person. The way you become dominant is by deciding one day to call yourself that. The way you act dominant, more often than not, is to convince someone else to call you that too. However the act of the stereotypical dominant (you know the one in leather chaps or the latex corset who is whipping someone?) can also be referred to as a Top if the level of compliance/disobedience is less important than the hitty bits or rough sex. Generally dominants get a warm fuzzy feeling from control that may be sexual arousal.

Submissive: The submissive is the one being told what  to do. How accurately these commands are followed is really defined by what sort of relationship two people want to have. The submissive might like thinking of themselves as a slave, a pet, a servant, or simply the other half of a happy couple, maybe even all of the above over the course of a night. The sensations only version is a bottom. Generally submissives get a warm fuzzy feeling from someone being in charge of them. This could be arousal, feeling ‘safe’ and any number of other pleasant sensations.

Switch: Surprise! Some people are both! In some relationship people switch off on the roles with each other sometimes. In other cases, people feel dominant towards some and submissive towards others. Some switches are more there for the sensations, for example they could be equally happy being spanked or spanking. Switching isn’t even on/off and some people like ambiguous dynamics.

Okay, that’s nice but what am I?

A lot of people starting out don’t really have a clear idea of what they want to call themselves. Even your taste is porn is no help, for example it’s not uncommon for male subs to enjoy female submission as masturbatory material and many dom women find the stereotypical pro-dom shtick causes them to flee the room. If you’ve never done all this, for example you’ve never been spanked or actually had control over someone outside the safe limits of work you probably just have a vague idea some things are kinda hot.

It’s okay not to know what you are. If you’re filling out a profile, put yourself down as ‘unsure’. You have all the time you need to figure it out. Me, as a masochist I was under the impression that I’d be happiest as a sub. A friend who is entirely submissive mislabeled herself as a dom. Neither of us had the world explode on us as we worked out what we were.

Plenty of people even shift how they ID over the course of their life. However if you’re urgently trying to figure out a leaping off place with a label you can either go generic with ‘switch’ or give your fantasies a holistic look. Unlike a lot of quizzes I’m not going to think about whips and chains because if you’re not sure that’s probably just more confusing.

Are you more comfortable (in your fantasies!) being in charge or having someone else tell you what to do?

If your nurture someone are you being ‘responsible’ and taking care of things or are you ‘serving’ them with pampering?

If you like the idea of someone handling all the details of a problem or task for you is it because they are being responsive to your needs and letting you delegate or are they in charge and you feel great because you can just do as you’re told?

Your lover gives you a token to wear, like a neck charm or a bracelet or maybe a jacket  When you put it on do you feel “Mine, mine, mine! My person!” or “I am marked and connected to them!”

I phrase the questions this way because not all dominants do the ‘harsh’ thing and not all subs are into passive. You will need to decide even beyond that, what kinds of dynamics you like. This could be anything from 1950s household or full bore wicked dungeon slavery games to equals with bedroom wrestling. And it’s all okay.

FAbQ: The Utter Basic BDSM & Kink Scene Vocabulary For Getting Out and About

I get a lot of messages from people who are new. However, most people are not looking for complicated advice, they want to know what the hell the jargon being thrown around means. There’s more complete dictionaries, which I will link to, but this guide assumes you’re just starting out meeting people. In later writing I’ll examine the topics in more depth.

Munch: A munch is a low commitment gathering for people who want to meet other kinky individuals in an environment without play going on. These are often in bars or restaurants. You do not wear your fetishwear to a munch, though it’s a place where you don’t need to be quite as discreet about collars and the like.

The first munch, by its namesake, is reckoned to be meetup of an online group in a burger joint called Kirk’s Steakburgers. Some munches, because of privacy concerns are held in private homes.

Play: Play refers to the kinky activities people get up to. Whether your thing is rolling around in jello and chicken livers while wearing a wet suit, or strict flogging on Sunday mornings, play makes a good verb because it is non specific. Plus, kink is fun.

Play Party: A play party is a gathering of people of a kinky persuasion there to do kinky things. There’s generally some sort of dress code, which varies from something other than sloppy casual, to full blown fetish gear. There may be an additional theme involved, say femme dom or protocol.

Play parties are not legal in all regions, or may be limited to only certain activities to comply with public obscenity laws. Many play parties ban sex for this reason.

Safeword: A safeword is a phrase that would ordinarily never come up in the course of normal kinky activities  The primary use of a safeword is for better facilitated communication. These are most likely to be used with people who are learning to play together or among people who want the dominant or top to have more discretion to ignore a regular ‘no’.  These are especially useful to indicate things like a cramp or something in a person’s eye, or maybe a bit of humiliation talk that really hit home.

Some people use the stoplight system, with Red for stop right now and Yellow to indicate approaching a limit. Others pick ‘safeword’ or for activities involving muffling, a gesture or distinct grunt. You can use all sorts of silly words like ‘pumpernickle’ or ‘boat’. How a couple handle use of a safeword is something they need to negotiate for themselves.

Scene: This means two things. A scene in the sense of an activity is a period of kinky activity with a defined beginning and end. This is a helpful sort of segmentation for people who need to get into the right mindset to enjoy kinky activities. Scenes can be described by the stuff you get up to, for example a bondage scene or a flogging scene. Some couples integrate lots of ritual into their scenes, with special clothes or gestures, and for some it’s as easy as “you wanna?”

The Scene, on the other hand, is just the thing that people will sometimes refer to the kink or BDSM community to at large. People into any sub culture do this and it’s not kink specific.

Various dictionaries and glossaries here, here and here. For everything else, Google is your friend.

Catamite Pt. 19

There was an all over body limpness and a curious sort of drifting euphoria that came from the prolonged exposure to pain. It was a cold winter afternoon, the windows sealed tight with the frost high up on the glass and himself feeling the hard edge of a wooden trunk under him pressing into his skin while waiting for the next strike. He couldn’t see her, belly down and with his shirt hiked and the waist of his pants at calf level, but she wasn’t making an effort to hide the timing of the cane, so he had ample warning before the impacts.

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Feet & Other Things You’re Not Supposed To Be Into in BDSM

152-Hercules-Foot-1_largeI like feet and I’m a dominant woman. This has occasionally surprised people. It’s actually relatively easy to slide under the radar as a female foot fetishist, embarrassingly so because getting quasi-orgasmic over women’s foot gear, while seen as a perversity in a man, is almost mandatory for full on gender conformity as a woman. But I’ve never been able to wax lyrical about SHOES, anymore than I ever enjoyed cheesecake (the ewwww food, not the pin ups).  I like male feet more than female feet. True I also have stocking/sock fetish, but the only people I have for company are the foot fetish guys.

When did the fetish crop up? I remember, as a kid, being at a parade and watching soldiers march and having a real interest for the shiny black boots. It was before I had much in the way of sexuality, so it was more of a symbolism/texture thing than anything erotic. At the same time I got really obsessed with learning to give foot rubs. I’m not unique, but like most women if I want to indulge this desire I’m forced to head for gay porn. Unfortunately, when it comes to ostensibly straight porn- the female gaze, when you get pandered to, is assumed to be from a kneeling position as the default.

It’s easy to develop a chip on your shoulder. Especially if you talk about how you want some good fem-dom erotica and the stuff that gets tossed your way is Sardax… which is fine if you’re a submissive male into those particular fetishes. It’s not just that the market assumes that as a female consumer you’re not into porn. The ‘romance’ section panders to female sexuality rather doggedly. But for a genre that happily hits all the fem sub bases, from 50 Shades to all the Pirate and Scottish Laird and hunky FBI agents abducting you for your own good… if you’re lucky she will get the drop on the hero once, as a plot device. And then he will be all stiff and prissy and not really take the situation very seriously. And usually escape and often turn the tables.

People pipe up that there’s lots of ebooks if I want to plunge into the sordid world of erotic romance niche porn. And there is. Probably, because I’m not that special of a snowflake. But… there’s absolutely no way to tell if it’s eyeball bleedingly bad or not.

Then there’s my masochism. I like pain. No sensual rose petal hippy sex for me. It can be a little awkward, not from a self image perspective, but getting across that I don’t want to submit, I just enjoy it if the sexual beatings between people I trust and I go both ways. Plenty of people are all liberal and tolerant and preach happily that you can call yourself a dom while caressing your own bruises, but again unless you’re in some sort of hierarchy household with alpha subs or the “head training mistress who serves the house master” trope… you’re going to be an outlier.

Anyway the point I wandered in here with is that I don’t feel like it’s straight forward when you’re unusual in the fetish clusters. You know the sort of thing I mean: sub dudes + strapons +face sitting + nasty talk or dominants + elaborate rope bondage + taking yourself too damn seriously + photographing a tatty bedspread full of knives and sex toys. Dominant woman + feet + masochism or even hell, dominant woman sometimes, if you’re not half asphyxiated in a corset and stiletto thigh boots and only interested in cunnilingus, can be a lonely little kingdom.

And somewhere out there is a stompy leatherdaddy master type into small penis humiliation  So it could be worse.


The foot is a replica of a classical greek sculpture of Heracles.

 

Catamite Pt. 18

True to her word, Annette let him sleep in her wide, comfortable bed, and he stayed there until one of the chamber maids appeared to change the linens. The maid departed without completing her task, giving him time to dress and reorient himself to the mid-afternoon sun and confusion of his routines and regulations.

She had, in the time he slept, dressed in day clothing, reapplied makeup and changed her hair, though asides from a few loose tendrils, the blonde coils were covered by a simple house cap. Timmans had evidently recovered and was back at work dressing her mistress.

“I don’t like your face, it’s too prickly,” her fingers lightly brushed his cheek. “It’s uncomfortable when I slap you.”

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Catamite Pt. 17

He watched as Annette dressed, filament fine stockings drawn on with protective gloves as the roughness of bare fingers would ladder the knit instantly, clipped to the garters of the girdle, beige tinted elastic panels containing and lifting her, smoothing the child worn belly, hoisting her breasts and pushing her ribs down. Like a woman of his class letting herself be seen with a bare face, as an unmarried man it was another mystery Annette had initiated him into, the hooks and straps that held the daughters, mothers and wives of great men ridged backed and tight around the abdomen, each point of restraint giving just enough that the body could move, but collaborating together to hold the woman up so no muscle could let itself rest untightened or sigh and shrug could excuse a slouch. Read more

Profanity from Pain

I’ve got a fetish, and it’s not for men who are super polite in the bedroom. I like it when they swear. There’s something particularly thrilling about a foul mouth when it hurts.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole suppressed grunts and whimpering and carrying on has a special place in my heart too… but give me a man who curses like a sailor when the cruelty starts and you’ll have me following him around glassy eyed, in a lemming like fashion.

It’s even hot when you’re not even doing anything that nasty. It feels like you’ve impressed him. Shocked him out of coherence.

“Oh fuck, Miss!” feels so good the instant it escapes his mouth.

Check this out by Ferns:

I move down your chest to your left nipple. I lick it, suck it into my mouth, nibbling at it, then lapping gently with the flat of my tongue. I close my teeth around your flesh and pull at it, applying some pressure. It’s hard. I grab the peg and pull the skin of your nipple forward, closing the peg on it.

I watch your face register the pain, my stomach flipping over as you bite your lip. You are trying to be stoic. I wait for you to swear.

“…Fucking fuck fuck…”

I grab your head and pull your mouth to mine, wanting to swallow your words, I kiss you aggressively and your angry mouth returns the kiss hard, taking my breath. So fucking hot, I’m making soft inarticulate noises into your mouth.

Pure bloody joy (and the rest of her writing is pretty hot too!).

There’s also a certain delight in bedroom trash talk. The protests of a man defeated: “Oh, you evil bitch.” “You’re fucking cruel, Miss!”

I eat it up like candy and it’s a hundred times better than “Goddess!” or any permutation of the worshiping script. Don’t you dare wax lyrical about my sacred cunt. I’m the bitch, the scourge, and your damnation. I hurt, and scratch and bite. I slap and I strike. I know I’m at my happiest when my sadism is bearing down on you. I want it to be awful and evil and I want your curses because they feel real.

Catamite Pt. 16

On the other side of the new year, when the short, sharp winter ran frost traces in the gaps of the brick sidewalks of the capital, and everyone who could afford it wore their furs pulled tight against the cold, Phillip found himself deferentially following after Annette through the fashionable shopping district. He wore the uniform coat of a member of the Harrington household, and found himself as over looked and ignored by people who knew Annette, just as they ignored her bodyguards and other attendants.

Change had come a piece at a time, starting with a bookcase that had appeared in his little room the day after the house party, and followed by access to paper and pencils, and then a regular supply of necessities and amusements. The gift of an under bed trunk meant had choice in his clothes, instead of garments appearing in the arms of a servant according to Annette’s immediate whim, and his unoccupied time had a small measure of freedom to choose his own pursuits. There was even limited freedom to leave his room and walk in selected parts of the house.

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