So you pissed someone off, now what?

While in general I think people in the scene could use a little more paranoia about getting thrown out of the scene if they behave badly, I also wish that people wouldn’t act like it’s the end of the world if they accidentally offend someone. We were all new once and we’ve all said the wrong thing or stepped on someone’s toes or spilled a drink before. I’m the queen of holding grudges, but if somebody did something that was minor, accidental, and they apologized for it, there’s no need to make them feel like they need to leave town and change their name before they can ever go to a kink event again.

Even if someone deeply and personally offended me, if offense is all it is then there’s no reason we can’t coexist peacefully in the same room. If you fuck up as badly as bobslave9 did I will viciously mock you on my blog and use you as a warning to others, but I’m not going to go throwing fits in public or anything.

So, here’s what to do if you fuck up:

1. Apologize. Do this if and only if you can bring yourself to apologize properly. A proper apology starts with a simple admission of wrongdoing, demonstrates understanding of why what you did what wrong, and absolutely does not contain the words “if” or “but.” If you cannot apologize properly, just keep your mouth shut. Do not under any circumstances say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” If what you mean is “Go fuck yourself,” put on your big kid pants and say it outright. And don’t be a little shit about it if they don’t accept your apology. Forgiveness is not something you are owed.

2. Avoid the person you wronged. If you’ve just dumped someone, skip the next few parties. Suck it up, you’re not the one who just got dumped. If all you’ve done is irritate the shit out of someone, make an effort to be in another part of the room. Don’t talk to them, don’t force them to squeeze past you to get to the snacks, just leave them the fuck alone.

3. Whatever you did to piss that person off, stop doing it. This isn’t absolutely necessary to coexist with the person you already pissed off, but if you blunder around being an asshole everyone, you’re going to run out of people who want anything to do with you.

Note that there is no step involving becoming friends with the person you pissed off. They don’t owe you shit. It doesn’t matter how badly you want to feel like everything is happy and shiny again, the only person who gets to decide if someone wants to be friends with you is that person.

That’s it. The scene is big enough for the two of you if you can just avoid being a complete douchebag to someone you’ve already pissed off. There’s no need to become a hermit or to throw yourself at the feet of the person you offended and beg forgiveness. Chill the fuck out, leave them the fuck alone, and things will be fine.

“It’s not service unless the master wants it.”

“It’s not service unless the master wants it.” – Joshua Tenpenny, Real Service

It’s such a simple concept, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t grasp it. Hand washing your partner’s underwear may make you feel submissive, but if what she actually needed was her car taken to the shop then all you’ve done is waste your time. It really should be obvious, but doing what you want instead of what your master wants is in fact the opposite of submission.

That is, you’d think it would be obvious, but according to far too many discussions I’ve seen, including these two comments in a thread about kinky people with vanilla partners, the idea that you should try things your partner actually likes if you want to have some kink in your relationship is apparently a mind blowing revelation. In related news I have a theory about why so many men complain that their female partners have no interest in kink.

I understand that it can be hard to let go of the vision of your ideal relationship, but come on guys. Either you give a shit about the actual living breathing human being you’re in a relationship with or you don’t. If you care more about the fantasy than the person, don’t go acting all surprised when she doesn’t seem to care that much about what you want either. After all, you started it.

Even doms can fall into this trap. Credit where it’s due, Lily Lloyd talked about this either on her (sadly now defunct) blog or in her excellent book Discipline (no longer available). It’s terribly easy to get the idea that being a dom means you’re supposed to give your submissive all sorts of rules, particularly if your submissive happens to like rules. You can end up desperately trying to remember and enforce a set of rules you don’t care about until your whole d/s relationship feels like a chore. No matter how much the submissive enjoys it, it’s not service unless the master wants it. No amount of telling yourself you’re supposed to want something or beating yourself up for not wanting it is going to change your feelings about it.

I used to think I wasn’t actually dominant at all because I had precisely zero fucks to give about slave positions or making my partner ask permission to sit on the furniture. Given that being a dom is an important part of my identity now, you can safely assume I was pretty motivated to want what I thought I was supposed to want. It didn’t work. I still don’t care about slave positions even a little bit, and unless someone can magically making learning them stop feeling like a chore, I’m never going to care.

This, of course, makes me a terrible dom for a sub who loves high protocol. Neither one of us is wrong, we’re just a bad match. Honestly, if I found a high protocol sub I got along with and tried to convince him to stop loving rules and structure and doing things just so, I would be the asshole in that situation. I rag on submissive men more because I can’t understand how you can call yourself submissive while trying to mold your partner into someone they’re not, but self-centeredness is definitely not exclusive to men.

Finally, I would say that it is service if the dominant wants it, no matter how much the submissive enjoys it. A really excellent footrub, for example, given to a woman when she wants one doesn’t magically stop being service just because the submissive giving it happens to be a foot fetishist. Now, it certainly does stop being service if said foot fetishist makes things weird and sexual when she just wants to relax, but a submissive person especially enjoying something doesn’t make it not helpful or pleasing to the person they’re serving.

Service, like so many other things, is in the eye of the beholder. The person being served is the only one who gets to decide whether x or y is in fact service. You can wish they liked other things, you can look for someone who likes other things, but trying to make your partner like the form of service you like providing is blatant assholery. If you’re going to pull that shit, at least admit that you don’t care what your partner wants.

Book Review: Laura’s Wolf

First, a quick disclaimer: quite some time ago Lia Silver offered me a copy of her book Laura’s Wolf if I wouldn’t mind reviewing it. I like free stuff as much as the next person, but if I hadn’t enjoyed the book I would have politely told Lia so in private and you all would never have heard anything about it.

Laura’s Wolf is a paranormal romance focusing on the relationship between Roy, a newly turned werewolf Marine and Laura, a former con-artist trying to go straight. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would love to read on vacation while I sip cocktails, and although I ended up reading it in bits and pieces on my lunch break while I worked entirely too many hours, it still helped me relax.

What I really love about Laura’s Wolf is the way it presents female domination as a fun thing normal people choose to do sometimes. Sure, Roy is a werewolf Marine dealing with PTSD (which is not unusual – according to NIH MedlinePlus, in 2009 there were about 7.7 million adults in the US affected by PTSD) and Laura is a former con artist recovering from her own trauma, but they’re both enormously relatable characters. Aside from her colourful past, Laura is lonely but afraid to let people in. Roy, aside from the whole werewolf thing, worries that he’s broken and doesn’t have anything to offer a partner. Who hasn’t felt like that, even just a little?

At their cores, the characters are pretty normal people. Roy’s a regular guy, basically the exact opposite of the awful worthless worm stereotype. Laura’s a normal woman with more curves than society says she should have, not the kind of  icy bitch-queen that porn  and pop culture say dominant women have to be. And the way they relate to each other sexually is just the way they work, not a symptom of their problems (Secretary, I’m looking at you).

The sex scenes themselves are hot and well written, and perhaps ironically for a hardened perv, I like the fact that they’re not all particularly kinky and that they don’t go straight for whips and chains. One of my many, many pet peeves is the idea that once you explore kink you can never have or enjoy non-kinky sex again. That’s a  hot fantasy and there are people out there who don’t care to have vanilla sex, but I think most of us are perfectly capable of enjoying sex that involves nothing more than an enthusiastic partner.

It’s also nice to see kink shown as something you can do without spending a lot of money on equipment. I’m not going to say Laura’s Wolf is perfect, but there’s an awful lot to like about it. If there’s someone you want to introduce to female domination without freaking them out, I’d recommend giving them this book. If you’re already familiar with kink, it’s still an entertaining read. The next book in the series, Prisoner, is already out, and I’m planning on picking it up.


Or, let’s talk about different styles of bottoming and submitting. This post will probably make more sense if you read the last one about styles of topping and dominating. These two posts were inspired by Xiao Yingtai’s brilliant post “Am I Just Selfish? Service Versus Control,” which you should go and read.

The gist of her post is that in addition to the service submissives who everyone seems to know about, there are also control-oriented submissives who (shockingly enough) just want to feel controlled during a scene.

Xiao Yingtai’s post blew my mind because she explained something I’ve literally spent years trying to understand: what the hell people are on about when they say they want to be “trained.” I always thought people who wanted that had spent too much time with one-handed BDSM reading and not nearly enough time talking to real people about how they actually live their lives. But it turns out that some s-types are control-oriented and love things that would make service-oriented submissives miserable. Or to quote from the post:

Constant micromanagement and correction? No endpoint? Sign me up for this!

I never realized that feeling controlled was the point when someone asked to be “trained.” I always kind of thought they were just bad at service or had the idea that there was some magical “right way” to do things and if they learned it they would be the perfect submissive and never feel sad or lonely or inadequate ever again.

The idea of “training” also irritated the shit out of me because if you assume it actually is about making yourself useful, then being trained by someone else before you look for a partner is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Even something as simple as how to make tea isn’t that likely to carry over, and assuming that all dominant women take their tea the same way (or even that we all drink tea) is a good way to convince your prospective dom that you see her as female dominant seven of nine, not an individual human being.

Where things get complicated is when people try to sell themselves as service submissives when making themselves useful is really, really not the point of the kind of scene that they’re after.

To quote Mistress Matisse’s article “Slave Labour“:

Some folks try to turn what’s sexy for them into something of practical use to others, in an attempt to attract partners. This rarely works. My friend Jae has coined a not-very-complimentary generic term for the breed of man who does this: “the Panty-Washer type.” The name springs from dirty-underwear fetishists who try to persuade you that hand-laundering your lingerie should earn them sexual favors.

Another example of that type are the boys who’ll offer to, say, scrub your floor. Oh–did they mention they’d be doing it naked? And you will be standing over them, supervising and disciplining them the entire time? In full fetish gear? With a riding crop?

Guys, there is someone out there who wants to have that scene (possibly for $250 an hour, but that’s a separate post), but you are absolutely not going to find her by trying to convince people that this is a good way to get their floors clean. For fuck’s sake be honest about what you want. I mean, I’m not even particularly control oriented but the way Xiao Yingtai puts it is just hot:

But some of us irrational types like being constantly pushed further. We actually live for that state of desperation, we get a kick out of providing entertainment through our suffering. Or, at the very least, the boot on our necks.

Entertaining me by suffering for me? Yes please! Desperation? I’m all over that. Tell me about that if you want to play, not about how clean my house is (not, let’s be honest) going to be.

It turns out “training” actually does mean something after all. It’s still not my thing, but it makes me so happy to finally have any idea what people who like it are talking about.

Readers, are any of you into “training”? Has anybody else struggled to understand what that hell “training” even means?

Reaction/Control, Service/Obedience

Or, let’s talk about different styles of topping and dominating. Broadly speaking I think of reaction vs control as styles of topping  and service vs obedience as styles of dominating, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be obedience based play or reaction based dominance.

Personally, I’m a reaction top. When I’m playing with someone, what makes it satisfying for me is hearing them moan or curse or fight to keep quiet (as long as they’re not too good at it), watching them struggle against their bonds or brace themselves and take it. I want to know they’re right there with me. While there’s something uniquely satisfying about biting someone really hard, in general if my bottom has a lower pain tolerance all that means is I have to do less work to get the reactions I want. I’m also less interested in using any particular implement than I am in getting a reaction. If my bottom loves canes (or love to hate canes), I’ll use those. If sting just makes them angry I’ll use thuddy toys instead.

Other people, at least from what I’ve heard on sites like Fetlife, are more interested in having control. For them a scene (as I understand it, please correct me in the comments if I’m out to lunch here), is more about getting to do exactly what they want and feeling completely in control than about messing around until they get a reaction. I think bondage would be especially satisfying for a control top because of the power it gives them to limit or remove their bottom’s ability to move. I’m also suspicious control tops are just more organized than I am – I’ve heard of people planning scenes out in great detail where I show up with some toys and wing it.

As much as I may be making it sound like control and reaction are opposite ends on a spectrum, there’s no small amount of overlap between them. Part of the fun of getting a reaction is that it makes me feel powerful and in control. I imagine control tops also enjoy getting just the reaction they wanted, they might enjoy being able to play their bottom like an instrument.

With dominance I believe there is a similar spectrum from service to obedience. Service (particular the spooky mindreading sort of anticipatory service my boyfriend is so good at) makes me feel loved, for other people that kind of service is just irritating. Giving orders doesn’t feel natural to me at all and I avoid doing it if I possibly can. Other people love knowing that their sub will drop what they’re doing and obey as soon as they’re given an order.

There’s overlap there too, of course. Just because I don’t usually like giving orders doesn’t mean I never want my bottom/sub to just do what he’s told. Even the most obedience-oriented dom may want their sub to carry out standing orders without being told or to take initiative when the dom is particularly busy.

This may sound like a lot of philosophical noodling, but imagine how a scene would go with a sub who wants to feel controlled and a top who wants to try some stuff and see what gets a good reaction. Nobody’s going to have any fun and they’re probably end the scene thinking the other one has no idea what they’re doing and is probably a jerk to boot. If you’re looking for a d/s relationship, it can be even worse. So many of those ‘well if you were a real dom/sub you would have _____” conversations could be avoided if people had a better handle on just how many wildly different things “dominant” or “submissive” can mean. I’m not always fantastic at this myself, but I think it’s worth asking ourselves if someone just has a different style before writing them off as not actually a dom/sub.

Readers, where do you fall on the reaction/control and service/obedience spectrums? Did I miss your style of dominance?