Thursday, May 8, 2014

BDSM Safety Month: Doing Negotiation Right


Did you know it’ BDSM Safety Month?  There was a really excellent post on Fet (https://fetlife.com/users/18720/posts/2208564 ) in which lady up in British Columbia posted about a very unfortunate incident in which a newbie went home w/ a male Dom she met at a munch or a party, had no safe call, didn’t check references, etc. – and apparently he raped her.  In response, the lady who wrote this Fet post asked that we all make May BDSM Safety Month – that every lifestyle veteran and community leader try to do something this month (a blog post, host a topical munch, teach a class, tweet a link to an article…) about some aspect of BDSM safety: safe calls, references, BDSM 101, Dungeon safety, STI awareness…  I think that is an awesome idea, so, as someone who’s been doing this for 13 years, I am answering the call.

I thought about what to write about.  Maybe the importance of checking references?  What SSC/RACK means to me?  Don't do erotic asphyxiation by yourself.  Eventually I decided to write about negotiation, b/c it’s one of the most important and basic skills to having a safe and satisfying BDSM scene – yet I find very few people do it well.  Most either move past it too fast or else they approach t as a mood-killing checklist.

Okay, first thing.  Negotiation is important; don’t skip it.

Second thing: don’t give me your fucking checklist.

Negotiation done right should be foreplay and seduction.  Get this in your head: The scene starts when you start to negotiate!  Stand close to the person you’re negotiating w/ - and touch one another.  You’re getting ready to have a BDSM scene for gods’ sakes, so let’s start w/ some petting.  Open your stance.  Look them in the eye while you talk (unless they want you looking at their feet and then do that).

Starting off, before you even get into limits:  What kind of bottom are you?  Are you a stoic bottom who remains still and quiet while taking a beating?  Do you like to resist and fight back?  Are you a talkative bottom?  A smart-assed masochist?  Do you like to joke around and laugh – or are you the New Age, woo-woo, put on some Enigma, and go on a trans-personal journey kind of bottom?

Me: I’m a very physically reactive bottom – not at all stoic.  I emote w/ my whole body when I play.  I usually slide into my puppy headspace during a beating and start to bark and growl.  However, during interrogation play I like to do the jokey smart-ass thing.

Related to that, how do you process pain?  My Owner (e.g.) screams really, really loud and hits things (the wall, the cross, other people…)

In addition to barking and growling, I tend to hop and “dance”

Level of bondage? 

If I’m doing impact play (i.e. beat the fuck out of the puppy), I generally don’t like a lot of heavy bondage b/c I like to bounce and hop.  When I first started, I preferred a blindfold or black-out hood, but these days, while I still like them sometimes, I generally feel more connected if I can watch the Top and make eye-contact while he or she plays w/ me.

Level of sexual contact?  It’s important to get this one out there.

If it’s the first time we’re playing – usually I don’t mind you touching my puppy parts w/ your hands/gloves (* see health conditions below), but that’s probably all that will happen on a first date.  ;)

Health conditions?  STI’s?  When was your last STI test?

(1) I have a bad left shoulder and scapula from a motorcycle accident, and sometimes impact right on my left shoulder blade can be a problem. (2) Although, fortunately, I don’t generally have problems w/ the accompanying rash, I am a carrier of the HSV2 virus, so you may want to wear gloves if touching my puppy parts.

Landmines or triggers?  These are things that can cause an unexpected, too powerful emotional reaction – whether anger or crying or panic, although the most common reaction seems to be dissociating and ‘zoning out.’  Usually these are like PTSD – related to some past incident – but often we don’t know we have them until the first time they get triggered.  They could be all kinds of things from being called a certain name or the use of a certain toy (e.g. a belt). 

None so far.

Hard limits?  Most people know this one, but unfortunately when they negotiate, often this the only thing most people cover.

Me:  Sounds, heavy CBT, scat, cigar or cigarette smoke…

Soft limits and turn-off’s?  I define soft limits as either ‘I don’t like it but I can take it if I must’ or ‘I can only do this if I’m in the right headspace for it.’

Cold, piss… and having to touch socks.  (I really fucking hate the texture of socks.)  This are quick turn-off’s for me.  However – there was one time when Ma’am had me sooooooo crazy horny, fuck-drunk that I was literally begging her to stuff more ice cubes up my ass – so it’s amazing what can happen in the right head-space.

Turn-on’s?  Often when negotiating we focus on what we don’t want to happen and forget to talk about what we do like.  Most Tops who are any good like to see the bottom enjoying themselves – they get a rush out of sending you into orbit.  Therefore, help them out, and don’t be shy about what gets you off.  (Just remember also, unless you’re w/ a pro-Don, negotiating a scene isn’t placing an order!!!  Let them know what you like, but don’t “top from the bottom.”)  Talking about turn-on’s is important.  Not only does it tend to lead to a good scene, but it also makes negotiation into foreplay.

For me: growling, biting, licking, sniffing, scratching, and such primal behavior is a big turn on.  I like more kinetic, impact play b/c the energy gives me a head rush.  (But I still sometimes also enjoy needles, wax, electro, or other, more quite kinds of play, too.)  I like thudy better than stingy.  Body punching is hot.  So is kicking.  The feel of a boot to my thigh or ass (or shoulder if I’m on all fours) is yummy.  My Owner often mixes in some light breath control – just putting her hands over my mouth and nose for 8 or 10 seconds – very hot.  I love to be rewarded and encouraged by hearing “good boy” and “good doggy,” and in the past I’ve gotten very turned-on when Sir has called me his “little fuck puppy.”

Aftercare and ending a scene?

For many years our joke was that the only aftercare I need is a cookie.  I’m not very needy w/ my aftercare… but my favorite way to end a heavy impact scene is, after you beat the fuck out of me, hydrate me, put on my pads, paws, leash, and hood, and go directly into pup play.  That is heaven!

So far I’ve written about negotiation from the PoV of a bottom – but don’t forget that Tops also are part of this, and most everything above also applies to the Top.  What kind of Top are you?  What are your limits – b/c Tops have limits, too!  Health conditions, STI’s, landmines, triggers?  (Tops can also have landmines and triggers.  I know one top who, upon the sound of someone banging on a wall, zoned out into a childhood flashback, and I knew another who did that when he smelled shit.)  Turn-on’s?  Aftercare needs/expectations? (Tops can have those, too.)

Because this relates to first-time play partners, I want to end on this:  I no longer remember where I heard it, so I can’t give credit where it’s due, but one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard for new play partners (particularly for the Tops) was this:  The first time you play w/ someone it’s more important that nothing goes wrong than it is that everything goes really awesome.  As long as the scene goes fine and you both have fun, then you will likely get a chance to play w/ that person again.  The more you play w/ and learn one-another, the more super-awesome your play will get, but don’t make the mistake the first time of trying to over-do it.  Just make sure it’s fun and enjoyable enough that they will want to do some more w/ you another time.  BDSM is about trust and by building trust gradually you can have better and better scenes.

Everyone play safe (or risk aware, if you prefer), and please take up the call to make May BDSM Safety Month.

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