Not an Odalisque

Posts Tagged ‘spanking

Spankvent

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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.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

January 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Taming the Beast

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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.

Written by Not an Odalisque

January 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Discrimination in the Fetish Scene

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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.

Written by Not an Odalisque

December 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm

The Paucity of Play Partners, or Unreasonable Expectations

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SMS to the Lover: “The door’s on latch. See you later.”

I rinse a bowl, turn off the tap and turn for a tea towel. I almost scream. He’s moving towards me, silent, fast, hoodie up, face grim, one hand in his pocket, the other reaching for me. There’s a thud of pain as he swings me round by the shoulder. He grabs my hair, wrenching my neck. I try to pull back—“what are you—?”—but something cold and hard is shoved into the flesh under my jaw. I’m absolutely still. We stand in the kitchen, a tableau of fear and pain. A bus idles at the traffic lights outside.

He yanks my hair and I squeal. Pushing the gun* harder into my jaw and pulling at my scalp, he drags me into the hallway and throws me towards the ground. I go down gratefully, out of his grasp. My elbow hits the doorframe, vibrating my arm to my wrist, and I graze my forearm on the carpet. As I cover the broken skin, rough under my palm, he pushes me down with his weight on my back. My arm’s trapped under my chest. Pain shoots up it as I try to wriggle free.

His weight lightens and I see my moment—he must be undoing his fly. I kick and twist up, but he presses down again. I continue to struggle, although I’ve missed my chance, then the cold metal pushes at the back of my neck, and I freeze. He flips me over, grunting, and shoves the gun hard into the bottom of my ribcage. It will bruise, the barrel thrusting in like a bullet through shards of bone. The idea of bloody shattered ribs does a lot for cooperation. I don’t squirm away from his hands. He worms his fingertips in the joints of my jaw and speaks for the first time. “Open your mouth.”

That wasn’t entirely gratuitous. I think about scenes like that, you see, when I wonder why I don’t get more play. Perhaps there aren’t that many people who are interested in raping girls at gunpoint. But then, my rape-at-gunpoint quota is mostly fulfilled. Being caned for not having learnt my Latin verbs is where I feel a lack. Or being half-drowned. Or abducted by slavers. Or looked at sternly and told that I need to learn my lesson, and it will be taught with a hand spanking, over his knee. Any applicants?

When I moved to Manchester, which has a sizable fetish scene, I thought these wouldn’t be difficult to achieve. They are hardly niche fetishes (well, maybe the drowning). I might have an easier time if a bottle of Chardonnay and a rented DVD made me weak at the knees, but I’m not hoping to find people who want to eat my hair, put me in nappies or watch me impersonate a duck. And even those people generally find someone.

However, these activities, from the guns and the drownings to the hand spankings, do need a fair amount of trust. I’m chasing vulnerability, and there’s a lot that can go wrong. I want to be nearly saying stop at every moment, but forcing myself to continue. I have to trust the person I’m with to not do anything stupid, because I can’t constantly reserve half my mind to assess safety or subtly advise repositioning. That would be half my mind unable to engage in saying, “Oh God, no, please, no!” Worse, I have to recognise that, playing so close to the border between what I want and what I don’t want, I may find myself on the wrong side of the ability to safeword with someone doing something I genuinely wish they wouldn’t do. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, but only with someone who has the emotional nous to help me pick up the pieces afterwards. Oh, and they’d better know how to aim a cane, because I like parallel lines in carefully chosen places. And they should have an excellent stern look. And education and intelligence and a sense of humour and… Oh dear, this list is getting a bit long, isn’t it?

The more I think about it, the longer the list gets, and the more it sounds as if I’m looking for a life partner or a unicorn, not a playmate. I was surprised, therefore, when I signed up for discipline from Miss. Prim a couple of months ago without a qualm. She was offering a Muir Academy style role play at the SM Dykes conference, and once I’d put my name down I spent more time worrying about my uniform than whether I could trust a lady I’d only met that morning. I was nervous about my first caning in front of an audience, but not enough to curtail the doodling and origami frog making during class that was provoking it. And when I leant over the desk I was worried about the pain, not her competence. It hurt. It hurt enough to make me jump off the ground with both feet on the third stoke, causing a titter from the onlookers and a pause while Miss. Prim asked if I’d ever been caned before, but it didn’t hurt so much that I tore off my blazer and ran from the room. I trusted her knowledge, experience and sense of propriety.

But where does that leave my hunt for play partners? I can’t advertise for, “Extremely experienced semi-professionals. Must be willing to give lectures on the history and uses of the cane before scenes and have an aesthetic more appreciative of straw boaters than leather and studs.” Standing on the sidelines at clubs watching people with floggers (no thank you) or needles (I’ve been sent home unpricked from doctor’s surgeries due to faintness at the sight of them) doesn’t seem to be achieving much. So what am I to do? Lower my standards? Be contented with my lot? Or commence a serious search? How do all of you with full and busy kinky lives do it?

*In the interests of those who might try this at home, I should note that it has been clearly demonstrated to me that the gun doesn’t have any of the insides to make it work, that they are in fact in another county, and assured that in any case this really isn’t the sort of gun that you would use for shooting people anyway.

Written by Not an Odalisque

August 6, 2011 at 12:03 am

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

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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.

Written by Not an Odalisque

May 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Black and Blue

with 3 comments

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?

Written by Not an Odalisque

April 6, 2011 at 12:30 am

Adventures With Monogamous Vanillas (And Why Kinky Poly Is Better)

with 19 comments

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.

Written by Not an Odalisque

March 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm