Saturday, 20 October 2007

Confession time...

...and please realize THIS IS JUST ME, and I'm not asserting anything.

I often find myself wondering just how it is that vanilla sexuality is as passionate as BDSM. It's not that vanilla sex isn't *nice*, I like it a lot, but it really doesn't give me that all-consuming feeling of drowning in desire as BDSM does.

And I always wonder: is that because BDSM is actually more intense, or is it just because I'm orientationally BDSMish, such that stuff that's not BDSMy in at least some vague way isn't going to fan my flames in the same way?

I wonder about this because I sometimes hear people who criticize BDSM talk in ways that makes it sound like they actually do think of BDSM as particularly intense, and that intensity as frightening or negative.

I sometimes suspect it's that that frightens people about BDSM, much more than patriarchy or pain or whatever the criticism du jour happens to be. It's the fear that if you submit you get lost in it, lose yourself, lose your autonomy, lose your soul -- and that's not something feminists want happening to women.

And it's that getting lost experience that I think a lot of people really want out of BDSM scenes and sex. Going under. Diving deep.

I think a lot of us have a fear of... our inner oceans. Especially the sort of thinkillectual people who find it worthwhile to write long essays about why they think the world is better off without them (not linking, but you can find it in the current Alas threads if you want.)

There's a part of me that doesn't know the meaning of "enough." That's what SM is about to me. Excess. Intensity. Indulgence. Glutting my soul on intense power and passion. Letting it wash over me like blood. (That sounds like something from an opera because it should...)

And I think there's a lot of fear of that in some people. Including me sometimes.

40 comments:

SnowdropExplodes said...

There's a part of me that doesn't know the meaning of "enough." That's what SM is about to me. Excess. Intensity. Indulgence. Glutting my soul on intense power and passion. Letting it wash over me like blood. (That sounds like something from an opera because it should...)

And I think there's a lot of fear of that in some people. Including me sometimes.


Hell, YES!

Not just physical intensity, but mental as well, and it is scary. But scary like a rollercoaster, not scary like a car crash.

Renegade Evolution said...

love this post. That's how I feel about my own plethora of deviant sexual stuff. The whole this is too much and hell I LOVE it. Gimme some more!

figleaf said...

"or is it just because I'm orientationally BDSMish"

I think it's that. I mean yeah, there *can* be a lot of intensity in BDSM[*] but then there can be intensity in vanillity too. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it but all the sex in Dangerous Liaisons is technically *vanilla* but intense to a point a lot of people of any stripe wouldn't risk going there.

For myself, at least two of my top ten... and maybe my top five sexual experiences involved topping a partner. But another one... maybe the best ever as far as overwhelming sensation goes, started out as a "two sleepy people too in love to say good night" sort of blowjob that dwindled down to slow, light, teasing strokes with thumb or tongue or lips, each of which made me gasp the way bottoms sometimes do when they're lashed.

And you know, by the way, that I might not "get" BDSM all the way because I can say things like I don't think it's actually sex so much as something else that -- when you incorporate the intensity potential of sex into it -- heightens... whatever that other thing is.

I say this because I know a lot of extreme sports people who, while totally hooked on the intense physical impact of their play, don't seem to see it in *sexual* terms at all.

So! All that's just my way of saying that it doesn't seem to be the intensity of BDSM that makes it "better" for some people since a) there are equally intense forms of non-BDSM sex and b) there are equally intense forms of non-sex BDSM (e.g. rugby.) Instead I claim it's the orientation.

Which, by the way, I think is *great!* It's great for two reasons: first because it makes it harder for others to criticize your preference if they're not oriented to experience it; second because it really brings home the reality that there's nothing wrong either with enjoying or, more to the point, *not* enjoying it! (That last bit is pretty critical: as an orientation they can't call BDSM deviant any more than you can call them impassionate.)

[*]Sometimes people look like they're just going through the motions... more engaged in getting all their gear into and out of the suitcase than anything that's happening to their partners.

Trinity said...

"love this post. That's how I feel about my own plethora of deviant sexual stuff. The whole this is too much and hell I LOVE it. Gimme some more!"

yeah that

"An advisor once asked the Western Paladin how much gold would be enough. "I have no need of fools who can imagine 'enough,'" he told the advisor's corpse."

Trinity said...

"
And you know, by the way, that I might not "get" BDSM all the way because I can say things like I don't think it's actually sex so much as something else that -- when you incorporate the intensity potential of sex into it -- heightens... whatever that other thing is."

and that's exactly why I think I don't get vanilla, myself. because... well, I can definitely enjoy vanilla sex, it's not that I can't, or never did, or anything, buuuuuuut...

the idea of it seems like it's just *missing something*, and more often than not the actual sex is *missing something* too, though I've definitely had wonderful sex that wasn't BDSM. Most of the time I'm imagining BDSM in my head while having vanilla sex, though (which makes me feel kind of guilty -- am I really supposed to start thinking you're my slave when you don't know I am, even if the only reason I'm doing it is I'd rather come sooner?)

I mean, I look at vanilla porn, and I watch people writhe all over one another or lick one another or even fuck one another and act like it's all amazing and sometimes I just wonder when stuff's going to happen.

I suppose it would be like watching people kiss when you think you're about to watch hardcore porn. it's not that it's BAD or that you doubt that they're having fun (well, leaving aside for a moment the fact that porn is actually acting) or even that you wouldn't want to be kissed or something odd like that

and, y'know, people being able to get off just from makeouts is actually *cool*, so it's not that there's something *wrong* with it

it's just, I dunno, "where's what's supposed to happen?"

So whatever you're calling the extra thing I'm calling the necessary thing. Or at least the close to necessary thing, anyway.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I think it's that. I mean yeah, there *can* be a lot of intensity in BDSM but then there can be intensity in vanillity too.

...

Which, by the way, I think is *great!* It's great for two reasons: first because it makes it harder for others to criticize your preference if they're not oriented to experience it; second because it really brings home the reality that there's nothing wrong either with enjoying or, more to the point, *not* enjoying it!


I don't think the validity of BDSM or vanilla sex or whatever, really depends on the intensity involved. Going to a food analogy again (although a slightly different version) - which is nicer, a blazing-hot vindaloo or a mild, smooth korma? It's quite likely that the person who prefers the korma is going to have trouble understanding how the person who likes the vindaloo can possibly cope with it; equally, the vindaloo-lover might have trouble understanding what anyone could possibly get out of eating a korma. But each choice is equally valid.

Another way of looking at it is in terms of physical exertion: it is quite possible for two different, fit, people, to have quite different attitudes towards, say, running a mile, and that will affect how enjoyable they find it, or how they approach it. Just because one finds nothing better than to strain every sinew and blaze through that mile as fast as possible, while the other prefers a slower, more even-paced approach, maybe jogging it instead, doesn't make anything better or worse about the approaches. And then again, maybe someone who is not quite as fit (or at least, not as fast) as the other two, also likes to blaze through the mile run, but can only manage the same pace that the jogger guy prefers.

Different levels of intensity are suited to different types of people (if you can even address intensity as some kind of "objective" measure! Maybe it is more accurate to say that the same stimuli have different intensity reactions for different people)

And, of course, just because I can't conceive of "enough" when it comes to sexual intensity and BDSM, it doesn't mean that I have the same reaction elsewhere: I have definite limits on intensity of curry heat, for example, and am never going to be eager to run a mile (although I could jog it happily).

So, it kind of is an "orientational" thing, but then, some people are orientationally into physical sports, or into intense focus and concentration (like people who love nothing better than to build detailed scale models). 'Nillas aren't passionless but rather, they fulfil their own levels of intensity.

One other thought: I've tried to think of passages I've read in literature (or more probably, trashy novels, but hey...) that describe 'nilla sex scenes that I found were as intense as the BDSM sex I've experienced, and there aren't many. Those that do communicate it, almost always seem to have something that feeds back metaphorically or figuratively into the physical intensity of pain, even when describing the soft, lingering, type of comfortable-together sex: e.g., "Her skin felt so hot that it burned as their bodies came together." "It was like an electric spark leapt between them as their lips touched" etc.

Maybe it's because I, too, am "orientational" BDSM, that only these types of passages communicate it to me, but the intention of the author seems to be conveyed by these metaphors more than any other means.

subversive_sub said...

I've had non-BDSM experiences that were incredibly intense (mostly fueled by a sort of "it's wrong, but I can't help myself" sort of emotion -- semi-public sex, ex sex, etc.), and BDSM experiences that were perfectly lovely, but felt more, well, *normal* than anything else. Yet, BDSM sex leaves me feeling deeply satisfied in a way I've never experienced with even the best vanilla sex I've had. On the whole, though, I have found that there's generally a heightened intensity in BDSM, and this is what makes it appealing and scary to me at the same time. (Esp. the "losing yourself" bit, which really terrified me for a while.)

Trinity said...

"I've tried to think of passages I've read in literature (or more probably, trashy novels, but hey...) that describe 'nilla sex scenes that I found were as intense as the BDSM sex I've experienced, and there aren't many. Those that do communicate it, almost always seem to have something that feeds back metaphorically or figuratively into the physical intensity of pain, even when describing the soft, lingering, type of comfortable-together sex: e.g., "Her skin felt so hot that it burned as their bodies came together." "It was like an electric spark leapt between them as their lips touched" etc."

Yes yes yes yes yes yes.

Which is why I'm often puzzled by people who don't want pain -- even they talk, more often than you'd expect, like they do. But then when you go yeah, doing it for real is awesome, then you start getting the evil eye and the feminisms and the Freud and all this and it's like what? what did I say?

Anonymous said...

Your mistake is the word "passionate".

You are equating passionate to intense (which it often is).

It's your orientation thing. Non-BDSM doesn't get you hot, so how can it ever be as passionate or intense?

Now, as far as criticizing "losing it" in passionate intensity - there's a good reason people do that. Passionate obsession leads to all kinds of stupid behaviour. Human stupidity transcends all kinks. :-) I know lots of kinksters who wouldn't know their inner ocean if it bit them on their ass, and vanilla people who are all about it.

I think most people have answered this well, already.

As for the romantic vanilla book thing... you're doing what people always do, finding the parts that connect to you and assuming they are universal. Therefore ANYTHING that has intensity or passion as written will be tracked as having an overlay of kink. (And honestly, the moment you define kink out to "any aspect of power exchange or intensity of feeling" then *everything* is kink in some way anyway, and it is just degrees of what turns you on.)

--victor

SnowdropExplodes said...

Victor:

The "passionate" thing came from Figleaf's post, not mine; I was actually writing a rebuffal of the link between "passion" and "intensity".

And, as for "finding the parts that connect to you and assuming they are universal": I actually took the context of the scene within the narrative and drew my conclusions from that. In fact, in many cases it's possible simply to look for scenes where the author has used the words "passionate" or "intense" to describe the scene.

In fact, I don't generally consider those passages as being kinky or involving power-exchange or anything else like that. But the descriptive language used (as I pointed out with my examples) has almost a convention that intensity is flagged up by using reference to pain as a metaphor.

My recollection is that the word "passion" or "passionate" (as distinct from "intensity") is introduced as a part of the descriptive language in the context of a scene more often when the writer is talking about a softer, more lingering, type of love-making.

Anonymous said...

Snowdrop

"The "passionate" thing came from Figleaf's post, not mine; I was actually writing a rebuffal of the link between "passion" and "intensity"."

Mea culpa. I lost the thread. :-)

"And, as for "finding the parts that connect to you and assuming they are universal": I actually took the context of the scene within the narrative and drew my conclusions from that. In fact, in many cases it's possible simply to look for scenes where the author has used the words "passionate" or "intense" to describe the scene."

I don't think I'm being clear. I think all humans have a tendency to read text in such a way as to find parts that resonate with their experience when possible.

"In fact, I don't generally consider those passages as being kinky or involving power-exchange or anything else like that. But the descriptive language used (as I pointed out with my examples) has almost a convention that intensity is flagged up by using reference to pain as a metaphor."

Oddly, I don't necessarily see those as pain as a metaphor. I'll give you burning (grudgingly), but aren't sold on "spark".

"My recollection is that the word "passion" or "passionate" (as distinct from "intensity") is introduced as a part of the descriptive language in the context of a scene more often when the writer is talking about a softer, more lingering, type of love-making."

*nod* Interesting. I'm truly tempted to go and hunt some examples now. Sadly, my bookshelves are largely bare due to the move.

--victor

SnowdropExplodes said...

Victor:

I don't think I'm being clear. I think all humans have a tendency to read text in such a way as to find parts that resonate with their experience when possible.

No, I understood that. I just don't think it's relevant to the point I was making, because I am looking at context of all "lovemaking" scenes and drawing conclusions from that. You might be arguing that you think I have forgotten "intense" scenes that didn't use the metaphors I picked out, but that's not what you've said so far, and I don't think it is the case anyway.

Oddly, I don't necessarily see those as pain as a metaphor. I'll give you burning (grudgingly), but aren't sold on "spark".

Really? I would have thought most people consider "electric sparks" to be painful (after all, that's why we use them in BDSM!) Even if the metaphor is not directly referring to pain, it certainly has connotations of.

Trinity said...

"Really? I would have thought most people consider "electric sparks" to be painful (after all, that's why we use them in BDSM!) Even if the metaphor is not directly referring to pain, it certainly has connotations of."

Yeah, I agree.

lilcollegegirl said...

I always just thought of sparks as energy...but maybe I'm just odd.

Anonymous said...

"I would have thought most people consider "electric sparks" to be painful (after all, that's why we use them in BDSM!)"

I happen to agree with lil college girl. Sparks are energy, they can tingle, they can ennervate, they can crackle -- I wouldn't default to assuming pain at all.

Same with burning. Bodies heat with passion. I always read "burning" in that kind of context as "heated" or "like a fire" which I don't read as pain.

Mind you, I happen to believe there really isn't much of a line between "kinky" and "vanilla" anyway - like most human sexuality, it is a continuum.

--victor

SnowdropExplodes said...

I happen to agree with lil college girl. Sparks are energy, they can tingle, they can ennervate, they can crackle -- I wouldn't default to assuming pain at all.

[Pedants' Corner] I assume you mean "energise" - "enervate" actually means to render numb or without energy. [/Pedants' Corner]

Hmm, while tingles can be pleasant, they are still a form of pain reception; likewise, I associate a crackling sensation with pain also (particularly if I feel a spark). Any way you look at "electric spark", it implies a shock, a jolt to the system, some kind of impact. If "spark" to mean "energy" were the intention, then I would expect to see "they felt a spark of energy as their lips touched", but anyone who has felt an electric shock will report that it definitely is painful!

I repeat my statement: even if "spark" is used with a primary meaning that is different (e.g. jolt, crackle, etc.), it still carries a connotation of pain.

Same with burning. Bodies heat with passion. I always read "burning" in that kind of context as "heated" or "like a fire" which I don't read as pain.

Well, until you try to touch the burning fire! I'm talking about the way descriptions of touch in particular are used, and I think the implication is clearly, "she was burned by him" (or vice versa). Sometimes it's even as blatant as using terms like "searing heat". The language used describes bodies "so hot that they burned each other" and similar phrases, which is more than just the "passion-heat" to which you refer.

Again, I would say that there is a reasonable amount of correlation to say that the convention is that "passion" = "warm" whereas "intensity" = "hot".

Mind you, I happen to believe there really isn't much of a line between "kinky" and "vanilla" anyway - like most human sexuality, it is a continuum.

I completely agree with this, but I don't think it has anything to do with the current debate. In the context of this debate, all it proves is that intensity is a continuum and not an "either/or" thing.

Trinity said...

Sometimes it's even as blatant as using terms like "searing heat". The language used describes bodies "so hot that they burned each other" and similar phrases, which is more than just the "passion-heat" to which you refer."

yeah. i remember first reading a book that mentioned that and I tingled all over because I read it as "she's hurting him, yet he craves it." that was precisely why I loved the image.

Trinity said...

which then flooded me with guilt: what did it mean that I liked that she was hurting him? what was wrong with me? etc etc

~cat said...

There's a part of me that doesn't know the meaning of "enough." That's what SM is about to me. Excess. Intensity. Indulgence. Glutting my soul on intense power and passion. Letting it wash over me like blood.

while this isn't exactly a new idea to me, reading it brought a new realization about a relationship of mine that seemed to get lost when we started exploring D/s & SM. (i'm pretty experienced, he's not really at all.) what you said resonates so much for me, but i think that is exactly what he is afraid of.

Amber said...

I left this comment on Figleaf's blog (where he linked to this post!) but figured I'd leave it here too...


For me, the question of "is vanilla as intense as BDSM" is a non-sequitur. It's apples and oranges. It doesn't make sense as a question.

I'm not into BDSM. I'm just not. It's never been something that I've found personally interesting, compelling, exciting, or wanted to try. And just as many people in the BDSM community don't have a perfect explanation for "why" they're into BDSM (nor should they have to have such an explanation ready to satisfy people "on the outside"), I don't have an explanation for why I'm not into it. It's just the way I am.

Trinity said...

Amber,

Thanks. That's actually exactly what I was wondering, because for me, like I was saying, not doing BDSM is like doing something abbreviated to me, like something's a bit missing somehow. So I was curious if for people who don't do it, it really is just plain uninteresting and that's that.

Like, I remember reading on someone's personal site (The Ferrett, I think) that he never quite got the hang of kink because it sounded cool but required so much setup, and why bother? and that just struck me as so freaking ODD, because it's like saying "It would be too much effort to kiss you, even though kissing makes everything really sexy and hot and amazing."

And I was just like, okay, he must just really not respond much at all to this, otherwise it wouldn't seem like any kind of Massive Uber Effort unless he's, like, planning a consensual "surprise" "kidnapping..."

and then my next thought was wow, what would THAT be like, to not respond to this much at all? Nort because I think it's in any way wrong not to but just... because it's so outside my experience.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Amber:

Here's the thing for me about "is it more intense". I just don't believe that the elements in BDSM are such that people can be merely unmoved by them - surely either you enjoy, or really dislike - but surely not "unaffected".

I can get, "I really dislike being whipped/spanked/tortured and I certainly get no sexual enjoyment from it" but I can't quite process the statement "I just find being whipped/spanked/tortured doesn't affect me much". At least, not if those things are done with any sense of involvement by the person doing them.

And again, I can get "(the thought of) a partner being tortured/whipped/spanked really troubles me and I don't enjoy it" but I can't quite process "it doesn't affect me one way or the other". And that's even if the partner has begged for it to happen.

Likewise with D/s and bondage - I can get hating to be in charge, and I can get hating to be expected to obey, but I can't quite process indifference to either. I can to some extent understand being bored by bondage but surely at some point there must be some other reaction to being helpless/seeing someone helpless?

I can understand BDSM being "not something that I've found personally interesting, compelling, exciting, or wanted to try." But I can't understand that sentiment as being bored or unmoved by it, only as being averse to it. Which can be simply, "well, you have fun doing it, but it's not fun for me".

Going back to the exercise thing that I came up with: rock climbing I guess is quite an intense experience and I am sure that people who do it do so because for them it is intensely pleasurable (certainly that is the impression they give when they talk about it). For me, though, it would just be full of anxiety and fear and over-exertion. For me it would still be intense, but intensely negative. So I say to rock-climbers, "you go and have fun climbing rock faces; but I'll give it a miss, thanks" and since I don't do it, I end up having no intense feelings about rock-climbing. But I can't imagine a person not being bothered one way or another by it.

By analogy, that's the only way I can make sense of your statement. That your lack of intense feelings about BDSM are because you haven't tried it and don't want to, and there's no reason you should.

We BDSMers say BDSM is intensely pleasurable because for us, it is; rock-climbers say that rock climbing is intensely pleasurable because for them, it is. To those who don't enjoy them, though, those activities are intensely unpleasant. However, since (mostly) nobody is forced to do them, those who don't enjoy them don't have to feel anything intense about them.

I hope that makes sense. I've been trying hard to work out just why I've felt so upset by the assertion that it's "just because you're oriented that way", and I think this comment goes some way to answering that question as well.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

SnowdropExplodes --

So, a number of years ago in my first really kinky relationship I was with a fellow who was into a bunch of stuff I wasn't into. Which was pretty educational.

At one point we did some stuff like clothespins on my nipples.

I have never encountered a sexual practice as utterly boring as clothespins on nipples. Sure, it hurt, but that wasn't terribly relevant; I have a certain level of indifference to that in general. It was just ... okay, so ... when is something even remotely interesting supposed to start happening?

It never did. Start happening, I mean.

He seemed to like it? But I just ... stared and waited for there to be something remotely engaging.

So I filed clothespins as 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'. Just so goddamn dull.

Trinity said...

"Likewise with D/s and bondage - I can get hating to be in charge, and I can get hating to be expected to obey, but I can't quite process indifference to either."

That's how I feel too. Power is just something humans respond to, strongly. I suppose I can imagine one's responses not being sexual (though I think sexuality is tied in with all of the rest of our lives, so "not being sexual" is likely a small misnomer). But I can't really imagine "power, yawn."

Or, like you also say there, "pain, yawn." That would be like saying "pleasure, yawn" which would be like saying "sex, yawn," which would then make me wonder why such a person is even in the discussion. :)

Amber said...

I can understand BDSM being "not something that I've found personally interesting, compelling, exciting, or wanted to try." But I can't understand that sentiment as being bored or unmoved by it, only as being averse to it. Which can be simply, "well, you have fun doing it, but it's not fun for me".

Really? I don't see that as averse. More like... uninterested. Neutral. There are plenty of activities that fall into that category for everyone.

For example, I'm not into mountain biking, scrapbooking, homebrewing, horseback riding, or Dungeons and Dragons. They just don't interest me as activities I'd like to do. I see nothing wrong with them and certainly wouldn't say I'm "averse" to them; I really don't have an opinion. I know some neat people who're into one or more of those activities, and that's great; I really don't think about it that much, and it doesn't affect my perception of them.

So this is just kind of a weird question to me. It seems like it's posing a question that - well, like I said, to me doesn't make sense as a question.

Basically I don't think anyone should be called upon to explain their sexuality on command, regardless of what form it takes. Some things are just who we are and what we do, and that's that.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Dw3t-Hthr:

Actually, I do understand that response to specific types of thing, once the pain-is-pleasurable link has been established. Just because it's established that I like eating ice cream, it doesn't follow that all flavours of ice cream have the same effect on me.

But I don't understand being indifferent to pain, except maybe as a conscious decision to ignore it or block it out somehow. I just can't figure in my head how that would work, being indifferent to pain.

I guess I can picture "yummy sex and stuff is going to happen" followed by a disappointed, "oh, hurty things on nipples, is that ALL?" (which seems to be what you're talking about). But to me, that's a slightly different issue. Going back to my rock climbers, that feels more like someone who enjoys rock climbing going to a particular climbing route and finding it a bit average, and not as thrilling as some of the other routes that person's climbed (or imagined climbing). Obviously, if that climber talks about rock-climbing in general, he or she will still describe it as intense (that one route notwithstanding); similarly, someone who didn't like rock climbing would not find the route "average", but would be just as unhappy climbing it as any other. The rock climber files the route under "sound and fury, signifying nothing" but still finds rock-climbing to be a thrill.

In short: I can get one or two specific exceptions to the rule, but I can't understand the rule not holding at all.

Amber said...


We BDSMers say BDSM is intensely pleasurable because for us, it is; rock-climbers say that rock climbing is intensely pleasurable because for them, it is. To those who don't enjoy them, though, those activities are intensely unpleasant. However, since (mostly) nobody is forced to do them, those who don't enjoy them don't have to feel anything intense about them.


It seems like we're saying mostly the same thing, with one major difference: you parse "intensely unpleasant" as the default state of disinterest, and I parse it as "neutral".

Does that make sense? (I have a feeling it doesn't. Argh)

Amber said...

Hmm, this has sparked another thought... kink is in the eye of the beholder. Mental note: blog about this!

SnowdropExplodes said...

For example, I'm not into mountain biking, scrapbooking, homebrewing, horseback riding, or Dungeons and Dragons. They just don't interest me as activities I'd like to do. I see nothing wrong with them and certainly wouldn't say I'm "averse" to them; I really don't have an opinion. I know some neat people who're into one or more of those activities, and that's great; I really don't think about it that much, and it doesn't affect my perception of them.


I think this is answering a different question from the one I'm addressing. This is how I tried to sum up my statement:

"We BDSMers say BDSM is intensely pleasurable because for us, it is; rock-climbers say that rock climbing is intensely pleasurable because for them, it is. To those who don't enjoy them, though, those activities are intensely unpleasant. However, since (mostly) nobody is forced to do them, those who don't enjoy them don't have to feel anything intense about them."

As you see, I already included your "I see nothing wrong with them...I really don't think about it that much." But I really really can't see BDSM as something for which a person can say, "just doesn't interest me as activities I'd like to do" in the way that you can about "mountain biking, scrapbooking, homebrewing, horseback riding, or Dungeons and Dragons". I just can't understand a "take it or leave it" attitude like that, any more than I can understand that attitude to climbing tall rock faces, or driving incredibly fast on a racetrack, or parachuting from an aeroplane. I can imagine "not interested in trying it" but I can't understand "it's happening now and I'm totally unaffected by it".

Specifically to this question, I just can't imagine someone being given a crash-course in BDSM and walking away with a yawn. Surely, either they'll want moremoremore, or else they'll go, "Ouch! Never doing THAT again!"

You seem also to have misunderstood my use of "averse". I didn't mean in any way to indicate a revulsion for other people involving themselves with it (and certainly not a revulsion for the actual people themselves!) Just a strong dislike for being involved oneself.

SnowdropExplodes said...

It seems like we're saying mostly the same thing, with one major difference: you parse "intensely unpleasant" as the default state of disinterest, and I parse it as "neutral".

No, I'm saying that there are some activities for which I can't imagine someone having a neutral, disinterested reaction.

For example, you could teach me how to operate a parachute, how to land properly, and everything else, but you would still have to use a cattle prod to get me to jump out of the aeroplane. I just can't imagine anyone landing after a parachute jump and saying, "Meh, it was alright I suppose, but I'm not that into it." Me, I'd either be "That was incredible! I want another go!" or else, "That was terrifying! I'm NEVER doing that ever again!"

I wouldn't describe the second reaction as "neutral".

And try as I might, I can't see a way for BDSM to result in a neutral reaction either. Surely you have to be either "Wow, that was great, let's do it again", or else, "I hated that, let's never do it again". I can't quite picture it (except perhaps for a few specific aspects, as explained in a different response) as being, "Meh, it was okay, I s'pose".

The "disinterest" part, I just understand as being like, "well, I never have to jump out of an aeroplane, so my intense dislike of parachuting isn't important, and I can be happy for those who do like it." If somebody was forcing people to go parachuting, then obviously I would have much more of an interest, especially if it looked like they might force me to do it.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I don't have a pain-is-pleasurable link; I don't consider myself a masochist. (This is actually far more complicated than I'm expressing here, but this is an accurate rough approximation.) That whole realm of things just ... not interesting. I've tried it to see if it was interesting, because hey, I'm kinky, this is stuff that people who are kinky do, and nope, not interesting.

Not a revulsion, not a strong reaction, either. Just ... not interesting, going in directions of, "Eh, could take it or leave it" if I'm dealing with someone for whom it is interesting.

I honestly can't comprehend the idea that there has to be a strong reaction involved in this sort of thing, positive or negative. The rock climbing example of your makes this completely obscure, because the overwhelming majority of people I know consider rock climbing to be something like "mountain biking, scrapbooking, homebrewing, horseback riding, or Dungeons and Dragons" -- an activity one can take or leave, not something that demands an emotional reaction. Maybe you know orientational rock climbers who really get something out of it, but even my rock-climbing friends are more in the, "Hey, this is a neat hobby" end of things.

Basically, you're coming across to me as insisting that one must either love or hate certain things, to which most people appear to me to be neutral.

Amber said...


Specifically to this question, I just can't imagine someone being given a crash-course in BDSM and walking away with a yawn. Surely, either they'll want moremoremore, or else they'll go, "Ouch! Never doing THAT again!"


Well, I don't know what to say... because I don't feel strongly in either direction about it.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Also, I should add that I know the difference between 'boring' and 'boring and averse/repulsed/etc.'

Boring is clothespins on my nipples.

Boring with a strong negative reaction is having my toes sucked.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Basically, you're coming across to me as insisting that one must either love or hate certain things, to which most people appear to me to be neutral.

Okay, maybe rock climbing was a bad example. but what about the others I suggested - you know, driving very fast around a race track, or parachuting out of an aeroplane? Can you really imagine someone at the end of doing those things, just feeling, "Meh! not interested"?

Amber and Dw3t-Hthr, I'm completely disorientated by your responses. I have to accept them as genuine and yet I just can't make sense of them.

To me, pain, power, restraint - surely these things are very fundamental to human experience in general! So just like Trinity, I find "pain, yawn" or "power, yawn" to be just strange and outlandish.

I can understand not everyone wanting them in a sexual context. I might just about be able to process being focused on fun sex stuff to the point that anything else (e.g. pain, or power) is more like an unwanted distraction. But to say that pain, power, restraint, aren't intense (or perhaps, don't have intense effects)? I can't understand that. As Trinity said, that would be like, "sex, yawn".

It occurs to me that there are a lot of things that bring out a big thrill in me, or else, leave me intensely unhappy - maybe I just have a very broad "orientation" to experience life in intense ways, and of course, my BDSM orientations would fit right into that. But there are plenty of physical sensation things that leave me with a "meh, yawn" reaction, too, so I don't know for sure if that's a fair assessment.

I would have a lot of trouble understanding what it would be like to have 2 or 4 types of colour receptor in my eyes, instead of the standard 3 Red, Green, Blue types that humans have (I don't know, is colour-blindness when someone has a particular type missing? I've often struggled to understand what it's like to be colour-blind, too). And that's what it feels like trying to understand "not interested". Which I hasten to add, doesn't make either point of view "wrong". I'm just trying to express how difficult I'm finding this. (incidentally, I always get frustrated because I think of myself as broad-minded, so I hate when there's a POV I can't reach - does a lot of damage to my self-image!)

Amber said...

Amber and Dw3t-Hthr, I'm completely disorientated by your responses. I have to accept them as genuine and yet I just can't make sense of them.

Well, there they are. Speaking for myself at least, I'm being genuine. If you are disoriented, I'm sorry to hear that, but I can't control your reaction.

And too, what I'm trying to convey is not even a "yawn" reaction so much as... no opinion. Not that the thing in question BORES me but that I'm honestly just. not. interested.

Amber said...

It occurs to me that there are a lot of things that bring out a big thrill in me, or else, leave me intensely unhappy - maybe I just have a very broad "orientation" to experience life in intense ways, and of course, my BDSM orientations would fit right into that.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this sentence does come off as slightly offensive. As if the implication is, because I don't experience sexuality the way you do, I don't "experience life in intense ways." Sure I do - they're just different intense ways.

Alex said...

Snowdropexplodes - slot me in as another kinky person who has been actively bored by some kinky activities. Sometimes even ones I used to enjoy - things that once gave me a thrill I've come back to a few months later and been like, "huh, this isn't getting any sort of reaction now. Odd."

But not "stop immediately, I don't want to do this again!"

Just... "this isn't doing anything for me. Next!"

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Heh. I spend enough of my life in some level of pain that if I went around finding simply being in pain intense I'd burn out my brain. I don't have the experience to know what it's like for someone who hasn't had to make an accomodation for it like an old friend or a homeless relative needing a place to stay; I can imagine it, by extrapolating from the good days, but I still have a cane for the bad days.

A friend of mine commented once, regarding her chronic pain, that she had an experience with drugs, I think a prescribed painkiller, once, that didn't make the pain go away, but turned it all blue. The stuff I have recently started to do that approaches SM is much more of a 'turning the pain blue' thing, altered consciousness, transformation of energy forms. This is far more akin to magical or spiritual practice than anything that has to do with 'intensity'. (My locus of kink has a lot more to do with 'altered consciousness' than 'intensity'. A lot of altered consciousness states are intense, but that's not the reason for them.)


And yeah, I can easily imagine people whose responses to the sort of "intense" experiences you describe is something like, "Okay, having done that, I can neither say I hate it nor that I desperately want to do with it again." My default in such cases is, "That was worth having done once for the experience" -- but, again, that's an 'exploration of an altered state' reaction.

SnowdropExplodes said...


I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this sentence does come off as slightly offensive. As if the implication is, because I don't experience sexuality the way you do, I don't "experience life in intense ways." Sure I do - they're just different intense ways.


Okay, that has me confused, because I'm quite clearly NOT talking about sexuality here. I'm talking about things that you've said most people are "neutral" about, but I seem to be not-neutral about, and suggesting that possibly I just have bigger responses than most people and that's what makes that happen. But I immediately qualified that by saying I didn't think it explained what I experience from life, I just threw it out there as one possibility.

Right now, I do feel as if I'm being told that my experience of the world is invalid because it doesn't match other people's; and in fact I feel as if the "orientational" thing of explaining how intense it feels, is more of that same thing. It seems like you're saying to me, "you're a freak to feel the way you do".

I've tried everything I can to make sense of what people have said here, but there is nothing in my life's experience and understanding of the world, that offers any handle on it - except the deepest episodes of depression, when nothing at all in the world seems intense. And that, as you've pointed out above, is not what you're describing.

For someone to have a "just not interested" reaction to experiencing pain, or power (or lack of), or restraint, is to me impossible to imagine on an emotional level because of how deeply those things seem to me to be embedded (along with sex and sexuality) in the human experience as a whole - not just mine, but all across literature, art, history etc.

Intellectually, I accept what you say as truth. I am convinced, intellectually, that you experience pain, power and restraint as "just not interesting" but find other things as very intense. But emotionally, I still can't make those statements fit together properly, it just feels like a Penrose triangle.

I'm going to have to stop reading this thread now, it's making my head ache worse than discussing theology does.

Anonymous said...

love this post.gw2 key That's how I feel about my own plethora of deviant sexual stuff.Rs Gold The whole this is too much and hell I LOVE it. Gimme some more!