Monday, January 21, 2013

Freedom of Choice

A few days ago, I had a very strange dream. I was going to school again. The school didn't look anywhere like the real schools I went to, though, and I was still the person I am today with all my experiences and knowledge. But the strangest thing was the sports test which awaited me at that school. It consisted of a 15 strokes caning which one had to endure with a peeled rattan cane! Each stroke one took led to a better final mark.

Now, in a way one could say that this must be a dream scenario for me. An at least semi-consensual scene (one could of course refuse to take a single stroke and instead accept a bad mark), and not about punishment but about endurance and bravery. My mind didn't process the scenario like a kinky fantasy, though. Instead, it felt to me like a real vanilla incident. There was no real action in this dream, either. I just saw the cane lying there and contemplated what to do.

I wasn't always good at sports, even though I tried very hard. So, my first thought was of course that I had to take all 15 strokes in order to get a good mark. Besides, I had done much more challenging 50 stroke canings. And I couldn't let my vanilla classmates beat me in my very personal discipline, in my personal lifestyle. The first strokes couldn't be so severe, anyway, I thought - after all, they had to assume that the recipients had never been caned before.

Despite of all these motivating thoughts, however, I was scared. This was nothing I really wanted to do. I had to do it in order to avoid a bad mark and the feeling of having screwed it all up. Theoretically I had a choice, but not accepting the caning would have had negative consequences. I knew that I would do it because the consequences of not doing it seemed worse than the potential negative experience which the caning could bring. I also knew that I might not stop it, even if the experience should turn out worse than I thought. Because giving in would have made me feel worse than pushing myself through the negative experience. Knowing that I might not respect my limits because of the pressure that was put upon me from my environment and, even more, the pressure I put on myself made the situation even more scary.

Of course my dream wasn't realistic at all, but it reminded me of some situations which we can come across in the kinky community where the question of whether one is really giving one's free consent is more complex than it might look like at first sight. Situations in which we theoretically have the freedom of choice, but social or personal pressure does make saying no difficult because there might be negative consequences with that decision.

Let me just mention a few examples to illustrate what I am talking about. Probably the most common situation is when someone is asked to play at a spanking party, but doesn't really want to, for instance because of having played so much already and being tired or maybe because he or she doesn't feel completely comfortable with the person who is asking or with the kind of play that person prefers or maybe just because not being in the right mood for play right at that moment. How easy is it to say no in such a situation? Especially if the person in question isn't any kind of weirdo, but maybe a very nice person whom one likes on a personal level and whom it has taken a lot of courage to ask that question.

Or how about a play situation in a group of friends, during which one of them suddenly realizes that this isn't going in the right direction and starts feeling bad while the others seem to be enjoying the scene a lot. Adele once wrote about that topic in the context of using safewords. Who would really plug up the courage to safeword in such a situation and potentially ruin the scene for their friends? Joining a spontaneous scene at a party and suddenly realizing that a person one doesn't want to play with is joining in as well could be another critical situation.

Situations like that can not only occur at parties or during scenes with friends, though. They can also happen in relationships. The situation one can most easily think of is when one partner is in the mood for kinky play and the other is not. Or when one partner realizes during a scene that he or she doesn't feel good with how the scene turns out. There is another example, though, about which I have been thinking for quite a while now. I am planning to discuss the following example in more detail in a separate post one day, but I want to give it a short mention here because in my opinion it fits very well.

When I read M/F domestic discipline blogs, what strikes me is that it often seems to be the women who come up with the idea of establishing a head of household. They often seem to be the ones who tell their husbands that they need a strong leader and want them to take over. Now, Ludwig has been in the role of a mentor with a kinky friend once for only about half a year and he told me that having to be in control all the time was eating up all his energy after a while. Which fits to my observation that there are lots of complaints by women living in M/F domestic discipline relationships about their husbands not managing to keep up the role of the always-in-control head of household all the time and not being consistent and consequent in their behaviour. Now, my opinion is that no one can be a leader 24/7 without suffering from burn-out sooner or later. Still, many men seem to accept becoming the head of household at their wives' request, even though that position seems to cost them a lot of energy. The question that comes up then, is, how big is their freedom of choice here really? I mean, which husband who truly loves his wife would refuse to help her when she tells him that she needs him to take over (often in order to save their relationship)? Especially since many women in M/F domestic discipline relationships admit to losing their respect for their husbands when they don't act like the head of household, a role which in several people's opinion is a "natural" or maybe even "God-given" one. In my view, this puts a huge social pressure on men to accept this role, even if they wouldn't have chosen it on their own.

And last but not least, there is of course the professional spanking and film-making business. How about a model who absolutely isn't in the right mood for a certain scene at the day of a shoot? Or a professional spanker or spankee who has a session with a client and finds out that she (or he) absolutely doesn't feel comfortable with that client? At which point does one cancel a professional contract?

I guess one can think of many more possible examples. My dream was very realistic in one way. I am very scared of getting into a situation kink-wise where I don't really feel up to a certain kind of play or experience, but can't easily say no. That's why I, for instance, generally inform people in advance that I usually don't play with anyone except Ludwig at parties. That way I can take my time without disappointing anyone's expectations. And on the rare occasions where I am in the mood for a group play, I can still join in later if the others are okay with that. The fear of having to do something kink-related which isn't my cup of tea or without being in the right mood also affects my video-making. It is one of the reasons why I could never become a paid spanking model and why it is very important for me to talk about all scenes and limits in advance on the rare occasions in which I participate in making planned spanking clips that are more than just private fun clips featuring Ludwig and myself only.

How about you? Is freedom of choice as important for you as it is for me when it comes to spanking and kinky experiences? And have you been in a situation where it was difficult for you to say no? I am curious to hear about your opinions and experiences!


Anonymous said...

Yes. I have been in these situations. A couple of times my bum was sooo sore after multiple scenes that I did not want to play, but I was asked to bottom for some of my favorite tops so I submitted to the spankings. I know friends who have done the same or played with people to be nice and then regretted their decision.

I have been in leadership roles my entire life and they do take a lot of energy.

Very insightful post,


Our Bottoms Burn said...

....Ludwig has been in the role of a mentor with a kinky friend once for only about half a year and he told me that having to be in control all the time was eating up all his energy after a while.

Been there. I did not learn the first or second time. I finally realized it was not me, but them. They were always testing to see if I would let them get by with something, anything. A free ride might led to a temper tantrum. I do not want to be around anyone who needs 24/7 supervision. That is for two year olds.

Lea said...

I can imagine a lot of pressure is on those in the HoH type roles. It certainly isn't something that's for me.

I'm often a doormat and really bad at saying no. There are times I've been worn out, tired, or just not feeling it with a certain person but said yes anyway because I'd rather just play briefly then say no and feel bad.

Anastasia Vitsky said...

We've talked about this before, Kaelah, and it's absolutely true that the HoH role can be much less about "power" and much more about the daily, exhausting, monotonous and tedious grind of having to remind someone to brush her teeth, take a shower, make the bed, get off the computer, put the wet towel on the towel rack, etc. etc. At some level it can become an abdication of responsibility (for the partner) rather than a deepening of the relationship.

At the same time, of course there are plenty of options for the HoH to abuse the position.

Kaelah said...

@ Joey:
I can imagine how difficult it is to say no when friends ask for a scene at a party. Especially if one hasn't played with each other at said party, yet. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

@ Our Bottoms Burn:
I think I wasn't aware that you have been in relationships which were overburdening like that! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I couldn't deal with having to supervise someone 24/7, either. Of course I care for my partner and try to help in difficult situations (just like Ludwig does for me), but I wouldn't want to have a partner who permanently tests my strength and my reactions just to see whether I am still able to take charge. That would be disrespectful in my view and it would cost me too much energy.

@ Lea:
Thank you for sharing your experiences! Saying no is indeed not easy. But to me the idea of making a bad experience during kinky play is very horrible, even more horrible than the idea that someone might not like me because I refuse to participate in a scene or because I stop a scene. So I guess the fear of making a bad experience keeps me from saying yes when my gut feeling tells me that I should say no.

@ Ana:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject! You are of course right, those who are in the leading position can abuse their power as well. No matter who crosses a personal line, why and how, in my view it is very important to trust one's gut feeling and openly say that something is beyond one's personal limits. But I think the different examples which I mentioned in my post and the experiences shared by the other commenters show that this is not always easy because we usually don't want to upset or even hurt others. I guess this is even more true in a love relationship, especially when someone has agreed to a certain power dynamics in the first place.