Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kaelah's Corner (Jun 2013):
Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

("I want it naughty." Advertisement for safer sex.
Taken from

There is a great advertisement in Germany at the moment for safer sex which caught both Ludwig's and my attention. Each poster shows another person who makes a statement about how they want their sex to be. The wonderful thing is that what they say is very different from what one might expect judging by their looks. For instance, there is the punk girl who wants it to be classical. And the body-builder with tattoos who wants tender sex. Finally there is the business guy who likes it naughty.

As spankos, I think we are all aware that one usually doesn't tell kinky people by their outward appearance. We don't look "naughty". Quite the contrary, a lot of the fellow kinksters whom I had the pleasure to meet in person are rather shy and not very unconventional in their day-to-day lives.

But I ask myself, are we really aware of this simple fact, that outward appearance and the first glance don't say all that much about what is behind the curtain when we meet other people in our day-to-day-lives? I don't think I am. That's why the advertisement is so effective.

And, what's more interesting: Are we really aware what is behind our own curtain? Do we know what we want and need? There was a time in my life when I didn't know much about myself and my needs. It was more important for me that I functioned properly than to be in contact with myself and take care of my needs. That has changed a lot. But sometimes I still need a reminder to take a break and listen to myself.

I guess for some kinksters it is already very difficult to admit to themselves that they are kinky and that they want their sex to be "naughty" or "painful" or "dominant" or whatever. For many it is even more difficult to tell others about their needs. It comes with the risk that the others don't understand it and that the picture they once had is shattered.

Luckily, I never had much of a problem with my kink. Once I started exploring the kinky community, I also talked about my kink with lots of people. Maybe my friends are already used to the fact that what I do doesn't always fit into the picture that one might have had at first sight. When I was a teenager, I started watching professional wrestling. Later, I began listening to punk music and heavy metal. Then I thought about becoming a single mother by choice. And finally, I started a kinky relationship with that great guy whom I had met online.

I have learned that my family and my friends take me and like me as I am. That's quite easy for me, too, when it comes to kink. There are other parts of me, though, which are much more difficult to accept and come to terms with. Because not all of my traits are nice and loveable. Some can make my own life miserable. And, what's much worse, some can hurt the people I love. Still I know that it would be wrong to ignore or hate those parts. Of course it is good to work on those traits which can make my life and the lives of those around me miserable. Still, I think I also have to accept and honour the traits I am not always happy with, for they are a part of who I am. I am not sure whether we are able to really be compassionate with others if we aren't compassionate with ourselves.

I think it is important to keep in mind, that it is not one single aspect that defines us. I am not only kinky. I am not only a business woman. I am not only a family person. I am not only the structured thinker and organizer. I am not only an emotional and fearful person. I am not only a grumpy dachshund. I am all of that and much more. And I think it is the mixture that makes us all so special and so interesting. The business guy who wants conventional sex and never takes a risk in his life would be boring. The body-builder who doesn't also show his sensitive side from time to time would be very one-dimensional. It's the sum of all of our parts that makes us special, including those we aren't so happy about. The same is true for the people around us.

Let's hope that we all know how to treat ourselves and the others with respect, compassion and loving kindness. Not only the nice parts, but also the naughty ones.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Lost Bag

A while ago, Ludwig and I were travelling by train, carrying backpacks with us. We arrived at our destination in the evening, took a brief look at the local map outside of the train station and walked to our hotel. About 25 minutes later we arrived, checked in at the front desk and finally entered our room. It was small but nice and I decided to take some pictures first before everything would be occupied by our stuff.

I tried to get our luggage out of sight when I suddenly realised that I didn't see my backpack anywhere. Ludwig and I both searched the room but couldn't find it. I figured that I must have forgotten it at the front desk. So we quickly went downstairs again. But my bag wasn't lying anywhere at the front desk. We asked the staff whether they had seen it and maybe put it away. But they hadn't seen my bag, either.

At that point I began to sweat. Obviously, I had lost my bag somewhere on the way! Fortunately, my money and my passport weren't in the backpack, but my notebook was. So there was only one thing we could do – make our way back to the train station as quickly as possible. As we rushed through the dark streets, we figured that there were only two possible places where I could have forgotten my bag. Either on the train where I had put it on a chair while we were waiting for the train to stop and the doors to open. Or next to the map in front of the train station.

Both possibilities didn't sound too good. The final destination of the train we had arrived with was quite a long distance from the city where we were staying. And if the bag was standing near the big city map – well, then it had been there for more than one hour already. Maybe someone had taken it, maybe the police had been alarmed because of the unattended luggage. I quickened my steps even more on the last part of the way, turned around the corner in front of the station to the place were the big map was – and there stood my backpack, looking very forlorn. I took a closer look and quickly confirmed that nothing was missing. Both Ludwig and I were tremendously relieved! That was the best possible outcome.

We took the bag and, for the second time that evening, walked in the direction of our hotel. Much slower than we had rushed back to the station. I was still totally shocked that this had happened to me, because I am normally such a well-organised and cautious person. I also felt a bit guilty because, in a first reflex, I had told Ludwig that I might have forgotten the bag in the train because I had to put it onto another chair in order to let him take out his luggage. So, in a way, I had falsely accused him of being partly responsible for the incident.

Suddenly, a thought popped up in my head: What good luck that Ludwig and I didn't do any real-life discipline. If we did, I would have been in for a severe spanking in addition to the shock that I had already experienced. I told Ludwig about my thought and he admitted that he had fantasised about a spanking, too. On that evening, there was no spanking at all, though, because we were tired and just relieved that the incident was solved and everything had turned out so well.

But of course, Ludwig teased me about the incident, because usually I am the one who reminds him not to forget this or that, to carefully check everything and to be cautious. And in a way, I found the incident too good to pass by for a spanking scenario. Especially because I knew that Ludwig enjoys integrating real-life events into playful kinky scenarios.

The opportunity arose a while later. Ludwig and I had already engaged in some fun activities that evening, but I longed for a formal little naval scene to conclude the day. So, when Ludwig was in the bathroom, I looked for a suitable implement. What I found was a plastic shoehorn, a pervertible implement one often finds in hotel rooms. Ludwig was a bit surprised when he came back and saw the shoehorn lying on the bed. I explained to him that I would love to get a bedtime spanking as an errant male naval cadet who had – surprise, surprise – almost lost an important bag during shore leave.

Ludwig was game and went into the character of a senior navy officer. He lectured me, telling me that he couldn't accept mishaps like that, especially not from promising cadets. I was told to drop the trousers of my PJ and my underpants and to bend over the bed. I followed the instruction and got into position. Ludwig took aim with the shoehorn and ordered me to count the strokes. I confirmed his order with a proper “Yes, Sir.” Ludwig drew back his weapon and soon the first stroke hit target. The shoehorn packed quite a sting but wasn't unbearable. Actually, the kind of pain it produced was rather lovely. I dutifully counted the stroke, of course followed by the mandatory “Sir”. One by one eleven more strokes hit target. Then I was allowed to get up and rearrange my clothes.

It was just a very spontaneous and small scene, but I liked it very much nonetheless. This was the very first time Ludwig and I did an M/M scenario (sort of!) and I definitely would love to go there more often. On that day, we simply went to bed, though, and I fell asleep to some lovely kinky naval fantasies. So the lost bag didn't only cause a huge amount of stress, it finally had a positive effect as well. Of course, some events in our lives are plainly horrible, but for the little troubles that can bother us at times, too – I guess it's up to us what to make of them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Darker Dreams

 As Ludwig already told you in his post Too Severe for CCBill, Pandora was forced to delete several clips from her site Dreams of Spanking by the company processing the payments. Among them was Ludwig's and my scene The Final Test because the action was deemed too severe.

As I already wrote in a comment on Pandora's blog, the news brought up different kinds of thoughts for me. Of course, I feel sorry for Pandora. Not only did she have to delete three scenes entirely, she was also forced to reedit several of her clip descriptions and posts which surely did not only cause frustration, but also meant a lot of additional work. But, like Ludwig, I find it kind of cool that someone deems something which I, personified Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, have done worth censoring. Especially taking into account that neither Ludwig’s film for Mood nor the one for Lupus was censored. Instead, our clip for the "notorious" producer Pandora Blake and her site Dreams of Spanking was…

And now, Pandora has made good on her announcement. She has published the deleted scenes on her new site Darker Dreams where you can watch them – for free! So, if you haven't seen The Pirates of the Jolly Kraken, The Avenger and The Final Test yet, this is your chance. If you like them, you might want to subscribe to Pandora's site Dreams of Spanking and watch the rest of her clips as well, or maybe make a small donation.

I very much like the name of Pandora's new site. I've had lots of very dark dreams recently. But in contrast to those ones, Pandora's darker dreams are fun. I hope you will enjoy them, too.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two Texts on BDSM and Psychiatry

I am hard pressed for time this week and did not know whether I would be able to write a post. But as luck would have it, I found two interesting texts I can reference.

I was reading an online discussion about ethics that started out completely unrelated to BDSM, but then had someone bringing in BDSM as a topic of ethics. Some people propagated the usual ignorance, equating BDSM to violence and claiming that anyone who is into "such crap" must have had a traumatic experience during childhood. One participant in the debate, who was apparently kinky himself, kindly pointed out that this is utter nonsense. I did not get involved myself. The discussion was several years old already, and even if it had been current, I tend to not waste my time with such matters anymore.

However, in reading through that discussion, I found two interesting texsts on BDSM and psychiatry. One is Psychology & BDSM: Pathology or Individual Difference? by Margaret Nichols, a psychologist and fellow kinkster, who delves into the history of psychotherapy and sexual minorities:

In the area of sexuality, psychology has been particularly harsh and justified particularly brutal treatments for those considered "sexual deviants." Through the first half of the twentieth century, girls who had "excessive sex drive", e.g. masturbated regularly, were considered abnormal and might be subjected to clitoridectomies; until the 1970s gay people could be committed to mental institutions by parents; and even today electro-shock aversion therapy and so-called "chemical castration" are considered acceptable psychiatric interventions for sexual paraphilias - among which are included Fetishism, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestic Fetishism, and other practices near and dear to some of us.

Why does psychiatry even concern itself with sexual behavior that is consensual and adult? Why label any such behavior "sick"? Urban anthropologist and founding LSM member Dr. Gayle Rubin has described the way society views sex by classifying sexual behavior as part of the "Charmed Circle of Sex" versus the "Outer Limits". Basically, society likes sex to be straight, married, monogamous, private, not-forhire, procreative, and vanilla. Some BDSMers manage to violate each and every one of those proscriptions - sometimes all at once! According to Rubin, society does its best to eradicate or suppress behavior on the "outer limits". We do this in several ways, including social and religious disapproval, legislation around sexuality, and classifying behavior as psychologically "sick" versus "healthy". Enter the role of psychiatry.

Mental health theories have changed. Masturbation is okay; women can be sexual; even homosexuality is no longer a mental illness. But psychiatry still pathologizes BDSM, and I maintain that this contributes to shame, secrecy, isolation, and selfloathing within the BDSM community. More concretely, it justifies laws criminalizing S/M behavior, legal decisions to deny child custody to kinky people, and discrimination in job and housing areas. So it’s more important than you think to fight the psychiatric classification of kinky behavior.

Nichols goes on to make a case for why it is unwarranted and harmful to classify an inclination for BDSM and assorted fetishes as "paraphilias", argues that traditional psychological theories of sexuality from Krafft-Ebing to Freud have been "pretty dismal", but still exert influence today, and proposes an alternate view labelled "the paradoxical view of sex", which holds that "there is no reason to consider sexual behavior pathological unless concrete evidence of lifethreatening or similar horrendous harm exists, or unless it is nonconsensual (by definition including children as nonconsensual)".

The other text I wanted to bring to your attention is Bias in Psychotherapy with BDSM Clients and BDSM in Psychotherapy: A Culturally Aware Curriculum by Heather Powers:

Bondage, Discipline, and Sadomasochism (BDSM) is a sexual orientation and behavior often misunderstood by both the psychological community and the public. Although extreme and obsessive BDSM activities may point to a paraphilic diagnosis, the majority of people involved in BDSM are well adjusted, successful and productive members of society. It is important that the mental health community have proper tools for differentiating between paraphilic disorders and healthy sexual diversity. Paper one examines the historical and present experiences of BDSM participants as a stigmatized sexual minority. Paper two addresses twelve clinical guidelines for providing culturally sensitive care to BDSM clients. These guidelines may be used as a three segment class for mental health providers interested in working with BDSM oriented clients.

In Powers' thesis, I found the various surveys and studies she cites of particular interest, and the insight they provide into the variety of people's motivations for BDSM, the variety of BDSM practices and lifestyles, and the fact that an inclination for BDSM does not point towards mental illness, past abuse or difficulty with "normal" sex, as is sometimes assumed. All of which is in accordance with my own experiences and impressions of both my own kink and the kinks of others I have met in the BDSM community.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Too Severe for CCBill

Those of you with a subscription to Pandora Blake's site Dreams of Spanking might have noticed that Kaelah's and my martial arts-themed hard caning scene The Final Test, about which we wrote a detailed behind-the-scenes report here, is no longer available. Pandora's credit card processor CCBill insisted on it being either heavily cut or taken down because they deemed the majority of the caning to be too physically severe. Pandora, having no desire to mutilate a scene into which I and especially Kaelah had poured so much effort, decided to take it down entirely. However, you will get the opportunity to see it again in the future - for free!

The Final Test was not the only video on Pandora's site which came in for CCBill's corporate censorship scissors. Pandora had to edit any reference to "force" out of the texts on the site, changing wordings like “He forces Sebastian to bend over and endure an embarrassing bare bottom spanking” to “Sebastian is obliged to bend over”. Some screengrabs from the video The Captain and the Tavern Wench had to be removed for showing welts that were deemed too severe, and a single droplet of blood had to be photoshopped out of screengrabs of an otherwise pretty moderate birching scene (birches easily break the skin, even when not applied with much force). The videos themselves were allowed to stay. All scenes of swordfights were not allowed to stay, though, because of "weapons pointed at the model". In the comedic nautical romp The Pirates of the Jolly Kraken, the following sequence featuring rubber swords (!) is apparently too risqué for CCBill:

The content we are talking about is perfectly legal in the UK, the US and pretty much every other Western democracy (with the possible exception of the radical feminist nanny state of Iceland). This is simply about CCBill insuring themselves against bad publicity from the Christian right, the pseudo-feminist left and other self-appointed moral guardians. The company's thinking probably goes something like this: "We are going to process payments for porn sites, because they bring in some nice money for us, but at the same time, we have to suppress whatever the prudes might deem too extreme, because we want to keep the prudes' business as well!"

We send our commiserations to Pandora for having to go through this nonsense. Shooting your own content and running your own website is a lot of work at the best of times, and you certainly don't want to spend hours and hours on top of that to revise your site and cater to the whims of your payment processor. Pandora writes:

I am furious that after all my efforts to create a site that shows the enthusiastic consent and ethical production behind the porn I make as clearly, accessibly and transparently as possible, I am still being fucked over. This has nothing to do with the UK extreme porn legislation, and little to do with Visa’s requirements – far more severe sites accept credit cards perfectly happily. This is about CCBill covering their asses, and fuck all my efforts to do things right; every blogpost, every comment from happy performers, every behind the scenes video, all for nothing. They have zero legal standing for refusing to process payments for content that is legal, but they have me and every other producer by the short hairs, and so they get away with it. If you’re rich enough to work for free you can do what you want, but if you’re a self-funded start-up relying on income from sales to keep producing, you are fucked, because you have to do what you’re told or you can’t get paid.

And that is that, really. I can't say that I am furious myself. I'm afraid I am much too cynical, and have been for years, to get even mildly angry anymore at people being ignorant and hypocritical. It is to be expected, especially when sexuality is concerned. You can watch boxing matches in our sports arenas, with two heavyweight fighters pummeling each other to the point of lacerations, concussions and broken bones. Videos of real accidents and mishaps on YouTube, often with the participants going through obvious great pain. Not to mention the countless fictional treatments of murder, kidnapping, armed robbery etc. in movies and TV series. All of this is mainstream entertainment. But when it comes to BDSM activities between consenting adults, a single droplet of blood is suddenly considered an alarming injury, and any story involving even the merest hint of non-consent suddenly becomes morally objectionable. What else is new? On the verge between the industrial age and the information age, our societies still have not developed a grown-up, evidence-based, rational outlook on sexuality, and perhaps they never will.

I can see the funny side of it. Actually, my inner aolescent* who loves to be "evil" is delighted that The Final Test was judged "too severe for CCBill". Free advertising like this has made many a shock rock band great. Kaelah is amused as well that she, personified Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, has done something that someone deems worth censoring. (* I guess I can write "adolescent" here. I would not dream of using such a problematic and easily misinterpreted term on an erotic site using CCBill.)

Oh, and the good news for you is that Pandora is planning to release our scene for free:

I’m going to create a new mini-site – I’ve already bought the domain – and publish [the scenes] there. For free. So these requirements are handed down to CCBill from Visa; all other billing agents are the same? Fuck capitalism: I’ll give it all away. Full length video downloads, image galleries, behind the scenes documentaries, associated writings, everything. Plus the comments, the blog posts, the performer bios, all the surrounding context that demonstrates the ethical production and enthusiastic content that went into the making of those scenes, because without that, it’s not representative of what I’m doing.

Free range porn, released into the wild! It’s an exhilarating, liberating prospect. Free economics: the last line of defence against the capitalist censors. If I’m not charging, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.

"Free range porn"? I like the sound of that.