Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kaelah's Corner (Jul 2011):
Mirror Mirror

In my Kaelah's Corner post Therapy? and the follow-up post Speculative Questions I asked the rather controversial questions whether therapeutic effects explain a (smaller or bigger) part of our spanking fantasies and kinky relationships. Both posts led to a very lively discussion in the comment section. Among other things, the question came up whether it is possible to speculate about other people's experiences and motives at all and whether there is an inherent risk of being judgemental and spreading prejudices.

I absolutely agree that it is usually very difficult to know what's behind the surface. What are the motives and drives for someone's kinky fantasies? How does the dynamic of a particular kinky couple really work? As Abel's comment showed, for instance, visible factors like age differences don't necessarily tell us anything about the power dynamics in a kinky relationship. I also think that our points of view towards different forms of play and relationships depend on our personal experiences, desires and fears, and therefore can be prejudiced.

But for me that doesn't mean that one shouldn't explore these topics. On the contrary, from my point of view it calls for a more intense analysis, for a closer look both into the mirror and into the world. Which prejudices do I have? Where do they come from? And are these prejudices completely unfounded or not?

A big part of the discussion on the Therapy? post was centred around the topic of kinky relationships and especially relationships which involve a unidirectional power dynamics. I thought a lot about my own opinion about these kinds of kinky relationships and came to the conclusion that I am indeed prejudiced against them. So, I would like to take a closer look at this topic today.

I want to begin with a more detailed definition of what I mean when I'm talking about a “unidirectional power dynamics”. First of all, I'm not talking about role-play, where one person is always the top and the other always the bottom. I'm talking about relationships in which both partners have clearly defined roles which are (more or less) permanently valid, also beyond kink. Secondly, these roles have to be designed in a way that assigns one partner with a leading responsibility while the other partner has a responsibility to follow their partner's advice and/or certain rules which have been agreed upon. And third, the leading partner holds the following partner accountable for misdeeds.

Of course, Annapurna was absolutely right when he said that there are vanilla relationships with a power imbalance as well! As a matter of fact, the reason why I personally never ever want to live in a partnership with such a power dynamics and why I have such a negative gut feeling towards this form of relationship is that I have seen negative examples in vanilla partnerships, especially in the generation of my parents and grandparents.

Luckily, there were other examples even in my grandparents' generation as well. While my grandfather and grandmother on one side of the family lived the “classical” life of working man and housewife, there never was a unidirectional power dynamics between them. When my grandmother unexpectedly got very ill, my grandfather took over at home and cared for her for many years until she passed away. He also was the one who cooked when I visited my grandparents as a child.

I've seen women, though, who were not only emotionally dependent on their partners, but who also depended on them financially. These women couldn't leave their husbands even if the relationship developed in a bad direction, because they neither had the financial background nor the self-confidence to lead a self-dependent life. And there were some people, women as well as men, who were completely helpless when their partner became ill or, even worse, died. The women because some of them didn't even know how a simple bank transfer worked and the men because some of them didn't know how to cook the most simple meal or how to switch on the washing machine.

So, this is where my prejudices against relationships with a power imbalance come from. The question is, do the risks and possible negative outcomes which I have observed in the vanilla world apply to kinky relationships with a unidirectional power dynamics as well?

In the discussion on my post Therapy?, the question was raised whether bottoms who are living in such a relationship would be helpless without their partner. I don't think that most of the people who are engaged in a kinky partnership with a unidirectional power dynamics would be unable to care for themselves if they hadn't got their partner. But I'm of the opinion that the relationship makes life easier, which can be a good thing but also a bad thing, depending on how the people involved really use their relationship. From my point of view there can be two general ways of using a unidirectional power dynamics in a kinky relationship:

If "girls" / "boys" / submissives use the relationship to grow from it and to build up self-confidence through the knowledge that they have a daddy / mummy / master / mistress or HOH who loves and bolsters them, I consider that to be a good thing. And if the top gets something out of helping her or his partner to grow, I think that's a good thing as well.

There is another possible way of using that kind of power dynamics, though, and that is the form that comes close to what I have experienced in the vanilla world and feel highly uncomfortable about. What I'm talking about is the combination of a bottom who doesn't want to grow up at all and a top who doesn't want a grown-up, equal partner, either. To my mind, this form of relationship is very unhealthy and can lead to quite horrible situations similar to the ones I've described above. I assume that this is also the form of relationship Bogey (of Our Bottoms Burn) had in mind when he admitted to having prejudices against daddy - girl relationships.

I'm not sure how many kinky relationships are that extreme, though. That's why I'm more careful with being judgemental about kinky relationships with a unidirectional power dynamics in general. But some of the relationships I know about in our community seem to fall somewhere in between the two forms of relationships which I have described, and I think that some of them show a worrying tendency towards the latter, potentially unhealthy form.

Interestingly, there seem to be other people out there who have made similar observations of what they consider unhealthy kinky relationships. While Bogey and, to a certain extent, Georgia openly admitted to having negative gut feelings towards kinky relationships with a permanent power imbalance, private feedback showed that there seem to be more people who have made experiences with relationships of this form which they found problematic. But they would rather talk about it in private than in public.

Obviously, there is a fear of generalising and of hurting people when talking openly about this subject. But while I absolutely agree that one must be careful not to make generalisations and not to judge others based on isolated experiences or mere gut feelings (this isn't about judging people, it's a critical discussion about lifestyle choices, anyway), I find it a bit sad that a completely open and honest discussion about this topic doesn't seem to be possible in our community. And I have to admit that it also leaves me with the feeling that there might be some truth to the assumption that there is not only a fair number of relationships with a unidirectional power dynamics in our community, but that a certain percentage of them really constitutes the potentially unhealthy kind which can prevent people from growing instead of helping them to grow.

Just to make that clear, I'm only talking about my personal opinion towards certain aspects here and the question of how I evaluate a certain way of life. Growth and self-reliance are very important to me (for me they are essential parts of life as a responsible adult) and I prefer to be among people who stand up for themselves.

But others might have very different needs than I have and everyone is of course entitled to their own lifestyle! However someone chooses to live their life or not, and regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes them or how well it works or doesn't work for them - it is their own decision and I wouldn't want to tell anyone how to live their life as long as their choices don't affect me.

That being said, I do take the freedom to voice critical thoughts about possible pros and cons of different lifestyles, in a careful and respectful way. And I sometimes wish that there would be more open and controversial discussions out there in our community, because I think we can learn from them. Even if it's just gaining a better understanding of our personal prejudices and where they are coming from. To my mind open discussions usually do more than that - they can lead to more balanced opinions and the reduction of generalized prejudices. As long as the participants of the discussion listen to each other, that is.

Of course there is a certain point where people shouldn't be allowed to do whatever they want to do, though. In her comment on my Therapy? post, Indy raised the question how often kink is used to cover real abuse. I think that there can indeed be a very thin line between consensual kinky play and situations where someone doesn't really have the freedom of choice that is a necessary precondition for consent. But that is an important topic of its own which clearly deserves a separate post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mastering The Cane

(Unfortunately I can't post pictures from the
original scene. This was my outfit, though.)

In my last post Mind Going Blank I wrote about a recent scene that didn't go as planned due to me having been in a rather angry and moody state of mind. Of course these things can happen when strong emotions are taking over during a scene. I don't know about your experiences, but being in an emotional state can also be a driver that makes me crave spanking and sex, though. So, being in a rather emotional mindset can have its positive sides as well. To my mind it is a matter of how strong these emotions are. When I'm in a completely moody state or the stress factor is really high, my desire for kinky play and sex decreases. As long as the stress and the emotions are still manageable, though, they can lead to an even bigger desire for spanking and sexual pleasure than usual.

Depending on the situation and the mood I'm in, the cravings can be very diverse. Sometimes I simply long for diving deeply into the joys of pure sexual pleasure. At other times I crave a sensual stress relief spanking. Or I just want to give up control for a little while and focus on what Ludwig does to me and the images it creates in my head.

This time it was different, though. This time I was in the mood for taking over control, for being on top. I'm not sure whether my toppy mood had something to do with the fact that my own pain threshold was so low that it was difficult to play on the bottom side. I assume that it had something to do with the anger that was brewing inside me beyond the surface and the feeling of not being in control of the things that determined my current life. What I sought was a positive counter-experience. Ludwig told me that being slightly angry or annoyed can put him in a very toppy mood, as long as the emotions aren't too strong (if you are really angry, you should not top, obviously). The same seems to be true for me.

I had been teasing Ludwig the whole weekend, slapping and squeezing his bottom whenever I got the chance to do so. Now, as you all know, Ludwig is predominantly a top who only switches on rare occasions. But when I'm in a genuinely toppy mood, the idea of bottoming sometimes develops a certain appeal for Ludwig as well. Which was exactly what happened this time. So, he agreed to take a severe 20 strokes caning from me, simply to let me practice the wielding of that implement.

I only had the chance to cane Ludwig once, so far. At that time my technique only allowed me a medium high severity level, not because of the accuracy (which was always fine) but because I only managed to reach a certain maximum velocity. Since then I had practised a lot, though, and changed my technique so that it enabled me to hit harder.

For video clips Ludwig has been caned twice, one time by Niki Flynn and a second time by Leia-Ann Woods. When we shot the football bet clip with Leia-Ann, Ludwig and I agreed that I would only be her co-top for the back-whipping and not for the caning, because I wasn't experienced enough with the cane. Ludwig thinks about doing one last very severe caning on camera, though, and as you can imagine, I want to be the one who administers it. But, since we usually don't play with others and since Ludwig doesn't want to switch regularly, I won't get the chance to practise very often. Which means that my only chance is to be a fast learner.

So, when Ludwig agreed on letting me cane him, this was my chance to see whether I could do it. Pandora wrote a wonderful post about a shoot for Spanked in Uniform in which she got to cane the beautiful Amelia-Jane Rutherford. In that post Pandora wrote about the experience of wielding the cane: Topping or bottoming, I’m confident with the cane. […] That confidence carries over when I’m the one wielding it. I love practising my skills, the rush of delight at a stroke well delivered. It feels a bit like showing off, but in the best possible way.

Even though I'm not as confident with the cane as Pandora when I'm on the receiving end, it is my number one choice as a top. Two important reasons for that are the elegance of the cane and the beautiful marks that it produces, the main reasons why I like being caned as well, even though I don't like the kind of pain that canes produce. Another important reason is that a cane needs skill to be wielded accurately and the idea of mastering this difficult implement and being a safe caner is a very attractive and powerful one. Last but not least, the cane is Ludwig's number one implement of choice, on the giving as well as on the receiving end. And that increases the appeal of using it on him even more.

I refrained from topping Ludwig as long as I didn't feel relaxed enough, but after we had talked a lot of things through on that weekend and my emotions had calmed down, I reminded him of his offer. I knew exactly how I wanted Ludwig to be positioned during the spanking and prepared the room accordingly. Knowing that this would be a rare opportunity, I also decided to set up a camera for a private little clip. Unfortunately I had only one camera available, so I decided for a perspective that would allow me to see the developing marks as well as at least Ludwig's physical reactions and to analyse my caning technique.

I hadn't practised for a while and so I did a few test strokes. I didn't have much space but it worked. The sound of the cane striking my training blanket echoed through the room and I was quite happy with my accuracy as well. But the question remained: Would I be self-confident and accurate enough to administer a severe but safe caning to Ludwig? For some reason I didn't really doubt that and so I went to the bedroom in order to change into fitting clothes for the scene.

Then I called Ludwig and told him to take a position on all fours over the whipping bench, completely naked. He did as he was told. I caressed his back and then took my position on his left. I took a safe stand, aimed, drew back my arm and the first stroke landed on Ludwig's bottom with a crack. The stroke was on target. And it elicited a nice, very restrained by still audible reaction from Ludwig. A second stroke followed. Both strokes hadn't been soft, but not too severe, either. The third one was harder. I took a look at the first results of my handiwork. Three accurate lines so far. The last one ended a little bit closer to Ludwig's right hip than the previous two because of the higher velocity. I decided to take a little step back, not wanting the strokes to wrap around Ludwig's hip.

And then I laid down stroke after stroke, taking a break from time to time in order to admire my handiwork. Some of the next strokes went a bit high. They were still on Ludwig's bottom, which was why I thought at first that they were still on target. But they had landed on the upper part of Ludwig's bottom, which involved a theoretical risk of hitting the spine, at least in the position Ludwig had taken. Not one of them caused any unintended damage, but after Ludwig's feedback I decided to aim a bit lower. I didn't want to hit the legs, but it was still better to take the risk of hitting too low than taking the risk of hitting too high.

Since the scene was designed as a training session, I didn't do much in terms of psychological topping. But I tried several little things like varying the speed and teasing Ludwig that it was his own fault that the caning was more severe than the previous one he had received from me, since it had been him who had told me to practise. Watching stripe after stripe appear on Ludwig's bottom was a wonderful and satisfying experience. And I enjoyed his beautiful reactions. They were restrained but still visible and audible. It was obvious that Ludwig was indeed feeling the strokes and that they challenged him, though he stayed of course on top.

After an especially hard last stroke the caning was over. When I inspected the marks, running my fingers over the welts on Ludwig's bottom, I felt very happy. The marks were beautiful and the feeling of being able to administer a caning at such a severity level so accurately and safely was very satisfying. I know that I'm a very lucky woman, having a partner who from time to time sacrifices his bottom for me. Ludwig didn't enjoy the pain of the caning itself, but I hope that he can appreciate the resulting pictures and our private little clip at least half as much as I do!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mind Going Blank

My last long weekend with Ludwig featured a lot more spanking action than usual. Unfortunately, I am in a quite vulnerable and aggressive mood at the moment, having a lot of dark and scary thoughts on my mind. In addition to that, or maybe because of that, my pain threshold is very low as well. And so, two out of three scenes sadly didn't go all that well.

I am going to tell you about one of them today. This is a highly emotional and very personal account. I'm curious to hear about your experiences and thoughts, but please be careful with uttering judgements. I think it is wrong to create the impression that spanking play always goes smoothly, though. Sometimes there are a lot of emotions involved, sometimes one finds out during a scene that one is in the wrong mood and sometimes landmines are hit. It happens, it is part of TTWD and to my mind talking about it openly and honestly is the best way of dealing with it. So here it goes:

When the scene started, Ludwig and I had already spent some spanking-free days together and I was really looking forward to getting spanked. Ludwig and I hadn't talked about a scenario for the spanking, he just ordered me to bring him a short OTK-suitable cane and drape myself over his lap on the bed. When the short cane that I found first was the peeled one, I knew that this one would most probably feel worse than the unpeeled one we have.

I have a very ambiguous relationship with canes in general and with peeled ones in particular. Pandora wrote a wonderful post about how great a caning can be if one manages to ride the waves of pain, but how easily one can loose one's grip and drown as well. I love canes for their elegance and the accurate marks they produce. But I hate (and I mean hate, not love-hate) the stingy kind of pain which is the trademark of especially the peeled specimen. Interestingly, severity is not really the point here.

Depending on my condition and the warm-up (if there was one at all), a medium-severe caning can feel as bad as or even worse than a very severe one because the pain is even more stingy. That's why while having made several wonderful experiences with canes there have also been some where I nearly or actually drowned and didn't enjoy the scene very much. And as our more regular readers know, I'm not one of those people who love the feeling of having been caned even if they hated the caning itself. When I feel pushed beyond my limits during a scene, the bad feeling remains.

I didn't want to delay the spanking by searching for our short unpeeled cane, though, and I didn't really see a reason for avoiding the peeled one (after all, my last experience with it had been great), so I grabbed it, handed it over to Ludwig and draped myself across his knee. He started out with a hand spanking and I drifted a bit into one of my favourite fantasy characters and scenarios, a young male goody-two-shoes navy cadet being spanked by the strict but caring commander for having unintentionally broken the rules. But Ludwig had something different in mind.

One outcome of my recent mood had been that I had been very critical of Ludwig's efforts of proofreading my PhD thesis and of helping me with emotional support and suggestions on how to deal with some unexpected changes and new requirements. We are ticking quite differently in some aspects, so Ludwig's ideas of how to handle a certain situation don't always work for me. But my moody state had disabled me to tell Ludwig calmly what I needed. Instead, I had closed down and become quite aggressive. Several days earlier I had told Ludwig that we could probably use that situation for a scene in which he might be able to release some of his frustration and I might be able to let go.

I knew that this would be very thin ice, though, since I'm not into real-life DD and the idea of a spanking under the premise that Ludwig or anyone else might really think that I “deserve” it is a complete turn-off and no-go area. For me, spanking is just consensual erotic play. Nothing more and nothing less. If it can also be used for relaxation or as a kind of make-up sex that helps Ludwig and me to bond again, great. But for me, there is no such thing as a deserved spanking among adults.

Ludwig decided to take the challenge to integrate the current situation into our play, though, and started talking about my recent unkind reactions on his tries to support me. He switched to the cane. The strokes were only medium-severe, but totally unbearable for me. I wasn't prepared for this and instantly started to cry, gripping my hands into the duvet. Ludwig looked after me and suggested that it might be good for me to cry a bit and to release some pressure. At that time I agreed with him. I usually don't use spankings for a cathartic cry, but I had done so once and it had worked well.

Ludwig assumed that only a caning would enable me to cry further, that a hand spanking wasn't severe enough for that purpose. I told him that a hand spanking might work as well, once I was in the right mood (it did the last time). But he decided to stick with the cane. The feeling that this was too much for me increased and I was instantly crying again, plus wriggling and kicking. I pressed my face into the mattress and grabbed the duvet with both hands. Ludwig stopped again after a short time. I was silent, crying and not looking at him. Ludwig told me that I really had my ways of making his anger fade, that he couldn't be angry any more when he saw me like that. I answered that this hadn't be my intention at all and that I wasn't a good enough actor to do something like that on purpose.

Maybe I should have stopped the scene right at that point but I was already quite confused by now and of course I didn't want to ruin the scene or look like I wanted to back out. The thing was that I didn't cry because I felt sorry for my recent rude behaviour towards Ludwig. I cried because the spanking felt unbearable and because it brought up very dark thoughts and aggressions. I already had been in a state of anger the days before but hadn't really let it out.

Ludwig of course didn't know about the storm that was brewing and continued with the caning. He lectured me (in character but with the background that he had really been annoyed) that this might help me to remember not to be so rude to him the next time he wanted to help me. Around that point I completely lost my grip and drowned. The severity of the caning (which left only very few marks that were still visible the next day) felt completely over the top and it felt unjustified and wrong. A wave of anger, frustration and fear came up and my mind went blank. I got stiff, I was crying again, wriggling and kicking, but I neither tried to get away, nor did I say a word.

Ludwig realised that something was going wrong. He tried to remind me that using these real-life incidents as a premise for a spanking hadn't been his idea (and that therefore I didn't have to be scared that he really thought I deserved a spanking). So, he asked me whether I remembered that I had come up with that idea. I should have answered him that this was true, but that it wasn't working this way because the spanking was more than I could bear and therefore the scene felt like a real beating and not like consensual kinky make-up sex any more. I should have told him that I couldn't feel sorry for my behaviour right now because new things had come up and I was angry and scared. But my mind was completely blank and I didn't manage to answer at all. Ludwig asked me whether I had lost my voice and I silently nodded.

Still Ludwig assumed that crying would be a cathartic experience for me, since I had told him so at the beginning. A few strokes later I was crying heavily again, though, and Ludwig made a new try to find out what was wrong. He asked me whether I was afraid that he wouldn't love me any more because he had been angry, and reassured me that this wasn't the case. Unfortunately, this didn't work either, because a little voice in my head screamed: “I don't give a damn whether you are angry upon me or not because I'm f***ing angry and I'm f***ing scared because of these dark thoughts that have flooded my mind!”

After some more strokes Ludwig decided to stop. He softly touched me, having come to the conclusion that the scene didn't really work for me at that time and that care and pleasure might help me more than pain. But when he tried to caress me at more intimate places, I shook my head. Ludwig's comment that he liked that OTK cane because he was able to provoke stronger reactions with it without having to beat me severely and causing too many marks didn't lighten my mood, either. Ludwig invited me to cuddle up to him and to lay my head on his chest. I did so, but not without snapping at him that he didn't get what was going on. Ludwig became very sad: “Okay, what have I done wrong this time?”

I couldn't answer him. My mind was blank again. So, we lay there silently side-by-side for a long time. My thoughts became darker and darker, but I couldn't give a clear rational explanation of what was going on. And I was deeply scared of saying a wrong word, scared of loosing my partner when telling him about my fears and doubts, but also scared of lying to him when trying to downplay my state of mind. After a while I managed to talk about my fears about the future and how they dominated and scared me and made it nearly impossible to think clearly and to know what I felt. When Ludwig asked me whether I still loved and wanted him, I broke down, repeating again and again that I didn't want to loose him.

Ludwig held me and calmed me down and now I really felt the catharsis of having let it all out. And there was indeed also pleasure a bit later for both of us, mine including a few strokes with the riding crop which I appreciated very much.

Of course strong (and not completely unfound) fears about the future aren't something that can be solved in one day. It takes time to see where they really come from, what they tell us (because fears are a good alarm system that tells us a lot about our needs) and what course of action they imply. I had a light bulb moment a few days ago and now understand a bit better what is going on with me. That doesn't mean that (Ludwig and) I have a solution, yet, but at least the whole situation isn't so scary any more for the INTJ-me. I just wished I would already have been able to communicate my state of mind better during the spanking because then the scene might have turned out differently.