Posts Tagged ‘spanking’
It’s January, and the Christmas decorations have come down,* but I have ten advent calendar chocolates left, so I don’t think it’s too late to talk about Decembery things. Most importantly, about Spankvent, organised by Abel, of the Spanking Writers, which led to a beating for me.
I haven’t done much in the way of kinky play recently, mostly because I’ve had two broken bones. I managed to climb out of bed in November, and since then I’ve been working very hard at convincing myself that I’m healed. I’ve turned up at job interviews, having taken my sling off in the lift, congratulating myself on soldiering through until realising I wasn’t able to write. I’ve begun making candied peel for Christmas presents, understanding too late that I was physically unable to lift the pan. And last week I dragged myself down to London with a wheelie bag of outfits and presents for my friend’s hen party. My friends watched me carry it up and down flights of stairs, making no comment, and when, late that night, on the way to the third cocktail bar, I told one of them that my arm was aching, she said, “oh, why?” If the pain had been slightly less, I think I’d have punched her.
I’m moaning. I know that silence and forbearance would have more dignity. However, the problem is that no one admires forbearance if they don’t know you’re doing it, which provides an impetus to do it badly and get a bit of recognition. Or to go on about it in your blog and hope that some stranger tell you they think you’re doing terribly well, weeks after the fact, I suppose. I’ve been putting my life back together. The lover’s been helping, by fighting sheets and hoovers and property agents. There hasn’t been much time for kink, though, because I’ve been busy, exhausted and in pain. It’s not just that those prevent desire for kink forming, they also provide a perfect breeding ground for grumps. There’s a lot to go wrong in play** and the last thing either of us want is to be up half the night talking about our feelings.
With all that background (moaning) you’ll be able to imagine my reaction to the Lover’s suggestion that we take part in Abel’s twenty-five days of spanking. I wanted kink back in my life. I didn’t want pain and pressure. I said we could do it, as long as we kept it light. Maybe. And as long as we found a time when I wasn’t rushing off to prepare for tutoring, or attempt the washing up. For months we’d been planning an anti-Christmas holiday, a few days in a cottage somewhere remote where I could be hunted across the moors. I’d been a little optimistic about healing times when we picked a date, not only would my broken arm mean the hunting wouldn’t be much fun, but it would have given the Lover an unfair advantage. The holiday got slimmed and squeezed until it was a night away in Haworth. On the tenth, at Number 10, the Coffee House,*** and it was this day that we chose for my advent spanking.
On the way there, we came up with a role play scene which would play into the Victorian atmosphere of our visit. We were nearly swayed when the lover found a shop selling ration cards and carbolic soap, but I convinced him to save that for another time (I also ended up with the soap—my overnight bag stinks!). Late in the evening, after a painful reminder of what it’s like looking for veggie food in the country, I demolished a packet of shortbread from beside the kettle as we finalised the details. We also discussed doing part of the scene—the part that involved speaking not spanking—downstairs in the coffee shop for a bit more authenticity. Reflecting on the CCTV cameras and the fact that we really did like the place and may want to return, we decided against. It would have made for a better story, though.
The coffee parlour, transported back in time, was owned by Mr. Taylor, who’d been on a trip to Manchester or Liverpool—my knowledge of historical coffee shops comes almost entirely from Habermas and French novels, so I’m a little hazy on the details—to source beans. Whenever he went on one of these trips, the housekeeper, Nelly, always made sure the parlour fire was warm and put out a meal before the servants went to bed, in case Mr. Taylor came home late. Since Emily, the newest maid, had started, he’d never got home in time to eat a single one of those meals, and she was often asked to throw them away in the morning, not long before Mr. Taylor would clatter into the yard, talking about late nights or bad weather detaining him overnight in the city.
When Emily woke in the night, cold and shivery, she knew there’d be a nice fire in the parlour. And when she stood there in her nightgown warming herself, and found that she felt slightly peckish, she didn’t think there’d be much harm in nibbling a biscuit, since she was the one who’d be throwing them away in the morning. And when she became curious about how her master’s special cheese and pickle sandwich tasted, she didn’t think there’d be any serious repercussions. It was nasty, anyway.
Emily heard a noise downstairs. She was mindful enough to make it to the kitchen with a tray, but then she was trapped in the basement, far from her room, hearing footsteps cross the parlour and then descend toward the kitchen. She stood in the dark, clutching the tray, until her master found her there, with the crumbs of his biscuits and dismembered sandwich. He was hungry, he was cold, and he’d ridden a long way through the frosty night. He told her she had five minutes to bring him another tray. Unfortunately, looking for the pickles and the biscuits in the dark pantry, it took her fifteen.
When Emily got to her master’s room, he told her to put down the tray. He told her that she had a choice between a punishment, one stroke for every minute she was late, or dismissal without a reference. Seeing her indecision, he threatened to increase her punishment for every minute she kept him waiting, and instructed her again to bend over his bed. He drew her nightdress up, and she tugged it down. He pulled it up again, more firmly, and she blushed at the thought of what he saw. Emily squirmed through five strokes of the strap, and bit her lip through five burning cane strokes, afraid of waking the housekeeper, who wouldn’t go as far as to give her options.
I imagine that Mr. Taylor then went on to eat his sandwich, but we stopped the scene there. I do know, however, that Emily was so humiliated by the experience that she left Mr. Taylor’s service, and indeed the village. I’ve some photographs of her walking through the heather and the misty rain on the moors, setting out to seek her fortune.
We left, too, the next day. I think we were quiet enough, based on the fact that the family sleeping upstairs were very friendly as they served breakfast. And my kink? I’m working on it. I’d like more of it in my life. Based on December’s experiences, all I need is a few people to take me on holidays to picturesque villages. Tops in rural locations, apply within.
*Christmas decorations in general, not mine. Decorating my flat would have been dismal and depressing, and most Christmassy colours would have clashed with my walls.
**Emotionally, not physically. And just in case anyone was wondering, “were you doing something kinky?” is not an appropriate response to, “I have a broken collar bone.” I’ve yet to meet a kinkster into broken bones. Presumably some vanillas are. Vanillas are weird.
***Ten, The Coffee House was a fabulous place to stay. The room was lovely, the bath was half-Jacuzzi, and when we sent down for coffee they discussed beans and put the most delicious biscotti I’ve ever had on the tray. Every time the Lover called about availability or booking the owner was baking. There were raspberries in the fruit salad at breakfast. That’s my kind of place.
Only two novels have ever made me sob in a café. I don’t mean that I blinked a couple of tears from my eyes and looked around soulfully. My face was smeared with the tears I’d unsuccessfully tried to wipe away, my nose was running and, as I came up on the worst bits, I made little mewling sounds. I put the book down and breathed slowly to regain control, but couldn’t stop reading for more than a few seconds. One of the books those books was Anna Karenina. The other was ‘Taming the Beast’.
The first time I read it I was in a spin for a week. Near the end I was in a café in Derry, ignoring my lunch, unable to stop reading, but pausing sometimes to search for a dry patch of handkerchief. My boyfriend came back from his errand to find me with a red, puffy face and a bowl of cold broth. I tried to explain: he was dangerous, she was going to let him have her, and I wanted her to, and I wanted him to, and it was so, so, awful. A week later he bought me a copy of ‘The Courage To Heal’, he clearly thought that the only explanation for such twisted thinking was the trauma of abuse. Lacking any such history, though, I’m still looking for other reasons.
I’ve reread the book twice this year. It’s about a girl who loves poems and her English teacher, the affair they have when she’s fourteen and the affair they have when she’s twenty-two. It’s got white panties, asphyxiation, a precocious girl and a stern older man, but my reaction goes beyond my list of kinks. It isn’t porn, there’s an emotional truth it in that I can’t quite decipher.
The first time I read it, I’d just finished ‘Daddy’s Girl’, a story about a woman who plays the little girl to her sadistic ‘Daddy’. It’s a story that starts as porn, for those of us who like that sort of thing: naughty girls being spanked, special clothing to be torn off during rapes in the garden, a rich, sophisticated man who knows his girl is special.* It becomes a story about how reality reasserts itself: Daddy’s doesn’t always know best and sometimes he isn’t there when you need him, you might just have to stand on your own. That upset me, because I want the fantasy of an older man who’ll always love me and always make things right. I want it the same way I think some people want God, as a self-validation and a safety net rolled into one. All the same, ‘Taming the Beast’ leaves me with a greater sense of loss.
In ‘Daddy’s Girl’ the narrator loses her Daddy when she realises that the man can’t live up to the fantasy. Sarah, the narrator of ‘Taming the Beast’, sees her lover’s self-justifications, his blaming her for his loss of control, the fact that his need to beat her is at odds with his position as the sensible, caring adult who should be in charge. Sarah is under no illusions, she knows he’s a sadistic criminal, and she wants it, she’ll give up everything for it. She doesn’t care if she dies.
Then he lifted his head, looked into her eyes and slapped her hard across the face. ‘Dear God, Sarah! Why won’t you let me do this right? Why won’t you let me treat you with respect?’
Sarah knew that he could not see how ridiculous his question was. He didn’t see that biting her legs and slapping her face was less satisfying than a mutually satisfying screw. She didn’t know why this intrigued her when any sane person would be disturbed. She could see the twisted logic, the distorted morality, the dangerous self-justification; it’s just that she didn’t mind.
I think that’s what upsets me. Not only seeing the limitations of the fantasy, as in ‘Daddy’s Girl’, but knowing that the impulse doesn’t dissipate, even when it is demonstrated that it’s flawed. There’s something akin to Sarah’s decision at the centre of most of my kinks, the choosing something without reference to the self. Submission involves a suppression of the self, pain reduces the self by narrowing focus to sensation and shutting everything else out, and pain that seems unbearable is not only engrossing, but pushes you to a limit at which you’ll happily give up anything, if only that will make it stop. Pain trumps integrity. In a sense, my kinks involve chasing dissolution of myself, and I’m sad that I can’t take it as far as the impulse goes, because I have other priorities: staying alive, achieving something, independence from fallible lovers and crutches.
On the other hand, interesting and Bataillian as this analysis is, I do wonder if my feelings are baser. I envy Sarah her story. I want to be the girl whose teacher loves her enough to risk seducing her, beat her, teach her poetry and come back for her eight years later when she’s all grown up. I’m disappointed that I can’t have that in real life, which seems mundane and filled with ordinariness and washing up in comparison. Then it struck me that I did have what Sarah had when I was fourteen, and it felt very different.
I was one of those teenagers who suddenly discovered the power of her sexuality and couldn’t restrain myself to trying to form a relationship with one of the boys of the best local independent. I wanted to be thought irresistible by everyone: the bus driver, the teachers, friend’s brothers, friend’s fathers, and probably any workmen visiting friends’ houses. I remember getting cold in the doorway turning the charm on the pizza delivery guy (and I got cold pizza, too). My school made us wear blue check summer dresses, primary-school style, until we were sixteen (my mother memorably told the head they were ‘a paedophile’s delight’). I used to loll in the grounds under the cherry trees, wearing daisy chain circlets and reddening my lips with sticky cherry lollipops, parodying what I was. Now, I associate the memory of my doing that with one man.
He was a friend’s father. He worked in publishing, in a low-level job that sounded much more impressive at the time. Like Sarah’s Mr. Carr, he told me I was brilliant, intelligent, and understood him like no one else. He showed me his poetry, which he’d shown no one before, not even his wife. He taught me the word ‘pertinent’. He played me the Sisters of Mercy and he told me about Ruskin’s love life. I felt special, beautiful, chosen. Then one weekend, at my friend’s sleepover, in the kitchen, next to the living room where his wife and daughter were having breakfast, he put his hand up my nightdress and onto my breast. I left the kitchen. He sat next to me on the sofa and drew my duvet across his lap. He held my hand. I thought that perhaps he was sorry. He pulled my hand across to his hot, hard penis. I looked down at his daughter sitting by our feet. I didn’t know what to say, so I just pulled my hand away, and put it, which the other, on top of the duvet.
Writing this I feel disgusted, angry, ashamed, let down by all the people who should have educated me about what to do in such circumstances (I had nails!), guilty and sad. I don’t feel turned on. For months I avoided accepting lifts and visits with varying amounts of success, for years I blamed myself, I still feel terrible that I didn’t say something to someone who could have curbed his activities. I realise that none of this was particularly hard-core, but there’s one notable thing about it: it isn’t seductive like ‘Taming the Beast’. I could argue that Sarah’s lover was more handsome, erudite, etc. He undoubtedly was from her perspective, but like me she saw through his conflicting and simultaneously held visions of who he was (and who she was, for that matter). I saw through my molester, too, but it mattered less when our shared activity was preferring poems to chemistry homework. A hand on the penis is a great clarifier: I enjoyed admiration, but wasn’t foolish enough to desire him. I knew, even then, that I was better than that.
I think my tears throughout ‘Taming the Beast’ are for a fantasy shattered. I fall into it again every time, I want to be the girl who knows her Keats so well that her teacher can’t help himself. And then, as the plot progresses, and Sarah gives up more and more (including, eventually, her studies of poetry) I want to follow her, so very badly, but I can see clearly, and I’m sad that what ought to be raging passion turns out to be nothing but gropes beside the toaster and furtive grabbing under a duvet while watching daytime television.* I’m crying for the limited nature of every role play scene, and the fact that I have to be a grown up and look after myself.
I’ve read it twice this year, and I know it backwards. I want more books like this in my life. So, dearest readers, since you’ve made it through 1,500 words of post, will you do one more thing for me? Tell me which books leave you off-balance and make you ask questions about who you are. I do so very much want to know.
*It’s unfortunately got all the hallmarks of paperback pornography, too: long passages during which the author describes her bottom, and a world in which inappropriate behaviour is always an accepted sexual advance. I can’t think what would be said if I decided to take a bath with the door open half way through one of my friend’s parties. I imagine it wouldn’t be, “that Not, she just can’t help doing sexy things!” Feel free to invite me to better parties.
**This point could be made just as well with ‘Lolita’, but everyone’s already read that, and they should be spending more time talking about Nabokov’s amazing language, narratorial perspective and tension, anyway.
In my last post, I tried to stay away from the topic of whether some kinky events should have an age limit. Generally, I’ve found this to be a debate where many more people are speaking than listening, and everyone’s getting personally offended. It’s one I see often on message boards, and any discussion that will predictably reach the point where someone says, “you’re going to get sued!” within the first ten responses seems like one best avoided to me. However, Abel brought up the issue in his comment, and when my reply reached a certain length I decided the topic deserved its own post. So here I am, another voice in the din.
In my last post I tried to gesture towards an acceptable level of discrimination. In small scenes, that level is low. To make an analogy, when I lived in Coventry the gay community was small, so we all—gays, lesbians, bears, cross-dressers, leatherdykes, that man in the high heels and PVC—had to share a space, and the only acceptable discrimination was against the straight men who turned up looking for threesomes. That shouldn’t be overlooked: straight people seeking sex weren’t welcome. That’s acceptable, I think, because they were welcome in almost every other bar in the city, but it was discrimination nonetheless. In Manchester, where the gay scene is huge, different places cater to different groups, and there’s no reason for the lesbian femmes to encroach on the space of the gay men who like to party in their y-fronts, other than in the shared smoking area at Legends. People divide into their special interest groups when they get a chance. If there’s only one club in town, and they won’t let me in, it’s important. If there are three, and one of them suits my interest but I’m excluded from the other two, there’s no reason for me to be upset. I don’t go, for example, to the Gentlemen’s Munch, or rubber events, because I’m not a man and I don’t enjoy rubber. I don’t complain to the rubberists that I’m being left out, I just go to events that do interest me.
Of course, what may not be obvious on a club-by-club basis may be a wider cultural problem, leaving one group routinely excluded. So I have no problem, in a large scene, with the existence of clubs dedicated to black domme women and the male subs who like them (yes, they exist), even if I find the kink itself a little troublesome. However, if there weren’t places for white women or lesbians to go, if white women were a group generally thought to be unattractive, I’d have a problem. It’s the same logic that says it’s ok to have government initiatives to help women, gays, minority ethnic groups, etc, without a mainstream equivalent: they’re disadvantaged, and attacks on them are more troubling than attacks on the groups with more power and position. One of my many uncomfoprtable feelings about FemSub, is that it includes those who have a good position on the scene (female subs and male dominants) and excludes those who have a less privileged position (male subs) and anyone who maintains an ambiguous identity around their gender or kink (queers and switches, for example).
And so to the Under 35s. Manchester has a large scene, with so many munches that they actually clash with each other, the Under 35s with the Spanko munch, for example. And people over 35 aren’t a disadvantaged minority group. In the scene, they often have advantages of experience and the money to spend on toys and playspaces that younger people don’t. Yes, 35 is an arbitrary cut-off point, but all such boundaries are arbitrary. What definition of blackness are the clubs for black dommes using? How large do you have to be to attend events for Big Beautiful Women? How much do you have to like spanking to qualify as a spanko?
One of the reasons I came to Manchester was the fact that the scene was large enough to divide into groups by interest. When I was picking my city, it was SM Dykes that convinced me of the vibrancy of Manchester’s scene. Dykes excludes men, it’s a group of women who like to play with women. Yesterday, when everyone in my poly group was there except the lover, too male to attend, he probably did feel a bit sorry for himself. We had a Christmas party, during which I managed to be one of the last three bottoms still in musical spankings (yay!), and was tied up with tinsel for a Christmas bondage tableaux. It was fabulous, it was absurd, and it was peopled with woman from all over the North. I found myself chatting to a girl from my hometown about the club where I had my first lesbian kiss. Would she have come if we removed discrimination and let men in? I doubt it. People travel a long way to be part of the Manchester scene because they know that they can find an event that suits them. For the annual SM Dykes conference they come from all over Europe. Discrimination is in fact a strength, not a weakness, of the scene.
How would I feel if I was an older person with an under 35 partner who wanted to go? Probably not great. A bit like the lover feels when he’s told he has to learn how to make something to be allowed at the Crafty Munch, or I feel when everyone’s talking excitedly about the scene they did last weekend. It’s the same way I feel when I’m not invited to a party (although the last time it turned out that I had been invited but hadn’t realised, and didn’t get to go because I was too proud to ask). Well, you know what, have your own party. Show people how fabulous you are! If you’re anything like me, it won’t be a very big party, but you’ll actually like the people who are there. And if you have your very own, you’re in charge of who is excluded, so you can avoid getting stuck beside the nibbles with a girl who’s into spanking, having to listen politely as she goes on and on about culture and discrimination in the scene.
I type this with aching arms. You’d know that, if you could see me, because I have mottled bruises on each upper arm. I look like a soft fruit that’s been dropped and retrieved.
I like marks. When tops have offered post-beating arnica applications, I have refused on the basis that I’d like to preserve the bruising. It isn’t a purely aesthetic decision; I like to think that marks justify the wriggling and screaming that went on while the pain was being inflicted. Sometimes marks risk betraying my predilections to the world, of course. A few months ago, freshly caned, I went dancing in a swirly dress. A partner said to me, “your outfit is very…aerodynamic.”
“Is that another way of saying it lifts when I twirl?” I asked.
“Well, maybe you should get your mother to buy you some big knickers.” He said.
I considered saying, “I don’t think I want knickers from beyond the grave,” but that seemed inappropriate. I conducted a mental review of that evening’s knickers and decided they provided sufficient coverage and laciness. And then I remembered the six livid stripes across my bottom, and my face went as red as the weals.I didn’t come up with a good comeback. I asked my next partner whether my dress was too revealing, though, and he was reassuring. I decided I was probably being wound up. Then I was thrown into a drop, and felt my skirt catch, high, on the arms that caught me. The thought that staid Stockport was seeing my cane marks left me slightly off balance all evening. The next day I bought some very big frilly knickers, which keep me safe from exposure as long as no one marks my thighs.
I didn’t even think of hiding the more innocent-looking bruises on my arms I displayed them without a thought at my grandparent’s wedding anniversary and no one made a comment. I took my cardigan off in class and no one said a thing. I went out dancing, though, and every partner seemed strangely interested. “What happened?” “Did someone grab you too hard?” “Are those love bites?” (I think that man thought he was funny) “Everyone is talking about you, asking how you got those bruises.” Now, unlike cane stripes, a bruise on the arm has many non-kinky explanations. The problem is, none of those explanations were true. The truth is, my lover punched me. Repeatedly. That didn’t seem to be the thing to say.
I tried to wriggle out of commenting as much as I could. As I was mumbling a response, one man said, “That looks like a punch to me.”
“Hmm,” I said.
I’m not ashamed of my kinkiness. I don’t find it necessary to sneak about and tell lies. At the same time, there’s no need to involve people who haven’t consented in something they don’t much like, by constantly displaying it (I wish others would apply this logic to penises and football). I don’t own any long sleeved dancing dresses, and my bruises have been topped up with a few extra punches since last week.
Fellow kinksters, how do you deal with visible bruises? Do you wear them proudly, announce their origins and enjoy the shocked looks? Vanilla readers (I assume there must be some) are you offended by bruising? Would you call the police if I told you my lover had punched me? And can any of you lend me a long-sleeved dress?
My New Year’s resolution, not this year, but the year before, was to give up bad sex. I broke it with a spectacularly awful shag before January was even out. It was gross, but hard to regret, as there’s nothing like reminding yourself what bad sex is like to put you off signing up for it. It was nearly a year before I found myself wanting—really wanting rather than idly fantasising—to sleep with someone else again.
I have taken a lover.* This is the point where I’m meant to tell you he’s tall and domly and swept me off my feet, isn’t it? Sorry to disappoint. We met when I was being shy at a fetish club, where his conversation saved me from having to face crowds of strangers. When he said I ought to mingle I sulked and pouted. I suspect the sulking is where it all began. We stayed in touch, talked about play. Months later he failed, for the hundredth time, to deliver a promised spanking, so I had a tantrum. Is this the stuff romance is made of?
I told my friends about him. “What’s he like?” They asked.
“He has long hair. And he’s married; his wife has a girlfriend.”
“It sounds like a powder keg about to go off.” I was told. I don’t know what’s so dangerous about a ponytail.
Getting into bed with a married man is a bit of a minefield. When is the right point to say, “Would your wife be ok with this?” after the first kiss but before the knickers come off? Do you take his word for it, or call her to check? When you send her husband home late, should you pin an apologetic note onto his coat? Is, “might your wife me expecting sex soon? I wouldn’t want to wear you out,” too personal a question?
I suspect that things are easier if you’re in a Meaningful Relationship. Then you can identify as poly, buy books about doing screwing around ethically and drink coffee, once a month, with the kinksters and hippies who form reassuring and supportive groups. My lover is poly, so’s his wife and so’s her girlfriend. Me, I’m just having sex. And enjoying my lover’s wife’s baking.
If you’re in a Meaningful Relationship, you can demand acceptance from your partner’s (or partners’) partner(s). Since we’re not serious, I hang on the edge; the lover considers me pleasantly shaped and agreeably kinky, that doesn’t imply that his wife has any desire to spend time with me at all, and her girlfriend probably has even less. Alternatively, I can sit alone with the lover wondering whether the others are resentful at my luring him away.
The complications of romance in the poly, kinky world are nothing, though, to the complications of the vanilla, monogamous one. After my adventures in normality the last few weeks, I don’t know how the majority of the population do it.
A few weeks ago, as I waited for my turn at a dance class, a woman approached me and asked, “Are you single? One of my friends might be interested.”
What could I say? The full answer was, “yes, I am single. Happily single, not looking, and in the interests of full disclosure I should tell you that I have a lover. And a play partner. Oh, yes, and I’m only interested in kinksters, really. Who’s this friend?” That seemed rather too revealing an answer, with eleven women other women listening in. So I went with, “it’s complicated.”
I should have asked who the friend was, but instead I spent the next few weeks trying to puzzle it out. I narrowed the contenders down to two. At first I thought it was the one who’d paid me more attention that night. Then his interest seemed to wane, and his friend paid me more attention. Every time I thought I had a clue—that one had called me “gorgeous”, say, or monopolised my time for an evening—the other would soon do the same thing, and I’d be back to square one. I’d thought the woman who asked me if I was single was involved with one of them. It didn’t look like it some nights, though, and in any case, who am I to make assumptions about the rules of other people’s relationships?
Finally, one of them made his move. He chose a bad night to do it. I’d met the lover at lunchtime, emerged from bed bruised and sore in the early evening, and rushed to dancing. After half an hour, during which I ignored increasingly explicit signals, he declared his attraction and demanded an answer. I refused to give one. He pestered, and pestered, until eventually I snapped and said, “I spent about four hours** today having sex, I just can’t think about it any more!” The look on his face was something to see.
The next week I intended to set things straight and tell him that the answer was no thank you, for now. He was playing it cool, though, and the narrative tension was lost in the face of his indifference. I tried to regain it with reference to previous plot points, “So I assume it was you who sent that lass over to say you fancied me?” I said.
“What lass?” he asked, face full of consternation. I let it drop. By the next week, though, I was determined to give him my answer. I would have to subtly indicate that I wasn’t the nice girl he thought I was. I had my line planned:
“You don’t really know me. If you did, you would probably think very differently about whether you want to get involved.” As I said it, I realised how much I sounded like a sweet, nice girl who wants to get to know a man before she holds hands. It lacked the sense of doom and foreboding I was aiming at. So I found myself agreeing to get to know him, when what I really wanted to say was, “I’m not the girl you think I am. You don’t want me.”
Several text messages later and he’s asked for a lift, offered a lift, offered a meal out and said he wants my email address. All have been refused. That’s when he calls me for the first time and tells me he’s horny. Tells me I’m hot. As I’m explaining that I already have a lover, that I’m not looking for anything else right now, he tells me he’s touching himself. What’s the polite response to that? I repeat that I’m disinclined to get involved with him. He tells me he’s going to come. I wish him a good afternoon, thank him for calling, and say goodbye.
I give you Exhibit One: The Wanking Man. If this is how people behave in vanilla circles, lock me in a dungeon with the perverts. They normally ask permission before the grunting starts.
The Wanking Man’s claim that he worked alone made Exhibit Two the leading suspect for sending the woman over to ask if I was single, even if he had a physical intimacy with her unusual between friends. Since I’ve been known to participate in group snuggles, I’m hardly one to judge. In any case, time slid by, he didn’t made a move, and I concluded that the moment had passed, and we’d settled into being regular dance partners. I accepted an invitation to his house to practise. I was lucky girl, I thought, to have such an attentive man to teach me.
Have I managed to create an atmosphere of doom and foreboding this time?
I arrive at his house and hand over my home-made biscotti, which is received with a disappointing lack of fanfare. We go through some routines, then do some closer moves, and watch demonstrations, standing with his arm around my waist and my hand draped over his shoulder. Eventually, we kiss. I decide to open the conversation about not wanting this to go too far, before he breaks out the condoms. So over dinner, a quorny concoction he’d made after divining my vegetarianism, I said, “I assumed you were involved with that woman, wossname…?”
“Oh, I am.” He says. Hmm.
We have The Conversation. I tell him about my married lover, play partner, and preference for kinksters. He tells me about his girlfriend, love of outdoor sex, dogging, and irrepressible infidelities. Then there’s spanking and cuddles. What’s not to like? Well, quite a lot, if you’re his girlfriend. Are smacks and snuggles over the line?
And so I give you Exhibit Two: The Cheating Man. Respectable on the outside, a bubbling pit of illicit desire and quorn-based seduction underneath.
Monogamous vanilla men are weird. Give me a straightforward poly pervert any day. At least when I call the lover and ask if he’s free to fuck on Friday, he says he’ll check with his wife. Then tells me, in detail, precisely how much he’s going to he’s going to hurt me. I’ll take good honest complexity over secrets and lies any day of the week.
*This is a contested word. We’ve gone through friend, play partner, shag, another half, fraction, decimal point and in an awful slip of the tongue yesterday I used the word girlfriend. There’s always some slippage, and if you were loving readers you’d have a whip round for a good thesaurus for me.
**It is possible I exaggerated by 30 minutes or so. I was rounding up.
I’m not very good at talking about my kink. You might think that someone who blogs about the kinky things she’s done would happily rattle off lists of things she would like to do. Recording what has happened, though, is mere note-taking; speaking about desire is more akin to divination.
What I can do is document my systematic failure to tell anyone what I want. My first forays into formal kink (to be distinguished from casual kink, during which one must maintain deniability and use something fluffy from Ann Summers) were based on HH’s enticing scenarios. All I had to do was embellish on a story of his invention, and any embarrassing details could be blamed on the characters or dramatic imperative. It wasn’t that I wanted to be beaten, but that the narrative simply demanded it. Unfortunately, HH obviously deemed the story-based approach to kink insufficient and sent me a limits list. I’d seen one of these before, at the University Pride Society’s Annual Bondage Lecture. I’d taken it home, looked up several words and quickly put it down again.
HH’s scene questionnaire had ticky boxes and 0-5 scales, so you could note past participation and current eagerness. I tried, I really did. I started by putting a definite tick next to ‘hand spanking’ at the top of the list, then considered my degree of desire for hand spanking. After some time I decided that “it depends” was the only truthful answer. There are hand spankings and there are hand spankings, some are more tolerable than others. Some moments are better than others, too; a hand spanking which interrupts a gripping chapter is less welcome than one which enlivens a quiet afternoon. A general fondness for hand spankings doesn’t indicate that they’ll always be wanted. Especially, I reflected, as there’s one moment at which I can reliably predict that I’ll feel a strong dislike of hand spankings, and that is when they are happening. I could be bursting with desire for a spanking, I could have pushed cheekiness into downright rudeness in order to provoke one, but within minutes I’m squirming and begging for it to stop. I decided to leave hand spankings to one side and put a tick next to ‘tawsing’. Then I went through the same mental process before failing to indicate my degree of eagerness for the strap.
I managed almost a page of ticks and crosses before I got bored. My next attempt to complete the list coincided with a particularly playful mood. That’s the only explanation I have for the kamikaze spirit in which I annotated ‘Caning’ with, “Maybe I should save myself for someone who can manage parallel lines,”* and ‘Birching’ with, “One of the things I’m less eager to try. Maybe that’s a reason to do it.” Next to ‘Act as Object’ I wrote a little summary of Juliette’s adventures with Minski and, clearly on a literary roll, further down I quoted Frost—“One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.” The questionnaire provided several pages of such amusement. After a while, though, it struck me that this perhaps wasn’t the approach HH wished me to take. I looked at my scrawling and decided not to mention it again.
My silence wasn’t effective. HH asked if I was finished. I put forward cogent arguments about the flaws inherent in the ticky-box approach to kink. HH demanded my completed form. I said I’d make a final attempt to shoehorn my sexuality into scales from 0-5 while I was on the train. On my arrival, I realised I’d forgotten to. Honest.
As a compromise, I proposed a conversational approach, with more nuance and less quantification. That fell through when HH printed himself a copy of the list and got out a pencil. I tried my best to answer his questions; I definitely communicated my aversion to feet, incomprehension of rubber and physical factors preventing me passing for a Japanese schoolgirl. Other areas were harder to address. By the end, HH was interpreting my silences; apparently my most eloquent communications take the form of blushing and looking away.
Silences blossom from embarrassment, ignorance, and even the tendency to mentally recite poems rather than consider the horrors of birching. My most insoluble silences, though, are rooted in the central paradox of a desire for pain. The things I like best, I don’t like at all. They hurt. That doesn’t diminish the high or the delicious feeling of being in someone’s power, but that power would be demonstrably false if it was only used to do things I like. I want to hate it. Then I want a hug. I’m pretty sure that’s a sound, if ill-expressed, position. When people ask what I’m into, though, “whatever you like that I really don’t, except feet and some other stuff I probably haven’t heard of yet,” doesn’t feel like a useful answer.
I do have fantasies, of course, and relating those would be an option. However, while long, organically growing narratives about kidnap, captivity and rape are very nice in one’s head, they aren’t exactly the sort of thing one brings up over tea and scones. Even if I did find the relevant moment to say “actually, I was thinking this morning about being half-drowned” I don’t think I’d be too pleased if a play partner went off to run a cold bath in response. Holding me underwater is something we might work up to after many months of non-lethal play. Or not. I do prefer the version of myself that keeps breathing.
Fortunately, my fantasies have been getting less extreme. Significantly sillier, but also less likely to result in death or vitamin D deficiency.** I’m haunted by images of a schoolgirl self: a girl in a green gymslip and a white blouse, with a sash around her waist and a boater over her curls. She’s a good girl, and she’s trying, but the lessons are so very boring, and her teacher doesn’t understand the difficulty involved in listening to him drone on. In a truly worrying turn of events I’ve even found myself fantasising about the academic content of her classes. English grammar is the most desirable, but I’d take European geography or the fun bits of history (the eras when they’re pillaging nunneries and chopping people’s heads off, not making import/export law).*** I suppose I could tell play partners that I’d like to wear an unflattering outfit and learn the bits of English so boring they’d given up teaching them by the time I went to school. Then I could try to explain that I’d like to be spanked because I’d just hate it. The drowning has a certain classiness about it, in comparison.
Does anyone know of a remedy for coyness? Or have a better expression of the pain paradox? More importantly, does anyone want to teach me a lesson? I think I need a few classes lined up before I blow my pocket money on a gymslip.
*I’d been particularly wriggly during my last caning.
**My exploration of scene was stalled, incidentally, by a boyfriend who claimed the opposite would happen. Kink escalates; apparently a couple of taps on the bum are a gateway which leads ultimately to a day when a pale, scarred version of you will shudder on the street outside a grubby basement dungeon where you hope to get your next fix of flesh hook suspension. Either I’m an anomaly or he was talking claptrap, I’ll leave you to decide.
***That was all absolutely true when I typed it. Later, in bed with ‘Third Year at Malory Towers’ I read this:
“’Where’s Mavis? I haven’t seen her all evening.’
‘She said she had a singing lesson,’ said Darrell. ‘But what a long one it must have been! Well, she’ll come along when Mr. Young’s finished with her, I suppose.’”
My mind wandered to activities not usually in the lesson-plan. I’m sure I’m not the first girl to have been corrupted by Enid Blyton.
At the end of my last post I was setting out to Club Lash with a red cape and a basket of cakes for Grandmother. Conscious of my lack of social graces and with a feeling of alienation from the fetish community, I had precisely the attitude necessary to making new friends. I cycled to the venue, wondering why these events are always in the middle of the night. There is a symbolic value in pursuing your deviant desires in a dark dungeon during the Witching Hour, but some of us are ready for cocoa and stories by that time. It was a decidedly sleepy Not an Odalisque who sipped espresso as she applied her makeup, and an apprehensive one who descended the stairs into Lash.
I was immediately identified. “It’s Little Red Riding Hood! You’re in the right place.” I rewarded the speaker, a furry person with horns, with one of the cakes I’d brought for Grandmother, in the hope of prolonging friendliness. Inside, I stood between the bar and dance floor and looked around at people in huddles, here a gaggle of women in corsets, there a glowering of men in black. None of them appeared approachable. Suddenly, I found myself in a flock of people in wigs, rubber and platforms. I was obviously in the way, and I desperately wanted not to be. Spurred by the desire to be out of the way, I picked a dark corner and asked a man if I could share his sofa.
I made a fair stab at small talk until my sofa-mate was called to kneel at the feet of a Domme, then took Tennyson from my wicker basket and read Mariana. After each stanza I self-consciously glanced up at people engaged in their own conversations. Eventually someone asked what I was reading, and I traded cupcakes for conversation. I found myself joined on the sofa by a man in a zentai suit—well, most of a zentai suit; a hoodless zentai suit, allowing me to see his earnest expression—and after a few minutes he asked if I was looking for play. I said I wasn’t, offering clichés about meaningfulness and trust as justification. We made our mutual escapes from one another when I pretended I needed the bathroom. Or so I thought. Half an hour later, as I was watching one acquaintance beat another with a paddle, he appeared at my shoulder. I was saved from replying to his enquiry as to which is the hottest scene I’ve played by the approach of a woman with a tight white corset and a feather in her hair. “I’d like to see you tied to one of those,” she said, gesturing at the crosses and benches festooned with rope in the play area. There was a pause.
“Oh, thank you, I think,” I stammered. I looked pleadingly at her for a conversational pointer, but she just smiled and swayed away, leaving me with the zentai man. I distractedly answered his questions, thinking of the woman thinking of me, and I must have seemed particularly dense when unable to visualise his ‘dressage whip’, even after extensive description. It was to show me what he meant that he produced a holdall stuffed with rope, handcuffs, uniforms, a broken cane and a battered boater. The whip was…a whip, but his exhibition provided several minutes of conversation during which I didn’t have to wrack my brains for topics or answer difficult questions. The boater was exciting. It suited me well; I’m sure of that because I scampered off to look in the mirror as soon as I had it on my head. I carried, for no particular reason, the broken cane.
Beside me in the mirror was the sofa-man. “Oh, please,” he said, looking at the cane. I wondered what it would be like; I imagine inflicting pain would bring a delicious sensation of power. So I said I’d have a go. I can’t pretend I found the sight of him, bending over, particularly enticing,* but I pressed on. I brought the cane down to no effect. I tried again, feeling foolish,
“I’m no good. I don’t know what I’m doing.” He straightened, and caught the eye of a woman glossing her lips in the mirror. She, he said, was an expert, and he invited her to instruct me. She brought the cane down, ineffectually. She swung it though the air, and brought it down hard, but neither it, nor the man, made a sound. Then she removed a shard of wood from her hand and said, “it’s not you. This is useless.” I took its remains back to the man in the zentai suit.
He looked at the boater and said he’d brought a uniform, too. I’m not always up for kink, but it’s a rare day that I don’t want to dress up. He produced a navy blazer, a white blouse and a short navy skirt. I put the blouse and blazer on over my slip and went to see how I looked; quite fetching, I thought. Although blue isn’t my colour, it was balanced by the joy of arranging the boater at a jaunty angle. He pressed the skirt into my hands, and so I found myself fully kitted out as a schoolgirl. I looked slightly incongruous, surrounded by people in corsets and rubber.
I have a reputation, among my friends, for getting myself into sticky situations. It may surprise you, but not them, that I didn’t even think, adjusting the angle of my hat, of play. I was fully focussed on my narcissistic endeavour. It was with mild surprise, therefore, that I heard the man in the zentai suit address me as Head Girl, and ask why I’d been sent to his office. By that juncture it seemed it would be rather rude to refuse. It was hard to take him seriously, even when he wasn’t inventing details of my imagined transgressions mid-sentence. A submissive headspace clearly wasn’t coming, so I embraced defiance. In real life, I went to a school so soft they didn’t give detentions, and the level of impertinence I displayed would have got me in trouble even there. He didn’t seem to notice my disrespect. The scene stumbled towards a spanking, and I stretched over his lycraed knees. As he administered a few light taps, I rested my chin on my hand and brought to my face a look of supreme unconcernedness and insolence. It was wasted on the wall in front of me.
Not my best work. I was rolling my eyes through a talk about repentance when a woman interrupted to say, “your persistence paid off, then!” to the zentai man. I felt cheap. I took off the uniform and left him to chat. Rounding a pillar, I nearly trod on the fingers of the man I’d failed to cane, now stripped to his underpants and laying on the sticky floor, where two women rested the spikes of their heels on his chest. Looking down, I realised it was too late to prevent an unfortunate view up my slip. I apologised (whether for possibly flashing my knickers or nearly crushing his fingers I am uncertain).
“Never apologise!” he said. He gave me a pleading look and glanced at my feet. Twice. “You don’t know where they’ve been!” I said, shrilly, as he kissed my nearest shoe. I watched with some detachment as he licked them, then removed a piece of fluff from his tongue. “I told you I didn’t know where they’d been,” I said, apologetically, and walked away, trying not to think of the damp floor in the restroom.
It was a strange night: fragmented, odd, lacking in narrative drive. I can only hope that I learned some lessons. I confirmed that cake is an excellent inducement to conversation. I learned that I’m as bad at saying ‘no’ in the kinky world as the vanilla one. I didn’t go intending to play. I didn’t particularly want to play and I said so, but when it began I felt it would be impolite to stop. It wasn’t unpleasant, but given the things that go on in some corners of clubs, perhaps the ability to refuse would be a useful one. The most important discovery of the night, however, was this: I want a boater, and a blazer, and a slightly-too-short schoolgirl skirt. Or possibly a gymslip; all the girls in books have gymslips. But absolutely, definitely, a boater. And some one stern to tell me off while I’m wearing it. That would be even better than a big, bad wolf.
*That isn’t to say he’s an unenticing man, just that, predictably, I don’t find caning other people hot.
What is a girl to do when she doesn’t want a relationship, but does want to be spanked? She’s to sit in rooms of people who like giving spankings, and look hopeful. Or in my case, look shy and concentrate on her knitting. Tonight I’m going, alone, to Club Lash. I’ve spent two evenings sewing my Little Red Riding Hood outfit. What I haven’t done, though, is work out how to talk to strangers. This makes it unlikely that I’ll find my Big Bad Wolf.
I spend a lot of time at the edge of groups. The habit must have formed at school, when to escape the queuing and noise of the dining hall I would take an apple to the library and spend an hour with Tennyson. By the time I left school I could recite the whole of The Lady of Shalott, but hadn’t worked out how to unobtrusively join a table of acquaintances. It turns out that in day to day life, there’s more call for the latter.
If setting down my tray is a challenge, imagine how much more difficult it is to strike up a conversation in a fetish club. “Have you learned this week’s Latin vocab?”doesn’t have an obvious kinky equivalent (or maybe it does. If you think of one, do add it as a comment). Standing in the corner at a kinky party I can feel as alienated as I did on the hockey field. Watching someone insert needles into his girlfriend’s flesh, or instructing an acquaintance to lick her boots, I have as little understanding of their pleasures as I did of the girls clashing sticks in the mud—maybe less. I don’t feel like part of the group. I want to do the grown-up equivalent of retreating to the library and burying myself in Tennyson, but since I accidentally gave up smoking recently, I can’t even do that.
I continue conversations with various people on kinky websites, but very few of them go anywhere and most of them fizzle out in due to business or disgust at my correspondent’s poor spelling and grammar. Very few of them lead to friendships or play.
The result is that my forays into kink have been mostly limited to visits to HH. I may not feel like part of his group, but his group isn’t present, and at his house browsing the library seems to be an acceptable activity. The dark side of getting to know HH has been the appearance of his wider circle in my online life (and the pain and suffering, but judging by the photos and the damage, his hand is getting lighter).* Soon after I mentioned his name on this blog, I found myself mentioned on theirs, their comments on mine, and a host of new, interesting people appearing on my Twitter feed. They are friendly and nice. Recently some of them have advised me on feeling safe when I meet strange men from the internet and comforted me during panics at the prospect of purchasing train tickets. You may be thinking that I should appreciate the way everyone is so warm and welcoming in this online world. I do, but I also feel like a fraud.
What would happen if they met me? This voyeuristic reader of blogs and tweets? There are any number of things they could dislike about me in real life, from pre-caffeine grumpiness to an inability to participate in conversations about popular culture. That troubles me less, though, than them discovering that I’m a wimp. All the time they haven’t seen me, I’m able to maintain the delusion that I’m a bit like them. In the same way that I’m able to feel an indefinable sense of fellowship with other shoppers at the organic, vegan supermarket. “You,” I whisper in my mind, “are like me. You take joy in the vibrant colours of squashes, the meaty firmness of tofu and the scratchy fabric of a fair-trade, organic shopping bag.” Kinksters, I’d like to think, find a pleasure similar to mine in the livid reds of cane stripes and the pale shades of vulnerability. That’s all very nice in theory, but the people at the vegan supermarket have never seen me nip across the road afterwards for a box of eggs, and, with the exception of HH, no one knows quite how much of a wimp I am.
My last punishment was a caning for not buying train tickets in good time (although the logic behind this escapes me). I was shaking as I bent over. I was sweating before the first stroke even landed. When it did, I thought I wouldn’t be able to take the rest. I didn’t think I would even be able to take the next one. The pain and the fear were excruciating. During every second it was happening I wanted it to stop. I begged and pleaded when he had hardly begun. The last shred of my dignity vanished with the first swish of the cane. That evening, I counted five lines across my buttocks. Of a meagre eight strokes, only five had landed with sufficient impact to leave a mark. It was nowhere near as bad as my first caning. With shame, I realised that I had made an inordinate fuss. Do I think I can be braver next time? Hardly.
Other people in the kink world appear to have dignity, bravery, and sensible pain thresholds. They may reasonably, if erroneously, expect the same of me, and are sure to be disappointed. It seems safer to lurk at the edges and look in. Is there a community of kinky wusses? If you meet anyone who likes beating wimpy girls, send them over, I’ll be sitting in the corner, wearing a red cape and reading Mariana.
* In the interests of transparency, I should admit that I’d engaged with the blog and twitter feed of one interesting spanking model HH knows before I met him. A friend I know through spiritual and campaigning groups was following her. I don’t like to think about it.