Saturday, October 17, 2015

Strategies to Make Edgeplay Check-ins Hot

Originally posted on a private website

Content Note: This writing is about consensual kink and bdsm practices including consensual Dominance and submission and consensual violence. 

This is a difficult writing to write. My intention is to write tips so that people can do nasty dark things, have blanket consent relationships, scenes including the ignoring of "no" and "stop," and safe-word-free things.

My intention is not to discount the very obvious predatory behavior of many Domly "edgeplayers" (including the popular canine-named guy being outed as an abuser currently on fet) nor is it to say that their behavior could simply be avoided with these tips. These tips are for good people who want to go dark who also want to do right. They also require knowing the person you play with and negotiating scenes thoroughly as some or all of these may not be ok things to do with them. Don't use my writing as an excuse to abuse people.

Now that that has been said, here are some ways I read people or things that I say so that I can have healthy dark-as-fuck edgeplay scenes while keeping my Domly Dom pants on and keep it hot and safer.
  • Verbal techniques: Ask hot questions and demand hot answers.
  • Physical techniques: Touch them, check body temp, clamminess, sweating, breathing, limpness
  • Intuitive techniques: How do YOU feel? Does it feel like something is wrong even if everything looks ok? Are you picking up on emotions that aren't right? (This one is a gift/burden some folks don't have. Those of us that do often feel some of what the bottom/sub is.)
You've dropped below 100% sure that the scene is ok to continue as is, you can say...

"Tell me if you like it or I'm going to stop."

"Are you still with me? Because this is about me getting what I want and I don't want to do that by myself."

"Can you take a little more for me, boy/girl?"

"You better tell me if you're ok because you will do what I say."

"I'll give you a choice. You can either keep taking this or you can (insert other nasty thing here OR give them the ability to stop it)."

Bottom/sub seems more checked out than usual and is less or unresponsive and this was not intended.

"Good boy/girl. I'm going to leave you here for 5 minutes to gather yourself. I will then return and you will tell me where you are at and I will decide where we go next."

"Look at me. Now. No, don't look away." Holding eye contact for more than a moment can be extremely Dominant but it also can give you some more time to read the person.

Give them a drink of water. "I need you to take care of this body so I can keep using it to my advantage. Are you still here with me?"

Any other kind of pause that works will do. Something that gives them and you a second to gauge if they are exactly where you want them to be psychologically or if they're dissociating out to some realm that is unhealthy.

Bottom/sub seems like they really need to stop but doesn't want to disappoint you or end the scene abruptly

"You've given me so much today. And I want to be able to keep using you up tomorrow." End with an activity that you know is safe and that you agree upon prior to end scenes- sex, 5 hard hits, them saying something, etc.

"Look what a good boy/girl you've been for me. I think that's all for today so there's just enough left for me to have a little more later."

Bottom/sub is saying No, Stop, I can't take anymore, etc and these were not discussed before the scene.

Just stop. Honestly, better safe than sorry and if you have never discussed if it's ok to ignore these words than they likely mean something you need to pay attention to. You can always do another scene. And it will be even better than this one because you won't fucking rape or abuse someone.

Bottom/sub has agreed to be pushed past wanting to stop but you don't feel comfortable continuing.

STOP THE SCENE. This is the hardest thing I have ever learned. Sometimes things will start to go too far for me not them. I may be the one who needs to end the scene even if they are perfectly fine. And that is ok. Sometimes the Bottom/sub may think they did something wrong so I find I am best suited to praise at this point. You may choose something different dependent on what your partner is looking for.

"You've given me so much that I'm spent and satisfied. Good job."

"You did so well that we're going to end now and continue later."

Bottom/sub comes to you after a scene and said something was not ok. Even if you did everything right, they feel bad or wrong about the scene and need to process with you.

Grow up and be accountable. Yes it can be uncomfortable as fuck knowing that your actions may have hurt someone. But, if you want to play in the deep end of the pool with the big kids then be a big kid and realize that you have formed a deep relationship based on trust with someone else. Deeper than many nonkink or even other kink relationships can go. And sometimes it doesn't matter if you did everything right. You can still be accountable even if you aren't a consent violator or a rapist. Be there.

You violate Bottom/sub for whatever reason and rape/assault/abuse/consent violate/etc.

Stop playing, get some help, be accountable, and get right with yourself. And let them do what they need to do to get right with it, too.

UPDATE: I realize that some of these may not come off clearly as things that I have negotiated prior to scenes. I want to add that, if someone wants to go CNC or trauma play or phobia or whatever, I always ask questions like "Do you want me to keep going if you tell me to stop? Do you want me to keep going if you start crying? Is there anything you do that is nonverbal when you are not ok that I can look out for? Do you have trouble saying 'no' or answering questions during scenes?" etc. And some people will say "I don't know." As an answer to all of those. And that is ok, I am just going to be more careful.

I also tell the person ahead of time that I believe most dark scenes take time to get to and that each scene can be a step towards something darker. I have a limit to what I will do with people I just met. And I always let people know that it matters to me very much to know if something goes wrong. I make it an order if it is a D/s scene. "It is your responsibility to tell me if you are not ok. I won't have it any other way. You will not disappoint me by taking care of yourself." Etc. Negotiation is an entirely other long-ass writing so that's why it didn't end up in this one.

UPDATE 2: (related to private website)

UPDATE 3: Did something I say here come off as unsafe, abusive, or rapey? I wanna hear from you! Please let me know in the comments or even a PM.

UPDATE 4: Since I keep getting a similar comment from submissive people about various examples on here, I want to state again very clearly that none of these is one-size-fits-all. Some bottoms are traumatized by being left alone, others love captivity. Some bottoms need you to be sweet, others like you to be mean. Some bottoms like predicaments, others feel trapped by them (in a not good way). So, negotiate negotiate negotiate and check in between scenes or when you have new ideas! Make negotiations hot and fun and part of scene foreplay so that it's something you look forward to talking about rather than seeing it as processing. Thank you, subs and bottoms, for sharing your concerns (in comments on the private website)!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I'm Sick and Crazy and Sometimes Invisible

Originally posted to Queer Mental Health

Content Note: Descriptions of trauma, especially involving medical professionals
I’m a pretty hyper visible person in my gender and queerness. So, it’s odd to experience the other side of the coin with my health. I struggle with bipolar disorder, PTSD, chronic pain and fatigue, and a multitude of other things. I am the most out I have ever been about my health but still struggle to share these things. Part of this is because I look around and see how people view people with these labels and how people use these labels to demean other people.

She’s so bipolar! He’s a psycho. Don’t go all PTSD on me. OMG I’m like so OCD. Fibromyalgia doesn’t exist, doctors just say that to shut people up. If it doesn’t show up on a blood test, it’s not real. No one will ever believe you. It’s all in your head. But, you look ok today?

Mental health issues are synonymous with abuse, harm, and instability while physical health issues that are invisible are often thought to be connected to attention seeking, laziness, faking, inability to cope with “normal” feelings, etc. People are always trying to invalidate disability and find ways in which someone isn’t really deserving of any help. What I can tell you is the truth: I am suicidal all of the time and have been since I was a young teenager. Right now I am typing this with pain patches on my joints, an ice pack on my chest, and am breathing shallowly because any deep breaths shoot piercing pains and cutting aches through my chest due to chronic, never-fucking-ending costochondritis. This shallow breathing makes my dizziness from my heart palpitations worse and makes my anxiety worse along with the racing thoughts and fears that I will continue to get worse and that I will continue to be denied disability benefits (I am currently technically homeless with no income and just received my first SSD denial last week). I feel dizzy, completely exhausted, hopeless, and sick. And simultaneously I often feel anxious, “up,” fidgety, irritable, paranoid, delusional, and so on. I have nightmares every night. Sometimes they are so severe that what happened in them haunts me for days as if it really happened. Some days I can’t get out of bed. Some days I can’t stay in bed or sleep for longer than a couple of hours. I have been on countless medications, many of which made me worse. I’m a recovering addict and thus cannot take narcotics for pain and am always at a high risk for addiction. I had to go through opiate withdrawal after my last surgery despite taking medication as prescribed. I go to sleep in pain and I wake up in the middle of the night in pain and I wake up in the morning in pain. And pain, pain will drive you mad. And if you’re already mad, well….

Why am I sharing all of this? Those words above are a tiny glimpse into what I deal with every hour of every day. And there are other people out there with “invisible” disabilities that struggle in their own ways every day. And what does this world do? It uses us as punchlines and punching bags. It pushes us to see what it will take to make us break then laughs at us while we are down. Then it complains when we don’t get up and tells us we’re lazy. Then kicks us in the stomach again.
Suck it up. Go to a doctor, then. Get in therapy and you can be all better! Have you tried deep breathing? Have you tried drinking more water?

These statements and questions assume that people who struggle are somehow stupid and have not tried normal every day things and also assume that medical establishments are infallible. I have been in therapy since I was 9. Some of the gems of experiences have been a psychiatrist who insulted and berated me in my first visit at 16 to “see what it would take to break” me, a psychiatrist and therapist (I know, they’re rare) who had me, as a teen, take off my clothes in his office so he could stare at my body to “see my scars,” a psychiatrist at a mental hospital who deliberately mismedicated me because I “needed to suffer” so I wouldn’t come back to the hospital again. My experiences with non-psych doctors involved telling me mono was all in my head until it showed up on a blood test, telling me to take certain drugs or treatments that I didn’t want to which then made me worse, commenting on my mental health or lack of enough meds, dismissing my physical health concerns due to mental health, and all of the harassment and discrimination that comes from being trans and queer in hospitals and doctors offices. Until the past couple of years, for these reasons and others, I didn’t seek help for a decade. I now am back in the medical world by force and am lucky enough to have met some genuinely kind doctors and therapists.

Everyone gets sad and tired sometimes. I know you struggle but you just have to get up and go like everyone else.

I am a hard worker. People throughout my life have had to tell me to SLOW DOWN over and over again. Like when I was doing my own research at a university while going to school while working and supporting myself on minimum wage, doing several organizing efforts including one organization I was almost completely responsible for, and volunteering at a shelter on weekends where hundreds of seized animals infected with a deadly virus were struggling and dying. I had no time for friendship let alone rest. And these experiences, especially the ones in which I was exposed to animal suffering, added to my trauma. I pushed through the mental breakdowns, burnouts, illness, pain, and so on for years. And in the third decade of my life my body shut me down completely.
Why am I telling you this? Because I can’t work anymore. Hell, I can barely laugh anymore. I can’t dance. I can’t run. I can’t walk for long. I can’t ride a bike anymore. I can’t sit up straight for long. Not without severe, maddening pain. And today, I tell myself, “Suck it up. You’re just lazy,” and then I run my fingers through my hair and look at all of the strands that have fallen out of my head. “Stress related hair loss,” Oh… I thought that was just for people on chemo. How do I destress? How do I destress with no money and no relief from pain or mental health struggle? How do I keep going?
I just…do. I just keep going. I don’t have a reason why either.

So, the next time you’re about to reduce abusive behavior to mental illness, I ask you to remember that statistically people with mental health struggles are far more likely to be victimized than they are to be violent. The next time you’re questioning someone’s handicap placard because they aren’t using a wheelchair, think about what may be beneath the surface. The next time you want to call yourself OCD because you just have to do the dishes before bed, consider if you care about people who struggle with actual OCD. The next time you want to call your ex a “psycho,” consider what psycho means, and if they just needed some support. And the next time you see someone struggling, if you can’t lend a hand, don’t kick them while they’re down. If someone is acting crazy, they might actually be crazy, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to trade places with them for a second. Have a little empathy. Remember each person is fighting their own battles just as you are fighting yours. And if you can’t lend some support, consider walking away rather than becoming another trauma.

Afterthought: This writing is not meant to excuse when people struggling with disability are abusive. Trust me, I am a survivor of those kinds of people. I am saying break the stigma. Those with the most power are often those who appear or are the most “sane” and it’s often charismatic narcissists and sociopaths are found often amongst those in the upper ranks of society if you do see disorders.