13 March, 2008

Leading Question

Starting not from the beginning, but rather where I think my answers start to take on some interest, here is where my scholarly interlocutor's little bit of knowledge became a dangerous thing:

  • How do you negotiate the consent and boundaries of 'safe, sane, and consensual' with your partner?

Like an increasing number of my fellow travelers, I do not believe in safe kink. I would go so far as to say that the mere idea of safety partially compromises the allure, efficacy and possibilities for discovery in kink. One of the fundamental notions that is therefore understood from the very beginning of any interaction is that what another person and I are proposing to participate in with one another is inherently unsafe; let us not labor under any delusions to the contrary. If we're having this type of conversation in the first place, plain-spoken acknowledgments of danger lurking among our intentions usually ups the excitement level that much more.

The word "sane" I consider a bromide and a palliative, and as an truthful assertion pertaining to anything to do with BDSM ascertainable only a posteriori. In fact, if someone feels compelled to assert to me their sanity, said sanity is thereby immediately suspect in my book.

Consent is perhaps the only term I consider meaningful of the three above. Consent emerges not from anything like a call-and-response-type exchange ("It is my intention to tie you up now." "That would be agreeable."), but from the feeling of trust, faith and mutual advantage discovered endogenously in the consideration of something possibly unsafe and, in a conventional sense, of questionable sanity. With time and the understanding that the person I am with will do me no harm, consent abides whatever it is that we determine we would like to do.

An example: a current partner and I are very fond of breath control play. We have never negotiated it, and it has evolved over many months to a fairly pitched and risky degree. It's beginnings were humble enough - I had gagged her very thoroughly and she had experienced trouble breathing. I rearranged things a little more to my liking (and comfort level), but none the less effectively, and we had a very nice scene. It was not until I mentioned the severity of the gag that she was prompted to tell me that she had found her gasping for breath very exciting, much to her surprise. We are now somewhat expert in a variety of ways of controlling her air supply, and she finds them all very much to her liking. Not safe, questionably sane, adventitiously consensual, and, as it turns out, one of our favorite things.


Asobime said...

Ah Mac!

The knotty issue of trust. This is central in all of this and is won very slowly to my thinking.

But when that point is won, how freeing for both partners. I am thinking of especially the bottom here, giving over all to a trusted top. Quite a remarkable dynamic
when accomplished.

Your blog certainly makes me think. I have resisted so much of this, but your words are...seductive. Perhaps there is a fine measure of trust you tap with your writing.

And, you rearrange my thoughts, once again, on these issues of 'safe, sane and consensual'

Yes, unsafe indeed, without the covers.

Thank you for another piece of thoughful entry. Keep going.


Deity said...

I think you and i see eye to eye on most of this. 'Safe' is the fast track to covering your own ass, and if that is what you're so concerned with, you should be doing that in the confines of a corporate environment where Blackberry's rue the day - not in the dynamic environment of a power exchange.

Light the way, my friend, show all of us a path that is littered with mistakes, aberrations and failures, only to demonstrate how much stronger you've become as a result of them. That is the courage, if not the singular offering, this lack of dominant perspective this here web world needs.

Anonymous said...

I would venture to say that Mac knows fairly well by now that I too dwell most often in the realm of RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), which absolutely acknowledges that some of the activities I engage in are inherently risky, and quite often that is part of the appeal. However, I take the “risk aware” part pretty seriously, and will often go to great measures to become educated on the precise nature of the risks involved. I also do my best to ensure that those who engage in these activities with me also understand the risks so that they are able to make an informed decision about whether the feel the risks are worth the potential gain. (smile) As someone who has had a fascination with breath play ever since her very first play scene around 15 years ago, I can definitely attest to the fact that part of the thrill is knowing how dangerous and edgy it really is.

However, I feel that playing to those edges is definitely an acquired taste, and not one that will appeal to the masses. I think that even within the world of kink that would be judged as pure perversion by the average vanilla person, there exists a majority of people that prefer to stay and play within the accepted guidelines of the “safe, sane & consensual” mantra. I attach no judgment to this observation and definitely do not want to start a my-kink-is-kinkier-than-your-kink-and-therefore-better-somehow debate, but I have noticed that while edge play classes are popular at the events I attend, the vast majority of the scenes I witness in the dungeon are pretty much garden variety simple bondage and then some percussion play like flogging, caning or spanking. Perhaps I am exaggerating a little and I will grant that there is a bit more variety than that but I would be willing to bet that a survey of a typical play party would prove that the vast majority of the players stay within the realm of fairly moderate for activities. (I am chuckling to myself as I wonder what the standard deviation and bell curve of our “deviant” play would look like if it could be plotted. Sorry if that’s a confusing reference but it is an inside joke between Mac and I because I am amused to find a somewhat real world reference for an obscure math dilemma I recently encountered).

Anyway, I think that naturally the further out on the edge you go the less likeminded people you are going to find there no matter what topic you are addressing. And when the subject at hand involves potentially life threatening sex, well there will always be a great deal more people as violently opposed as there are folks passionately engaging in it. I know full well that having someone wrap their hands or a rope around my throat and taking me on that particular intense journey is very akin to playing Russian roulette for both of us. Perhaps a piece of the appeal is the fact that we are both demonstrating some of the most intensely intimate levels of trust, devotion and offering I can imagine as we willingly facing death together. If there isn’t a sexy kind of juice in that you are either already dead or may as well be. Anyone that loves to live life on the edge whether it be through their sex, lifestyle or via any extreme sport knows how much fuller and richer your life feels when you take that walk on the wild side.

And as for the why of breath play in particular, well words cannot really describe that feeling of being swept away in the wave of unconsciousness and your mind free falls and then tumbles madly and your body shakes with orgasmic convulsions. Then after what seems like an eternity but is generally just a matter of moments, when you at last “come up for air” and you see the eyes of the person you trusted to be your life line still holding that rope around your throat and you know that they have been incredibly present and watching you intently through it all and they are now here to help welcome you back from “la la land”. Mmm I do so love those re-grounding hugs.

Ok well I better get my packing started for Dark Odyssey. I have classes to teach, workshops to attend and a particularly dear person to torment and be tormented by whom I am slowly but surely enticing over to the “dark side” of edge play. I look forward to checking in on your thoughts and musing dear Mac when I return.

Much love to you always Suze