22 June, 2008

Help, Help! I'm Being Oppressed!

The engendering of humiliation characterizes the practice of hojojutsu and other inchoate forms of what would become shibari, and is implicit in what was the seed of shibari's own transformation from a martial into an erotic practice, and perhaps into something even more profoundly useful.

On the face of it, being bound is humbling since the unbound party is assigned the manifest power in the equation. The way in which we perverts temper the politically awkward fact of a power gradient obtaining between two parties is to call it a "power exchange", but there's no getting around it: one person humbles, and hence humiliates, another. What I would like to counterintuitively assert here is that a humbled state is about as close to the possession of pure power as any person can hope to achieve in life.

It has always been possible to subvert the will of a presumptive controlling party by creatively appropriating the presumed (sometimes ceded) mechanism of control. Thus, for example, has the word "queer" lost all of it's force as invective. Consciously surrendering to humiliation and degradation, to being apparently reduced and controlled by another, is the difference between being empowered and being oppressed. This idea is both the fulcrum and the lever of consent, and like those two basic machines there is practically nothing that consent cannot move.

All mystical traditions recognize that oppression is an optional state. Christ did nothing to resist the cross; in fact he actively sought the harshest of judgments from Pontius Pilate and the Pharisees. He was not oppressed in the slightest - rather, he was impassioned, humble and went down willingly to the grossest of abasements. He loved his enemies (and I have to doubt he thought of them as enemies). Had Christ indeed permitted himself to be oppressed by his oppressors he would then have likely have been forgotten along with every other Jewish carpenter named Jesus from the Galilee of his era. That he (as the tale is told) gave himself, that Christ surrendered, is what is remarkable about the man. A few hundred years before Jesus became the Christ, Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince, surrendered to humility and became the Buddha. Among the liberated community of our own era, the stories of Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel, Aung San Suu Kyi and countless others bear out the maxim that oppression is optional.

It's a bit more difficult for me to come up with an argument for oppressive practices other than bondage (say, whipping) being transformative in the direction of liberation (maybe I'll have a go at that sometime - the flogging scene in the movie Glory springs to mind), but I don't doubt that the same principle applies. Tying someone up looks to a tyrant like a ready means of reducing what it means to be a fully realized human, so the tyrannical community reliably adopts physical restraint as one of its tools. The liberated community knows in its bones that such behaviors are gestural, impotent and ultimately futile.

Given, however, that consciousness first blinks on in a monadic cosmos where all data points to our being all and one with Everything, that is, in a flawless state of union with the principle of creation, the perversion of physical restraint into eroticism is a small leap. Between the bottom of our hearts and the backs of our minds we already know what our deepest nature is and that it is continuous with the whole of existence. We come to consciousness both enlightened and tightly constrained, our fledgling senses accommodating only the toroidal nature of the womb. It is a comfort, a state of knowing without thinking, from which Freud observes we part only reluctantly. An atavistic impulse to return to the perfect state of satiety and unity is associated in earliest consciousness with being in a tight spot, understood as such only a posteriori, and certainly distinguishable from the open and vulnerable physical and psychic space we come to view as our world.

A commonplace about enlightenment is that separation and individuation are finally understood to be falsehoods, and so the inevitability of death is cast in a wholly different light, one unpacked of fearsome meaning (or any meaning at all, actually). To really live then becomes what Kant, in his consideration of the Sublime, liked to call Zweckmaßigkeit ohne Zweck, (purposeiveness without purpose). Alfred North Whitehead noted in his Function of Reason that the precise purpose of authentic inquiry is to be purposeless. At the edge of experience purpose is understood by scientist and mystic alike to be a mental, egoic construct, one which I suggest endows the entire notion of oppression with its noxious cast.

Indeed, to be enlightened is to fear no evil.

All ecstatic experience (or, again, passion) points to ultimate principles, and orgasm is the one form of ecstasy with which most people will have at least some experience in their lives. We partner-up intending to bridge the divide between at least two individuals, and fucking is largely (and merrily) how we prosecute that intention. So, as a species on at least one thing we're all in agreement: deep relations with at least one other person = good. Extrapolating only slightly from there it's easy enough to infer that deep relations with the whole of creation = even better. Getting sexed-up leads to ecstasy leads to reconnecting for a moment with the Godhead we know from earliest consciousness. Communion with ultimate principles is bred in our bones. Christ, Ghandi, Lao Tzu and nearly everyone else with their eye on the ball tell us more or less the same thing: We are God, we are All, what we think separates us from our true selves is an illusion. Gestation and birth are just metaphor for the state of grace and the fall from it.

(If we already have grace and know the ultimate truth, why bother with getting born and having duality, individuated self-hood, identity and all the other head-fakes of waking life in the first place? What's the advantage? Is the Universe in the business of squandering perfectly good creative energy?

The appearances of life have their own grade of cosmic import and are yet another topic to be considered another time.)

The physical constriction of bondage is a ready return to the antecedent state of grace. In getting tied up under a consensual, surrendered framework it's relatively easy to transform the intention of someone interested in controlling your freedom into a free ride to satori. Doing that allows the power gradient to shift immediately in the direction opposite to what is normally assumed, and tyrants need not apply.

Advantage: Bottom.

16 June, 2008

Dem Damn Doms

A little while back I had a very fruitful exchange with a woman relatively new to BDSM and interested in bondage. She is fiercely intelligent and fearless in her quest for straight dope, which resulted in epistles I found myself pleasantly surprised to be writing - not merely in response to her entreaties but about my character; both the one I possess and the one I play. Here's a meaty chunk:

When you get the time and inclination, (and if you are still interested) would you speak more on the issue of Doms and emotions? I am trying to get a handle on why particular Doms will attempt to 'train' women (or 'girls') yet withhold all sense of love, affection, being the lover, etc. They will 'collect' women ...or will select women they say are 'promising girls' yet what is the woman left with? Isn't love and affection part of what one would want to develop within the confines of a D/s relationship, in or out of marriage, or with both?
Dear J.,


The phenomenon you note is chief among the reasons I do not frequent the organized scene. Like so many other things that can obtain between two people, problems of intimacy are rampant in BDSM, but like so many things obtaining to BDSM, it's amplified.

You might have described any of dozens of doms I've encountered through the years, many of whom profess towering abilities (which some of whom can actually deliver) which they deploy sparingly and at arm's-length from their partners. If pressed, they will allow that this aloofness is not only part of their prerogative, but that a certain, almost clinical, detachment advances the purity and precision of their control, as though the mingling of other energies might corrupt some predetermined end (in the case of rope geeks (i.e., my tribe) this can emerge as a tiresome fastidiousness with regard to knots, physics, etc.). This somewhat specious objectivity is probably helpful in side-stepping any moral qualms about the propriety of torturing an otherwise perfectly lovely person who (gulp) loves us.

Getting caught up in the particulars of "training" (toward what end we are left to wonder), rules, and so forth, while generally advancing a reductivist paradigm (e.g., from woman to girl, restraint, etc.) serves the purpose of distracting the bottom from what's going on in her emotional life as she deals with rules, the breaking of them, and consequentially the many and sometimes exquisite taxations of her body. This, it must be said, is one of the oft cited seductions of bottoming or subbing - gauzing over some emotional pain is a key inducement to willingly suffering the privations of submission.

It also conveniently gets the top off the hook for having to deal too deeply with his partner. Getting a bit too close to some essential truth? Throw out another red herring! Perhaps more importantly, constant redirection of the bottom's attention allows the top to stay comfortably buttoned up himself; if she's busy fulfilling her mandate she's less likely to notice her mate's foibles, much less his all-too-human vulnerability. When's the last time anyone pointed out a vulnerable top?

I see both dom and sub being very well served by the pomp and bombast of BDSM. As a practice it allows for sex and what looks like very intimate interaction, but mostly I think it's a lot of psychic smoke and mirrors.

But, what armchair analysis would be complete without some generous self-incrimination? I don't doubt for a moment that my interest in tying up comely lasses is rooted in a deep, almost atavistic fear of capital W Woman. I have no trouble loving women, however. I'm a great exponent of everyone grabbing as much love as time and fate allows, and I'm fortunate to have in Fin a woman who not only endorses such a view for her husband, but for herself. We both have a great deal of love in our lives and together. After 25 years Fin sees me very clearly, shares my affliction of maximum affection, and wants for me as I want for her, and that is as much as we can pack in. Love is of course critically important in the scheme of things but it is just love after all; it comes naturally and in great profusion, it's non-toxic and low in calories. It's the pound of flesh closest to the heart that we can keep.

The morality of love has, I think, gotten terribly muddled in the past couple thousand years. It's compelling to read Plato's Phaedrus or Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics to see how love unfurled prior to our age. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy coming up with reasons for not loving, or stories about what we're feeling being something other than love, or cases for having not committed love against another, or worst perhaps of all; masks for misbehavior we call love. We point ourselves toward love today largely wary of passion and not just a little weighted toward the tragic. Not at all like the Greeks, or for that matter the Romans (although I think it was segue from Republic to Empire that inaugurated the ascendancy of the bureaucratization of all things raw, robust and lively... like love).

The world we can touch these days is much more orderly and granular (certain appearances to the contrary notwithstanding), and BDSM as a relational ideal, again, amplifies the conventional world by even more rigorously atomizing and organizing exchanges between partners, compartmentalizing on the basis of its peculiar morality and logic, legislating with appeals to the putative authority of objectivity, acting with thoughtfully blunted intent and plausible deniability; fearful, really, of the messiness of real human relations.

That messiness is, to my thinking, an absolute good. Were it not for love and relationships opening us up to the pain and humiliation of devastating loss, there'd be no intimation of what it's like to die, and thereby what it is to live.

I kind of cherish my fear of Woman for all the reasons I believe I've described previously - Woman's curvy circularity, her ripeness, her lunacy, her bottomless love, the expression of which I am born like any other. As a genetic male I must at some point create the man I would become by declaring myself not Woman. Not the bottomless love from which I come. That, I think, puts me pretty much in a perpetual state of awe about the principle from which I've had to wrest myself in order to fill in the blank that was my gender identification and my physiology.

According to women I've known that mission has been pretty much accomplished, but still, how do I deal with something I am in awe of? Well, I could hate it, I suppose, I could hate Woman. Fortunately, I don't - Ah luvs 'em. I would have to guess that, dysfunctions aside, I had much more love around me than not as I made the differentiation move in adolescence (and by love I mean my parents made their hearts fully vulnerable to my drama) , but that's the armchair squeaking again. Certainly I never got from any of the women in my young life any excuse for hating.

The last squeak of the armchair is Freudian: the fear going along with awe that I will be subsumed by that which awes me. The gambit I choose is to control awe-inspiring Woman with my ropes. Maybe it's less Freudian and more Apollonian - regulating chaotic Dionysus with his linear architectonic, etc. Aeschylus would have loved it.

Now I'm straying into mytho-analysis, so it must be time to pause. If I've not exhausted you by this point then you shall have to tell me your secret for enduring people who think they know something.

Good night.


09 June, 2008

Preaching to the Prejudiced

I wrote the following response to my sociologist acquaintance (with whom I spent many months in correspondence providing my perspective on BDSM) from Berlin where I spend a fair amount of time and which I know as well as any city other than my own. I pay attention to the rope scene in Berlin, and will also allow here that it has changed for the better in the couple of years that have passed since this element of the longer exchange was dispatched. Still, I think the cultural and anthropological points might still have some currency.

Here are some questions related to misconceptions others have of BDSM:

1. What are the misconceptions that you believe others (vanilla folk) have regarding the BDSM community?

2. Do you ever attempt to clarify misconceptions? If so, can you give some examples of when you've had or ceased the opportunity to do so.

Also, Frau Doktor B., apropos deine Frage interesert es mich sehr im Moment in Berlin zu sein, weil heir das Perspektiv ueber BDSM volkommen anders ist. Von welche seite des Atlantiks solle ich mal antworten?

(It's interesting to be addressing your question from
Berlin, Dr. B., because attitudes toward BDSM are rather different here. From which side of the Atlantic would you like your answer?)

There are vanilla folk on both sides, of course. I find that in
Germany people are generally equally as disinclined to be personally interested in BDSM as their American brethren, but more inclined to shrug casually and say "Eh, it does nothing for me." At home (and especially outside NYC) there is much more likely to be a judgment of some sort leveled. I'm not at all surprised by this, nor really even bothered - the difference is consistent with the distinction between the moral and cultural relativism that is pervasive in Europe and the moral absolutism that characterizes the history of American thought. Just the same, it's fun to point out to a people here of conservative bent that it was the Germans who first fetishized leather. ("Echt? Ja, das kann sein...")

If I come out to someone in the
US (or, as is actually more often the case, play devil's advocate), it's easy to observe whether the idea of BDSM shows up in my companion's right or their wrong column. The latter predominates, perhaps due to simple lack of experience or exposure, but predominate it does and there is seldom even the hint of moral ambiguity. Once BDSM has been positioned as wrong, the absolutist imperative demands that the prejudice itself be made correct, so some story has to be contrived in order to settle the issue - it takes some thought to be right about making things be wrong. In the case of conventional, media-conditioned middle class values, this story shows up as something like a Hannibal Lecter characterization: intelligent, cunning, inscrutable, wine drinker, knows which fork to use, probably homicidal.

In my experience of more youthful, less proprietary narratives, the leather-daddy archetype shows up, early and often along with presumptions about orientation (i.e., if I'm kinky I must be gay too. Between the ages of 20 and my early 30s I was pegged for gay a lot by both straight and gay people (regardless of their knowledge of my marital and/or pervert status). In my 40s I seem to have taken on a patina of straightness). In this story I am made less wrong than I am willfully (and excitedly) misunderstood, but the project of laying to rest the misguided preconception is comparatively easy.

In the argot of establishment feminism there is usually reference to reductivist conflict-theoretical constructs having to do with objectification and patriarchy (which, curiously, if I were in fact a gay leather daddy, as others have assumed me to be, would not apply. In this case it is my essential straightness which motivates the feminist case against my being a top). Both objectification and patriarchy are absolute wrongs in the feminist Weltanschuung, of course. I've had more than a few exchanges with the scrupulously politically correct around the problem of female bottoms for whom objectification is very gratifying (see the previous post - ed.). In the end, those bottoms must be made wrong by dint of either patriarchically-induced poor self esteem or by having succumbed to my presumably over-developed powers of seduction.

The last case is perhaps the most sporting, for it's quite a lot of fun to point out opponents' faulty logic and that they are assigning to female bottoms very little intrinsic power, which I then am at liberty to observe is not merely condescending, but politically opportunistic (since the same thinking does not apply to gay male bottoms). It is only in these sorts of instances that I make it a point to correct perceptions, for I find the victim mentality of establishment feminism more than a little problematic and being a target of its prejudice allows me to indulge a bit of opportunism myself. Having made the observation that my opponent's case is predicated largely on presumptions of powerlessness inherent to the (female) bottom's situation, I point out that the efficacy of BDSM and what distinguishes it from, for example, governmental torture, proceeds from the fact of the bottom's power and its equivalence to that of the top's. The matter of gender and its presentments are utterly academic, and there are no victors nor vanquished. A good scene is a simple "win-win", which, being non-zero-sum, flies in the face of Marxist conflict theory and its elaboration along the gender vector. Then there's queer BDSM, which punctures gender-based analyses QED, but for the politically convinced the fun in that fact is elusive.

I should note my sympathy to the feminist project generally, and especially economically. My antipathy toward reflexive grievance and/or identity based political maneuvering extends well beyond the establishment feminist camp to all segregationist movements that require division to legitimize their claims. My personal Weltanschauung is additive rather than divisive.

More recently, I have been a little more casual about being out, and have had far more compelling exchanges about peoples' reactions to my admissions than about the fact of my interest in BDSM. I would admit to practicing misdirection if I were unwilling to answer any question an interlocutor might have about my interest, but their disquiet about my sexuality ends up often being more interesting for both of us. Notwithstanding, I'm aware that my not taking a defensive stance about my sexuality goes a long way toward shifting a discussion in the direction of the real tension, that being the judgement passed on BDSM.

(Cartoon courtesy of Dave Annis at rope-bondage.com)

03 June, 2008

Shutting Up and Shutting Down

Not so long ago, when I thought I knew something, I was wont to suggest that, once I’d relieved her of use of her extremities, the one remaining way a woman could get to me was with her voice.

I’m a big guy, 6’4” or so, and I still press my high school weights. I don’t concern myself overly much with physical threats, which may sound like my ego speaking but I don’t think it is. I’ve not been in a lot of fights in my adult life simply because I don’t look like a good bet to lose. As I was growing to manhood, however, there was always one thing that could reduce me to a quivering blob of spineless gristle, and that was feminine verbal rejection. No matter what subtle erotic machinations I would deploy, a careless word could be the final word in confidence subversion.
I’ve already noted that I was a bit slow on the uptake of bondage porn, so I was equally slow to learn that there could be such a thing as an effective gag. Even when I made the move to rope I thought gags were kind of ornamental, something to enhance a bottom’s feeling of helplessness rather than actually keep her from impugning my swagger and technique. When finally I became competent in the area I realized that enforcing silence was a consummation of the power granted me, and my poor ego was safe from the kind of withering indictment only woman’s lips could utter (just for the record, the disciplinarian in my family was my father – my mother was rather a cipher in the behavior modification department, and not the chatty sort. Thus do I part company with Dr. Freud).
What I thought I’d figured out was not merely my attraction to a well-constructed and applied gag, but what must account for its popularity as bondage bijou. If she’s gagged I am fully protected.
(It’s interesting to think of bondage as a means and a metaphor for protecting one’s self, and in that light it’s curious (and paradoxical), really, that among tops there appear to be comparatively few women attracted to doing bondage. One of them, my dear friend Suze, has written an authoritative compendium on gagging (and blindfolding) from the perspective of one who loves applying them and having them applied.)
There is, of course, more than one way of conveying disapproval, and after verbal condescension the eyes are the most verbose organ of communication. The principle above applies to the eyes and their quieter furies in the form of a blindfold. Thus did I for years make a case to myself for completely obscuring the faces of women I loved and in whose eyes and voices I’d otherwise be blissfully content to lose time and any thought of visiting upon them the sorts of privations lurking in the more lawless precincts of my consciousness.
That’s what I thought I knew.
In recent years, through more concerted and intense play, I’ve come to a different view of things having more to do with the way in which I’m relating when I am fully in control. And relating is a weak word – merging is what I’m talking about here.

There is a line of reasoning regarding erotic objectification which I towed for a while in my right-on and callow youth which stridently opposed the transformation of woman from an individual and distinct personality into an object of gratification (of any sort). I did labor under this doctrine and others with respect to my kink, but have thankfully attained some equanimity with the advance of my years and consigned such cant to the wasteful pleasures of immaturity. The truth was and is that I do make out of my loving partners objects for my enjoyment, and in no way is this more clear than when I remove from my own view the betokenings of their character and personality as revealed in their physiognomy.
I might take up the matter of conceptually individuated self at some point in the future, but suffice it here to say that I don't set much stock by it as a point of physics or philosophy. Philosophy especially has spent a disproportionate share of its creative energy attempting accounts of self-hood with generally unsatisfactory results. A concept of self may indeed be required to elaborate an intelligible meaning to our lives, but intelligibility is not (to me at least) the end all and be all of existential legitimacy, nor would I argue for the necessity of my own existence because I've figured out how to be intelligible to myself (I haven't - with all due respect to Descartes, I am, therefore I think, not the other way around). Intuitively, I feel more aligned with the possibility that distinction and individuation are useful intellectual canards, that all is one solid block of reality, and that the world view of humble neutrino has much to recommend it.
When I look into a lover's eyes I see capital H Her. When I hear her voice, I hear Her. I sense the person to whom I have an attachment, whom I love, upon whom I visit my depredations and deep musings. When I remove from my senses who she is as separate from me I loose track readily of Her as individuated from me (or Me) and the boundaries between us soften that much more. In the most perfect of instantiations I fall fully into her and she for her part takes full receipt of me. There ceases, however momently, to be a her and me and I see that essential facet to intimacy wherein self is absent and the two of us cease to exist.
I glimpse something powerful and normally remote in this. Fully compromising all of who she appears to be is not necessary, but it is close to sufficient to engender the shift out of my own ego (what my dear Besu calls the "racket") and into a higher order of experience. In sacrificing individuation and becoming a gateway she absorbs me more completely than is possible when I cling to notions of my self and her self.
If the point of love is something other than to merge, to shuffle off the constructed facade of Me and be completely vulnerable, I cannot imagine what that might be. The trappings of SM, bondage, gagging, blindfolding, and such, just accelerate this. When I am most in love I am precisely that, in love, lost, really, to who I am, to where I begin and end.
(Cartoon courtesy of Dave Annis at rope-bondage.com)

01 June, 2008

Notes from the Hermitage

This is picking up on the thread with which I started this blog of a lengthy email interview I did with a sociologist a while back. As I am just returned from travels (during which the last two posts went up automatically) it’s convenient to have something, in effect, already written, as it may be from time to time in the future. There’s still plenty left to this interview, so I’ll be posting the preserved hanks of it at times when there’s nothing fresh in the larder.

I know I will be receiving some energized mail for this post, and I would be indebted to those of you moved to write if you would post your rejoinders in the comments area where they may spur further discussion. Thanks.


I am very interested in further information regarding the politics of BDSM organizations. Specifically, I'm interested in the hierarchies of which I have some vague understanding. I'm talking about the individuals (or maybe the areas of interest in BDSM) that appear to reign king/queen and those who would be considered "lesser than". For example, who are the elites of the groups and what kind of people are criticized. I know there is one guy in Dallas who a few others said (in a derogatory tone) that he will let anyone spank him. He walked around just asking any and everyone to do so. So, I saw this hierarchy operating even before I began the interviews. What can you explain to me about the hierarchies that you observe? It isn't at all clear to me, but surely there are groups or individuals who reap greater status than some others.

With some consideration, I'm afraid I'll be of little help to you in this matter of the social hierarchies in BDSM. As you know, I (along with nearly all of my partners) participate outside the established scene. I do rarely link up with a woman who is on the board of one of our local organizations, and have from her some insight about the formally structured hierarchies, but I gather that is not quite your interest.

With said friend I did recently deliver a demonstration for the organization she helps direct, with her as my bottom. It was offered through the bondage special interest group, which is one of many SIGs organized by the membership. Our outing was very well attended, which I assumed originally had to do with the tricky inverted suspension we had advertised, and discussion following went on well past the alloted time. My friend corrected my perception later in noting that the outsized interest was engendered chiefly by my outsider status.

That I do not circulate in the club or organizational scene could add something, I think, to my currency in the NY kinky milieu. The partners whom I've introduced to the scene apparently enjoy greater cache owing, perhaps, to a subtle prejudice in favor of sexually independent and self-actualized women that both women and men in the scene deploy happily (for different reasons, of course). The woman who does not need because she already has is the stuff of which many Hollywood legends are built (think Dietrich, Monroe, & co.). Of course, the attraction is often quickly overlaid with envy or jealousy ere long, but the root fascination remains.

The self-actualization of peripheral pervs is communicated in terms of scarcity, which prompts me to speculate that another prejudice that lurks in the organized scene has to do with joining the organized scene itself, which is ipso facto expressive of a need for partners, and that need conveys weakness. It is, again, a way of wearing who one is on one's sleeve and sacrificing thereby certain tactical advantages. A woman I play with who lives in Oakland, CA used to work for Midori (The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage, Grove, 2001), arguably the most active BDSM educator and presenter in the world. Observing that San Francisco has a lively leather scene, I asked which venues Midori prefers in her home town, to which my friend replied "Mac, be serious. You know the club scene. If she started showing up in clubs, that'd be the end of her speaking career."

In the BDSM scene, first among sacrificed advantages when one shows up publicly is mystery (a compelling quality, kinky or otherwise). BDSM refracts all manner of power expressed and exchanged between participants; minor defects of confidence or character that might be politely indulged in vanilla social settings (or even celebrated in certain therapeutic contexts) are often amplified in BDSM to the status of pathology when grafted to a particularly bizarre kink (which is, of course, any kink that is not my kink). Thus, as doubtless you've noticed, kinky folks are by and large a very well-mannered lot.

My egalitarian instinct recognizes the unfairness of this, the double standard, as it were, but the biological essentialist in me recognizes the pattern as natural. There is an incentive and opportunity, however, for people who labor with deficiencies in the confidence area to get a grip on their inhibitions and/or awkwardness, for once they have joined they find themselves in a setting where their peculiar fancies might finally find succor. While shyness inside an actual scene may be just the thing the script calls for, shyness in public, non-scene space is looked upon as a form of withholding as it might be in any social setting. There are many incentives to get out of one's own way in the organized scene; like in so many other areas of life, those who give of themselves fully (whatever it is that they have to give) enjoy generally greater status for being happier and freer people, and the same folks tend to attract attention more suited to their liking. In the scene, as elsewhere, givers gain.

That said, and at the risk of generalizing, I recognize the fellow in Dallas of whom you wrote, or I should say I recognize his type. Often, humiliation and rejection is a part of scene energy, and many are the players who will haunt the ranks affirming themselves accordingly. If this fellow's entire MO is to prostrate himself before any and all plaintively seeking intimacy, that may very well be exactly what he needs to get off. He may in fact rue the actual spankings he receives; the contempt and scorn of his peers seems as likely to me to be the instrumentality of his kink as you describe it.

Of course I'm speculating in respect to this case, but if I'm failing to describe a particular Dallas spankee, I'm describing any number of other kinky people. I am acquainted with a fellow who happens to work in my profession, but in a much more public capacity with a large investment bank. He is responsible for some 100+ analysts and makes pronouncements that affect the stock price of companies and the livelihoods of thousands. Last year, he announced that his firm would drop coverage of a large employer that had fallen on hard times, and that same company (upon having seen it's stock price drop by half) sold off a division shortly thereafter. The new European owners promptly laid off all employees (500+) and moved operations to India. My acquaintance is single, straight, handsome, 50ish, and spends the occasional weekend evening as a sissy maid crawling about the floor at private parties having his entreaties to lick women's boots rebuked. He is, of course, invited to these gatherings and a welcome feature of the proceedings. His role, however, could not be much more debased. As cliché as it might sound, his is not an unusual phenomenon; he suggests that this activity brings balance to his life (although his kink did cost him his marriage). For his part, he does not get what I do at all, finding bondage tedious and complicated (not an uncommon sentiment for those who are impatient for intensity). We agree, however, on the pleasures of keeping largely to ourselves.

As usual, you have a windy answer to a fairly straightforward question. In a nutshell, I would have to say that the elites in the formal scene are often not what they appear to be, and that they are often considered elite for not appearing at all.