Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Corner of the Sim at the Cellar

I have improved the outlook and facilities at the corner of the Sim at the Cellar.  There are now nice rocks and spray, a tree, a leashing ring, a bench with a nice pose (above) as well as some chains on the end wall opposite, for subs that needs some "downtime" (or is it uptime in this case?).



Saturday, February 21, 2009

10 common questions/worries about BDSM - Eloise Pasteur

Sometimes people come along with some big, heavy questions about BDSM. Quite often, if they're raised in public, it turns out quite a few people have worried about the same things. So, here are some answers to be thinking on.

1.    I've just found out that I like (some aspects of) BDSM. I'm worried that I'm a pervert!

There are lots of answers to this, starting from "Welcome to the pervert's club!" to thinking deeply about what it means to be a pervert. The second is probably more useful to discuss though.

Perversion is, essentially, defined by your culture. Some cultures have strong taboos against public nudity, some are remarkably relaxed about it. In the former, topless sunbathing, upskirt shots and the like are taboo and titillating, naughty or even illegal. In the latter, exhibitionism is a rare fetish, and often involves being partially (but inappropriately) dressed rather than being naked in public.

If you go back to pre-reformation Europe, then the heights to which we were meant to aspire was marriage to God and living a celibate life as a priest, monk or nun. Because this was impossible for most people, it was considered second best to "suffer" intercourse within marriage purely for the sake of propagating the species. Under that definition, sex for pleasure, for comfort and so forth was perverse - although I bet a lot of couples did both of those and more.

Some people will doubtless regard what you do as perverse. That's a reflection of their inability to think outside the boxes that society tries to use to control us, often a desire to control other people and their ability to have fun, and their willingness to judge you from insufficient information. That doesn't make it easier to live with of course, if it's your parents, your boss or similar, but it doesn't make them right.

Are you giving your partner(s) loving care and attention? Are you mutually pleasuring and supporting each other? If you are, then what you do is between you, and it's almost certainly a healthy relationship. If what others think of it matters more than the pleasure you get from it, then that is a choice you have to make, but you will probably be happier and still look for relationships that satisfy all your needs over time, even if you decide for the moment to have a relationship that doesn't shock your peers. You should also, of course, consider keeping the relationship you like, but not being quite so open about what you do in the bedroom (dungeon, bathroom, nightclub or wherever). Families don't really want to know, even if you'd like to tell them. Friends can usually cope better - but you don't have to tell them every little detail unless you like that or they witness it anyway.

Before leaving this topic, one of the things that often comes up is "how you can like giving/receiving pain? That's just sick!" Whilst many D/s couples, and certainly those into the S&M end of things go further, possibly much further than this, most people, even the vicar, have indulged in erotic pain at some point, one way or another. Did you never give, or receive, a hickey/love-bite? Whether it's sinking your teeth into your partner (not my thing) or being bitten and the bruises left after the bite (sign me up! More, more!) you're into giving and receiving pain in an erotic situation. Still think it's sick?

2.    I've just watched CSI/SVU/Criminal Minds etc. and they're hunting a sexual sadist. They refer to this person as criminally insane too. Am I criminally insane and will I be hunted down?

There is an unfortunately double use of sadist here. If you like giving pain (you're a top of some description) then you are a sadist more or less. However when the various law-enforcement agencies are looking for a sexual sadist, they are looking for a sexually predatory sociopath (or sometimes a psychopath) with sadistic tendencies, not the local heavy top. There is a difference, and it isn't a small one. A top, no matter how rough he/she plays and caters to extreme fantasies, does so with the collusion and desire of their partner. A heavy top meets the needs of a heavy bottom, and they both enjoy what they do together. Your typical sexually predatory sociopath doesn't have that partnership. Rather they inflict their desires on someone, often more than one person, in a way that is not in the slightest consensual. They kidnap, rape, abuse and often kill their victims. Whilst you may have fantasies about being kidnapped and forced, or kidnapping and forcing another, the point at which it crosses the line is when they have no idea, no desire to play along, and it's purely for you.

I actually have mild kidnap fantasies. They're hard to work in Second Life, but knowing that Mistress might (IRL) kidnap me and drag me away for a weekend of "rape" and "torture" sometime is kind of exciting. But I know and trust Mistress, and if she rapes and tortures me, I'll be fit to go to work on Monday, and I rather expect I'd enjoy the weekend, even if I was worried it might be for a week or longer and I'd miss work unexpectedly or something. The prospect of being kidnapped and held by a genuine rapist who will probably kill me - that really doesn't do anything for me. Thinking about the former makes me tight and tingly in all the right places. Just writing that much about the second has killed that feeling and is making me sick.

So, your typical heavy top is not a sociopath or a predator. She will may act in a way that appears to be torturing you, kidnapping you and the like, but it will be with your consent and to some extent with your knowledge and complicity. It's a very different situation, even though the wording used is rather similar.

3.    I've just heard about Boy George being sent to prison for 15 months for chaining someone to his bed and beating them. Am I a criminal?

The answer here is more complicated, and needs the proviso that I am not a lawyer. I am based in the UK, so the criminal offence names I am going to use are from British law, but most countries have broadly similar laws that will apply.

My understanding of the law is that, with the exception of depictions of paedophilia and sex with children whatever you get up to in Second Life with a consenting partner or partners is OK. Outside of Second Life, the law usually protects the sub and puts the Domme at risk. Tying someone to the bed can be construed as illegal imprisonment. Beating or branding someone is almost certainly assault, possibly with actual or grievous bodily harm. Kidnapping and pretending to rape someone looks a lot like kidnap and rape to the police, and the kidnapper and rapist will be the person charged. Now, if you are doing these things sensibly, and consensually, in most cases the police won't find out because the sub won't want to complain - Boy George was arrested because he chained a model to his bed and beat him without consent, the model escaped and reported him to the police. But, if the police come knocking at your door for something else, they could, if they want to, arrest you for unlawful imprisonment if your sub is tied to the bed...

The law doesn't always protect the sub mind. If your Mistress can control your clothes in Second Life, in most places if you turn up naked, or exposed, even gagged and chained, people don't bat an eyelid - it isn't something you necessarily see every day even in Second Life, but it's not uncommon. Turning up to the mall naked and with chains from your clit ring, gag, collar and nipple rings to a leash in Mistress' hand is rather more likely to cause comment! In the UK being naked in public like that is usually a public disorder offence (Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace for example) and the defense of "Mistress told me to dress this way" is not a defence at law.

But remember, apart from depicting sex with a child, in Second Life you're legal.

4.    I'm worried that I'll start things and get kinkier and pervier until I can't control myself.

My simple answer to this is "No, you won't" but that deserves some explaining.

Most people, often at some early point in their exposure to BDSM, see a limits list. It is surprisingly easy for most of us to fill in the majority of that list, even if we've never tried BDSM in any way or shape before. If you fill in the list you basically have, typically 6 categories of answers:
  • I know I'll like this to some extent
  • I think I'll like this to some extent
  • I think I won't like this
  • I know I don't like this, but it doesn't revolt me
  • WTF is this?
  • OMG NO!
As time goes by you might find that some of the things you thought you might like a little or not like you like a lot (I wasn't keen on nipple rings or clit rings, I wouldn't be without them now), I was very unsure about long term chastity belt wearing, and I still am, but I wore one for a month and don't regret having done it, even though I'm not looking for a repeat thanks!

You will also, of course, come to learn just what some of the "WTF is this?" category are, and you might find you like some of them.

But this isn't really becoming kinkier - this is just exploring which bits you like and don't like and how strongly as you learn more about yourself and your sexuality. However, I've been doing limit cards for getting on for 5 years now, at least occasionally. The hard limit "OMG NO!" things are still all hard limits. I haven't really added new kinks to my psyche, although I have discovered that some things I wasn't that keen on in the abstract are actually really good in practise. I've also discovered that some things I thought I'd like a lot don't really do it for me. The list of kinks I like and hope Mistress uses on me has changed, but I've both added and taken away from it, but I still have boundaries I won't cross, even for her.

5.    I'm worried about meeting IRL and finding I don't like the same things as I do in SL/can't submit to her/can't make her submit to me

Meeting IRL is a big step. It can be made all the bigger because there can be long distances between you IRL that you are going to work around. Long distances make one or the other person travel a lot, and away from "safe" or "neutral" ground because they may well be in a country they don't really know that well.

You should, I would say must, get to know the person as well as possible. Skype, photos, video-chat if you can over skype, as well as a relationship in SL, email and all the rest. Try everything you can to make sure you both want this. Even though I'm hard of hearing, we've tried Skype - it's doubtless not as good as if I could hear well, but we have some idea of what the other sounds like.

If can submit to your partner after all this, you can almost certainly submit to her face-to-face. Your submission is, after all, something you offer to her and you can almost certainly offer them to her face-to-face if you can do it in SL, through Skype, email, and everything else. In some ways we have it easy as the subs - we're used to giving up control and waiting. When you're meeting for the first time, you will both be nervous, but you can give up control and wait patiently. The nerves will go, in time, and it should work out.

Similarly, if your sub will submit to you, then you shouldn't have to worry. You will both be nervous, but she's used to subbing to you, and will sub to you. If you're in a relationship where you normally play at forcing her, you might want to take that aspect easy at first - and negotiate this in advance. In Second Life a 90 year old 4'10 and 80 lb woman can "force" a pro-wrestler. In real life, the 90 year old will still be able to dominate the willingly submissive wrestler, but forcing her will require more choreography than it does in Second Life.

The biggest difference will come with how the sub's body reacts. In Second Life I love kneeling. In real life, I have two bad knees and a bad back - kneeling for more than a couple of seconds is frankly impossible and some of the tension poses over a horse or similar are equally impossible. Being tied in suspension poses, especially inverted ones, causes not that much discomfort in SL (although a great deal of excitement at the style and completeness of the restriction). IRL whilst you can be tied and suspended fully for quite a long time without problems by an expert, finding things strong enough to take your weight and an expert tier/suspender is rare - although with time and practise both of you will get better.

Both of you will have to adjust to this. Your Mistress will probably find that things you obey willingly and completely in Second Life you just can't do in real life. Avatars can be animated in ways that even the most supple gymnasts can't manage, can take highly restrictive tension bondage for days without developing cramps, sores or similar and in the ultimate can be hung by the neck without suffocation. Real bodies can't do these things, most of us can't even get close to any of them. Of course, depending on your relationship, she might use that to punish you and she is perfectly within her rights so to do, but in any relationship that is likely to last your Mistress will be considerate of your physical limits, so if you can't get your elbows together behind your back IRL (however easy it is in SL) then she might encourage you towards this (and over time you might find you can do it) without punishment until you can manage it. Most people who have extant SL relationships and choose to meet in real life will find, in D/s terms, it is quite like starting over, but it progresses to a deep and comfortable relationship more quickly than normal. The habit of submission and obedience is there, and the psychological knowledge of each other and needs, like, habits and so on are well established. However, the physical limits, and the specific feelings of bodies in contact with each other are new and have to be learnt. That can, of course, be very exciting and often is. That discovery time also helps with determining the physical limits that you will each have to get used to.

6.    Crime and Punishment

This is always a thorny issue - and in part the answer will be "it depends on your personality, likes and dislikes and relationship" as it is more or less bound to be.

Lets start with the types of punishment. 

There's play punishment, the kind of thing where you're sent to do an impossible task such as find my favourite picture and bring it here - you go, it's already broken, you get punished for breaking it. The punishments in this case are almost always fun. You get put over the knee and spanked, then brought to orgasm for example would be a suitable, and probably typical, play punishment. If your relationship is largely entirely separate scenes with lots of role-play you might have lots of these. School-girl and teacher, police-woman and shop-lifter, maid and mistress etc. Some proportion of these will involve play punishments, because most people who play in the D/s field like the tying up, the judicious application of erotic pain and the like that adds the BD and SM sides to the BDSM field. If you have a more continuous relationship you'll still have times playing this sort of game too. Play punishment is role-play, but can be and often is used in a lifestyle relationship as well. In a more vanilla context, silly stories about "I got my husband to dress like Batman and spring from the wardrobe to rescue me" and so forth are exactly the same sort of thing. The types of play almost certainly (at least usually) define the sorts of "punishment" you're going to see - Police-woman and shoplifter is a classic for public nudity for example as the police-woman removes each "stolen" piece of clothing as evidence. You might well then be cuffed and dragged off, and get into a group sex scene if that's your kind of thing as the whole of the police-force at that station come in to "check" on the prisoner. School-girls get into either mucky play - hockey on a muddy pitch for example, or some sort of caning/spanking when you misbehave in class. The list carries on, and there are certainly variations, but this kind of thing can be loads of fun despite having strong normal tropes.

Then there is real punishment. Mistress tells you to wait at home, naked, tied to the bed and gagged. She comes home to find you dressed, not gagged and nowhere near the bedroom. You are in trouble - it doesn't matter if you've chosen to disobey, she's come home early or what, you are clearly not obeying her instructions. If you've got a really good excuse - the police opened the door to "rescue" you, you've just got home from an interview and you have rules that let you dress and go out for interviews etc. then you might get away with it, but it's unlikely in any other circumstances. Speaking personally, I rarely, I won't say never because I have done it, behave in a way that is going to seek punishment. The reason for this is quite simple. Each time I've been properly punished, I have completely hated it and I have no desire to be punished again. That said, I think this is the way it should be. If I transgress, I should be punished, and punished in a way that will make me not do it again. For me, being spanked isn't a punishment, it's a pleasure. Being whipped is a punishment for me because the pain is so severe I can't find any erotic pleasure in it. Being denied access to Mistress is a punishment too, and perhaps one of the commonest ones. There are subtler variations too - losing the privilege of calling her Mistress is a surprisingly nasty one for example. To my mind these punishments should be limited in time, clear, and if possible modified to suit the crime. Denial of contact is a good one for a sub that pesters for attention. Restrictions on calling her Mistress are ideal when you don't call her Mistress in public despite the fact you both know you should. Some people will tell you that you should never get punished like this. I have to disagree, and will address that further below. 

7.    It's got to be fun/She can do what she wants

Both of these statements contain elements of truth, but they're dangerous because they're not really wholly true. 

If you are playing with someone as a one-off or very occasional thing, then I would say that normally I would expect both sides to want it to be fun. But, if you say "Mistress, you can do whatever you like with me" then you're (probably) not being honest - most of us have some limits - and to some extent you deserve not to have fun until you learn to say "I don't like X, Y, Z Mistress, but anything else is OK." This also gives us the limits of the truth of the second statement. When you submit to someone most of us submit within limits. Within those limits, she can do what she wants. As she gets closer to them she needs to be careful, and pushing hard at or through the limits returns to you the right to say "STOP!" in some pre-arranged fashion (Red as a safeword say) a right she really should respect. If she doesn't respect your stop safeword, that's not D/s that's abuse - although of course occasionally someone can hit the return key when they intend to stop so one or maybe two sentences more could be an honest mistake, it's carrying on regardless that tips it into abuse.

In a longer term relationship it's trickier. Obeying orders you want to, or obeying orders that give you a thrill because they "tickle" a taboo rather than smashing it is fun. Turning up naked to a formal non-D/s ball in Second Life is fun if exhibitionism is one of your foibles for example - and in SL you probably won't get arrested, expelled or similar. Someone has a photo of me in a black and purple latex catsuit and a very obvious steel chastity belt somewhere. PG really, although not quite normal street clothes - except I'm at a teachers' conference at the time. That was fun. But, subs can be very complex things - part of D/s is submitting to your dominant's wishes, even if you don't really want to. Part of you is getting a reward - doing what your dominant wants - whilst other parts of you are wishing you didn't have to do this. One of my former Mistresses had me show people around the house and gardens naked, whoever they were. With most people this wasn't a problem, but just occasionally it would be someone that made me feel very uncomfortable, and I would have to do it anyway. I could do things like not offer to show them around and hope they didn't ask of course - that was OK - but this didn't always work. This kind of awkward order is something that she was perfectly entitled to, wasn't always fun, and yet strengthened my feelings of submission most WHEN it wasn't fun to do. The other thing, of course, is that in a longer-term relationship you will almost inevitably try new things. Some, hopefully most, of them will be good for both of you. Some will be bad for one or the other, some will be bad for both. Healthy relationships can stand this (and often giggle about it later) and decide not to go back there.

8.    Collars are Gorean/sacred/represent a personal submission/should be worn by all submissives/something else

The answer here is really something else. Collars are NOT Gorean, but they are universally used in Gor. Collars have been used to restrict slaves (in the non-sexual sense) since at least Roman times in the West, probably longer. Collars have been described in BDSM play for centuries - you can find them in the writings of de Sade for example. Gor adopted the collar because it's such a great symbol of submission/slavery and control - and they were used in history because if you can control someone's head and neck it's very hard for them to do much like escape, run or fight back.

In RL BDSM circles it's common for all submissives or the vast majority of them to wear a collar of some kind and rare for a dominant to do so. You are closer to a situation of "should be worn by all submissives" than anything else. However, in real life it's relatively rare (and uncomfortable in the extreme) for a submissive to wear a collar all the time - in Second Life it's rather common (my collar has not been off in almost two years unless there's an attachment debacle trying new clothes on).

In Second Life I would say that it's more of a "something else" situation - people pick and choose as they like. It is reasonably common for submissives playing with someone, long-term relationship or no, to wear a collar, simply because collars contain lots of goodies that let your dominant control you - affect poses, tie you up and so on. The symbolism of always wearing the collar is representative of being always submissive to someone, and that of the locked collar of it being a restricted, long term relationship.

If you choose, whilst wearing a collar, to go to a Gorean sim, the free there, unless it's clear you're not Gorean, might reasonably assume you are a kajira and treat you as such. Read the rules, wear a "guest" tag or whatever it takes. Explain to them that you're not a kajira you're a visiting submissive and not there for them to play with (most times, if you are polite with such an explanation you will find those trying to "use" you will respect that). At the end of the day, unless you've been abandoned there and told to submit to whatever goes on as a punishment or similar, you can always leave, mute them or whatever it takes, the same as anyone else that doesn't respect your limits and boundaries.

9.    All submissives long to be broken

Another tricky one - before you fly off the handle you need to find out what they mean by broken. Most submissives in long term relationships will, at times, hope to or even ask to have their soft limits and even their hard limits explored to find out where they lie now. That would include me, on occasion. Some people describe this exploration as "breaking" and on those terms I would say it's fair comment. To my mind, however, breaking someone is not the same as exploring their limits. Exploring their limits can be done slowly, carefully and lovingly - it is something that is known to be high risk and so taken gently with the expectation at each step that you might have to stop. Breaking them sounds a much more focussed, uncaring process. "I am going to push this limit to the point I want regardless of your wishes" sounds like breaking them. That's never been something that I have any interest in. Some submissives might, but in my experience it's a minority of them, and certainly not all of them.

How you explore those limits, assuming you do, is something between you and your Mistress. I'm always reminded with exploring hard limits of the approaches to curing phobias. There are two methods, called broadly desensitisation and flooding. Desensitisation involves lots of little steps... thinking about spiders, seeing a spider in a cage in a different room, in the same room, out of the cage next door, out of the cage in the room and so on. Flooding is (more appropriately for those with phobias about water) like pushing them in the deep end of the swimming pool. Both have advocates in the psychiatric profession, and times they are probably the best treatment. 

10.        All submissives are broken, abused, hopeless creatures.

Crap. Pure and utter bullshit. Complete and utter nonsense. It is, inevitably, true that some submissives are. It is equally inevitably true that some dominants are. If you have two large enough subsets of people, there will be people in both subsets. There are estimates that about 25-30% of the population have suffered abuse and about 20-25% of the population have mental health conditions at some point in their lives. If the two are totally unlinked about 5-8% of the population have both (the cross-over is higher in fact, and it's about 15% that are estimated to have both). There's about 10% of the population that have BDSM tendencies, so about 1.5% of the population are into BDSM and have been abused and have mental health conditions. About 3% have BDSM tendencies and a history of abuse, and about 2% have BDSM tendencies and mental health issues.

Within the already selected groups of BDSM people the numbers you would expect return to the population norms - 25-30% will have suffered abuse, 20-25% will have mental health conditions. I would say that actually the proportions you find of both conditions are lower than this in my experience (probably about half of the general levels) suggesting that actually a history of abuse and a history of mental health illness keeps about half of the possibly interested away from the BDSM: It requires a degree of mental toughness and health to cope with the demands of the lifestyle. It is possible (here is even more of a guess) that BDSM attracts those with more serious mental health conditions and those who are both victims of abuse and have related mental health conditions. My experiences don't support this really, but I don't make a habit of surveying the mental health of those I meet in depth, so it is possible and I just haven't noticed it. However, people will say this so if you're exploring the BDSM lifestyle, you might want to make your own mind up about the people you meet - there will be a small proportion of very weird people, just like there are everywhere. 

My experience, both personal and seeing those around me, is that by and large both submissives and dominants in happy relationships are at least as happy, mentally stable and so on as the general population. Finding a relationship that fulfils your needs is a good thing for all concerned, even if the day-to-day nature of that relationship isn't quite the norm for your society, whatever that is.

Eloise Pasteur

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Infestation at the Cellar!

It has come to my notice that there may be a plague of brats at the Cellar.  This seems to be a clandestine group of subs intent on sowing chaos and disorder at the club.  To combat this I am forming a group of "Brat Catchers" to deal with the problem - if you want to join the fight on the side of order then contact me.  If anyone catches sight of such a brat then they are to apprehend or capture the beast and inform me immediately for an intensive course of de-programming.

I am sorry for an inconveniance caused (except to the brats).

There is now a corner of the dungeon for dealing with the brats.

You have to be a member of the "Brat Catchers" to open the door.


Friday, February 6, 2009

At the bottom of the lagoon

Ratna and Moni chained at the bottom of the lagoon as shark bait....

Fortunately (?) moni's chastity belt short cicuited and shocked the shark.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Dramatic Rocks and Foam Outside

See if you can find the two leashing rings to give your sub the best view!  ;-)