What’s so bad about verbal consent?

Some time ago JeffMach posted an excellent writing on Fetlife tearing down the moronic idea that explicit verbal consent isn’t sexy. It’s not terribly long and you should go read it. My favourite part is the last paragraph:

If you, as a dominant, can’t make informed consent sexy, that’s not because informed consent can’t be sexy, it’s because you aren’t skilled enough to be dominant with other people.

Now, that seems pretty clear, right? So of course the whiny little brat who inspired that takedown came back to comment:

I did not say “verbal consent is wrong”, I gave a very specific example of a highly inept form of verbal consent, and said that it was less sexy than a much more natural form of non-verbal consent.

So…. you’re saying that if someone is completely fucking terrible at something, it’s not sexy? MIND. BLOWN.

Sure, if you do the robot-voice “WILL YOU PERMIT ME TO FONDLE YOUR MAMMARY GLANDS?” that’s not a turn on. You know what else isn’t a turn on? Wandering around lost with your date because you forgot to look up directions to the restaurant. Missing the movie you invited your date to because you got the show time wrong and asked them to meet you an hour after the movie actually started. Forgetting your wallet and having to ask your date for bus fare so you can get home. Incompetence in general is not sexy, which I’m sure comes as a terrible shock to you all.

Leaving aside the ridiculous strawman idea that explicit verbal consent can’t be sexy, who fucking cares if it’s not sexy? Not scaring your date is only a bazillion times more important than doing everything in the sexiest possible manner. I want to be entirely clear here: it is at best a complete turnoff when someone assumes they can touch me and at worst it makes me afraid for my safety.

Afraid. For. My. Safety.

Is that really the outcome you’re going for on a date? Making her afraid for her safety? You really think that’s better than a potentially awkward “I’d love to kiss you”? If you really think that, then just fuck off. You deserve to stay single and your dick deserves to stay dry if you think it’s better to risk scaring the hell out of someone than to put on your big kid pants and fucking ask her what she wants.

Aside from the fact that it doesn’t fucking matter if getting explicit verbal consent isn’t sexy, it’s absolutely trivial to make it sexy. “I don’t know, do you think you deserve a kiss?” “Get over here if you want a kiss” “Tell me how badly you want to me to kiss you” “I’m not convinced. Beg like you mean it.” And that’s why I’m such a fan of that last paragraph in JeffMach’s writing. It’s so fucking easy to get it right, if you can’t manage that you simply have no business dominating anyone.

Fantasies and terrible surprises

Another rant about people who can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality! This one is inspired by a pretty old Ask Dr. Nerdlove post (I started drafting this post ages ago and forgot about it, good job me!) about some poor bastard who is infatuated with a camgirl.

Dr Nerdlove’s answer, not terribly surprisingly, largely boiled down to it being incredibly easy to think you have a real connection with someone whose job is to make you feel special. He also mentioned that “you’ve only seen a very small and carefully curated slice of her life; you have yet to truly see her when she hasn’t been “on”.” and I want to go into more detail about that.

For one, it’s incredibly easy to stay infatuated with someone when you’ve never had to argue about whose turn it is to clean the cat’s litterbox. If you start out as a client and actually manage to transition to a romantic relationship, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a lot of nasty surprises. Not because sex workers are bad girlfriends, but because mixing up fantasy and reality will reliably make you miserable.

More specifically, when you see a sex worker, whether online or in person, you’re seeing her freshly made up, wearing a cute outfit, in a good mood (or able to fake it convincingly), happy to see you (or able to fake it convincingly), interested in whatever you want to talk about (or able to fake it convincingly), and willing to behave in a way that makes you feel special. That’s a massive amount of emotional labour and sex workers absolutely deserve the money they make. That’s also a very, very different relationship from one where your girlfriend has a shitty day and acts like a bit of a jerk when she comes home, or where she spent all day helping a friend move and doesn’t have the energy to care about how your favourite soccer team did when she’s a hockey fan, or where she looks like death warmed over after a big night out (no judgement here, I look like death too when I’m hungover), or where she ever expresses emotional needs that aren’t convenient for you.

Now to drag this back to kink, from the complaints I see online it seems pretty common for submissive guys, particularly the new ones, to become infatuated with the idea of the all powerful dom who is effortlessly in control every second of every day and never has a shitty day or a cold or needs to lie down and have someone stroke her hair. Then they try dating an actual human woman who has, like, needs and shit and it ends with her complaining on Fetlife and asking why guys keep saying they’re submissive when they really just want their fantasies acted out to their exact specifications.

I think that’s part of the appeal of pros – when you show up for an appointment with a pro she’s freshly made up, all dressed up (and she probably has an amazing fetish wardrobe), enthusiastic about seeing you, and ready to start the scene. It’s not just the particular kink activity you’re paying for – would you really pay top dollar to see a pro who did her sessions in kitten pajamas no matter how enthusiastic she was about beating your ass? Some people would, and you know, maybe there’s a market for the girlfriend experience dom. But most customers also want the fantasy of the dominatrix look and attitude. When you date someone, on the other hand, you get a very different experience and I think it can be a shock for guys to realize that this relationship doesn’t revolve around what he wants. They end up unhappy, their girlfriends end up unhappy, everyone ends up unhappy when you can’t separate fantasy from reality.

Stabbity’s pet peeves part AFGERSDF

One of my many, many pet peeves in written profiles is the mating call of lazy little brats everywhere: “if you want to know anything about me, just ask.” What that actually means is “I’m too fucking lazy to write a profile so I’m going to ask you do to all the work based on absolutely nothing, since you can’t possibly tell if you even want to know anything about me from my total lack of a profile.”

“Just ask”? How about I just don’t.

People, you can only ask someone to meet you halfway. You cannot ask someone to do literally all the work, that’s a) not fair, and b) makes you look like a lazy little bitch. Do you really want your first impression on a potential partner to make you look like a lazy little brat?

Seriously, why on earth should I bother asking about someone who can’t be bothered to fill in their profile? To be clear, if you actually did fill in your profile and added a line about it being okay to ask any questions that weren’t already answered in your profile, that’s completely fine. What bothers me is when slackasses leave their profiles largely blank with “if you want to know anything about me, just ask” as if that makes up for being too lazy to fill in a goddman profile. No, I’m actually not interested in doing literally all of the work of figuring out whether we have anything at all in common. If you can’t be bothered to fill in a profile, we have nothing in common. To be fair, I’m a bit of an outlier given that wordpress stats tell me there are a little over 200,000 words on this blog but come on, being lazy is attractive to basically 0 female doms no matter how few words they’ve written online.

If I have to do all the work of getting to know you that does not bode even a little bit well for how the rest of our relationship will go. That’s why this is one of my many pet peeves when it comes to profiles. Why on earth would you want your first impression on a potential dom to be “you’re going to have to do all of the emotional labour in this relationship, doesn’t that sound like fun!”? No, how about I do literally anything else. Honestly, staying home and playing videogames would less of a pain in the ass than trying to drag any sort of conversation out of someone who thinks it’s okay to make me to all the work of keeping that conversation going. Guys, if you have nothing to offer me that Witcher 2 (it runs on linux, yay!) can’t, you’d better stick with shitty femdom porn.

While we’re on the subject of things that irritate me in personal ads, can you please for the love of god have something to say besides listing your fetishes? Yes, I realize you’re posting that ad because you want someone to act out your fetish with you. I also realize you’ve never thought about what makes a person want to answer a personal ad. Having compatible kinks is not enough, you’ve got to have something in common as human beings.

Also, can you be honest for thirty goddamn seconds and replace “hight-weight proportionate” with “no fatties”? We all know that’s what you mean, all you’re saying by using the spineless little weasel translation is that you’re dimly aware that it’s tacky to say “no fat chicks.” And spare me the fucking concern trolling about how you’re just so worried about their health. You fucking aren’t, you just like being an asshole. If fat shaming made people thin, there wouldn’t be any fat people. Literally every fat person has been relentlessly fat shamed and guess what, fat people still exist.

For that matter, saying “Caucasians only, I’m not attracted to blacks/asians/south asians” only says that you’re a racist asshole and a lazy little brat. Have you seen every single black person? No? Then how the shit do you know you aren’t attracted to any of them? Protip: black people actually do look different from each other. Have you seen every single asian guy? Every single south asian guy? Oh that’s right, not only are you racist, you’re lazy as shit. Now, if you’re stuck living in an especially racist part of the world and bringing a black guy home to daddy would be both miserable and physically dangerous for him, that’s one thing, but if you say you’re “just not attracted to black guys” you’re a racist. Admit it and move on.

The reason this stuff makes me so cranky is that it’s so goddamn easy to get it right. I know nobody loves writing profiles but come on, think for just five minutes about the kind of profile you would reply to. Go out and find some profiles you like and steal their structure. DO NOT COPY THEM (yes it makes me sad to need to say that), but look at the things you like about a profile and add the same sort of information to yours. Come on people, this isn’t rocket science.

“shit, am I evil?”

A while ago I wrote about self-acceptance and a reader left an interesting comment about how they had never heard before that it was normal for sadists to worry about whether they’re evil. Let’s talk about how thoroughly normal that fear is.

First of all, the single most common portrayal of sadists in the media is serial killers. If that’s the only place you’ve ever seen people who like the things you like (and if you haven’t been exposed to actual bad people), of course you’re going to worry that you’re evil too. On that note, if you do happen to be a perv who worries at all about whether being a sadist makes you a bad person, don’t spend a week binge reading the Sword & Scale blog when you’re sick and don’t have the energy or brain to do anything else 🙂 I even know I’m not evil and that gave me a bit of “well shit, this is what non-kinky people think of when they hear the word sadist isn’t it.”

Aside from exclusively terrible portrayals of sadists in the media, we’re also taught from earliest childhood that it’s mean to hurt other people. So what does it say about us that we want to be “mean” and that we like it? It’s undoubtedly even worse if you’re an emotional sadist (hey, there are emotional masochists, why can’t there be emotional sadists?). All of this sucks even worse for dominant women because being “mean” goes against everything we’re taught about how to be women. God forbid you enjoy chastity/orgasm denial/tease and denial/cuckolding – that obviously means you’re the most terrible woman ever to be terrible and no one will ever love you.

Liking blood play or heavy pain play can be especially scary if you’re already a little worried you might grow up to be a serial killer. It’s a lot easier to brush off a hand spanking as a bit of fun that only left someone’s butt a little bit pink, but what if you want to leave bruises or welts that last for days? Or you’re interested in consentual non-consent? There’s no shortage of stuff kinky people as a whole do that looks scary as hell even to other kinky people.

And I haven’t even mentioned relationships yet! Being controlled by your partner is listed as a warning sign on practically every domestic abuse checklist. I bet there are tons of newbie doms who are interested in social justice and are terrified that wanting to call the shots in their relationships means they’re abusive assholes. The more control you want, the scarier that gets.

If you’re worried about any or all of that, congratulations, you’re perfectly normal! And almost certainly not evil, if you were you wouldn’t be worried 🙂 That said, intent is Not Fucking Magic. More precisely, having good intentions and wanting your partner to be happy is not the same thing as checking in with them and listening carefully and making sure that the stuff you do in hopes of making them happy actually does make them happy and that you’re not accidentally or otherwise doing stuff that makes them unhappy. It’s totally okay to ask your partner (play, romantic, whatever) for a little extra reassurance and it’s also okay for you as the dom to scale things back to a level you’re more comfortable with. Doms have feelings too and all that 😉

It’s okay to like weird stuff and it’s also okay to be kind of freaked out about liking weird stuff. You’re not alone.