Not an Odalisque

Is This For Real?: Play, Punishment, and Some Guilty Confessions

with 6 comments

When I first thought of exploring kink, role play put me off. That was before I discovered adult babies or fleshhook suspension, when the absurdity of grown women pretending to be schoolgirls had more force. The sense of silliness hasn’t gone away, but I’m familiar enough with it that I no longer flinch when I glimpse my pelerine socks. I’ve learned to appreciate role play; I like the freedom to be innocent, confused, violated and weak, without the responsibility of knowledge, strength, coping with the world or at least making a valiant attempt to look like I am. I also like punishments for real transgressions, which confusingly meld the weakness I’m allowed in play, with the responsibilities of life. Well, I like them sometimes.

I can’t remember by first punishment for a real transgression, but I’d wager it was for lateness. I don’t have a close relationship with time, my experience of it doesn’t seem to relate directly that of the people or clocks around me, and it is hard to take seriously the pronouncements of something so changeable. I rarely spot the minute we’re meant to leave as it potters by, while HH feels its passing with some keenness, I think. An invisible minute, here or there, at one stoke each, left me with pretty stripes on the fronts of my thighs. Administering them made us even later.

The first memorable crime for which I was punished was forgetting to have my car MOTed and taxed. It was a small oversight, and one I rectified as soon as I noticed it, albeit months later than technically required. I was overjoyed to realise I’d got away with it without stern talks, fines or prison sentences. HH wasn’t quite as joyous as I was. He thought my carelessness should be punished with twelve strokes, implement unspecified. There was talk of the paddle.

I hate the paddle. Nothing that inflicts pain gives me warm fuzzy feelings, but some inspire more fear than others. Straps and tawses are almost in the ‘like’ column. Canes have their special place, as they leave such lovely marks. Paddles don’t. Paddles don’t even get classified because I’m too busy squealing. My ability to manage twelve hard paddle strokes was uncertain, and before I even arrived, I accrued another thirteen for failing to make travel arrangements in advance. I knew this had caused inconvenience and felt suitably guilty, but also confused, as my bad relationship with time makes such arrangements difficult and dangerous. I trod a difficult line between remorse and defensiveness.

Twenty-five strokes? Twenty-five of anything, in one go, was beyond me; I’m a self-confessed wimp. With Emma Jane’s admonishments to take limits seriously ringing in my ears, I resolved to clarify his intentions, and make a dignified refusal if it sounded like too much. I attempted that conversation three times. Every time I felt my tone sliding into petulance and wheedling. I wanted to talk like a grown up, but the more frustrated I got, the more childish I sounded, and his tone remained eminently reasonable.

He’d start with the twelve MOT strokes and decide whether to administer the rest directly after that, or the next day. I was terrified. So terrified that when I was offered a warm-up spanking it was beyond my capacity to make a decision, which meant that I went without. I was bent over and told to count. It was difficult. The first three or four went by quickly, but then he swapped to another cane and the pain of each stroke made me shriek. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed and screamed. The only thing that kept me in place was the fact that the half-way mark (a red, livid welt) was behind me. Surely I could hold out until the end? It was a close thing. I mixed up ten and eleven, gasping out the right number after a frenzied scrabble through my mind. I didn’t manage an ounce of bravery. When the twelfth stroke fell I cried harder, in pain and relief. It was over. HH turned away and picked up a paddle. I jumped up. I just couldn’t take any more.

The next day, I found myself in the same position, already sore. Thirteen strokes were promised. He picked up the paddle and brought it down with one loud crack. I don’t remember a scream, I remember a howl. Time stretched as my bottom burned. I thought ‘twelve more’ and I knew I couldn’t do it. Not that much pain, with the end so far away. I willed myself to stay still; it was impossible. I stood up, I said no. One stroke and I said no. Then I cried, because it hurt, and because I’d let myself down. I sobbed and apologised and could hardly believe I’d been such a disappointment. Did I get away scott-free? It didn’t feel like it.

Then there was something else I didn’t quite get away with.

Emma Jane tweeted about “silence and tears” in a scene. I visualised her being chastised for stumbling over a line in Byron’s ‘When We Two Parted’. Well, fantasised, maybe. Yes, it’s strange, but look me in the eye and tell me you’ve never dreamt up anything naughtier than poetry and hand tawsings. I recited the poem quietly to myself, then found the book. I’d got a couple of words wrong in the second half, but close enough. Then I tweeted to the world that I’d have a glow of smugness if she’d been beaten for not knowing a poem I have off by heart. I wish I’d enjoyed my smugness more.
The next time I saw HH, we played a school scene. I did quite well, I thought, at handwriting, and passably in a spelling test, considering the obscure words and HH’s novel pronunciation of ‘quassia’. Then, unexpectedly, he asked me to recite the poem. My mind went blank. I couldn’t remember the first line; I couldn’t even remember the title. He was waiting for me to start. I remembered myself at school, in my tartan skirt and white blouse, reciting it on National Poetry Day,* and my teacher praising me afterwards, saying how nice it was to hear a poem from memory, rather than a book. I told myself I could manage the first two verses. I did. Then I stopped. I asked him if he knew the next line, restarted, halted, then guessed at the rhymes for the rest of the verse. I knew it was no good. I’d need to start again at the beginning to have a chance. And there he was, looking at me disapprovingly. I wished I hadn’t said I knew it.

I was bent over the table for punishment. I can’t even remember, now, what he used. I know it hurt. It hurt more than the strapping I’d screamed and wriggled through minutes before, yet I was still, I was muted. I deserved all of it and more. I watched a tear drop from the tip of my nose onto the wood of the table. I could hardly look at him when he let me stand up. I wanted to be out of his sight. If I was a real schoolgirl I’d have been out of the classroom at the moment of dismissal and through the school gates seconds later, vowing never to be back. But it was a scene, so instead I got hugs.

The fact that I cried for another half-hour because a few people, only one of whom I’ve met, caught me out claiming to know a poem I was unable to recite in moments of panic, may tell you more about my self-esteem than anything else. It worked in scene because I knew I was in wrong. It carried on working out of scene because I was still in the wrong. And in an unnerving turn of events I found myself doing the same thing the heroine of my novel did three chapters ago: saying a poem twice through, to prove that I know it when I’m alone in the dark, even if I can’t say it aloud mid-scene. If my life is going to imitate my art, I’d better think up a happy ending.
I like real life in scenes, but not too much. I’ve never felt the catharsis others speak of, only a sense that it’s right I should be punished, but not enough to suffer so little. That train of thought goes to a worrying destination, though. It seems to be that at some point submission becomes a way of opting out of your life. I’ll happily play at punishment, and even play at doing what I’m told, but to give someone else the right to punish in earnest implies an abdication of responsibility. I’m seduced by the idea that someone else could make the decisions and find the strength for both of us to carry them out, but suspect it would be less than living. I’d hate to think that I only did the right thing, or the thing that was right for me, because someone else made me. I think I’m better than that.**

I like to think there’s a middle ground between punishment and play. Goading HH, just before my departure, that I got away with multiple instances of lateness, until he pulls over and spanks me, is as close to play as it is to punishment. It also taught me that even leaving on time has its perils. I can be a fictional person punished for transgressions similar but not identical to mine. Dreaming up a scene recently I helped HH think of reasons a professor might cane his student by enumerating my crimes of the last term: missing classes, ignoring reading, hogging library books. Nothing was deemed naughty enough, so I went further back and told him about creative referencing in my undergraduate essays. He lit on this as a terrible transgression. I felt thoroughly chastened by the time he’d read to me from the course handbook and applied six strokes of the cane. I’ve been a bit less blasé since, so if anyone can find that paper on Millbank prison I read and can’t retrieve, let me know. Otherwise I’m thinking ‘Geometries of Desire: Lesbian Angles on the Panoptican’.

I’m learning where the line is for me, so I can light a scene with the spark real life lends to play without allowing it to get out of control. I’d love to know much reality others let into their play.

And the poem? I wouldn’t want to make any rash claims, but I think I’ll always remember these words:

“They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.”

*This recitation took place in the corridor known as ‘tramlines’. How it got that name, I cannot tell.

**I should add that I recognise there are a huge range of dynamics under the umbrella of D/s, and I don’t assume that others are like me, so I don’t want to criticise anyone in a D/s relationship. Apart from subs who want their doms to stop them smoking. I’m irrationally annoyed by them.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

May 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

6 Responses

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  1. What a fascinating post – and your fears, on Twitter, about its length were unfounded.

    I hadn’t known the outcome of our little group’s poetry suggestion to HH at the Victorian School… Had I bet on it, I’d have gone with you reciting the poem perfectly, given such tweeted confidence. And I can see why being punished for not being able to do so must have been hard for you to bear. ‘With silence’, maybe not; ‘tears’, perhaps necessarily so. Hugs!

    Abel

    May 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm

  2. I agree. Fascinating post.

    Romantic Dominant

    May 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

  3. ‘I’d love to know much reality others let into their play.’

    I have never done formal roleplay. I dont really know how to answer this question. It all feels real to me. I think I struggle to make boundaries and lines between ‘real life’ and ‘play’. I mean, the lines are constructs aren’t they? Everything is within our experience.

    My problem is often I am too literal. And so I think the kind of role play and specifically punishments might be a hard limit for me. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been punished. But being asked to pretend that ‘punishment’ is somehow separate from sex and life, from me. I don’t think I could do that.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    May 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

  4. I should feel a little guilty for being part (main instigator!) of the Byron scheme but I hope it made you laugh afterwards. And I can totally empathise with knowing something so well but stumbling under pressure.

    I think what you say about punishment is very interesting and not so far from my own thoughts. At the end of the day I have to live my life on my terms and make my own mistakes. I really only answer to myself. But I like to play at answering to someone like HH. Not least because my core kink is discipline. Yet I need the punishment to be real to fulfil the the kink, so how do I marry the two?

    We’ve come to an arrangement where there are a few things I do actually answer for. In the main these are things that if I transgress the result is hurtful to HH or someone else around me and something I’ll genuinely feel bad over. None of them are things that actually impact my real adult life.

    And when I transgress I do feel ashamed and puishment makes me feel better. It also satisfies my ‘discipline’ kink and yet it can’t be faked. Confusing, I know. Sometimes I can barely tell the difference!

    And like you, for me there is a lot of playing, like being spanked out of bed, or making a provoking commnet. When ‘punihed’ for those things that’s not at all real, but just a fun interlude 🙂

    And finally on limits: I think you were very brave to stop the paddling when you weren’t comfortable with it. It doesn’t make you a wimp in any way. And if something doesn’t work then say it. For me when a scene stops working I go very quiet and just take whatever I’m getting, meaning I can end up horrendously sore without getting anything out of it. If the top knows me well enough he/she will stop, understanding the scene has gone wrong. If not they’ll think I’m being ‘hard core’ and continue. I do think it would be easier if I had the courage/sense to just say stop instead of hiding behind silence and tears 😉

    Emma Jane

    May 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

  5. Well, it’s brave to put yourself up for punishment, in the first place. The number and difficulty of the strokes isn’t where the bravery comes in; it’s what’s overcome in the mind that makes bravery. And, as a dom, I want to encourage the idea of calling a halt to things when you need to. That sounds like just the right thing to do, and I want to be able to depend on my partner to do that if she feels like it’s right.

    I really like what you wrote here because it feels very real and intimate.

    Rich

    June 14, 2011 at 8:16 am

  6. “I’d love to know much reality others let into their play.”

    You might want to look into Domestic Discipline, This thing we do and Taken in Hand. It’s fun to read between the lines and see how much D/s play creeps into their reality.

    I enjoyed your post.

    bodack

    August 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm


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