This is our truth, tell us yours
One of our founding cliches here at Cigar Towers is Einsteins’s much abused quip about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.
It’s a useful guide, but no more than that, and like all cliches it’s been stripped of some of its meaning by endless repetition.
One of the things S&M taught me about myself was the importance of intention. A blow struck with the intention of causing arousal, or orgasm, is not the same as a blow struck in anger, or self-defence. That seems obvious, but it needs repeating, because too many of the people I have talked to about BDSM talk about striking blows because it is what they desire. I strike the blows because the arousal and the orgasms are what I desire. So sometimes, we can do the same thing and expect different results. The same blow, different results, because of my intention and the context.
Why does that have to be said out loud? Why does it have to be repeated? Probably because we have a view, as a society, of BDSM as a perversion, as a medicalized expression of a childhood trauma or an upbringing less perfect than would otherwise have been required to make us rounded, orthodox individuals. Christian, in Fifty Shades of Grey, is the epitome and the lowest common denominator of this model, the damaged child whose emotions are out of control and who can only be healed by the romantic love that stalks through the awful writing of the trilogy like a supernatural being incarnate in the life of the self sacrificing, self centred heroine.
In order to reject that version of me as someone perverted by his upbringing who needs to be healed I have to see BDSM as being about the other person, not me, as a interaction,not merely the elevation of a desire in me to the point where it is the definition of me. I believe in contingency as a driving mechanism in our lives; the struggles we experience are not to reach some goal of perfection, but to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in, which are not of our making.
So, actually, BDSM has taught me to listen, to adapt, to change, not because events happen, but because we must, and because who we are is who we must be, because of past contingencies that cannot be undone.
You cannot set out to strike someone, in order to cause arousal, and not have a Plan B, of what you will do if it doesn’t work. Plan A also has to include a test of the evidence; how do I know that it should work? What hypothesis am I testing? Is it an hypothesis about me, or the other person?
I am fortunate to have a BDSM partner who sees the world in a similar way, who can see beyond the rituals and the reification of implements and weapons to a place where the most dangerous weapons are our senses. She once said of me that I made listening into a martial art, and each time I meet her I try to remember that, to gain her submission by being attuned to her desires and her emotions.
Yesterday, when we met, she was tired, and a little nervous. Sometimes our sex play can be intense, dangerous, and edgy. It can only be that way, because on days like yesterday it can also be caring, suffused by an awareness that she was full of a desire to serve but scared that she might be too tired for a highwire performance.
I have never felt more connected to her than I did stripping her of her clothes like office colleagues meeting in a hotel room after the work christmas party. I didn’t tell her that was what was in my head, because I was using it to set a mood, not as a role play. I have never felt more in charge than I did watching her come, overwhelmed as she was by surprise and relief that the high wire was not necessary, that this was sex for its own, happy, blissful sake. We even found, in our conversation, her head against my shoulder, an analogy with one of the commoner tropes of amateur literotica, the post gangbang fuck where the lover or husband is able to make his wife experience a different type of lovemaking to all the ones who have gone before.
I have digressed, but only slightly, since the culmination of all that happened yesterday was that I felt entirely in charge of myself, and a sense of integration, of my emotions and my desires. If I could only make someone submit by hitting them, by promising force and violence, even with the best of intentions, I would be the damaged, deformed pervert that those who would medicalize my paraphilias imagine. If I had to walk away because the sex was not going to be exactly as I imagined it I think I would have to keep on walking, like Bruce Springsteen’s anti hero drifter Billy Horton, who got to the highway, and discovered that there was nothing but the road.
BDSM has taught me that who I am is all I need to be provided my focus is not on me, but on those I wish to interact with. It’s the happiest realization of my life.