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consent and the everyday submissive

As anyone who’s ever thought for more than a few seconds about BDSM should know, the magic word is consent. Safe, sane, consensual, risk-aware consensual, safewords and so on. If it isn’t consensual, it isn’t kink. We all know that much.

So where does the so-called 24/7 relationship fit into this? Is consent no longer an issue for people in such relationships? Is it given once and than assumed to be given constantly–the submissive agrees to the 24/7 relationship, and the dominant does whatever they want from then on out? More broadly, are those “24/7″ people real or are they making it all up to sound More Kinkier Than Thou? What’s the deal?

Well, I have no idea what other people do, I only know what they write online. I can explain, however, what K and I do in our relationship–call it what you will; I don’t call it anything in particular. All I can say is that kink permeates nearly every aspect of our domestic lives, and this is how we interpret consent, for us:

1. In terms of the literal definition of “24/7,” no, we do not actually practice kink every second of every day for every week all year round. That would be exhausting and nearly impossible under the normal requirements of real life–we are real people with real housework, jobs, social lives and so on. But we do integrate our kink into most facets of our relationships, well outside the realm of bedroom activities. Sometimes I wash dishes because they need washing, and sometimes I wash dishes because I’m ordered to. Sometimes K puts on her shoes because she needs to leave the house for work, and sometimes I put them on for her because she needs to leave the house for work. Sometimes she says “please” and “thank you” and sometimes she doesn’t–and the absence of such isn’t rude, it’s an expression of dominance. In a word, we have house rules.

2. We operate under a general framework of consent. Put another way, the probability of my not consenting to an activity is extremely, extremely low. So K works under the assumption that most things she does will be okay with me, and needs not ascertain consent for each and every activity.

This is somewhat akin to the way that vanilla people in established relationships assume certain liberties with each others’ bodies. When you are first dating, you might feel anxious or require permission to put your hands under her shirt, or to put your arm around his waist without asking. Once the relationship has been established, you can do these things nearly subconsciously without requiring permission to enter your partner’s personal space. K doesn’t need to ask if she can do hurtful things to me, it’s assumed. I don’t like each and every thing she does to me, but generally, I like that she does them and I’m okay with it.

3. But this doesn’t mean that consent can’t be revoked. I don’t mean entirely, as in the dissolution of the D/s relationship, but rather on a case-by-case basis. This most often happens when K will ask my permission to do something that, technically, she doesn’t need to ask for. E.g., I don’t particularly enjoy having my nipples played with, but most times K won’t ask before torturing them–my dislike is really not a factor. Other times, such as when I’m having a bad day, she might give me the possibility to refuse. That’s a courtesy, and a gift to me, to return my consent temporarily…

I think it’s also understood that I could voluntarily revoke it, temporarily or for a specific activity–maybe, I’m not sure. Perhaps it would require some negotiation; I’ve yet to do this. If we ever found ourselves in a situation where I needed to, it would probably mean something was seriously out of whack.

Ultimately, I rely heavily on K’s intuitive understanding of my needs and abilities. Our system works because she knows what I can take, and what I want–and doesn’t push me beyond my boundaries or at inappropriate times. When it comes down it, that’s what makes our relationship not that different from any other kind of relationship and differentiates our dynamic from one of abuse. We are also exceptionally well matched in terms of interests, which means that she very rarely asks me to do submit to things that I don’t enjoy. Except sometimes she does…but that’s the subject of another post.

thoughts on munches

Despite being a self-aware pervert since college (almost 10 years ago), I’m just now making my first foray into organized kink. It took me this long because, truthfully, I’m deeply skeptical of any organized special-interest group–my experience is that a fair level of drama can arise in such small communities. Also, like most people I have the typical fears of crossing social paths: I’m a recognizable sort of person, my job is fairly conservative, and I live in a relatively small community. So while I’ve attended some large events in other areas, I’ve tended to shy away from munches and other local-level activities.

But. I also believe strongly in the value of community. Members of fringe groups of any kind need community to survive, to deal with the darkness of our own minds and the horrors of conservative society. And we need like-minded folks to find new ideas, new partners, to make living interesting. As the venerable and troubling Dan Savage says, “everyone always talks about the dangers of coming out of the closet but nobody talks about the dangers of being in the closet.” While some people might be perfectly happy practicing their deviance-of-choice in isolation, not only will that cut your potential dating pool down to lowlifes or nothing, you can go crazy alone.

So. Off to the munches for me.

mouth full of rocks

Yesterday K and I were bantering about something or other, housework I think, and she said “You just don’t appreciate what your boyfriend does around here!” (or something to that effect).

Now, I am fairly used to thinking of K as male, male-ish, I mean it’s kinda hard not to at this point. And in my own mind I use a fuzzy mix of pronouns and descriptors. But this is the first time I have heard K use such a word in self-reference out loud.

[Cut to thought: why is the word “boyfriend” so much more powerful than any of the sex-related gendered words we use (e.g., “his big cock,” etc? Why does it feel so much more socially significant?]

Anyways, I would love to say that I didn’t skip a beat and carried on like I didn’t notice. But, dear readers, I am just not that smooth. I said sputtered something like, “Uh, what? Did? You just say?” and K repeated it slowly, breaking out in a blush. So I initiated Instinctual Minor Hug and Comfort Response Protocol #62 and it was, as I said, no big deal. But I’m sure I’ll fuck it up a few more times yet, as things change.

There’s nothing wrong with all of it but all I want is to do and say the right girlfriend things, help us through this with patience and grace. Please.

looks

In recent months K and I have been attracting significantly more attention in public, primarily because K’s gender presentation has tilted significantly further towards masculine. It’s not just her clothes or her hair, it’s the other gender markers of posture and gait which have changed enough so that nowadays, it seems only about half the population reads her as female. Small children, older people–the populations you’d expect–are confused by her, they stumble over pronouns and stare awkwardly a beat or two too long. What is that? A further number, I think, read us as also as a heterosexual couple, but only for a moment. She doesn’t pass so thoroughly. You can almost see them thinking, “that guy’s girlfriend is hot. shit, that’s a dyke!”. At least that’s what I imagine they’re thinking, perhaps it’s some other, more innocuous version. In any case I can see it, over and over, on people’s faces.

The first effect of this is that I have an increasingly odd feeling that I only exist in her presence. Together we–and by extension I–are conspicuous to the straight masses, and recognizable to the queers. Alone, nobody really pays much attention to me, I’m a fairly ordinary young, able-bodied white woman. Well, I attract the same attentions that other people of my type do, which is a whole other subject. Anyways, that femme invisibility thing. I’m only queer around her–alone, heterosexual men assume I’m available, and other women look right through me.

[It occurs to me here that she might like the idea that I only exist around her, since of course I exist for her and I am hers. But I assure you it is uncomfortable nonetheless.]

The second effect is more interesting. Have you ever shaved with a new razor when you’ve been using a dull one? Expecting resistance, that slight degree of pressure—and meeting nothing but slick air, a perfect trim?

That, folks, is how I feel homophobia when I’m out on a date with Saint. People are so exceedingly polite, they open doors and nod at us approvingly. But most notably, much of the time they hardly notice us at all. Unremarkable. Nobody looks twice. On his arm, in the fancy restaurants he prefers, we are invisible. A perfectly normal heterosexual couple.

And that experience of being in public with him, the utter lack of pressure, shocks me. It’s incredibly disorienting, possibly more so than the unfamiliar topography of his naked body: it makes me realize, in a fundamental way, how much social resistance I experience on an everyday level. The wearying effect of low-grade homophobia and gender fear, the way I’ve adjusted my public posture to defend K–all of that dissolved, gone. In a way our dates are incredibly liberating, not just because I delight in his presence, but the ethereal freedom I feel being finally, finally normal.

——–

I don’t want to get into a whole social critique here. That’s been done to death, really. But there is another interesting facet to the experience of being publicly normative, specifically for me: which is, that being from a mixed-ethnicity family, but living in a rural area, my entire childhood played out against a backdrop of barely-masked personal and institutional racism. Again, this is something I only really noticed once I moved to college and blended in with other people mostly like me, by which point I was well entrenched in my lesbian persona that I barely noticed the shift. And that all, I think, firmly underscores the absolute weirdness I feel being in such a, well, ordinary-looking couple.

like geese overhead

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. I’m halfway done with my master’s now, the long slow grind of graduate school which leaves me no time and very little energy for sexblogging. And in recent times I’ve made more RL kinky friends which has taken the edge off the need for online exhibition community. It’s just not as necessary to my happiness and well-being as it was some years ago.

Yet.

My partner K and I are pondering, wonderously, our fifth anniversary. I don’t say celebrating because we don’t–too jinxy, a la Dan Savage. We’re the type that poo-poos on Valentine’s Day. But thinking that we have known each other five years does give me pause– I am still amazed by her brilliance, sharp wit, and creative sadism and I hope we shall be together much longer yet.

And Saint and I have been seeing much more of each other. I could almost call him my boyfriend–it almost begins to resemble a real relationship, except without the trappings of commitment that come with such.  So la. We enjoy each others’ company still and I must be content with that.

We’ve been in this odd V for three years, K and I, Saint and I.  They are two completely different tops and I’m a different girl for each. But in the past few months they have grown a bit closer, and I’ve been surprised to find my two relationships have converged. Totally unexpected but once it happened, it seemed inevitable, the thing that we were always moving towards–they like each other, and they have at least one common interest in my body, in the noises I make in pain.

And in each other. All this time I never knew he had this other side: the sweet little boy with a soft voice, strong and obedient. K is thrilled, of course: now she has one of each kind, a girl and a boy! So we are all deep in scheming. What games should we play next? What horrible twisted things to enact? Indeed.

7:26 am

A new skirt, grey pinsripes with kick pleats, just to my knees. I call her over to show her how it flutters, the three little buttons that close just below the small of my back. She murmurs approvingly and shoves me over the edge of the bed, fingers closed around the back of my neck, cupped around one hip, grinding into me. Laughs, and leaves me there with both palms flat, inhaling the freshly-made sheets, alone in the bedroom in my new pinstriped skirt.

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