BDSM

Notes on Erotic Role-Play

Originally written for Wicked Wanda’s Adult Emporium

“The element of play has an important role in my life, and I think that should be the case in the life of every artist. Our life is occupied with playing, whether we play an instrument or a role.” –Dietrich Fischer- Dieskau

Our popular culture as of late has been so thoroughly saturated with a certain kind of role-playing that it is hard to imagine any other kinds, or why anyone outside of hardcore kinksters would want to enjoy it… thanks a lot Fifty Shades. Yet the essential core of role-playing is not situated in the darkest, scariest dungeon for most, but is instead based upon a change in scenery or a change in the motions. Arguably, we has human beings are always playing roles, whether that be our gender or our professions, or perhaps as entertaining friend and supportive family member, these are all roles. Many believe these to be simply inherent in life and in a sense that is true, because we have established as a culture that that is how our social system works: you must have one gender, you must have one profession, and you must be one person at all times. Yet, these constraints on ourselves can be subverted and it is often through that subverting that we can find pleasure and sometimes find a place where we truly feel like ourselves.

There is immense power in being able to decide who and what you are. Whether for erotic purposes or not, role-playing is a wonderful exercise in the meaning and use of power. Some would understand power as inherently oppressive or problematic as the saying that power corrupts is common among our culture and popular in movie plotlines- power is simply the interaction between beings. This includes the power people have when they freely give their power to another or when that person accepts that power with respect and a humbling appreciating of that gift. You see this kind of loving exchange of power in fulfilling Dominant and Submissive relationships, where the submissive has a resounding amount of power because they have the ability to give it to their Dominant. Yet, the exchange of power within role-play goes beyond the dungeon and BDSM relationship; you can find it when people use the scenario of teacher/ students, employer/ employee, or doctor/ patient. While these kinds of dynamics can breed abuse and illegal activities in active life, within a safe and agreed upon circumstance the power dynamic can be heightened or completely changed for sexual arousal in a positive and fulfilling way.

betty

There are many types of role-playing, really too many to list, and often mainstream society feels uncomfortable with some of them because they may seem deviant or problematic if practiced in active life. This may include Priest/ Choirboy, Mommy/ Child or the feminization of men for example. What must be stressed here is that those who participate in role-playing for erotic purposes (and many people do), they do not necessarily want to practice those roles outside in their active life and in fact the reasons why some enjoy the schoolgirl look (for example) is complicated and does not mean that that individual wants to have sexual relations with an underage girl. Remember that power dynamics are always in play in our lives and during role-playing, power can be even more relevant as for example- an individual may feel less powerful around a person dressed like a schoolgirl because it reminds them of the dynamics in highschool and this arouses them.

For some, they explore role-playing because they want to spice up their sex life and this can be achieved in many different ways. A scene can be set by using only one piece of clothing or an entire outfit, perhaps one toy or an entire stage of props. For some, they enjoy role-playing by pretending they do not know a partner but instead meet them for the “first time” in a bar. Essentially what I am saying is that role-playing can be a wonderfully creative expression of love and sexuality and that there is no one formula for everyone to follow. What I do caution for those interested in role-play is that you do it in a relationship with a partner you trust. While this may seem limiting, it is because role-playing successfully requires a lot of communication between people and without trust and respect already established the power dynamics could turn problematic and abusive. Consent is so important and if things are not discussed beforehand then there is no consent, which is illegal. The element of surprise should be sacrificed in this sense. An option is to have an agreed upon signal such as a certain necklace or pair of socks which indicates that your partner is interested in enacting a previously agreed upon scene, and that the other partner has signaled in their own way through an agreed upon statement that they are also interested. Communication is absolutely necessary with role-playing.

So why not try spicing it up? With communication and some planning, your night could turn into a fantasy which is titillating and erotic in a safe and positive environment. Open up to your partner about fantasies you have and be open to theirs as well. Being supportive and non-judgmental leads to better relationships, sex and role-playing for all involved. Start with an outfit or prop and experiment from there. Above all, remember that sex is supposed to be fun and fantasies are just an extension of that.

So may your fantasies come true.

Lilith Out

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Politics of Black Love- Interview

Lilith interviews the Program Coordinator of the Womyn’s Centre at Carleton University: Debbie Owusu- Akyeeah , to speak during the last week of Black History Month on the Politics of Black Love. Love, sex, sexuality, relationships within black communities and how race can excite and complicates at times. A personal and political approach to the topic that is both informative and engaging!

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50 Shades of… What? A Feminist Perspective

I had too. I felt I could not criticize 50 Shades of Grey properly if I did not personally watch the film, and after seeing it tonight, I have to say…. what? I realized quite early in my adventure that my pre-conceived notions of the film were highly influenced by the various posts on Facebook and various other blogs which painted the film in less than favorable colors, as even standing in line to see it… was slightly embarrassing. To begin, I have read the books and my perspective on them have always been rather complicated as the strange stalker/ control-freak Grey creeped me out, yet the topic of kink in mainstream society and social media culture excited me. As the theater was packed to the brim and everyone was more excitedly loud then one would usually find within a movie theater, I guarded myself against the worse affront seen on the big screen since Tom Green.

I can say honestly that the movie was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Yes, there were questionable aspects which mirrored events and dialogue in the original books, but the script and production team were brilliantly aware of themselves and the content they were portraying. A large criticism which I too take issue with is the creep factor of one Christian Grey as he is manipulative, controlling and staker-like. The movie is entirely aware of this and largely succeeds at turning those uncomfortable traits into comedic relief. Anna is wonderfully refreshing as an awkward yet quick-witted character which one personally did not see in the novels. I would not argue that the movie makes light of emotional and physical abuse within some relationships but I would argue that it is self-aware and therefore self-reflective. Don’t get me wrong, the horribly, un-savory “personality” of Grey is not magically gone but it seems they attempted to make some of his more rough edges consumer and big screen ready.

I also liked the fact that the movie ended on a note about consent. I won’t spoil anything for folks (because spoilers go to the 10th level of hell for that especially heinous crime) but Steele tells Grey to stop (which he doesn’t listen too), but then she very firmly said No and that stopped him in his tracks. This may be minor but I appreciate the intense and much needed note of consent at the end, especially in light of a lot of the criticism around the books. Though lets be honest, he should have stopped at Stop…

So obviously I had some issues with the movie because frankly there were problems on a lot of levels and fronts which are grievous.

1) The movie-makers may have tried to scan over the totally ridiculous contract, but we saw it and heard. Forcing your submissive or any partner into getting birth-control- Nope. Being available for any sexual activities the Dominant wants, at any time (regardless, of what the Submissive wants)- Nope.

2) There was some steamy sex but did anyone else notice that the BDSM aspects were only really implemented in the foreplay or the building up to the sex. The kinkiest thing they did during sex was doggy style. This is not to say that all BDSM is about sex or penetration but considering the hyper about all the kinky sex… not that kinky.

3) I have a huge issue with how one of the last scenes was handled. They portray Steele as trapping or baiting Grey into pushing her too far then she freaks out and its not fair to Grey. This is not correct in a plethora of ways. Firstly, in a Dominant/ Submissive relationship the Sub is not the only one who has limits that must be respected. The Dominant’s limits have to be a part of the equation. That is why it is especially scary when one comes across a Submissive who will not use the safeword out of pride, stubbornness or a want to prove something. While the Submissive must trust the Dominant to stop when the safeword is used, a Dominant must be able to trust a Submissive to use that safeword and to not push the Dominant past their own limits. Secondly, while BDSM can be used to exercise personal and emotional demons, that is not how all BDSM relationships are. The depiction of Grey’s pension for BDSM as a direct result of gruesome childhood physical, emotional and sexual trauma is harmful to the community at large. Yes, there are some who have been abused who are a part of the community and unfortunately, abuse in many forms is far more rampant than any of us would comfortably admit, but not everyone in the community is a victim or perpetrator. Being Kinky, whether that is BDSM or not, is just changing up the routine and exploring various aspects of one’s sexuality and sensuality.

I would not say that the 50 Shades movie is a total write-off but I would simply say, enjoy with a grain (or two) of salt. Enjoy the wonderful world of kink, go out and buy a blindfold, even a flogger but do it safely with research and communication. I really wish the movie had mentioned the cardinal rule of kink and BDSM: Safe, Sane, and Consensual.

Overall, I would rate this movie a:

1/ 5 on Kink Factor

3/5 For not being as bad as I expected

4/5 for being an example of the long way STILL left to tread on our road to safe, sane, consensual kink on the big screen.

0/5 For Being So Hetero!

Lilith Out!

Papi Pacify- The Gaze, Consent and Kink and why I Love It

I first discovered this song when I searched up Top Feminist Songs of 2013 and it ranked very high on the list. By just looking at screen shots of the music video one sees an almost violent encounter between a man and woman, as he chokes her and forces fingers into her mouth. Yet upon closer investigation the video combined with the lyrics show a unique intersection between consent, kink and feminism. In fact, Twigs “tops from the bottom” in many ways as she expresses her desire to be dominated to the point where her tongue seeks his fingers to be put into her mouth.

What makes this video a visual representation of feminism and kink is her explicit use and awareness of The Gaze. Throughout the video, she is continually looking at the viewer in a purposefully and interactive kind of way. Women in popular culture mediums like music videos or advertisements are often the objects of the gaze and experience a dehumanizing objectification. Men are often portrayed as directly gazing back at the viewer, as if they are aware of the viewing relationship and they are refusing to be objectified by it. In Twigs’ video, this gendered dynamic is switched, where she is the active viewer/viewed and her male partner is objectified by the viewer’s gaze. He is, in a sense, a tool for her pleasure and she demands his and the viewer’s attention. This is not to say that in order to achieve equality, we must objectify men but I am in fact acknowledging the pattern of The Gaze within popular culture and how Twigs uses and challenges the conventional gaze.

This song and video also looks at the relationship between consent, kink and race. Both Twigs and her male pattern appear to be racialized persons and yet, their race doesn’t really matter. By no means does it appear that the video is relying on racist stereotypes of the sexual beastly black male. It instead looks to the sexual and sensual relationship between bodies. While still focusing on Twigs, as she is often in the centre of the frame or appears alone, the relationship between Twigs and her partner is powerfully real. With the aspect of kink involved, the cardinal rule within the community: Safe, Sane, and Consensual, is paramount within the video. While not everyone digs getting fingers put into their mouth, Twigs obviously wants it and expresses in multiple ways that she is consenting to this kind of play. The same goes for the breath play (or choking) involved in the video.

Note: Breath play is dangerous and is considered extreme within the kink community. Do not do this kind of play without researching techniques and does or don’ts (like never wrap rope around the neck). Safe is the first part of the cardinal rule, and make sure you discuss any kind of play you are interested in with your partner before the fun stuff.

In my opinion, FKA Twigs’ video Papi Pacify is a wonderful popular culture representation of the relationship between consent, kink and feminism. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist but it is a lot of fun!

Lilith Out!
Want more on Kink and Feminism check out another blog post here!

To check out the lyrics click here!

My Feminism Plays Nice with BDSM

As a feminist I struggle with what i feel is objectifying and counter to my feminist philosophies daily, as I encounter various television shows, movies, books and hashtag activism online. I’ve even struggled with how i interact with pornography. As a staunch sex-positive person, I feel that embracing pleasure as a right and exploring one’s body in whatever way (consensually and legally speaking) pleases oneself is healthy and wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, one cannot deny the truth, some pornography (I will not generalize and say that all or even most) is demeaning and perpetuates the very sexist patriarchal institutions that we (as a people) must negotiate for our very safety and equity everyday. This brings me to what type of porn can I personally watch which is less offensive and gets me off still. There is in fact feminist pornography which uses many sex-positive tactics and consent-based platforms to show conversation, expression of desires and needs, and the mutual fulfilment of both (or all) parties involved. What about if you just want to jerk it, quick and dirty so you can go to sleep quickly? Maybe watching porn with no volume, no English subtitles, what about Henti? That way you don’t have to worry about those people being real. The jury is still out for me about porn, but I don’t judge others (nor myself at times) for watching it.

As I mentioned, feminists have it hard sometimes because it seems like wherever you turn, there is something wrong. To be clear, I am not suggesting that feminists should stop being so easily offended or that being politically correct is really being overly sensitive and wanting to be offended. When you open your eyes to the world around us, you start to see a lot of ridiculous and wrong things around you, and just because you happen to not let your friend get away with that HILARIOUS racist joke, does not mean that you are intolerant of intolerance (in a bad way).

So what does a feminist do when they are into kink or BDSM? Well, the first step is research. In some ways, kink is a wonderful expression of core feminist ideology because the proper exploration and enjoyment of kink is dependent on trust, conversation and consent. A popular saying within the BDSM community is Safe, Sane, and Consensual. In a Dominant and Submissive relationship or a Master and Slave relationship, the conversation on what each person is hoping to get from the interaction, what each desires and the hard lines they do not enjoy nor they want to explore is key to a successful and fulfilling relationship. BDSM is honest and enjoys the power dynamics which exists between people in today’s society but instead of men dominating women (which some are into for kink), power dynamics are amazingly diverse within the community. Women dominate men, LGBTQ+ individuals dominant/submissive others, and everything else one can think of. Power in the BDSM community is not the privilege of a select few determined by the sex assigned at birth or the colour of one’s skin but rather it is earned, respected and given within a circle of trust and communication. Furthermore, power does not lie solely in the hands of the Dominant or Master but instead, much of the power is controlled by the Submissive or Slave. This is achieved by the use of a safe word, which if used properly, immediately stops whatever the individual is uncomfortable with or does not enjoy.

A true Dom or Master does not want to abuse (i use this word deliberately) their Sub or Slave, in fact, many of those kinds of relationships are ones of friendship, and love. Partially this is because BDSM and Kink are still viewed as deviant and undesirable sexualities within the larger mainstream culture and therefore, sharing part of one’s true sexual self and sexual culture can be intimate and wonderfully liberating. The image the mainstream society has of kink and BDSM as a Sub crying in the corner, beaten and bruised is not a true representation of the culture and community but is instead a horrible backlash to an alternative of the sexuality we are taught to have and the sex we are taught to participate in. The variety that one sees in the people around them can be seen in the kind of sex people have, kinky or otherwise. Furthermore, not all are into pain, and those who are, experiment in a safe and educated way.

It must be said that while I love kink and BDSM, there are those who abuse the culture and community and those who do not in essence, follow the rules. There are predators, just like anywhere you go (sadly), one must be careful when entering any new community with little knowledge and people to look out for you. There are abusers which say they are Dominants or Masters, just look at the Jian Ghomeshi. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that everyone respects the core ideology of BDSM but I will say that there are by far (by far far far) more wonderful, inclusive people in the community than there are predators (the male, female or otherwise kind). Because of the core ideology of BDSM the support within the community is overwhelming for newcomers or longtime practitioners. I love Kink and BDSM for that, it and its community members gives me a kind of power built on trust and communication and I give power back. The kind of feminism I believe in and practice everyday, feels totally great about kink because its what I enjoy and what many others do as well. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist, you don’t have to be into whips and chains (though they can be a lot of fun), but in my kind of feminism; you can’t hate or discriminate against someone who practices Safe, Sane, Consensual fun just because you don’t enjoy the same thing.

Lilith Out!

Interview with Professor Ummni Khan on Vicarious Kink

Recorded Sept 22nd, 2014. On this episode of Femme Fatale Professor Ummni Khan from Carleton University joined Lilith to talk about her research on various alternative or “inappropriate” sexualities in today’s society. With a diverse set of research interests, Professor Khan looks at the intersectional nature of sexuality, gender and the racialized body. In her newest book Vicarious Kinks, Professor Khan explores the construction of sadomasochism by film, law, science and feminism.

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