Consent, Power, and Negotiation

A friend of mine recently wrote about the importance of negotiation prior to casual play, and the active role that submissive’s need to take in the negotiation process.

Two things stood out to me: one in his original post, and one in the comments.

In the post, he said, “The more intense the play, the clearer the boundaries need to be.” In the comments that followed someone made this statement: “I am one of those who once in that space does not really have the ability to say no. I actually don’t play lightly because of that. I have to have pretty in depth conversations before I play because I need to know in advance that the person I’m playing with understands that I can have all these conversations now but once in that space, they can’t change the rules because I won’t be able to say no.” Put these two statements together, and you have a concise summation of why detailed negotiation is so vital, and also why some opt out of casual play.

In my own experience, I love that space when my sub is no longer able to say no. My sub is fiercely independent and submission does not come easy for him. Even when he is physically submitting, his mind is still his own. That is a trait that makes him who he is, and who I love. However, when he hits that place where he can’t say no….well, words can’t fully describe how much I relish that place. To me, that is the ultimate power exchange. In that moment, I can do anything.

The balance is knowing his limits and respecting what we have negotiated. Yes, I can do anything, but if I love the place where he can’t say no, then it is up to me, as the dominant partner, to prolong that state. Pushing him too far in that state would not only bring that state crashing to an end, but would also make it harder for him to achieve that headspace in the future.

As a dominant, I have a responsibility to know the rules. We have had in-depth discussions about our mutual boundaries and limits, and when he is no longer able to say no, the onus is on me to make sure the boundaries are respected. As a submissive, he has a responsibility to know himself, and to communicate his limits with me. If we find a limit during play that he was previously unaware of, it is his responsibility to communicate that with me. If I want to try something that we have not discussed, it is my responsibility to communicate that to him when he is not in the altered state of not being able to say no.

Just because someone does not say no does not mean they have consented. When someone “does not really have the ability to say no” then they also do not have the ability to say yes.

Negotiation is vital. But timing is equally important.

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Accepting Service

Phoenix is a service-oriented submissive. He enjoys meeting my needs and desires. I am, by nature, a do-it-myself-er. I can fix the toilet myself. I can change my oil myself. And for all that’s holy, I can certainly make myself a cup of tea. But that’s not the point. The point is I have a submissive who wants and needs to serve me. So how do you accept someone’s service?

For me, personally, it is not about asking him to serve. It is about providing opportunities for him to serve.

Example: I recently had some corrosion on my car battery (and a dead battery). Yes, I could have cleaned the leads myself. I could have jump started it myself. By advising him of the problem, and then giving him the time to take care of it, I provided him an opportunity to serve me.

In that example, would he have been upset if I did it myself? I doubt it. But over time, if I consistently do it myself, how is his need being met?

As his dominant, I take the lead. But being dominant does not mean it’s all about me. The dominant/submissive relationship is a symbiotic one. Without his submission, I am not his dominant. Without his needs being met, he will not continue to freely give his submission.

Accepting service isn’t about having someone at your beck and call. It’s about providing opportunities for them to show their love and submission in a way that they enjoy.

Rope Bottoming

After attending a party with my Lady, she made a curious comment:  “People aren’t used to seeing a good rope bottom.”  Frankly, it never occurred to me that the people were even paying attention to me, I figured everyone was paying attention to what she was doing.  As with many comments, I started thinking about it, so here is what I can say about it.

I do not know that I am a good rope bottom.  That is up to the individual opinion of the rope top, in my mind.  But she said it, so I’ll go with it.  But there are things that I am conscious of while being tied, and things I do that make it easier for the top.  So I will try my best to explain those here.

A quick note on safety for rope bottoms.  General trust is not going to suffice when it comes to rope and bondage, in my opinion.  Rope bottoms need to research aspects of this type of play just as much as tops.  No, bottoms will probably never become as proficient as a good top due to a lack of practice tying people, but knowledge of what is going to happen, the basic techniques, where the rope should and should not be, etc., is the bottom’s best assurance of pleasurable experience.

So, here are some tips from a rope bottom to other rope bottoms to make the experience as good as it can be for both:

First, have patience.  A lot of patience, in fact.  Done right, binding someone in rope is not a quick process if we are going beyond arms and legs tied to the bed spread-eagle. Whether you are standing, sitting, kneeling or laying down, it takes time for the top to move around you, clear their ends, check their passes and decide their next move.  Give them the time with you calm patience.  You will be rewarded with a much more comfortable bondage experience.

Second, do not move.  Obviously, if your top asks for you to put your arms behind you, do so.  What I am referring to is fidgeting, not holding a position, scratching your nose, armpit or ass.  Basically, you want to try to eliminate any movement if not directed by your top.  Try sitting at home, alone, and concentrate on not moving.  You will find it harder than it sounds.  You get thirsty, and your drink is right there.  The mental thought of “don’t move” seems to make ever odd place on my body itch.  Start slow, see how long you can make it without moving, then strive for a longer time the next time.

Third, try not to flex the muscles in the area your top is working on.  As a male rope bottom, I can say with certainty that if my Lady is working on my upper body and arms, I could make everything basically futile by flexing my back muscles.  Rope bondage relies on tension, so if I were to flex while you are making passes around my back, when I relax they fall into a puddle around my waist.

Fourth, pay attention.  Your top will be clearing their ends.  It keeps them able to continue binding you instead of dealing with a rats nest of twisted, knotted rope.  This is a great opportunity for you to enjoy the sensations.  Rope bondage is not all about the final position, but the journey of getting there.  The feel of the rope dragging across your skin can be quite enticing and intoxicating.  Enjoy it.

Fifth, relax.  I fully realize this is more difficult as the intricacies increase, or the positions become more strenuous.  However, the more relaxed you can be during the process, the easier it will be to remain in the positions your top asks of your body.  Tight, tensed muscles will not generally relax once bound in place.  Generally, muscles in this state will simply start to cramp, on occasion severely.  Relaxed muscles, on the other hand, allow your joints to move freely, and are much less prone to premature cramping.

There is a start.  There is much more to be said, but I will take the time to reiterate my early thoughts on safety.  Know the rope top you are submitting to, the style of bondage he or she uses, and have a basic knowledge of that style.  I love being bound in rope.  I wish everyone could feel the way I do when I cannot move.  More importantly, though, is that everyone does everything they can to remain safe.

Needed Escape

I need to escape, to let my mind go somewhere else just for a little bit.

I feel you pulling the rope tighter, binding me in place. Keeping us both safe.

I am lost in my own world, and I don’t want to be. I can’t seem to find my way back to you through all the shit the world threw at me, all the uncertainty.

I feel the crack of your crop across my ass. Holy shit, I’m here. I’m present.

Another, on the other cheek. Holy fuck that hurt! But my mind starts to clear.

A third crack, next to the first. I dig my hips deeper and harder into the bed in a futile attempt to get away from the sting. My mind remembers that I have escaped the daily chaos, now I just have to survive the fallout.

A fourth, next to the second. The urge to stop you is great, but my mind is easing, knowing I’m loved, knowing there is still sanity in an insane world I cannot control.

The fifth right on top of the first, harder and sharper. “Holy fucking shit!” I exclaim.

I feel the soft caress of your hand, tracing the welts, as coherent thought and expression leaves me. I will be back, back to you, the safety of your arms. Just love me, please. I need that as much as I need the escape you offer. And thank you, as I escape this crazy world for a bit.

Dominated by a Little?

I will never claim that Malady and I have an easily understood dynamic, even by lifestyle standards.  In general, we identify most closely with Lady/Knight, but that really doesn’t go very far in explaining things once it is apparent she is a little (with other tendencies as well), and I am an submissive alpha male (with other tendencies as well).  So, we made our own dynamic and soon found out we were both over qualified for careers in advertising based on our ability to string together seemingly unrelated words into an acronym.

Now that everyone has stopped snickering, shaking their heads, or outright laughing…  I will try to explain how all this works.

First of all, as with all good relationships, we understand each other, have many of the same interests, goals, ambitions, social and moral views.  This is not only related to our thoughts concerning the lifestyle, but also life in general.  Perhaps more important for us is the fact that we have the similar, if not identical, senses of humor.  The ability to laugh at ourselves, each other, and just the plain absurdity life occasionally throws our way is essential to making our dynamic work.

So, what’s it like being dominated by a little?  Um, it’s an interesting ride to say the least.

For example, I honestly figured I was headed straight back into the world of being a bachelor after my marriage ended.  I was finally getting the a point of accepting and being alright with that when I met Malady.  Now, I have a five foot stuffed gorilla who gets more snuggles and cuddles at night than I do.

We have both been compared to serial killers and sociopaths by our bartender and end up laughing uncontrollably throughout the conversation because two things are immediately apparent:  the bartender is probably a little herself, but by no means as naive she was purporting to be at the time and she had absolutely no idea how to read our reaction to her assertion that “Shades of Grey was, like, Jeffery Dahmer type shit.”

Toys and implements used in our play seem to come in two flavors:  fun stuff and hurty things.

She reacts very similarly to a child when I have to leave for work or to run an errand. We will be sitting mere feet from each other, each of us doing our own thing, comfortable and content in the fact that we are together.  We can go quite a time like this, but when I need to go, she gets anxious and pouty just like, I imagine, a little should.

During play, everything she does has to end up looking “pretty”.  Rope play ends in bows, bright colored markers have made an appearance or two, and yes, I have to agree that she indeed puts the fun in “fucking fun”!  I will post the context of that statement here shortly.

Now, I do not think of myself as a Daddy, in fact, I don’t really think of myself as anything other than me.  So the adventure of having a little dominant partner does not confuse labels for me.  It is what it is, we are who we are.  We talk, laugh, get sidetracked by chocolate fountains, and enjoy every moment of it.

What is submission?

The dictionary defines submission as: the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. In the context of BDSM, it is the latter portion of this definition that becomes particularly relevant. So, submission in a nutshell is yielding to the will or authority of another person. While nutshells are convenient, it is useful at times to unpack that in greater detail.

When we start with the foundation that it is yielding to another person’s will, submission becomes very simple, and very complex at the same time. Many people have asked me if submission means they forfeit their own will, or if submission means giving over complete control to their dominant. That is not an easy question to tackle, as everything we do is subjective and details of what submission looks like are left to the interpretation of the parties involved.

Perhaps easier is describing what submission is not.

Submission is not:
– Making demands of your partner. This includes demands of what they will wear, what they will do to you, when they will have sex with you, etc.
– Treating your partner like a fetish dispenser. Yes, you are free to have your own desires and fetishes. Ideally, your fetishes and your partners will line up nicely. Submission is not presenting yourself and saying “I want you to do …. to me”.
– Only complying when you feel like it. Yes, you are allowed to have boundaries and limits. Those should be thoroughly negotiated and consented to.
– Abusing a safeword. By all means, please have a safeword. But please do not use it to merely get out of things you don’t feel like doing.

Getting the picture? Submission is easy to define, but much more difficult to perform. It takes work, and genuine desire.