Monday, 1 December 2008

Details From Someone Who Left

I've posted several times that when I see narratives from ex-BDSMers, they tend to leave out a lot of details. I've said that I hoped someday to find someone who was willing to say, not only, "I got out, and I'm glad I did" but be willing to say what group she left, and go into specifics about why.

Well, I've found such a narrative now. I'm not going to specifically quote it here simply because it seemed the person wanted some measure of privacy, and I don't want people finding its text here and behaving in harassing ways or anything.

(I don't think any of the regulars here would do such a thing, but there are a lot of spam-harvester types out there on the WWW, and I'd hate for this person to find her personal stuff re-posted somewhere random or even hostile simply because gods know who picked it up.)

Here it is, though. There are some things in it I question (most notably the idea that endogenous endorphin "highs" can lead to the same sorts of addiction that taking exogenous drugs can), but for now... it's someone's story, and it's personal, and no, not everyone has a wonderful, leather-pride-flag-waving hootenanny of a good time.

http://rageaga instthemanc hine.com/2008/11/29/bdsm-the-sex ual-equival ent-of-being-into-renai ssance-faires-part-3-some-of-the-data/#co mment-3971

In less awesome news, there's also this one, yet another example of the stuff I think *isn't* very productive.

TOPIC TYME: Where do people think this "subspace substitutes for intimacy" thingy comes from?

Personally, I think that subspace and domspace can feel very intimate, and can sometimes lead people to think they're closer than they really are. We play with vulnerability, and being or becoming vulnerable is something people usually don't do until they trust you.

So I do think casual play runs a certain degree of risk. A bottom might let himself be vulnerable because the idea of it makes him hard, then think afterward "Whoa, I let my guard down, and it was great. Therefore I know I can trust you."

And that may be true in that he can trust the top for play, for a good time, for emotional safety while on the cross or something... but not that he's ready for a relationship, because they don't know they're compatible.

So yes, I do see that and think that's real, and an issue... but I think that the idea that this really messes up people's idea of intimacy is a stretch. Among people I know, most of us worked out pretty quickly that there are many different kinds of emotional connection, and that the emotional connection of a close relationship is not the same sort as the kind you have over the spanking bench.

And for me, as far as aggression goes... I think I was a lot more aggressive as the staunch sort of feminist than I ever was before or since, though I don't doubt that some people out there top out of vindictiveness, nastiness, or joy that they've found someone who consents to basically let them toss tantrums.

It's not been most of the people I know, though. The vast majority of other tops I've met are awesome people to talk to and learn from, IMO. It's like anything else -- it takes discernment to know who is your peer and who is immature.

Thoughts?

12 comments:

devastatingyet said...

I think anytime you have sexual (including kink) experiences with someone, it creates feelings of intimacy that may or may not be really "justified" by the relationship that you have. I think most people learn that those feelings fade over time and shouldn't form the basis for decisions. But I don't see what the problem is.

In an actual relationship, I especially don't get it. I love my boyfriend. He is a true friend to me. We have common interests (outside of sex) and values. Should I then intentionally refrain from mutual ecstatic experiences just to avoid confusing those with intimacy? That idea doesn't even begin to make sense to me.

Trinity said...

"I think anytime you have sexual (including kink) experiences with someone, it creates feelings of intimacy that may or may not be really "justified" by the relationship that you have."

Yes. I do think that for some people, this feeling may be especially potent in kink, though, because things like D/s do involve intentional vulnerability.

But I don't see that as *bad*, for the same reason I don't see people using kitchen knives as bad. Things carry risks.

And yeah, as someone in an LTR, I remember what it was like to think some of the people around me were meat-markety, but I don't really believe that intimacy is impossible, thanks.

I think the same meat markety risks would have existed if I'd been in a group for, I don't know, singles in academia or wtfever. It's part of being in a sexual/dating/singles' scene at all, not part of BDSM.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Subspace as an addiction just doesn't make any sense to me. You might as well talk about getting addicted to contact sports or even the gym! Admittedly there are a few individuals who seem to become addicted to "extreme sports" and seeking an ever-greater high, but seriously, not a massive problem - not like, say alcoholism!

Subspace as a substitute for intimacy I think I do understand. I recall the one time that I have subbed in any seriousness, and the emotions I was left with at the end were very powerful and I would have pledged myself to her forever and ever in that moment (thankfully, she was smart enough to know that was a bad idea!) But the intimacy I had with her (she was a switch) was different from sub-space vulnerability and all that anyway, and we were really just good friends.

I guess one way of looking at it is like building a fire. Sure, sometimes if you let it blaze up early, then it just burns out and there's nothing left but cinders; but if you want to build a really good fire in the fireplace, you need it to get going with some very hot and bright flames first, then you can add the coal and it will not be as amazingly demonstrative as a fire, but it will still be just as hot, and will retain the heat much longer. Just like any relationship, a BDSM relationship needs work on the relationship level as well as the activity level, to be and remain intimate.

I guess the mistake that some people make is thinking that the "play" part is all there is to building a BDSM relationship, and when they don't see the intimacy there, they assume it isn't anywhere?

Trinity said...

"Subspace as an addiction just doesn't make any sense to me. You might as well talk about getting addicted to contact sports or even the gym!"

Well, many people do claim that they have addictions to things other than drugs, so although that confuses me greatly (as does the idea that 12-stepping can work -- it's hard for me to imagine giving up control like that representing anything but giving up, though I know that it does work for people) I don't want to rule it out completely as a possibility.

But yeah, the idea that it's a widespread problem that people end up addicted, particularly people who are proudly clean and sober, confuses me greatly.

"Subspace as a substitute for intimacy I think I do understand. I recall the one time that I have subbed in any seriousness, and the emotions I was left with at the end were very powerful and I would have pledged myself to her forever and ever in that moment (thankfully, she was smart enough to know that was a bad idea!)"

Yeah, this is the risk I mean in my post. I had someone I knew "fall in love" with me, just because I was the first person he submitted to. I was ready for intimacy; he wasn't. It was rather emotionally painful when we broke up, and yeah I guess I did worry after that that kink was risky somehow.

But I'm not sure I wouldn't have experiences of mismatched intimacy and mismatched expectations like that if I hadn't been kinky. I think I still would have a few. Most people have a few bad relationships under their belt no matter what their kinks or non-kinks are.

Trinity said...

oh no, relationships are risky! people get DUMPED!

:)

kupetana said...

I'm glad I found your blog. I have been thinking really deeply about "I am *really* cool with my kink?" and stuff.
I am used to anti-sex feminism, let alone adding any extra power dimension, it is nice to see another viewpoint.

Trinity said...

You're welcome, kupetana.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Yeah, I've got a fair fraction of "intimacy mismatch" relationships in my history, most of which were vanilla relationships.

(I'm someone who gets really damn serious in relationships really damn fast, and ... I've scared people. Such is life.)

Thaddeus said...

"Subspace as an addiction just doesn't make any sense to me. You might as well talk about getting addicted to contact sports or even the gym! Admittedly there are a few individuals who seem to become addicted to "extreme sports" and seeking an ever-greater high, but seriously, not a massive problem - not like, say alcoholism!"

Totally. Since a big component of every feeling is your endocrine system dumping chemicals willy-nilly into the bloodstream, drawing the line at some arbitrary point and saying, "This, right here, is where it becomes a drug addiction" is foolish.

The concept of addiction has been expanded beyond the case of a person requiring a chemical (say, heroin) to function normally to almost any compulsive behavior. The way people bandy it about, it's not a very useful term, because you could say I'm addicted to making music, making art, or making love, and then suddenly those things become bad just because we say they're addictions.

I can just see it now. "Hi, I'm Bob, and I'm addicted to drawing. I get a little high after finishing a really nice drawing, and that I'm constantly propelled to draw more things to get every increasing highs. And the financial cost was enormous. I even turned to selling my art in order to support my habit." Then, you apply it to something which seems kinda sketchy - BDSM - and, oh shit, all those people are drug addicts!

This is why almost every good psychological professional uses terms like "abuse". Your compulsion is bad if you feel compelled to do it AND it interferes with your life. That's what I felt was missing from this woman's account. I guess if you read between the lines she's saying she felt kink was interfering with people's lives, but since she didn't come out and give examples I am left unsatisfied and not particularly convinced of anything.

And I'm sorry if that sounds like I'm invalidating her feelings. Clearly, from what she described, what she was doing was not healthy for her. But BDSM and people are so diverse that it's hard to say it reflects in any particular way on BDSM.

Trinity said...

"I can just see it now. "Hi, I'm Bob, and I'm addicted to drawing. I get a little high after finishing a really nice drawing, and that I'm constantly propelled to draw more things to get every increasing highs. And the financial cost was enormous. I even turned to selling my art in order to support my habit." Then, you apply it to something which seems kinda sketchy - BDSM - and, oh shit, all those people are drug addicts!"

That's how it sounds to me, too, Thaddeus. I have a tiny bit of sympathy for the idea that some people who are prone to the classic sort of addiction might prove compulsive about other things, too. But it's beyond my comprehension to hear that subspace is just the same as alcoholism. I just... even if you're prone, that just doesn't make sense to me.

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