Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kaelah's Corner (Jun 2011):
Get In The Ring

In my last post Speculative Questions I told you how important it is for me to discuss  controversial questions openly in our community and to talk not only about the positive experiences but about negative things and even prejudices as well. The important preconditions for fruitful discussions like that are of course a certain awareness of one's own prejudices and where they come from, a clear distinction between personal preferences and moral issues, and generally a careful and respectful approach when exploring controversial topics.

Originally I had planned to start such a discussion today, but a horrid example of how NOT to approach sensitive topics got in the way. In his post A rant. But justifiable, I think. Abel wrote about an article he had come across at The Independent. It is about a murder of a 13-year-old girl by a violent rapist. In court, the defense (trying to create an alternative explanation for the disappearance of the girl) questioned the father of the 13-year-old victim in detail about his sexual preferences because he possessed fetish pornography and BDSM equipment.

The author of the article, Joan Smith, justified the treatment of the victim's family, claiming: […] it is hard to see why possession of such material by the father of two teenage daughters should ever be treated as an entirely private matter. Looking at extreme pornography and acquiring restraints for use during sex are worrying behaviours, and it isn't hard to imagine circumstances – a custody battle, for example – in which they might even be interpreted as potentially abusive. Indeed, what is so extraordinary about the outpouring of sympathy for Bob Dowler [the victim's father] is that so many commentators have been willing to overlook what this might imply about his feelings towards women […]

So, every man looking at fetish porn and owning some bondage gear is probably a rapist and / or murderer? I don't think that I need to tell any of our readers what complete nonsense Ms Smith's assumptions are. But I believe that it is very important to not only write about prejudiced articles here in the kinky community where everybody agrees anyway, it is even more important to stand up against prejudiced accusations in the “vanilla world”. That's why I followed Abel's example and posted a comment in the comment section of the original article, and so did Ludwig. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Ms Smith,

the murder of a child is one of the most horrible things that one can think of. So, in my opinion, abusing an article about such a horrible and highly emotional case to spread your bigoted ideas of sexuality and raise prejudices against people who have certain sexual preferences is highly disrespectful and disgusting.

It is common scientific knowledge that being into BDSM is a sexual preference that is unusual in the sense that it applies only to a statistical minority of people, but not in any way abnormal in the sense of being sick or dangerous. Your comment on what Mr Dowler's preference for BDSM “might imply about his feelings towards women” shows that you clearly have no informed opinion about the subject at all. Your vague accusations not only defame men who are into BDSM, they are also extremely rude and patronizing towards women who live in a relationship that involves BDSM play.

I am into BDSM and I live in a very happy relationship with a like-minded partner. From my experience, BDSM play requires not only a high degree of respect, but also a very high amount of trust. Our partnership is based on equality, love, openness, honesty, respect and trust. And, before any other prejudices come up: I am a well-educated, self-reliant and independent woman with a successful professional career. So, I am in no way dependent on my partner.

Last but not least I would like to add that I'm very glad to see that Ms Smith's prejudices don't seem to be shared by the majority of the commenters. It's good to see that it doesn't seem to be so easy any more to use emotional topics in order to instigate hatred against minorities.

It was indeed good to see that most of the commenters, in contrast to Ms Smith, knew the difference between consensual erotic practises on the one and violence and murder on the other side. But I think that it would be great to have more intelligent comments from people who have insights into BDSM play. So, please, if you can find the time, write a short comment on Ms Smith's article. And of course you are very welcome to repost your comments or write additional ones here as well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Speculative Questions

In my last Kaelah's Corner post Therapy? I asked the controversial questions whether therapeutic effects explain a (smaller or bigger) part of our spanking fantasies and form of kinky relationships and whether certain experiences and patterns are more common in the kinky community than in society as a whole.

The reason for these questions was that I had come across several very different observations that had made me wonder, because they fell into one of the following two categories: The first types of observations were evidence or descriptions of negative experiences, especially physical self-harm and different forms of neglect or abuse during childhood, which I came across several times in our community but with which I had been confronted much less often in my vanilla environment. The second types of observations were about different forms of kinky partnerships which all seemed to incorporate a unidirectional power dynamics, something that I have experienced in my vanilla life as being rather negative for the people involved, but which didn't seem to be seen (or at least discussed) critically in our kinky community.

I'm always interested to learn about how kink, kinky play and kinky relationships work for others and how they work for me. And I always try to understand where the various forms of play and relationships come from and what people are getting out of them. So the observations which I had made raised many questions.

Concerning the first category of observations, I asked myself why I seemed to come across these things more often in the kinky community than in my vanilla environment. Now, as Indy pointed out in her comment on my original post, it is difficult to compare one's vanilla environment with the part of the kinky environment one is engaged in. And we all know only a small subgroup of kinksters. Ludwig and I are mostly active in certain parts of the online community and we know a few people from the local community as well. So, maybe the different experiences that I had made in the kinky community and in my vanilla community were just based on the general differences between the kinky and vanilla people I knew? Or maybe I had heard more about these things in the kinky community because there was a higher degree of openness about them among kinksters? I wasn't sure about any of these ideas and that's why I decided to ask the readers about their observations and experiences.

I was even more unsure about the question whether childhood experiences or experiences with self-harm could also affect one's kinky play and if so, in which way. I had seen people who had obviously made experiences with self-harm but didn't seem to practise it any more. There were statements of people who wrote about how they made experiences in their kink which they had missed during their childhood, like feeling guided or cared for. I had also made the observation that my personal kinky fantasies often seemed to be positive counterparts to negative experiences which I had made and to my insecurities, and that my spanking play empowered me.

That's why I had the idea that kinky play and kinky relationships could maybe be used in the same positive way concerning others' negative experiences and resulting insecurities. Hence my “therapy”-hypothesis. Ludwig emphasized on a very important point in his comment: Using spanking as a form of self-therapy obviously doesn't have to be a bad thing. I'm not sure whether I pointed this out clearly enough in my original post, but I hope that the symbolic picture which I had taken for the post already showed it.

On the other hand, I also made some negative obvservations which gave me cause for concern. I knew people who had made negative experiences earlier in their lives and then got hurt in their spanking play as well. And I came across people who stopped certain forms of kinky play, claiming that these had been based on self-destructive tendencies and therefore dangerous for them. So, I came up with my last question: Could kinky play be unhealthy as well, and under which circumstances?

I know that the question of kink and health is a sensitive question, but from my point of view it is also a necessary and important one. And I think that one can make assumptions about what might or might not be healthy and under which circumstances, especially if these assumptions are based on actual statements of people who have experienced certain situations which they later considered either as healthy or unhealthy for themselves.

The questions concerning the second category of observations were quite similar. Again I asked myself whether there were really more partnerships with a unidirectional power dynamics in our kinky community than in society as a whole. If so, what did they give those who were involved in them and in which positive ways could they be used? And, last but not least, were there similar downsides as the ones which I had experienced with the people in my vanilla environment?

Pandora commented that asking about motives for kink and motivations in kinky relationships insinuated that kink was abnormal, and that speculating about others' motives especially in combination with the question of healthiness was rude and patronising. I can see where Pandora is coming from and I agree that certain questions can be loaded.

Now first of all, the intention of my post was not to ask why someone is / became kinky. It was about how people use kinky play and why some people's kinky fantasies might be different from others. But frankly, I wouldn't mind asking about why people are kinky in the first place as well. Because for me being kinky is neither good nor bad, it is just a sexual preference which is unusual in the sense that it applies only to a statistical minority of people. I don't know why I am kinky and I think it wouldn't make a big difference if I knew, but I am curious and I wouldn't mind exploring the subject.

I agree with Pandora that one must be very careful when exploring subjects like these. But I don't think that declaring certain questions a taboo area can ever be a good thing. When I wrote my Kaelah's Corner post, I tried to be very careful by always talking about my personal observations and how things seemed to me, rather than making blunt assertions. And I openly asked whether others had made different experiences which contradicted mine.

I am aware that it is difficult to speculate about other people's motives and about the power dynamics between others, and that one should be careful about making generalisations. As Abel pointed out, there are all kinds of kinky people and kinky relationships and there is a lot of variety. But first of all, I think that understanding other people's motives is essential for human beings, and secondly, to my mind, it is possible to make well-founded assumptions based on what people have said about themselves in combination with observable behaviour. These assumptions can then be used for asking others about their opinions and experiences and learning from them.

I have to admit that I am very critical about any form of restriction of freedom of speech, especially when it is said that certain questions should not be raised because these questions could be used to portray the community or society which they concern in a negative way. To my mind, asking a question can never be as dangerous (as long as it is a real question and as long as it is asked carefully) as prohibiting open discussion.

I also don't think that asking questions causes prejudices. Rather, I think that it gives us the chance to diminish them. After all, if different points of view are mentioned openly and honestly, people have a chance to learn about them and to adjust their point of view in case they come across arguments they hadn't thought of. That is why, to my mind, it can even be very useful to talk about one's prejudices and where they come from. I'll do so in my next Kaelah's Corner post which will focus on the power dynamics of kinky relationships, because that was the topic that led to the most vivid discussion after my last post.

Today, I would like to close with some thoughts about the topic of physical self-harm, though, because the comments on my last post made me look at this aspect from a completely new perspective. My personal assumption about kink and physical self-harm had been that the explanation why I had been confronted with that topic more often in the kinky community than in my vanilla environment was at least partly based on the general difference between the kinky and the vanilla people whom I know and a certain openness about these things in the kinky community.

I wasn't sure whether there was any further correlation between self-harm and kink at all. The only idea that I had was that spanking might cause a similar feeling of relief as self-harm and that it therefore could possibly be used as a healthy substitute for self-harming activities. Georgia's comment seemed to support that idea because she pointed out that while from her experience self-harm and kink were based on very different desires, she could achieve the same kind of high and relaxation from both of them.

Pandora's and Prefectdt's comments then gave a for me completely unexpected explanation for a possible correlation between kink and self-harm. Pandora wrote about having used self-harm as a child, when she didn't know how to interpret her erotic masochistic desires, yet. And Prefectdt had tried self-harm as a substitute at times when he didn't have the possibility to share spanking play with others. It didn't work in his case which Prefectdt traced back to the difference between the male and the female body chemicals. I'm not sure about this additional idea, but to my mind it might also have to do with the fact that the important part of sharing the experience was missing?!

Of course, these are just isolated personal experiences which don't allow any general conclusions. But I found these comments very interesting nonetheless. Although I had of course come across the topic of self-spanking, it never occurred to me that some self-harming experiences in the kinky community could be results of attempts to substitute erotic spanking experiences!

In my view, the chance of getting new ideas and insights like this one is worth the risk of writing about controversial topics / observations and the questions they raise. And I would like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and personal experiences so openly and honestly. Of course your thoughts about today's topic are very welcome as well!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shopping for Whips

(With our new toys. Kaelah also bought a corset.)

A month ago, Kaelah and I visited the annual BoundCon fetish convention here in Munich. My last extended visit to the convention had been back in 2008. We only stayed for an hour or so the next year because I was ill, and in 2010 we were not in town at the time. So this really was the first opportunity to go in some years. We used it to say hello to our friends from SM-Circus, who had their own booth at BoundCon as they do every year, and to do a bit of shopping. I will write more about the current state of the circus in my next post and tell you about the shopping today.

As an opening remark, a bit of self-demystification: my spanking implement collection is much smaller than most of you probably think it is. It can't even begin to compete with the treasure troves of some of the true hoarders out there, like Abel and Haron, for instance. I have a pretty decent collection of canes, but not much else. One crop, one (leather) paddle, and until BoundCon 2011, one flogger - that's it. Actually, the collection is quite sufficient for what Kaelah and I are doing most of the time. Add the ever-versatile hand as an implement, and maybe a switch from the outdoors, and you can do a fairly elaborate scene in terms of the spanking instruments used. But we had both been yearning for a bit more variety lately, and BoundCon was a good place to look.

Kaelah, in particular, finally wanted to have a "nice flogger" in our collection. The only one we had so far, a wicked little thing with a metal handle and heavy rubber tails, is anything but nice. Many are the times when Kaelah wrote here about how much she hates that implement, to my considerable mirth, and yours too, no doubt. But lest we forget, she got her revenge by using it on me during the still-to-be-published FF/M scene we did with Leia-Ann Woods, drawing a little bit of blood in the process. Also during that scene, we got to try out some of Leia-Ann's implements on the side, including one flogger which Kaelah liked a lot: larger than ours, but with softer tails, it literally made her purr. She wanted one just like that!

We found it at BoundCon. Perhaps not exactly the same model we tried out at Leia-Ann's, but very similar. A few lashes on Kaelah's clothed bottom and back convinced her that this was the nice flogger she had been looking for - the advantage of shopping at a kinky convention (instead of, say, a shop for riding equipment) is that you can try out implements on your partner without raising an eyebrow. I like the flogger a lot myself. It is heavy enough to produce a non-trivial amount of pain when used hard, but without being as brutal as the "nasty" one, so it is ideally suited for spankings of light to medium severity and for longer, sensuous whipping of various parts of the body. Kaelah already wrote about one scene where we used it under the apt title Kinky Wellness Session.

We also bought a single tail whip at BoundCon, which was my wish. I would say that single tails are my favourite implements aside from canes. As with canes, they are perfect for judicial-type scenes, they have a similar "aura" and I just love the marks they produce. So it might seem surprising that I never owned a single tail until now. But they are difficult to use, even more so than canes, and I obviously would not want to use one without feeling perfectly safe with it. In my first years as a top, my main focus in regards to implements was on mastering the cane. You can see the progress I made when you compare my performance in The German Lesson (not exactly crap, but still rather hit and miss) with the later caning scenes I did with Kaelah or as a guest top at Mood (not a stray stroke, despite the much higher severity). Now that I feel reasonably proficient with the cane, I am ready to take on a new challenge, so I finally got myself a single tail.

I chose a short species of single tail, some 90 cm (3 feet) in length. A bullwhip would have been too ambitious a challenge to start with, and besides, I would not even know where to practice with such a monster at the present time - certainly not indoors. The 3 foot single tail is already fairly tricky to handle and hurts like hell. I only really see us using it in video clips or in rare, special scenes in private, because the pain and the marks it produces are considerable higher than what you aim for in casual play.

If you feel like it, leave a comment and tell us about your own implement collection. How big is it and which items are you most infatuated with? Did you obtain any exciting additions lately?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kinky Wellness Session

The recent weeks have been rather stressful and it looks like our life is going to stay like that for quite a while. But luckily sometimes there is room for some relaxation as well. On a particularly stressful day Ludwig promised me a little wellness session before bedtime. I had a meeting on a very dry subject that evening which of course lasted longer than originally planned. So, I was already quite tired when I arrived back home, but still looking forward to what Ludwig had in store for me.

In the bedroom Ludwig told me to strip, to position myself at the end of the bed and to bend over. I eagerly did as he had told me. Ludwig started juggling with numbers, threatening me with the perspective of a very intense spanking. His idea was to give me a square number of strokes, using x implements and giving me x strokes with each of them. I think the number he threatened me with was 33 implements and 33 strokes with each of them.

The only problem: To me his threat rather sounded like a wonderful promise. Yep, I know, I'm a very sick girl... The only thing I wondered was whether we would find 33 different implements. But I guess if we had used all the pervertibles that one can find in the kitchen, bath room and cellar, it would have been possible to reach that number. Although this would most probably have meant using all the different canes we have...

Well, after having realised that 33 squared is more than 1,000, Ludwig refrained from his plan, anyway. After all, this was supposed to be a “nice” spanking. So, he simply started out with a handspanking instead, followed by a flogging. Yes, we finally own a “nice” flogger! We bought it at the BounCon convention a few weeks ago (report will follow soon). I melted under the strokes that rained down on my back and my bottom and could have gone on forever. But Ludwig decided to change from spanking to different forms of touch instead. That man definitely knows how to touch me and how to bring me to wonderful highs! Afterwards, he allowed me to get out of position, and I collapsed on the bed.

But it wasn't over, yet. I was rubbed in with massage oil and Ludwig gave me a heavenly massage. While my reactions during spankings are usually rather restrained, I can become quite vocal during a massage or a tickling / gentle scratching. If I were a millionaire, I would definitely spend money on regular massages! And why haven't I ever seen any adverts from professional ticklers / scratchers? I'm sure there must be other people in this universe who enjoy tickling / gentle scratching as much as I do?! Well, or maybe all of these people have great partners like Ludwig and therefore don't need a professional tickler / scratcher?

However, I was melting under Ludwig's hands and drifted away into la la land. When he was done, Ludwig looked at my naked body which still shimmered from the massage oil. “This would be a good time for a caning”, he said, “the oil makes the skin very soft which means that it doesn't break that easily.” I turned around and gave Ludwig a very approving look, probably accompanied by some encouraging sound. His facial expression showed a bit of surprise. “You don't really want to be caned, do you?” he asked in a mildly incredulous tone of voice.

Obviously my reaction convinced him that I indeed wanted to be caned, though, because he ordered me to stand up and go back into position. I didn't know whether it really was a good idea to ask for a caning, but I simply followed my instincts which told me that I wanted more. Ludwig chose a short, 8 mm thick peeled cane. It was clear that these wouldn't be love taps, actually Ludwig never hands out mere love taps with the cane.

Luckily, the strokes were only medium severe (on the “Ludwig severity scale”), though. But the warm-up from the earlier spanking had already faded and so – surprise, surprise – it hurt! I had no intention to be super-tough that day and showed my discomfort through wincing, hissing and also some moaning. So I guess that Ludwig at least had some sadistic joy that evening. He mercifully decided to make it only six of the best, though. After he had allowed me to get up, I looked into the mirror. Appreciating the red stripes on my bottom, I knew that the final six cane strokes had been exactly the right completion for my kinky wellness session.

Relaxed and happy I went to bed. We took a few pictures of my striped bottom and then switched off the lights and cuddled up to each other. Unfortunately, my whole good mood was completely destroyed the next day, but at least in that one special night I fell asleep completely contented and relaxed.