Monday, June 30, 2014

Kaelah's Corner (Jun 2014):
Ich Tu Dir Weh (I Hurt You)

In his post Discussion: Consent and Its Limits and his follow-up post My Views on Consent and Its Limits, Ludwig discussed whether it is morally acceptable that an adult consents to an activity like BDSM that causes injuries and where the limits of that consent should be drawn. At first, I wanted to write about my own views on that topic in a comment, but then I realised that the comment got too long and that it focussed on a certain aspect which wasn't the main theme of the original posts. So I decided to write about my thoughts in a separate post instead.

My personal view on consent and its limits in BDSM resembles Ludwig's, so I haven't much too add in that regard. The topics of consent, informed consent and subliminal pressure have already been discussed at length. But the case of the Rothenburg cannibal which Ludwig used to outline the moral questions made me think about my moral views on acts that cause or are likely to cause damage to a person and the role of the motivation of those involved. That's what I would like to write about in this post.

The act

The first question I asked myself when I thought about the case of the Rothenburg cannibal Meiwes was whether I find it generally immoral that one person takes another person's life with their consent. For me, the answer is no. For instance, I am in favour of assisted suicide in case of severe diseases which cause a person lots of suffering. In my opinion, people should have the right to decide when to end their lives in such situations. Consequently, I wouldn't consider assisting someone in such a situation immoral. The same goes, for instance, when women who have a very high genetic risk of breast cancer decide to have their breasts preventively amputated. While there is no actual need at the time of the amputation to do it, I am of the opinion that it is the woman's right to decide whether she wants to live with that life threatening risk or not. So, the act of amputation or assisting someone in their wish to commit suicide obviously is not where I generally draw the line. There must be an additional factor in the Rothenburg case which makes me feel that it is morally wrong (apart from the question whether the victim Brandes was sane enough to give his consent to this act).

The motivation

What distinguishes the Rothenburg case from the examples I mentioned above is the motivation. Brandes didn't suffer from any terminal or life threatening disease. He simply wanted to die, most probably as a result of a psychological disorder. What I would like to focus on today, though, is Meiwes's motivation. In the cases mentioned above, the doctor assisting with the suicide or amputating a woman's breast (hopefully) has their patient's well-being on his mind. The Rothenburg cannibal, on the other hand, committed the acts for his own pleasure. Brandes was merely his willing victim.

Now that's the part which brings the connection to BDSM. A top usually also derives pleasure from the consensual act that involves hurting another person. Martial arts fights might not be that different. Here the pleasure is not sexual but comes from the thrill of engaging in an athletic competition. The activity also includes the infliction physical pain, though, and in my opinion handling that pain and maybe also inflicting it is part of the thrill.

Pleasure is an acceptable motivation for me in both cases, no matter whether it is sexual pleasure or non-sexual pleasure. But with pleasure being the main motivation, I draw a different line when it comes to the question whether a consensual act is moral or immoral. In that case, I draw the line at the point already mentioned by other commenters, namely at the point where permanent damage is caused intentionally.

Permanent damage in the definition I use here means that a person has permanent health issues (a tattoo isn't a permanent damage according to this definition, cutting off a finger is). The word "intentionally" is important here, too. Martial arts fights, BDSM activities, even crossing the street are all actions which involve the risk of suffering permanent damage in case of an accident. But the important thing is that it is not the intention of the participants to cause any permanent damage. And in my opinion acts like sports fights and BDSM are only morally okay as long as the participants make sure that the risk of accidental damage isn't higher than necessary. Of course, this isn't a 100 per cent sharp definition, but I will try to explain it with an example.

As you might know, I don't have any moral problems with severe canings (using BDSM canes which aren't heavy enough to cause any permanent scars). I've done them myself and I can attest that, while causing longer-lasting marks, severe canings don't cause any permanent damage. But of course there is, for instance, a certain risk of causing real damage when accidentally hitting the kidneys full force. That's why I find it morally questionable when a top who hasn't enough experience and practice to wield a cane at least fairly accurately exposes a bottom to the risk of accidental harm through mishits. Of course, hitting totally accurately is difficult when it comes to full-force canings, but with enough practice the chance of being as far off from the target area as the kidneys is very small. Without proper experience, concentration and care, the risk becomes unnecessarily high, though.

A personal emotional rule

Apart from the moral question it came to me that this is a topic which also affects me emotionally, especially from a bottom's point of view. I realised that I've got the following emotional rule in my head: the more severe (mentally or physically) a scene is, the more important it is for me that the scene is based on the bottom's wish to try it and the more focussed should the top be on the bottom's well-being up to a point at which they focus more on the bottom than on their own pleasure - at least during the scene.

I am aware that this isn't a valid moral judgement, it's an emotional judgement which reflects my personal limits. Some people surely love to do edgy scenes wholly for the pleasure of their tops (because that idea actually gives them a lot of pleasure, if not during the scene then at least afterwards). And some bottoms might argue that they would never want to do an edgy scene knowing that the top doesn't fully enjoy it. But for me, the rule mentioned above is an important one which I need in order to feel safe.

There are several occasions in which this rule became important in Ludwig's and my play. Especially when we played for the very first time, when I decided to do my first very severe caning and when we filmed my severe caning scene for Dreams of Spanking. All three times, Ludwig was mainly focussed on my well-being and put his personal pleasure aside. He didn't only do that for me, though. If you read his accounts of his shoots for Mood Pictures and Lupus Pictures carefully, it will become very obvious that getting the scene right and hitting accurately was Ludwig's main focus. The feeling of pleasure was something he allowed himself afterwards, when the scene was over.

I think I've become a bit more relaxed about edgy scenes and tops focussing on their own pleasure over time. Having gained more experience and also switched sides, I came to realise that this isn't a binary thing. One can have fun as a top and still focus on the bottom's well-being. One can also talk about one's fantasies as a top and hope that the bottom might be up for it, even when it is not their core fantasy. Of course only as long as one doesn't put any subliminal pressure on the bottom to do things they aren't comfortable with. Still, the basic rule in my head hasn't changed. I am okay with fulfilling someone else's (and especially my mate's) fantasy, but the edgier the fantasy is and the more physical damage is caused, the more it must be a scenario that I enjoy as well and the more focus on my well-being I expect from the top during the scene.

How about you? I would love to hear about your thoughts in the comment section!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kinky Japan Part 3:
Spanked in a Bath Robe

In the second part of our kinky Japan tales I told you about my naughty adventures in the onsen at one of our hotels. The hotel didn't only have a beautiful onsen, though, they also provided their guests with wonderful looking yukata (Japanese bath robes).

And so Ludwig and I couldn't resist having a little spanking session wearing them. I mean, what could be better after a hot bath than an even hotter spanking?
And since that's what naughty girls deserve (in contrast to nice girls who always stick to the rules and finally die of boredom one day), it didn't strike someone innocent. Of course my bottom wasn't covered by the beautiful fabric for too long.

And so I ended up with a nicely warm and red bottom. A good precondition for a good night's sleep!

By the way, if you want some kinky fun, too, you still have a little time left to participate in our football bet (the deadline for making a bet is Sunday the 22nd 23:59:59 German time). It would be great to have some more people play along!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Got Balls?

4:0! Yes folks, it is once again time for the Football World Championship. Since Germans love football, this means an almost non-stop party here during the upcoming weeks. I felt in the mood to increase the fun even a bit more and therefore decided to re-use an old idea: Increasing the suspense by offering a bet!

As the long-time readers among you know, this isn't the first football bet on this blog. The last one between Niki Flynn and Ludwig didn't end well for the mad king. At least he got to spank Niki with the German flag in return.

This time I would love to make a bet with you, the readers. Which means, not only I have to offer a wager, you have to offer one, too, in case you want to join.

The rules are as follows: The bet will be on the results of the last 16 games of the group stage, on the four semifinal participants and of course the new World Champion. You will get one point for each correct guess of the winning team of one of the games (Team A, Team B or draw), two more points if you predicted the correct number of goals for each team, two points for each correct final four participant and finally four more points if you guessed the new World Champion right. That makes a total number of 60 possible points – which I think fits a spanking blog very well.

To participate just fill in the sheet below and post your guesses in the comment section. In order to play, you have to post the comment under a nickname, so that it is possible for me to reference to the participants when I publish the ranking. And you have to tell us about your personal wager and the stipulations under which you offer it.

Netherlands vs Chile:
Australia vs Spain:
Cameroon vs Brazil:
Croatia vs Mexico:
Italy vs Uruguay:
Costa Rica vs England:
Japan vs Colombia:
Greece vs Côte d'Ivoire:
Nigeria vs Argentina:
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Iran:
Honduras vs Switzerland:
Ecuador vs France:
Portugal vs Ghana:
USA vs Germany:
Korea Republic vs Belgium:
Algeria vs Russia:

Final Four Teams:

World Champion:

My wager:

You can come up with your very personal ideas, but the wager should of course be somehow related to our kink and to this bet. For instance, you could offer to take a spanking from a play partner should you fail to reach a certain number of points / end up lower than me in the final ranking list / … Or you might offer to write a spanking- and football-related poem or whatever creative wager you might come up with.

Here are my guesses:

Netherlands vs Chile: 2 : 1
Australia vs Spain: 0 : 3
Cameroon vs Brazil: 1 : 4
Croatia vs Mexico: 2 : 1
Italy vs Uruguay: 3 : 0
Costa Rica vs England: 1 : 3
Japan vs Colombia: 1 : 2
Greece vs Côte d'Ivoire: 1 : 3
Nigeria vs Argentina: 0 : 3
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Iran: 1 : 0
Honduras vs Switzerland: 0 : 2
Ecuador vs France: 1 : 3
Portugal vs Ghana: 3 : 0
USA vs Germany: 0 : 4
Korea Republic vs Belgium: 1 : 1
Algeria vs Russia: 0 : 1

Final Four Teams: Brazil, Netherlands, Argentina, Germany

World Champion: Germany

My wager: I will take a spanking from Ludwig, with one hand smack for each point I end up short of 60, plus one cane stroke for each competitor who ends up higher in the final ranking list than me. You will get to read a report about the scene including pictures. If more than 20 people participate, you will even get a video (this time a very simple one with just one camera, so that the editing won't take too long).

So, got the balls to join? You can make your guesses until Sunday the 22nd 23:59:59 German time. I hope for many participants and lots of fun with lively discussions about the current ranking. Let the games begin!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Views on Consent and Its Limits

In January, I encouraged a discussion about consent and its limits. Six months later, it is high time for me to give a summary of the contributions and my own views on the matter. I had not planned on the interval being that long. If we have another such discussion, hopefully I will have the time and inspiration for a follow-up post sooner.

To quickly recap the topic of discussion: the phrase "safe, sane and consensual" is often used in our community to sum up the principles guiding responsible BDSM play. Obviously, for any sexual activity to be morally acceptable, it must be consensual. Consent is what separates sex from rape and BDSM from violent assault. So my question was, what are the necessary conditions that must be fulfilled for us to be able to say that an action was consensual? Is it simply a matter of two people saying "Yes, sure, let's do this!", or do other requirements have to be met as well? Is anyone able to give consent to engage in BDSM activities, or are there groups of people who cannot give consent in the way that is necessary? Furthermore, I raised the example of the infamous "cannibal of Rothenburg" case to illustrate that some extreme actions, like mutilation or killing, should probably be deemed immoral even though they were consensual. So where should we draw the line?

At the time, I did not elaborate on my on views on these questions because I did not want to prejudice you ahead of the discussion. I will talk about them now.

First off, can anyone give consent to engage in BDSM activities? Quite clearly, the answer is no. Children, for instance, are one obvious and important example of a group of people who can not. Children do not have the physical maturity, the emotional maturity or the life experience to consent to a sexual action the way adults can, which is why we have the age of consent. Any sexual action, including BDSM, between an adult and a minor who is below the age of consent is considered immoral for good reason, and is indeed one of the strongest taboos in our culture. Other groups of people who can not give consent to BDSM activities the way an average adult can include those who are mentally handicapped in such a way that their consent can not be taken at face value. Potential causes and examples are too numerous to discuss here, and some individual ones might be incredibly complex in a legal and philosophical sense. But to cut a long story short: if you are an adult who is, for whatever reason, not considered capable of entering legally binding contracts, then you (very probably) don't meet the prerequisites for consenting to BDSM activities, either.

So if you are an adult capable of entering legally binding contracts, and you say "Yes, sure, let's do this!", is that in itself valid consent to a BDSM activity? Again, the answer is obviously no. In order for the consent to be valid, it has to be informed. The question of what, exactly, constitutes "informed" consent is a matter of some complexity. In a BDSM context, I have often seen it raised on forums in regards to severe caning videos like the ones made by producers like Lupus Pictures. Do these models really know what they are getting themselves into? Can anyone ever really consent to such a hard beating, given that they don't know exactly how it is going to be?

The answer is yes and yes. Obviously, you do not need to know in advance exactly how an action is going to feel to you. Otherwise, barring clairvoyance, no one could ever consent to doing anything for the first time. You simply have to have a reasonably clear and accurate idea of what is going to happen and what the risks are. For instance, if I were to consent to a Lupus-style caning in the belief that it really doesn't hurt much at all and that the marks go away within two days, that would not be informed consent because my belief is obviously wrong. If, on the other hand, I would consent to such a caning believing that it hurts a lot and that the marks it produces can take months to disappear, then that is an accurate belief. Having seen a video of such a scene, the velocity of the cane, the reactions of the spankee and so on, might also help me to give consent which we would deem informed.

Finally, there are some actions so extreme that it is intuitively very clear that we should consider them immoral even when they are consensual. The mutilation or killing of a person, as in the "cannibal of Rothenburg" case, is such an example. I do not believe that the consensual killing of a person is always wrong - I believe that euthanasia to shorten the suffering of a terminally ill person is moral, under very specific and strict circumstances, and this in itself is a highly complex issue. But in a BDSM context, we will all agree that the killing of a person is always immoral. What about other, non-fatal injuries, then? Where should we draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not in BDSM?

Some people in the spanking community set the moral limit at drawing blood with a caning or whipping. I myself do not. While I do not play at such a high level of severity very often or suggest that people do it regularly, I do not think we should consider it immoral. As long as people act responsibly (paying attention to hygiene, bandaging the welts etc.), such scenes are less injurious and risky than any number of "rough sports" like boxing or rugby. If we do not consider boxing or rugby immoral, then we should accept canings and whippings even when they draw some blood.

I have said many times on this blog and elsewhere that I draw the line at activities that cause permanent damage. That is still true for most such activities. However, after thinking about it in more depth, I do not believe that we should regard all BDSM activities that cause permanent damage as immoral. Take, for instance, the case of a bottom in a BDSM relationship who wants a branding scar from his (or her) top. While this holds no appeal for me whatsoever, there are some kinksters who find it incredibly hot and for whom it is the ultimate fantasy of showing one's love and affection. I believe that if people genuinely want to do this, have thought about it long and hard and act responsibly to minimize the health risks, then giving someone a scar should be considered morally acceptable. In a way, it is not very different from getting a tattoo, which is also a permanent alteration of the skin (usually bigger in size than a BDSM branding scar would be).

If causing permanent damage is not a clear-cut line between what is acceptable and what is not in BDSM, where else could we draw this line? My view is that we should draw it at permanent disabling damage. That is, permanent damage that hinders you in some significant way. A scar is permanent, but does not really prevent you from doing anything. By contrast, cutting off a person's little finger will make various activities impossible for that person, like playing the piano in a way a person with ten fingers could. Hence, cutting off a person's finger should be considered immoral even when it is consensual. Of course, the question of what, exactly, constitutes "disabling" damage and where we draw the line between it and "non-disabling" damage will not always be easy to answer. There will be cases that straddle the line. But as a general rule, the rule to not cause permanent disabling damage is, I believe, a very clear and morally plausible one.

That, in a nutshell, is my personal view on consent and its limits in BDSM. Interestingly, even though I arrived at it independently, it turns out to be very similar to what German law has to say about consensual injury. In German law, causing an injury is legal when it is consensal and does not violate the so-called "good mores". What, exactly, constitutes "good mores" is a matter of interpretation, but past rulings from German courts have made it clear that you would have to do something pretty drastic, like cutting off a finger or injuring a person in a life-threatening manner, in order for the action to become illegal. The usual BDSM activities, including hard canings and whippings, do not violate the "good mores".

Your comments to the discussion post raised other issues, some of them very interesting. I originally wanted to cover them here as well, but do not want to make the post even longer than it already is. Instead, I put my answers to the points you raised in a comment under the original post. And I would like to give a thank you to all of you who contributed. It was an interesting discussion, and hopefully, we will do it again sometime.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kinky Japan Part 2:
The Onsen

This is the second part of our new series of posts telling you about our kinky experiences in Japan. In one of our hotels there was an onsen. Or, actually, two onsens, one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen. Onsens are very famous and popular in Japan, with their hot water inviting people to relax after a busy day. I love hot baths and so this was right up my alley. It was lovely to enjoy the hot water while taking a look over the city in the evening when it was already dark outside.

Of cause the beautiful scenery brought up naughty thoughts as well. As you know, I love to shoot kinky pictures at special places which often happen to be public or at least semi-public. So, after having seen how beautiful the onsen was, I decided to take my camera with me the next time in the hope that I would have a few minutes alone to take some naughty photos.

And, as you can see, I was indeed lucky. I took a few shots using the timer of my camera, always checking in between that there was no one coming. Well, it seems I am a bit of an adrenalin junkie (or maybe just a bad girl ;-) ). But let's face it, the outcome was worth taking the risk, don't you think?

Oh, and there was some lovely aftermath, too. But that's a story for another post.