Safecalls: they’re not just for women

There’s an especially interesting discussion about safety for submissive men in that one fetlife group I like, I recommend checking it out.

We talk about safety for submissive women all the time, we talk about safe calls and meeting in a public place first and getting to know your d-type/play partner and not letting a new partner bind both your wrists and your ankles at the same time, but I think we as a society kind of assume that a woman couldn’t possibly be dangerous to a man.

That makes it really hard to talk about how to handle a woman putting a man in danger – what man is going to show up to a workshop about safety if doing that is a tacit admission that a lowly (yes I’m being extremely sarcastic) woman could ever actually be dangerous to him? If I were a submissive man, I’d sure be scared that even other submissive men would make fun of me for being worried a female dom might hurt me.

I mean, it’s apparently unmanly to use the most basic safety gear when you’re using power tools, which we all know perfectly goddamn well are dangerous and that it’s just fucking dumb not to wear safety goggles, so of course there aren’t a lot of submissive men out there willing to even ask, at least in public, “so how do I stay safe?”

And of course there’s the oh-so-helpful myth that there are 100 submissive men for every dominant woman so if you put any kind of limit on what you’re willing to do that dom you’ve been talking to will snap her fingers and the next submissive guy in line will take your place. To be clear that’s complete bullshit, but that’s also not the subject of this post.

So given that it’s really, really fucking hard for men to ask for safety tips, here’s my attempt to help:

First of all, let’s talk about physical safety. Safecalls are not just for women!

If it helps you worry less about it being totally unmanly to even consider the idea that a woman could harm you, think of it as protecting yourself from scams and robbery. Not to make everyone totally paranoid, but just because Ms Right said she was going to meet you alone doesn’t mean she isn’t going to bring some large male friends to rob you or worse. If somebody knows where you’re going and when you’re supposed to check in, at least they can file a missing persons report sooner rather than later. Just having a safecall and making it known that you do can protect you, you don’t even necessarily need to make the call – if somebody knows that you’re going to be missed and that they’ll have to explain themselves to the cops if you don’t check in, welp, strangely enough you’ll be a lot less likely to go missing.

And for the love of god don’t meet in private for the first time. Again, she could have her large male friends already there when you walk in. Meet in public first and get to know her before you agree to meet in private. I know a lot of people have issues with munches and other events, but if you can meet your potential dom at one of those, you will learn a lot about her. Practically all women know this, but it may be news to men: if he’s nice to you but mean to the waitress, he’s not actually nice. It’s really useful to know how your dom treats people she doesn’t want anything from, especially other submissive men if there are any around. If she tries to tell you you’re special, not like that other guy, I’m sorry to tell you but you are not special. She will treat you just like she treats him.

Now, kink is a bit of a special case, it may be that nothing makes that other guy happier than being treated like a not-very-bright servant. Still, if that’s the case it should be very simple for her to explain that she does in fact know him well and they’ve been friends for a while and that’s a fun game they play.

Playing in public, at least at first, can be a good way to see how your shiny new d-type / play partner reacts when you don’t like something she does. Yes, everyone is on their best behaviour in public, but if someone’s best behaviour involves showing any irritation or attempts to talk you out of it if you safeword or just need a break or a drink of water, then oh my fuck no no no do not play with them in private. Serisously, things are not going to go better with no one looking.

This may be the hardest piece of advice for men in general (I figure my regular readers have a handle on this one, seeing as you’re here already 🙂 ) : women are people and have agency. We might like stuff you don’t like. We might like stuff that actively turns you off. We might like stuff that would make you run the fuck away if you weren’t tied up. And we might have some fucked up ideas about what’s okay to do to people who came over and let you tie them up, sad to say.

You really, really need to talk about what’s going to happen before you play. You cannot assume that any given dominant woman likes what you like. Aside from safety, you’re going to have a shitty and unsatisfying scene if you don’t talk about what you both like ahead of time, so fucking talk so you can both have a better time.

The woman who started that thread brought up a really interesting point: what if the submissive guy’s kink is being scared by a woman who is outside the norm?

Here’s the part I think some submissive men will hate a lot: you don’t always get everything you want. To be fair, I think submissive people of any gender may hate that point, but men in particular spend their whole lives being told they can have whatever they want from women and it’s got to be extra jarring to suddenly hear that they can’t.

Being scared, being forced, being used are all really common fantasies and they can all be hard to live out without breaking the s-type’s suspension of disbelief. For me personally, I’d much rather break suspension of disbelief and have the whole scene fall flat than risk harming somebody. If it’s more important to you to live out your exact fantasy even if things go sideways and you’re not having fun anymore, welp, I’m not the person to ask about that. Doms get to safeword too, guys.

Now, it is possible to have a genuinely scary scene with people you don’t know well and still be relatively safe – you just have to have a dom who is really invested in making you happy and has some trusted friends who you don’t know and who is willing to spot that scene while you’re blindfolded and don’t know they’re supervising. Yes, that’s a lot of work and you shouldn’t expect it from someone you’ve only played with a few times.

Another potential compromise is talking out what you like, what you don’t like, how you want to feel in an abduction/takedown/consensual non-consent scene, how you react when you’re having a good time vs when you’re really really not anymore, and how to tell whether it’s a good time for a surprise scene or not, then asking you dom to take all of those things into account and surprise you sometime. You may have to spend a lot of time convincing your dom that they know you well enough to surprise you and have it go okay. Surprise: doms aren’t the only ones who need to build trust!

Also, you have to accept a certain amount of risk that things will go wrong and you’ll end up traumatized. That’s really what I want people to understand: you have every right to take any risk you want, just fucking admit you’re taking a risk and be clear about what the potential downsides are. Even if everyone is experienced and knows your safeword and is doing the absolute best they can to make sure the abduction or takedown or consensual non-consent scene is fun for you, things can still go wrong.

The single most important tip I can give anyone, dom or sub, woman or man, is that things can go wrong and you need to think about how that might happen and how you can avoid it. A big part of that is admitting that you’re physically vulnerable if you’re tied up or handcuffed or otherwise restrained, and another big part is admitting that you have feelings that can be hurt.

Readers, do you have any more safety tips to add?

What do you do if your top won’t play as hard as you want?

Every so often I see discussions started by frustrated submissives whose d-types won’t play as hard as they want, whether that’s less intense impact play, less restrictive bondage, less intense humiliation, less intense control over their lives outside the bedroom, etc, etc. I see the not-intense-enough impact play complaint most from small female submissives whose doms / tops / playpartners are afraid of hurting them.

That’s where I think there’s a bit of gray area: it’s kind of a dick move not to believe your partner when they tell you they can take more. It’s their body, they know better than you, especially if they’ve been playing for a while. That said it’s also kind of a dick move not to respect your top’s limits. Tops get limits too, dammit.

So what do you do about it if you’re not getting the kind of play you want?

Well first of all you need to know why your top doesn’t play as hard as you would like, and you need to accept that the answer could be that they just don’t like to.

Aside from just not enjoying player harder than they currently do, your top could be worried that they don’t have the skills yet to be sure they don’t harm you, worried about what it means about who they are as a person if they do play hard and really like it, worried about how you’ll take it if they accidentally go too hard, that they or you will drop really hard if they play harder, or something else entirely. Side note: worrying that you’ll accidentally harm someone with bondage isn’t just paranoia, nerve damage is a thing and I’d sure feel terrible if I accidentally fucked up somebody’s hands.

If and only if your top even wants to, you may be able to slowly work up to playing harder. The top isn’t the only one who needs to build trust, as a bottom you need to build trust with your top, too. It would be straight up irresponsible to play as hard as they can with you the very first time, it’s a lot safer to start slow and build up from there. That process helps the top trust that you can in fact take what you say you can, that you can communicate if something isn’t working for you, that what you said about what you wanted and what you didn’t was actually true. Without that, it would just be foolish to play really hard.

Sometimes it just takes time too. I mean, did you immediately run out to a munch or play party (or even just put up a kinky personal ad) immediately after figuring out you might possibly be kinky? No, of course not, you took some time to process that idea and get used to it before you started reaching out to other people.

And if you’re really lucky, the issue may just be that your top assumed you were perfectly happy with the way they play and/or that you would directly ask if you wanted to play harder. Hints are just a bad idea here, and to be entirely clear this is not a discussion for the middle of a scene. Sometime when you’re both relaxed, just let your partner know that you would like to play harder sometimes and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them feel comfortable doing that. It might be that they just need a little extra reassurance that you’ll still like them if they hit you harder. Oh and don’t nag either.

But it’s also totally possible that a top / dom / d-type who you’re really compatible with in other ways just doesn’t want to play the way you prefer. If that happens, you have three choices: learn to live with it, negotiate play with other people (if you’re comfortable playing with anyone else), or break up and find a different partner who does play the way you want to. Note that hassling your top to play the way you want to is not in that list.

Sometimes you just don’t get what you want. It sucks but you can adore someone and get along great in most ways and still have that one area where you’re incompatible and where it’s a dealbreaker. I wish I had a better answer than that but sometimes things just suck.

Can you really develop a “tolerance” for a fetish?

In which Stabbity mines the Novices & Newbies group for post ideas 🙂

It seems to be pretty common for kinky people, especially those of us who are new to kink, to be worried that our interest in kink will take over our lives like some kind of addiction and we’ll need to do more and more extreme things all the time to get off and I don’t know, end up getting murdered or murdering somebody or some shit like that because we didn’t know when to stop.

It’s probably pretty clear what I think of that 🙂 That’s not very helpful to someone who is worried that they’ll end up getting hurt or doing something terrible, though, so let’s talk about it.

First of all, you do not develop a tolerance for a fetish or kink as if it’s a drug. That’s just silly, and there’s a much simpler explanation: people get bored when they do the same thing all the time. Take food for example: I love pho and I’ve been eating a lot of it since it started getting cold where I live. Right now, I would probably eat pho every day. But as much as I love pho, if I actually did eat it every day I would still get bored of it after a while and need to eat something else. Same with kink and with sex in general (not that kink always have to involve sex), if you do the same thing over and over eventually you want to try something else just for a little variety.

It’s also not unusual to eventually start wanting to try things that freaked you out or actively turned you off when you first got into the scene. Again, this is totally normal in other contexts, people just get weird about kink and/or sex. Let’s take my career as an example totally unrelated to kink, I always swore I’d never work for a game studio (fuck crunch time) or a startup (fuck brogrammer culture), and what happened? I used to work for a game studio and currently work for a startup. Turns out not all game studios expect you to work 80 hours a week to release a game on time and not all startups are run by brogrammer douchebags who are frightened and confused by the idea that anyone would want to have a life outside of their work. As you gain more knowledge and get to know more people who enjoy things you aren’t into, your perspective on those things can change. Again, totally normal.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people to do terrible things and say “I never meant to hurt anyone, I just got carried away!” That’s some bullshit, to be clear. Things can and do go wrong in scenes without anyone being malicious, but if you fuck up so bad you actually got arrested and it went to court and you ended up in the news, that’s not “getting carried away”, that’s “I thought I could get away with it.” If you really are worried you’ll get carried away and hurt somebody, the solution is simple: get a fucking spotter. Find somebody you trust to recognize when you’re about to go too far and who you know can stop you, and get them to supervise your scenes.

On the other hand if you bottom and are worried you’ll get carried away and not safeword when you should, that’s, uh, not unusual? Lots of people go nonverbal or get deep into subspace or otherwise can’t safeword. When you really into the scene and your endorphins are flowing, you may not even realize you’re getting injured. Some injuries, like nerve damage from bondage, may not hurt at all while they’re happening. You’ve got to get to know your top really well and be sure they know how far they can take you if you know there’s a risk you won’t be able to safeword.

Also, if it’s just your fantasies that freak you out, that’s totally normal too. Just because you fantasize about something doesn’t mean you actually want to do it – I’ve ranted enough about how fantasizing about an intense weekend scene in no way means that your butt could actually hold up to a whole weekend of spanking, flogging, whipping, and paddling. The fantasy is great, but in real life you would be sore and bored in half a day, tops. And if you eventually build up to being able to handle a weekend scene, you’ll probably also be fantasizing about week-long scenes. Fantasies are pretty reliably more intense than what you would actually want in real life to make up for the fact they aren’t actually happening.

If your fantasies really scare you it’s probably worth talking that out with somebody (maybe anonymously with strangers on the internet if you can’t afford a therapist or find one who understands kink?), but if you’re just worried that fantasizing about a thing means you’re inevitably going to do it that’s just not true. I’ve spent plenty of time fantasizing about telling former managers to go fuck themselves and walking out of my office, middle fingers held high, but I don’t actually do it because I’m a grownup and because I really like getting paid. If you understand that some things aren’t okay to actually do, you can fantasize about whatever you want and still be a good person.

In short, don’t worry. If you’re a decent human being and have any semblance of common sense, you’re going to be okay. Kink will not take over your life and make you into a monster.

how. original.

To think I was worried I wouldn’t find something to be angry about this week. I was reading Captain Awkward, as you do, and in the comments somebody linked to this fucking bullshit and I remembered how much I hate it.

Now, I’m more than a little late to the party here, but hey, I’m still getting a blog post out of it and maybe I’ll be less pissed off about this massive dickbaggery by the time I’m done 🙂

A quick summary for people who may not be interested in reading another blog post so they’ll understand this one: Ms Asshole wrote a post about how she feels happy and accepted in the tech community. So far so good, right? Yeah not so much. As much as she likes to think she’s not saying “fuck you, got mine” she’s absolutely saying “fuck you, got mine.” Yes, there are good things about the tech community. Many a nerd has been delighted to find a place where they can win arguments by being right, not by being popular. It’s okay to like that. What’s not cool is to tell other women:

What I’ve got, and what I wish the rest of the “women in tech” community who rage against the misogyny they see everywhere they look could also have, is a blazingly single-minded focus on whatever topic I happen to be perseverating on at the moment. It has kept me awake for days puzzling out novel algorithms and it has thwarted a wannabe PUA at a conference completely by accident. It is also apparently the most crashingly successful defense against attempts to make me feel inferior that has ever been devised.

which boils down to: have you considered just not caring when people treat you like shit because you had the poor taste to be a woman?

how. original. I have never been told to stop having feelings about it when people are jerks to me because I committed the terrible crime of being a better programmer than them and having tits at the same time before. what. an. amazing. revelation. Who could ever have possibly guessed that if I didn’t care about being treated badly then I, uh, wouldn’t care about being treated badly. Honestly, this asshole sounds exactly like every straight white man who just can’t believe there could possibly be a problem with tech because everyone is nice to him and obviously his experiences are universal. Newsflash: people who aren’t exactly like you do in fact exist. People who aren’t like me, do in fact exist too. Being a woman in tech can be a huge pain in the ass but because I’m white, there’s a massive amount of bullshit I just don’t have to deal with. But because I’m not a self-centered jackass who is incapable of caring about anyone but themselves, I believe people of colour when they say tech is shitty for them in ways that I haven’t personally experienced.

I want to be clear that I’m not attacking this self-centered asshole for being non-neurotypical, I’m attacking her for being a self-centered asshole. Being autistic does not mean you can’t empathize with other people (although it can make it hard to show it in a way that neurotypical people recognize, which is a separate issue), it does not mean you can’t understand that other people have experiences that aren’t like yours, and it does not mean you get a pass for acting like a complete douchebag.

My compilers are coming with me, but you can borrow my shoes, if you want.

Borrow your shoes? I would have to cut my toes off to fit into them, asshole. I WILL NOT STOP HAVING FEELINGS. I AM NOT WRONG FOR HAVING FEELINGS. I WILL NOT CUT OFF PIECES OF MY HUMANITY TO SUIT YOU.

The absolute nicest spin I can put on this shit is that Ms Asshole has only ever found one place where she fits in and is scared it will change and she won’t fit in anymore. What I think is more likely is that she has built her whole identity around a frankly toxic community and is taking any suggestion that maybe people who notice when they’re treated badly and experience emotions about that could be included too as an attack on her very self.

Nobody is saying that there’s nothing good about the tech community. Nobody is saying it would be a bad idea to have a place where technical correctness instead of popularity would win arguments. The problem is that magical place where the quality of your ideas is the only thing that matters DOES NOT EXIST. When an idea comes from a woman it magically becomes questionable at best and she will have to prove over and over and over that she isn’t stupid and does deserve to be there. The exact same idea becomes a heartbreaking work of staggering genius when it it proposed by a man. Where’s your meritocracy now, fuckface? No seriously, WHERE THE FUCK IS IT. How can you possibly say tech is about technical merit when women have to do much more work (and god fucking forbid you’re a black woman, you’ll have to work at least twice as hard as a white woman to get even less credit) to be taken less seriously? You know how much more work I could get done if I didn’t have to fight my own goddamn coworkers to listen to me for five goddamn minutes?

Not only do white men have to work less hard to prove they know what they’re doing, but not having to defend themselves constantly gives them far more time and energy to think about their tech. And let’s not forget that to this day women do far more household labour than men do. Not only do women have to work harder, we get less time to do our work.

Not only has a true meritocracy never existed (unconscious bias, it’s a thing), but not tolerating assholes is good for everyone. We cannot possibly know how many people who could have been amazing programmers have been driven out of the community by jerkbags who convinced them it was just not worth it to keep trying. We cannot know what incredible things could have been built if the tech community as a whole rewarded cooperation over proving you’re the smartest.

Seriously, what the fuck would we collectively lose if we as a community stopped being such incredible fucking douchebags to people who aren’t straight white men with no social skills? You can value technical correctness and also not be a raging asshole, I swear. If you can’t see how technical rigor and compassion can coexist, it’s not because they can’t, it’s because you’re an asshole who doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s feelings but yours.