slave Namaste’s Keynote Beyond Leather

I’m very honored to be the Keynote speaker today –I’d like to Thank Sir Top and slave bonnie for asking me, and to Thank my Master for His permission. This may indeed be the briefest Keynote you have ever heard…LOL

A few weeks ago I was listening to a Jewish elder expound on how Lobsters grow. So for those of you who do not know – when it’s time for a Lobster it leave it’s shell it begins to feel uncomfortable. That discomfort signals the Lobster to grow another shell and shed the old one. As the elder was speaking he brought up the idea that when we as humans are in growth – we like the lobster experience that same discomfort how we RESPOND to the discomfort is what is different. Instead of beginning to grow a new shell and shed the old- we seek out various ways to keep ourselves comfortable in the old space.

We are the only living beings on the planet that do not naturally make space for our own growth.

Growth is challenging. It’s not pretty. It’s raw and tender by turns. It’s terrifying. And yet it is also inevitable. The only alternative to growth is death.

Every month many new people find these beloved shores and every month many of our elders and more seasoned members leave. Our community is in a state of extreme flux. However one thing that we do know is that this discomfort is a sign of growth and it is how we respond to this growth that truly matters.

One of our guiding ideas is to be all candles and no darkness (well maybe a bit of darkness….lol) In the exploration of this I invite you to begin to go one a journey into 7 Principles or candles which – when adopted by the Leather and BDSM communities – can help us to understand and co-exist. The thing about this is in order for these things to be EFFECTIVE they must be applied- not universally – but individually. See its easy to see what someone else should, or could do with these principles. It is much more challenging – but also much more EFFECTIVE to ask the question What does this mean for ME” and “Is there anything here for me” –

 

  1. The world is what you think it is – In Leather!

When I first heard someone tell a new leather person that they could define leather however they wanted to- I was offended – this was not the leather I was taught. This was not he Leather I had grown to love, respect and identify as. When I began to sit with this idea I realized that under it was a deep fear. A fear that the things that I held dear could in some way be diluted or diminished by what others did. I grew past that when I began to understand that it is EACH persons job to speak thier truth. Each elder, each seasoned leather veteran. Each person who represents a sub group, a title, a household – speaking their truth allows those who are new to our fair culture to find the notes that hold the most resonance. For some it’s low protocol for some high. For some it’s traditional and for others progressive. For some power exchange and others stand alone kink. The beauty of this lifestyle lies in the ability of each of us to create our world – or to find our home planet among a constellation of stars – each beautiful in it’s own right.

Our perception is both our observation and our interpretation of what we observe.

 

  1. There are no Limits- In Leather

Think about it. When this first began as a “community” it was hidden, secret, coded. Now kinky things are sold at the mall. High schoolers walk around with collars on and know all about kink (I should know I have raised a number of teens!). You can find books about power exchange right next to the Joy of Sex. No longer relegated to the darkness kink is found right up front at the Sunday matinee. While it is natural for our first inclination to be The Horror!! The Loss!!! When we really think of it – this is all pointing to one thing- there are no limits in Leather. If we as older Leather people can learn anything from TNG we can learn that Leather isn’t the scary specter it once was at least not to vanilla people. Which is a bit of a mind fuck – because rather than us being concerned about scaring the vanillas – it is we who are now being invited to shed our fear – in the form of shedding our limitations. Where have you been hiding? Where have you been afraid to express your truth even in your relationship? Where have you – even in this community – been living a lie? Releasing our limitations is first and foremost about letting go of the hold they have on us- so we can give our new kinklings permission to do the same.

 

  1. Energy Flows where Attention goes- In Leather

Our attention matters- because the things that we pay attention to the most receive that energy and GROW… they can flourish like a bountiful garden or they can swell with infection like a cancer. It all depends on what we are making the center of our attention. When I first came into the community – the center of our attention seemed to be hot sex, sizzling scenes, and finding out where we fit based upon our longings and desires. After all it took us so long and many of us fought so hard to get here. Many of us lost friends, family, church , jobs because of our proclivities – so when we FINALLY got here… our focus was firmly set on what we wanted. Well – the times as they say are a-changing. Now – as I said earlier – it is easy to find and express your kink. You needn’t get the buy in of others or even be a part of the “community” to proclaim your identity on social media, start a group on meet-up, or your very own wordpress website. Heck you can self publish your own manual of kink on Amazon even if you’ve NEVER played. This is a LOT of change in a very short period of time. And with this change comes chaos – and it’s that giant squeaky wheel that gets the oil of our attention and therefore our energy. Many munches are taking the form of a town hall meets PTA meeting. All of the energy is going to discussing, abuse, political activism, who’s oppressing whom, and the latest war of the groups. Now I’m not saying these things aren’t important. They are – however we would do well to take time to do a self check to see how much of your attention is going to the negative elements as opposed to the positive. Where is your attention? Believe that – it is also where your energy will go as well. If we spend all of our attention chasing the demons around every corner- it is any wonder we have so little energy left for a hot scene, cultivating meaningful relationships, or creating the resources that our community needs such as housing for our elderly.

 

  1. Now is the Moment of Power- in Leather!

I have spent a lot of time with leather elders, hearing their stories – enjoying the time getting rooted and grounded in our history. The thing is while yesterday holds many warm and fuzzy memories and while tomorrow holds a bright future it is NOW that holds the power. Now we are determining what traditions are precious enough for us to pass down. Now we are making tomorrows memories, now we are writing the book that will become a part of history. And that’s the paradox – in order to stay in the now you have to allow yourself the fluidity and power to have ALL of you present – NOW. What leather woman, man, beast or other are you NOW? That’s what counts. What kind of friend? Master? Slave? Dom? Sub? Leader, teacher? NOW matters. So often many of us are hyper focused on what we WANT our community to be- based on an ideal perfection that is simply impossible based upon the flawed and human beings that inhabit it. And yet- all I can do- and what I MUST do – what I hold the responsibility to do and what is the most beneficial thing to do is to be the BEST me that I can be – NOW.

 

  1. To love is to be Happy with.

I hear all the time from people that they Love Leather, they love the community, they love their Master, slave, leather family etc; And while I don’t disbelieve them – I do wonder if we understand that Love is about Happiness. Many of us grew up in families or cultures where love meant suffering. Love meant sacrifice. Love meant pain and hardship – and so the more we devote ourselves to something that causes us stress, pain, suffering and more the more we feel like this is an expression of love. But what if – we’re wrong? What is love really is about not how much obligation and sacrifice we can have but how HAPPY we are? What if as a slave my love for my Owner is known by how happy he makes me? What if I show my love for Leather by telling stores not of my suffering- but of my joy? Yes the community began in a somewhat hostile environment but we must begin to feed ourselves a different fuel if we have any hope of being healthy. Healed. Whole. That fuel is our Happiness.

 

  1. All power comes from within – in leather

There are two people who basically are the rulers of this community. I know – you’re a bad ass and no one rules you- but these two people are reall the puppet masters behind the scenes pulling all the strings. No – I’m not talking about “the man” – I’m talking about WE and They. We (LOL) have a tendency to think of what WE need to do and about what THEY need to stop doing. When we talk about what we all need to do we- each of us- automatically give the space of our power away and make ourselves unable to act. WE- as a community – don’t need to get rid of predators- because when we say “We” that makes it’s someone else’s responsibility. But if I say “I” then it’s MY responsibility. The same is true when we think of THEY. Don’t talk about how THEY are destroying the community – talk about the specific person that you saw do the destructive act- or better yet talk TO them. Don’t talk about how THEY are disrespectful or THEY have no relevance- talk about the person who disrespected YOU– or better yet talk to THEM. This is as they say “Grown folks” conversation. And it’s time for all of us to grow up by assuming our power and having some long overdue conversations.

 

  1. Effectiveness is the measure of truth- in Leather

Our community is growing. It’s changing – as are we all. We live in a time where our community is no longer within a 50 mile radius of our homes- but it is now global. And we’re still trying to figure it out. How do I form genuine connection? Who can I trust? Where do I fit? What method is the right one for me? Heck – what Identity is the right fit? This principle- that effectiveness is the measure of truth is one that is deeply embedded in my Masters Household. We live by it. Whenever we are doing something – be it business, child rearing, or our M/s – we ask the question periodically – but ESPECIALLY if we are considering if something needs to be changed- how effective is this? So the question is – how do we determine effectiveness? We look at a few key areas- Is it based in love or fear? Do we feel expansive or contracted by this? Is it growth or mere consumption? Does it elicit my power or invite victimization? All of which comes down to- does this benefit my evolution as a HUMAN? Yes- I know it’s easy to forget but before we were leather – we were human. We were flesh and blood, emotion and spirit with longings and desires. Our desire for connection is what brought us to this space. And whether we know it or not it is the longing for that –connection- that we all have in common or we would not be here. When I came to this principle I realized why t held such weight in our household- because indeed all the other principles can be summed up in this. The effectiveness of our actions to powerfully and profoundly connect us to ourselves, our Beloveds, our Humanity and to one another is the measure of our truth – In Leather.

 

Thank you

 

Scarcity, Dinosaurs and Why we shouldn’t be so butthurt

Master and I discuss abundance a great deal. As Abundance and Prosperity inspirers and practitioners – it’s a huge part of where we live and what we do.

But encouraging an Abundance mentality isn’t all about money as most think. When someone has a lack based word view those limiting beliefs infect many areas of their lives.

Don’t get me wrong- many of us have a lack-based mentality and with good reason- we’ve been hurt, or ill-treated. We’ve not had what we wanted, or even needed at one time. In other words- we experienced LACK and it informed on how we view the world and our place in it.  I don’t deny this- I’ve been there.   And while we may not be able to have control over what we did experience – we can choose whether we want to continue to internalize that experience as a way that we ARE moving forward.

I believe in our Lifestyle (and in this I am speaking both about the Leather branch and the BDSM branch) we have internalized a lack based worldview that is stunting our growth as a culture as well as individually.  This lack based worldview perceives division where there is none and competition around every corner. It sees the Lifestyle from a space of scarcity and persecution that perceives any action that is not all of us together as promoting defiance, isolation and exclusion.   This leads to a position of need to huddle and hide in caves in order to stay safe –and yes in some ways it does provide safety- but it does not allow for growth, expression, actualization and evolution. This is dangerous, just ask the dinosaurs…

Lack of evolution eventually creates extinction.

In the last few months I become more and more aware of this lack based mindset and the ways it is expressed within our alternative culture. I have also become aware of ways that it is propagated, the incorrect premises behind it and the imperative that we have to think again. To re-think how we are viewing the world and our place in it.  By no means do I believe I have all of the answers, or that this is a “new” thing just because I recently became aware of it.  More than anything else – this gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts and reflection with those who might find them helpful.

Distinction does not mean Division – one of the places that I see this scarcity mentality is in the belief that we have too many groups.  We hear this a great deal – that we should all be together and there should not be a need for any separation – in fact that by having differing groups that celebrate ones own sexual orientation, gender, power exchange identity etc; we are creating division.  I would like to suggest this is not true.  Giving each sub-set the space to celebrate their uniqueness among those that share that orientation and identity creates more Unity In a number of ways:

  1. You don’t have to hide or ignore certain elements in an attempt to not make others feels excluded.
  2.  You can actually enjoy when we all are together because it’s a choice.
  3. The challenges of your particular identity can be discussed, supported and even commiserated with without your needing to constantly offer disclaimers.

There is space for this and this is a natural part of what occurs as any group grows.  Differences happen.

We’ve always had X – why do we now need Z – We now have more than one contest that focuses on Power Exchange Relationship dynamics.  I can recall years ago some asking why we needed the LAHM and the Carter Johnson Library.  People ask we have so many projects right now focusing on History.  The short answer is Diversity is HEALTHY. And ensures the continuance of a thing. All we need to do is look at the Potato Famine to see the danger of a mono-culture.  We as an alternative culture are greatly influenced by the society in which we live. Often in unexamined and unconscious ways.

A monoculture within horticulture is a single crop or species cultivated over a number of years. Monoculture is dangerous because it weakens the strength not only of the species but of those that are dependent on the species. It makes that species incredibly vulnerable to opportunistic predators and diseases. Those dependent upon that species can be destroyed by one bad storm.

Within our Alternative culture this idea – of  one contest, one Library one of anything- while well meaning is a bit short sighted.  It presumes that the way something is -is the way it will always be. In mainstream society there are churches on every corner, there’s 2 star bucks on every block. There are multiple OPTIONS. This is good. This ensures that if something goes wrong with one- we don’t lose all. There is room and space for more than one of each thing with our culture- and you don’t have to ONLY support 1 thing.

Which leads to my next point

Competition is based on a lack mentality. We own our own business.  I have had a number of mentors over the years and one of the things that I’ve been taught is not to consider those doing the same thing as I am doing as my competitor. I found this very challenging initially – but upon reflection it makes sense.  When I really began to open myself up to this idea, what was dropped into my spirit was “instead of competitors consider them kin” There are many, many people in the world. Last I checked just on Feltife (and everyone is not on Fetlife) there are over 3 million people. 3 Million.  With more joining daily. It is impossible for any one person, group, organization to serve ALL of them.

There is no REAL competition in the lifestyle except for the competition each individual decides to create within their own mind.  In other words competition is a perception – not a reality.  This means that you can support more than one company. More than one group. There can be 5 groups meeting on the same night and people can choose to attend the one that has the most resonance. This doesn’t have to cause anyone to get offended or – as my children say – butthurt-  about it. Your group will undoubtedly attract those who have the most resonance with it-  and all will be well.  This also means- that if we get out of the competitive mindset we can cease feeling the need to validate whatever we’re doing by assassinating the character of others.  You don’t have to VALIDATE your desire to hang your shingle or do your thing – you can do it ethically, kindly, and in a spirit of unity instead of competition.

It is my hope that we can truly begin to enjoy the abundance and diversity within this culture- thereby growing and thriving – both as a community and as individuals.

Of sexual orientation, being feminine, and a Leather slave

I writing about this because it’s been something I’ve had some thoughts around for a good long while now. I make no claims that these things are well organized – in fact they may not be – but they are a reflection of the connective ways that my mind works and some troubling trends I’m noticing in our Beloved Confederacy.

Before I get too far afield here- and get potentially kicked in the face by all the knee jerky responses – I realize that some people come into this and simply have never really had an opportunity to develop the self acceptance that will allow for the expression of their core sexual identity and or orientation. For these people this is where they can truly be who they are.  I’m not speaking about those people.

 

When I first came into the Lifestyle I came in through the “branch” of BDSM – not Leather. Coming through this branch I felt very comfortable being feminine and even saw that it was appreciated and embraced. i met many other feminine slaves who loved being women, sensual and feminine.

 

When I began to identify as Leather – one of the first things I noticed was that in the spheres that I had closest access too – I didn’t see many women like me. I didn’t meet many women who were predominantly hetero-sexual (or flexible) who identified as Leather, slave and as Feminine. In fact in recent years I’ve noticed a somewhat troubling trend in that I observe women coming into leather as feminine and gradually over time becoming bois and asexual – at least in their projected persona.

Something else that I’ve noticed is Het men and women who have been in the lifestyle for long periods of time suddenly changing their sexual orientation within typically 1-2 years of identifying as Leather.  I have a few ideas concerning why this is occurring outside of the reason above.

  1. One reason this may occur is because “true” Leather has been subtly defined by some as Gay Leather – many people who are heterosexual see the best way to be leather, the ONLY “real” way to be leather of any worth is to be GLBT.
  2. Others feel that the best way to be an ally to their GLBT brothers and sisters is beginning to identify as GLBT.  (Although even being bi is no longer enough for women. Bi sexual women are feeling more and more the push to orient as queer as being the more PC thing to do to “reject the oppression of the gender binary” )

While I’m speaking in generalities here – I know that there are more than a few who have found themselves in those groups.

But I want to speak more specifically to being a feminine Leather woman.  Specifically a Leather slave who is also a woman. A very feminine woman. And while I suppose that being a het oriented feminine Leather slave is a bit of a niche- it’s one that I see a number of women walking into and a number of bois and/or de-feminized women walking out of.

I’m sure at this point some will point to Leather girls- and say “what about the Leather girls, they’re feminine” to which I would say – what does it mean when the only option for being feminine, s-type and Leather is to be a girl? All Leather women who are s-types aren’t girls. When we pretend as if they all “could” be, or it’s all the same thing – we dilute and diminish the potency and actualization of that identity.

 

There are traits that are part of being a feminine slave. The way I walk, the way I dress, the facets and aspect of my being that are a delight and of value to my Owner. The places in my self that I cultivate. These all have to do with my being feminine.

I have no desire to diminish or deny these things. Nor do I believe that being Leather requires such.

 

My accentuating and celebrating these facets of who I am is in no way to diminish those who are not as I am. I celebrate any and everyone that has found the joy of self acceptance regardless of what it looks like. This is frankly not about anyone else- it’s about my ability to self express what is true and reflective of me.

 

I have spoken to many feminine slaves who do not identify as Leather – not because they do not feel an affinity for it- but because they do not want to have to masculinize or asexualize themselves. Usually they feel that to even ask the question would cause them  public ridicule.  While I am not the ONLY feminine Leather (mostly het) slave- I will say that we are becoming a rare breed. More and more I see hetero female slaves gaining their Leather “wings” by denouncing their being feminine.

 

I want to encourage those women that you can be Feminine and be Leather. They are NOT mutually exclusive. Being a Feminine Leather slave is a valid identity.

Self Identity is the most important thing. For me that means my identity is about my understanding of and authenticity to my SELF – it’s not about being worried about how others perceive me, accept me, or how they decide I should be.

Sometimes I think that we need to be careful regardless of how we orient and what identity we choose- that we are choosing our identity and orientation based upon our fulfillment and our joy and pleasure- not our pain and fear of non-acceptance.

For instance:

There is a difference between being understated when I go into a Gay Leather Bar as a point of respect and consideration – and detaching myself from my femininity within my Leather identity so that I can be considered “real” by others.

There is a difference in feeling like being a boi, girl, poodle etc; is a reflection of my most authentic self – and choosing those identities because they give me a place to hide my insecurities and self rejection. Am I being true to myself by masculinizing my appearance or am I perhaps coving up my lack of body acceptance with clothing that allows me to hide? Only each person can truly know.

I suppose ultimately the questions we all have to ask are:  Am I using my involvement in this lifestyle as a crutch for all of the myriad of pain, dysfunction and  self loathing I feel – or is this truly the place where I am able to be MOST me.

Is this where I show myself truly or is this the most ideal of masquerades where I’m able to constantly change masks.

 

Food for thought.

 

In submission and surrender to Him,

~slave namaste

Posted with Permission and Direction of Master Obsidian

Vetting 101

My namaste and I run a couple of groups that require Vetting in order to attend an event or join a group. Periodically it comes to our attention that some people are offended by Vetting, don’t know what Vetting is or WHY we would want to vet. Some assume erroneously that Vetting is akin to “clique-ish” behavior and discrimination. Others don’t know how to Vet someone or how to craft a good letter of reference when asked to provide Vetting information. This post is meant to hopefully shed a bit of light on the practice of Vetting, encourage others to use it, and offer some tips on both asking for a reference and providing one.

What is Vetting:

To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning “to check”.

In short vetting is the process of doing a background check for the purpose of determining suitability for a position, membership in a group, etc;

Why Vet:

In the oldern days (heh!) vetting was done in our lifestyle mostly because engaging with the wrong person could mean harm in a number of forms – social alienation, losing one’s employment from being outed or even death. While vetting in general has become less common in our observation – we believe it is a practice that DEFINITELY needs to be brought back – especially because of the openness and inclusiveness of our community at this time. Anyone can walk into one of our munches, go to a party, even start a group. Because our community is expanding so rapidly, making blanket assumptions concerning the intentions of every person interested in attending events or group meetings can be problematic. Taking the time to Vet is a way of reducing the stress associated with inviting individuals that are unknown to your event or meeting, a way to make sure this person has suitable references, is actually a responsible member of our community and give you as much information as possible to make a good decision. Vetting is important for you no matter if you run a group, organize parties or are a bottom or a Top.

How to Vet:

There are many contexts for Vetting. Here are a few.

If you need a reference – if you are the individual being vetted be sure to provide those asking with appropriate references, consider asking your reference(s) to send an email or contact the organization or individual you are being vetted by. The communication should come directly from the person vetting you to the person requesting the reference.  A random person who saw you at a munch can not vet you. Anyone you are considering using as a reference should actually know you – this means they know your real name, and have had personal experience with you – such as dinner, coffee, phone conversations etc; . In other words you are known to this person in a real time, actual context.

If you are providing a reference – Feel free to say “No” if you are asked and feel uncomfortable with providing a reference. If you do not know someone well, would not be comfortable with them in your home, or have reservations – indicate those to the person requesting the vetting. Make a distinction between your personal experience with the person and what you have “heard” concerning their reputation. Ask what they are being vetted for. For instance  you may feel comfortable vetting someone for inclusion to a group, but not feel okay vetting them as far as their being a good Top or Dominant. If you feel you cannot vet a person – tell them and explain why. This is not being “mean” or “rude”, often new people do not understand vetting and they would be better served by having the explanation (that I do not yet know you well enough to recommend you as an X) than by your saying “yes” and providing a hesitant or incomplete reference.

If you are requesting a reference on someone else – Be clear in what you are asking for. Provide as much context as you can concerning why you want information without going into a long story. Are you considering someone for membership in a group? A potential play partner? A potential Master, Dominant, submissive, Mistress or Top? Context is important. For instance there are those I would gladly vet as a skillful top that I would not feel comfortable vetting as a potential Master. There are submissives I’d vet favorably as far as inclusion to a munch but would not consider vetting as a play partner.

Questions to answer or ask depending on context:

Here are some questions to be used in the vetting process. Feel free to use them as is or to use them as a springboard to your own questions.

For a munch or group: Can this person be trusted not to out others? Can they be trusted to keep confidences and obey rules? Are they new to the community or the Lifestyle? Have they been moderated, refused entry, asked to leave or had membership revoked to any groups according to your knowledge? Are they peacable or are they known to cause drama, dissension or confusion? Do you think that this person would be a good fit for the subject matter of the group that they are trying to join? Do you have any reservations that werent asked about? Can you provide reasons why they SHOULD be included in our group or event?

For a party/Play partner: Have you observed this person scening directly? Can this person be trusted to understand and honor what it means to Consent (this applies to Tops and bottoms), Has this person ever been accused of violating consent?  Has this person ever accused others of violating consent? Is this person (Top) a skillful player? Can this bottom be trusted to advocate for his/her self, use safe words if necessary and contact a DM or Host  if something goes awry with their scene? Any previous history you feel we should know about? Any reservations?

For a potential Power Exchange Relationship or Poly Dynamic: Have you observed this person or been involved with this person in a Power Exchange context? Does this person have experience as ____(insert position in P/E relationship or Polyamory)? How much? Has this person ever been accused of being abusive? Has there been any drama in association with this person and P/E  or Poly Relationships? Do you feel this person understands P/e or Poly? Were their previous relationships ended amicably? Based on what you know, what is this person looking for in a Poly or P/E relationship?

For a potential Leadership Position:  Does this person have leadership experience? What kind of experience? How long has this person been an active member of the Community? Do you consider this person fair? Just? Unbiased? Do you believe this person excercises good judgement? What is this persons reputation? Any known accusations of abuse? Do you have any reservations? If so what are they?

Final Notes: 

As a person requesting vetting it is ESSENTIAL to the success of the vetting process that you  realize the final decision is up to YOU. While reviewing the information you receive during the vetting process – use your intuition, common sense, and take into consideration the source of your information. Depending on the context it may be prudent to receive a number of letters of reference and/or to have conversations with more than only one person. Know what information you REALLY want, what’s important to you and ASK additional or followup questions if you feel you need them. Trust your gut!

If you’re the person providing vetting the most important thing is for your statements to be honest, forthright and based upon YOUR personal experience. If you feel you must interject second hand information make sure the person you’re providing such information to KNOWS that it is secondhand. If you do not feel comfortable vetting someone – DON’T.

If you are being vetted, be honest about your history, experiences and desires. Know that half-truths and omission about these things or being less than forthright will not be viewed favorably – however admitting mistakes, that you have a lack of knowledge or experience is no crime – you’re human, still growing and allowed to make mistakes as you grow.

It is our sincere hope that the practice of vetting continues to be an asset to our community, contributing to our meetings, groups and events becoming safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

In Leather,

Master Obsidian & slave namaste

 

Slave or Service Oriented Bottom

So today’s topic is recognizing the difference between being a Service Oriented Bottom and being a slave.

First let me say that I don’t think there is anything wrong, lessor, less honorable or less meaningful about being a bottom. When I first came into the Lifestyle being a slave was not something to aspire to. Slaves were considered weak doormats and usually extreme masochists. At some point it changed. Now, no one wants to be a submissive – (because that means being a weak doormat) and everyone wants to be a slave. Go figure. Also being a bottom is often maligned as being less “real” with statements such as “oh, he’s just a bottom” thrown about, which is unfortunate because this Lifestyle serves us better when it is defined by the Freedoms it grants us – not by the bondages we put on each other.

But I digress.

Slave, submissive, bottom – they are all simply descriptors of what is – not creators of what is not. To this end being a bottom in the realm of BDSM is often recognized in general as being on the receiving end of things – when not paired with other descriptors it often contains the unspoken qualifier of “during a specific, normally short period of time” – which is to say all submissives and slaves could be called bottoms, but not all bottoms are submissives or slaves.

That said what we’ve noticed of late is that many people in their reaching for self identification are quick to reach into the identifier “slave” and to ignore the identifier “bottom” even though “slave” does not really fit them. Why? Because while they may enjoy serving; they have a real issue, challenge, limitation when it comes to something foundational to being a slave….

OBEDIENCE

Yes- slavery is all about obedience – not service.

This may come as a shock or a revelation, and it is my hope that some light bulb moments will occur here.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with service or that slaves don’t serve. We do. I LOVE providing crisp, efficient, beautiful service. Both unseen seamless service and showcase service are delicious to me. When I am serving excellently I’m happy and quite content.

But the performance of service does not make me a slave. My desire to be of service and of use also does not make me a slave – any more than a desire to be used sexually would make me a slave, or a desire to be spanked would make me a slave.

Because many have forgotten that slavery is at it’s essence about obedience – we tend to look at actions and mistake one thing for another.

For instance we’ll look at the quiet demure woman who is sad and not allowed to provide service because her Owner has told her not to, and yet is attempting to sneak and do it anyway and say “See how slavey she is??”

And then look at the more outspoken woman who is sitting next to her Master, engaged in stimulating conversation with Him/Her and assume this person is not a “twue slave” – when in fact her Owner directed her to do so and she’s being obedient.

So here’s the question – does being obedient feel good to you? Really and truly? I’m not just talking about being obedient to the things that feed your kink or sexual proclivities. I’m talking about being obedient to the things that challenge you, that push and pull you? If you have a FABULOUS idea that you just KNOW will make both of your lives AMAZING and He/She says “no” – does being obedient to that, even if it’s uncomfortable and painful – ultimately feel GOOD and fulfill something deep inside of you? If so – you may be a slave.

If you love to serve but when the person you’re in service to requires certain things, makes certain directives, expects certain behaviors or conduct you find yourself saying “Yeah but…” , “If only He understood…..”, “She doesn’t understand that…..”, “I’d obey if only He/She was…..” or anything along those lines – you may want to consider that you may in fact be a service oriented bottom -and there’s nothing wrong with that!

This Lifestyle is fundamentally  all about finding ourselves and then finding the descriptors that fit who we are so that we can communicate our truth succinctly and in ways that others understand. It is my sincere desire that we find our truth and then shine within it brightly – whatever we identify as!

Critical Thinking Counts

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few months now, however I’ve been very hesitant to say anything because I felt it would definitely put target on my back (and maybe my front too) and I didn’t know if this was something I really wanted to have to defend or dispute. A few days ago Master and I were watching a movie. The movie took place during a time period when any accusation made by a white person against a black person was by definition considered to be true. The main character in the movie spent 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – all because one police officer had a vendetta against him for being black and because everyone co-signed to the actions he took based on their own prejudices. I felt shock, sadness and anger at the treatment of this man. I wondered where the justice was for all of his years in prison. Why no one spoke up – even when they KNEW he was innocent and why people spoke against him who KNEW he was innocent. This movie sent an uneasiness through me that would not leave me alone. I realized that at the rate the community/Lifestyle is going – any Dominant/Top/Master could be that wrongfully imprisoned man. That we are abandoning our critical thinking in ways that are making it dangerous to be Dominant. And I felt around inside of me and felt that this piece (that I wrote a couple months ago and tabled) really did need to be put out into the world. Please don’t misunderstand me in this – I have experienced rape, molestation and abuse (although thankfully not in the Lifestyle). I have worked with victims of domestic violence and spiritually counseled women in this area for many years. This writing is not done without compassion or understanding.

 

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“Community displeasure is no substitute for Legal Action in the case of an actual crime occurring” ~Master Obsidian

 

The above is something that I have heard Master say on a number of occasions. Recently I’ve been thinking about this more and more as I watch the community (I like the word Lifestyle more actually- it seems more reflective of Truth) go through all sorts of turmoil concerning accusations of abuse, predatory behavior, and the like.  I really wish the limitation of community displeasure was understood when all of the saber rattling and smoky torches are being waved. Why? Because in the case of accusations of abuse community displeasure doesn’t really DO anything. It’s a question of understanding the scope of our power and authority so as to be effective.

 

Some facts:

  • Entry into our Community is not based on relationship anymore. We have to accept that anyone can join any online forum (this one included), create a group and have attendees. Most groups do not have a vetting process and hold meeting in public venues. This openness comes with the drawback  that the community is no longer capable of policing itself.
  • We can not imprison anyone or stop them from doing what they are doing. Yes, even if it’s against what we believe – we can’t stop a person from finding play partners, from forming a group, planning a party, holding themselves up as a “Leader”, a “True Dominant” or a “True submissive”
  • My irritation, annoyance etc; does not save anyone. In short while it may influence SOME – for the most part it does not put a stop to criminal activity. Think about it – no criminal is going to say “Yes, I stopped my raping, assault etc; because slave namaste said I should”
  • If the Police force and Legal system which has millions of dollars backing it and thousands of people can not find this person and stop them from doing what it is they did to you  – if you did not think you had cause enough to report it as a crime – the community is even LESS able to provide aid. In most cases we don’t even have each others’ real names, addresses or phone numbers.
  • If i do bodily injury to someone or attempt to stop any movement that they have a RIGHT to by virtue of their citizenship in this country- I myself become eligible for legal action. This means I can’t hurt someone because they hurt you. It would be inappropriate for me to stalk them, call them repeatedly, threaten them or harass them on your behalf.

 

Now – all of that said – there tends to be a number of people who feel as if in the case of allegations of abuse or inappropriate conduct  we as a community should “Do something” and I agree we should. We should care for one another and take such things seriously. We should do what it IS in our power to do.

 

“Effectiveness is the Measure of Truth” ~Pono Huna Principle

  • We can if we lead a group, make decisions about OUR groups, events, etc; We can not allow that person to attend or be a member in our groups, recognizing that each group has their own Protocol for addressing and validating such accusations and that such autonomy should be respected.
  • We can each choose to take responsibility for ourselves and choose carefully those we would play with and engage in BDSM activity with  – IOW treat strangers as strangers and don’t go off to private places with them.
  • We can take the steps to report when things ACTUALLY do occur. For every person with a horror story about reporting that didn’t work – there are those for whom it did work. Every situation is different. Don’t ASSUME no one will believe you. To that end I LOVE the idea mentioned here] if you don’t care to read it – I’m speaking specifically about the idea of ANYONE going to a person in a leadership position and being referred to counseling, and then offered support if they chose to file a police report
  • We can understand that an accusation isn’t always true. This is the hardest thing. In our lifestyle in an attempt to not cause further trauma or be accused of “victim blaming” we frequently take it for granted that the accuser is indeed the victim. Reserving judgement may be prudent. One question I always ask is “What would I consider fair if it was someone I love being accused and was handled the way I’m handling this person”  – frequently when I ask this the glaring bias towards the accuser is obvious. Innocent until proven guilty may not be easy but it is foundational to justice.
  • Leaders and Presenters can spend more time talking about how to choose a play partner and security in scening rather than telling boogeyman stories. Prevention is far more effective than cure. While we spend a great deal of time trying to soothe and support those who are traumatized by someone’s inappropriate conduct – we don’t spend very much time at ALL explaining ways to prevent this from occurring in the first place, and in fact we encourage new people not to follow their “gut” but to play quickly and with anyone in the guise of having “new experiences”
  • We can encourage people on both sides of the slash to form friendships and relationships –  This is the greatest protection against being prey- and yes, Dominants and Masters are often victims of non-consent as well.
  • We can handle FALSE allegations with just as much ferocity as we handle true ones. People who accuse falsely should not be given a “free pass” as being merely emotional.
  • We can serve as Protectors. Master wrote a VERY well done article on Protection here too often I see the idea of protection scoffed at and new people told that they shouldn’t need protection. Strangely the same people who encourage the newbies to play indiscriminately (usually with THEM) and to not seek out protection are also the ones who are informing them that they have been abused.
  • We can understand the difference between Vengeance and Justice. Often when I hear about accusations of abuse – the desired course of action is based on vengeance not on Justice. Justice is blind and doesn’t give favor to either the accuser or the accused, the prosecutor or the defendant. Vengeance on the other hand seeks retaliation and retribution.

 

In conclusion – while it’s heartbreaking to hear stories of abuse – the perception that we as a Greater community are all able to ban together to “kick this person out” is a lovely but misguided sentiment. When dealing with things like allegations of abuse and mal-conduct it is important in my estimation to not get caught up in emotionalism but rather that we take a moment and ask  “What can I do to be safe”, that we seek to work with those in Legal and Medical arenas concerning education on BDSM and WIITWD and that we apply critical thinking  as well as compassion.

BOLD 2013- And why you should be at BOLD2014!

We are currently on the plane flying home from BOLD 2013. There are dozens of thoughts, ideas, perceptions and more buzzing through both of us – things we can’t wait to dialogue about more deeply, things we find ourselves mentally chewing on even now.

So what is BOLD – Bold is a conference specifically to celebrate the MDHL identity and Lifestyle. MDHL standing for Male Dominant Heterosexual Leather. While anyone and everyone is welcome to attend the conference– the emphasis and focus of the classes is on the education and celebration of MDHL relationships.

This was our second year attending BOLD and the second year of BOLD as a conference. Beginnings are sacred and last year did not disappoint. This year was just as good- although a bit better for us because we weren’t under the time constraints of last year and had an opportunity to more deeply immerse ourselves into the conference.

First let me say a few words about the Monarchs. The Monarchs are the group of amazing Dominant Men  and their beautiful women who put on BOLD.  Having observed them for the last couple of years from afar and also during the conference – I say without reservation that this is what Male Dominance can aspire to look like. These men are not all cookie cutter – nor are their women. Some are outspoken, some are the silent type. The forms that their Dominance take and the ways that the submission of the women is expressed are as diverse as it comes – but there is an energetic feeling that pervades them. This feeling of knowing and being unapologetic for who they are.  There is also this feeling of it being Family and Fraternal. The bonds extending beyond a conference or a group dialogue into the lives that the members lead. Trust, accountability, Honor. Of course I have no way of knowing if this is true but this is my over whelming perspective. I observed the way they interacted with Their women and with me. Chivalry seemed to be the word of the day. The women had the quiet joy and power that I have only witnessed in women who know their worth in a bone deep way and are well handled and taken care of. It is refreshing, powerful, intoxicating. I wish there was a Monarchs chapter locally that we could be a part of.

The conference itself is a wealth of information. This year there was a skills track that I do not recall from last year (although it may have been there). Because skills are something we can get anywhere – I was far less interested in that track – but we did get to attend a few classes as well as teaching. The audience was engaged and receptive. The teachers were dynamic and open.  The efficiency of the timing, the way evaluations are handled, door monitoring etc; all of it was phenomenal and second to none. Seriously I feel that many many conferences should talk to the Organizers of BOLD and get a few tips – I know we will should we decide to put on a conference.

Here’s the thing – If you are in a Male Dominant/ female submissive or similar type dynamic BOLD is a conference that it on our MUST attend list. It is a conference we have decided we plan to attend every year. We believe strongly that there is something to be gained when we take the time to not only all play together -but to also immerse ourselves in environments that are geared towards our orientations and identities. Much like the feeling when one goes to a women’s only event or male only space,that feeling of Potency and Intensity in being around others who are on the same path (though we do not walk in the same shoes) elevates you in a way you can not find being in a more general setting. It is NOT about putting down our times of playing together, or being together, it is about connecting with our selves by remaining connected to the energy that brought us to this point to begin with. About having a space to honor and Celebrate the type of dynamic that fulfills us without apology or disclaimer.   When we think about BOLD the thought that comes to us is that often in our diverse and inclusive community – we are like a beautiful sea of birds – all of different breeds, colors and habits. When you go to an event with a specific niche or focus  – it is like surrounding yourself with birds of the same breed as yourself.  You are increased, expanded, able to stretch your wings in ways you can not when you’re all together – you remember who you are – making the whole Kingdom greater when you come back together.

If you’re planning your events for 2014 – make sure you add BOLD to the list. You will not be disappointed!

You can register at: BoldCon.com! – http://boldcon.com/

Blackface part Deux

elizabeth-eckford-and-hazel-bryant-in-little-rock1These are my thoughts after reading an article posted on Leatherati as well as the thoughts of other blogs and pundits in the community.

The  problem with this discussion and the whole notion of ‘agreeing to disagree’ in the face of racism – it places white people in the position of grappling with the horns of a dilemma.  If we keep this uncomfortable discussion going you have to choose between maintenance of your desire to be thought well of (Im entitled to think as I choose about OTHER black people who aren’t YOU while genuinely feeling that those opinions don’t extend to YOU, black person that I am friends with) vs the hard truth;

You as a white person are free to think as you like about whomever you want. That is really not at issue and your being uncomfortable at being told how and what to think about whom is justified in my opinion.  Lets not derail the discussion chasing that rabbit around.  Honestly, I don’t like being told what to think or how to feel either. But let us continue to drag this elephant out into the middle of the room, squarely under the spotlight and let us now agree in front of each other that it IS in fact an elephant.  Again, you are always free to think as you like about whomever you want. There is a cost associated with that however.  Do not ask me to believe that you feel differently about me because IM not like THEM.  Do not ask me to believe that you aren’t racist because Im looking at what you do, not listening to your disclaimer.

The reality is that your feelings about other black people that aren’t me are in fact feelings about me, because Im as black as they are.  I recognize that by refusing to be silent about this issue,  Im raising the stakes. In my refusal to leave ‘well enough alone’ Im forcing the issue.  Your feelings of irritation, of shame, even of anger – are irrelevant at this point.  The time for choosing is at hand and although we’ve spent many years hoping that we would avoid this and that these weighty discussions would be raised and dealt with by other people in other more important, more convenient venues – well, the time has come and like it or not, we… you and I are those people.

Yes there is a solution.  Its not an easy one and yes – there is a cost associated with that as well. You see, It costs me something to pretend, to walk around the damn elephant most of my life and to try to balance my coffee cup on my knee because the elephant is too damn big to use as an end table. Im tired of pretending – and lets face it, so are you.  It cost you something as well – the price of silence and not calling you on your shit has meant that you don’t truly know me, not for real – like an iceberg the bulk of who I truly am remains below the waterline of our interactions, our relationship.  Im guarded around you nearly all of the time. The person you see and THINK you know represents a very small part of me.  Because the cost of my silence is that I believe that you secretly see me as you see them and as a result I cannot trust you, not truly.

My feelings about you, and/or white people that aren’t you are really my responsibility as well.  I have to own that.  You know what else? I understand that and I have walked away from my family members that espouse hatred.  I no longer have ‘friends’ that are racist as a matter of self preservation.  I wont have it in my house, my Leather family,  in my circle of friends.  I know the range and the strength of my power – I cannot force other adults of my acquiantence or relation to believe, to do differently.  But I always have a choice as to what I believe and what I do – and it is my belief that my life is better without hateful people in it…and when it comes to that, I will draw the line. Why is this my truth?  I believe that there is a toxicity in racist thoughts and ideology that has long term effects on the body, mind and soul that cannot be ignored and will not be wished away regardless of the righteous justification of the person holding the idea. The hue of my skin may serve as protection against sunburn, but it is no defense against the molten toxicity of unresolved internal angst, anger and rage.

So, in response to your unspoken question, Im not angry – not at all.  I cant afford it.  And neither can you, whether you realize it or not.  No, yours isn’t the face contorted in rage on the black and white pages of old LIFE magazines, shaking your fist at the advances of integration.  You aren’t manning high-pressure fire hoses aimed at protestors and your dog isn’t trained to attack people of color.  And because we have those historical high watermarks of the most reprehensible and visible facets of racism, none of which you support or espouse –  perhaps you may feel that most of this ‘talk’ of racism is a case of making a mountain out of a molehill, of taking things too seriously.  Let me assure you that is not the case. Not at all.  Your off the cuff observations about Mexicans, about people of middle eastern descent, about Jews or anyone else who isn’t like you – it comes from the same place and carries the same impact as the water from the firehose, the contorted face, the bite of the dog.

To truly make a dent in this thing, if we are truly going to make a change in this world, right the fuck NOW –  you have to choose.  Choose to stand up for what you truly believe in.  For some of you, that will mean nothing whatsoever.  You don’t want to change and you don’t have to.  And in the words of the old Irish blessing, if He cannot change your hearts may he change your walk so that we may know you by your limping fucked-up gait.  For others of you the cost that is on the table is that you must commit yourselves – to teaching your children differently. To speaking up instead of going along quietly. To rocking the boat and if it comes to that, walking away from those friends and even family that continue to embrace hatred. We no longer have the luxury of ignorance.

For my part, I commit to the tearing down, the dismantling of the emotional cardboard of what passes for friendship these days.  I commit to personal authenticity, to walking in truth, to speaking my truth and for those that choose to either call me friend or want to walk together for a time with me to see if we can truly be friends – I open my arms and my heart.  Get with me, talk to me – Im here and I will NOT reject you, I promise you that.  But understand that Im going to be real with you and I expect your realness in return.  No more lies, no more hiding and there arent any easy answers, I know that.  We must build where we are – right here and right now.

~Master Obsidian

Black Face in the Lifestyle? Really?

blackface-goodoldfamilyracismRecently it was brought to our attention that the Portland Eagle was putting on an event featuring a Drag Performer portraying an “inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children.” in blackface.

WTH?? Black Face??

The Eagle cancelled this event as of yesterday. So why am I still writing about this?

I’m writing because after reading a article or two about how the owners and managers did not really seem to understand the issue with this having been planned and being perplexed and a bit offended over the outcry it occurs to me that it is time for a bit of cultural understanding 101.

Our Leather/Kink/BDSM community – while putting a great deal of energy into sensitivity to gender, sexual orientation and  kinks seems to have somewhat of a blind spot when it comes to cultural and racial sensitivity.

The curse of racism in this country and the wound it has left on our collective consciousness is very fresh all things considered. While often it is said that “slavery was over 200 years ago!!” – it is important to remember that Jim Crow laws were still in effect as of the 1960’s. It is also important to remember that racial discrimination, bias and hate crimes are still present day realities.  This means that for many people of color – the negative side effects they are still on the receiving end of – not only reside in the annals of history but are also part of present day reality.  A wound can not heal while it is continuing to be inflicted.  No non-consensual slavery is not Federally sanctioned anymore. YAY!. On the other hand many People of color have the experience of an underlying disrespect and suspicion being placed on them just because of their skin color.

What does this have to do with the black face debacle? First off let’s understand the history of black-face.  Go here to read about it- it’s really fascinating and not too wordy.

Understand that black face is fundamentally about perpetrating racial stereotypes. And in that vein it goes beyond the simple wearing of  “black face”.

“Minstrel show entertainment included imitating black music and dance and speaking in a “plantation” dialect. The shows featured a variety of jokes, songs, dances and skits that were based on the ugliest stereotypes of African American slaves. From 1840 to 1890, minstrel shows were the most popular form of entertainment in America.” ~http://black-face.com/

And here s where the line is crossed between funny and offensive – at least for me (BTW I’m not speaking for all African Americans here – only for myself ). The line is crossed when you are imitating what you consider to be “black behavior” that is a stereotype in the ugliest of ways.  It’s not funny.  It’s mean spirited and does not come from a place of connection but a place of “put down”. The line is crossed when you feel it is okay to use things that have NO OTHER context save humiliation, bigotry, and mockery not as part of a consensual scene but as HUMOR at my expense. I watched one of this Drag Queens video’s on Youtube. It was ugly. It was mean. It wasn’t even a little funny to me. It made me sad actually. Sad that this person – a white Gay male as I understand it – would feel that this was something to be celebrated. Sad that if I met him it would be very difficult for me to not at least wonder if he saw me like that.

And that’s the huge downside of racial insensitivity – it DIVIDES us. When you speak what you consider to be “ghetto” speak in front of me – it makes me wonder if that’s how I sound to you? And – since I know that is not how I speak – I begin to wonder if this is how you hear me. When you confuse me with another African American woman who is not even my shade of brown, my height, my weight,  nor has any of my facial features – it tells me you don’t really SEE me.  It sends the message that “you all look alike”.  These things feed into a cultural memory that is not positive.  These assumptions invalidate our being INDIVIDUALS.

So here’s a bit of guidance if you care to take it. If you care to avoid hurt feelings and want to truly connect with those of a different ethnicity  or racial designation than you:

  • Asking is usually okay – If you have a question about something cultural – ask. I’d much rather you ask than assume.
  • All black people do not sound the same, think the same, look the same. We don’t all hold the same views – and we don’t all have the same cultural sensitivities. Get to know the INDIVIDUAL you are dealing with.
  • Do not use our friendship or familiarity as a basis to let loose with expressions of stereotypes even in jest. It’s not funny.
  • If you’d like to see more diversity in your play party or munch group – consider things like music choices, locations (are you on a side of town that is noted for not being friendly to non-whites?), and how you respond when POC’s  (people of color) show up. Being met with expressions of shock isn’t welcoming.
  • All Black women aren’t Dominant or angry. PLEASE believe this. Thank you.
  • All Black men aren’t given to Violence or Irresponsibility.
  • The fact that professional comedians, comics and the like use race and racial stereotypes to make millions of dollars is irrelevant and a poor excuse for your attempts at humor at my expense. You arent a professional comedian and the fact that Im standing in front of you shouldnt be considered synonymous with buying a ticket.

No matter how proficient we have collectively become at ignoring the massive elephant of racism in the middle of our collective living room, it trumpets rather loudly and often it seems. We are shocked and hurt….and then go back to our regularly scheduled broadcasts, ‘safe’ in the knowledge that as long as we studiously maintain the appearance of ignorance and keep looking the other way we can avoid the discomfort of the tough discussion. Eventually we must come to grips with the fact that it is our collective love of being Good Men and Women doing Nothing that continues to allow racist attitudes and actions to flourish and grow. It takes courage – to ask questions, to have a real dialogue.  It takes courage – to speak up, to ‘rock’ the proverbial boat and to risk being misunderstood. The time of cultural icons, pioneers with names like King, Kennedy and Parks has passed – it is now the time for you and I to do what we can to fix it, to make things a little better where WE live and in the relationships that matter to US.  Nothing else will do.

~Master Obsidian and slave namaste
You can read Mollena’s thoughts and her awesome video on this same situation here

Playing the Blame Game and M/s

Today I’m ruminating on personal responsibility and M/s dynamics.

I’m going to give a warning (not a disclaimer because – well frankly I’m tired of disclaimers) that what I’m going to say may sound paradoxical perhaps. such is the way my little head works. Also I realize that abuse does occasionally happen in our communities, this is not about that.

In many (but not all) of the M/s dynamics in my sphere the Master has and retains all of the power and authority in the dynamic. Such dynamics start any number of ways  and in truth while the starting is often indicative of a great deal – it’s not quite as important as the ending.

In my years in the community I’ve seen a LOT of relationships end. A LOT. And often I’m perplexed at the ending. Let me clarify. I’m not perplexed as to why they ended – because things end for their own reasons. I’m perplexed as to the story that is told AFTER it ends. Consensual relationships are now termed as having been abusive. Things that were joyfully agreed to as part of one being enslaved, now are horrible pains inflicted upon them. The Master becomes the Predator. The M/s dynamic is now just a means by which to cause harm. Obedience becomes betrayal. Consensual non-consent is now an elaborate fiction – not something agreed to, but something forced into. Anything not written in stone is now a violation.

This is all very interesting to me.  As a mentor and coach – I have helped slaves through devastating break-ups. Sometimes the Masters behave in ways that are less than honorable. Sometimes they break trust and faith. Sometimes they stoop to their lowest selves. This is horrid and there is no justification for it. At the same time I’m not a big proponent of the Victimization of Slaves/Submissives Movement that I often observe in our community.

And here’s why.

I REALLY do believe that submissives and slaves are Powerful, Brilliant, Amazing creatures. I really do find that submissives and slaves can be Competent and have the ability to make GOOD decisions, have the right to make mistakes as they Learn in Life and are not these fragile, insecure, nearly broken beings that many would have us think.

The other side of that state of Empowerment – is the responsibility for our own experience.  Owning our experiences as our OWN. Saying the “Yes I chose that, it didn’t work out, I found that things just didn’t resonate” without the need to Vilify and Demonize our partners gives us Power believe it or not.When I first came into the “community” I met a very well known Dominant. He was gregarious and charismatic, and while we both knew that I did not desire to  pursue a dynamic with Him, I thought it might be a good place to explore. Not knowing (or frankly caring to know) about negotiation, or all the rules of a scene (I did not come into this because of an interest in S&M but due to a real longing for D/s) when He told me that a specific action meant I desired to be treated as a submissive – I didn’t ask questions about what that meant. When we went up to His dungeon later that evening, I didn’t know what to expect. When he proceeded to use most of his toys on me (no blood or fluids etc;) it never occurred to me to safe word. Now. Many would say “He was predatory” or “He was abusive of his power”. However, I wholeheartedly disagree, and He remains someone our household is friends with to this day. I was/am an adult woman. While I did not negotiate for what occurred, I also didn’t say NO to what was occurring. Did I enjoy it? No. Was I abused by it? No. He showed me how to use quick release locks and told me the importance of them. He checked on me afterwards. Those were kindnesses – but really even without them He would not have been abusive to me because I CHOSE to take the ride.

 

Having a less than enjoyable scene or a less that desirable outcome does NOT equal abuse. Feeling emotionally fragile, out of sorts and raw is actually very typical even when in a relationship – this is not indicative of being violated.  Frequently it seems that in our communities – in order to honor those who really ARE abused, or really HAVE been violated – we’re not willing to examine, to talk to  or provide guidance to new people regarding what various experiences look like in the community. Typical Kinky/Leather sexual interactions and expressions of desire are now termed predatory, interest is trolling, and any Master or Dominant desiring to avoid being accused later might want to create a contract for every interaction which describes each action in extreme detail seven ways to Sunday. New Kinklings are given the idea (Thank you 50 shades of Gray – although it began before that) that this is a Kinky Amusement Park. Even if it WAS an amusement park we still seem to have forgotten some basic rules.  Laura Antoniou is credited with having said “You must be this tall to get on this ride” I’ll take that a bit further and say “recognize the risks”. When you get ready to get on a roller coaster there is a list (most of us don’t read it) of what the side effects could be. We ASSUME the risks when we get on the ride. There are no guarantees.

 

Maya Angelou said “When  someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Frequently I find that slaves don’t do this. (actually people in general frequently don’t do this – but I’m going to speak about slaves specifically because that’s the place of my experience. ) The Master said He wasn’t interested in monogamy. Believe Him. The Master shows you that He’s not very “hands on” when it comes to Mastery – Believe Him. The  “Master” said He WASN’T a Master- BELIEVE Him (or Her!).  Allowing the desire to have the submissive itch scratched to cause you to  end up in a relationship built on fundamental incompatibility is ill advised. If you DO end up in this place – there is no judgement or condemnation. We make mistakes, we choose dynamics that are not viable. Don’t dishonor your own Power and Ability by then painting yourself as the victim. Don’t diminish the time spent in that growth process by maligning the person you chose to Serve, to Scene with, to take that ride with. Take responsibility for YOURSELF. Own your process. You are too Empowered to diminish your journey by playing the Blame Game.

~slave Namaste