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Witnessing the Aftermath of the Battle of Richmond, 2020

In July of 2000, I was 19. I was a freshly-minted not-virgin, and much of my summer felt like a classic coming-of-age film. Of particular note was the bizarre road trip adventure I took with a couple of strangers that eventually wended its way to downtown Richmond, Virginia. I grew up in North Carolina, in the most segregated city in the country by many measures at the time (Winston-Salem), and I was no stranger to racism. But as I stood on that street, I realized there was an entire universe of racism I had yet to comprehend. Towering monuments to the confederacy (I refuse to capitalize it) lined the street. In my memory of it, there were at least 20, but apparently it was only 5. But what horrified me most was that the street was mostly full of Black people (to the point where my white stranger-friends and I stood out like sore thumbs). It felt like white people, clearly a numerical minority here, nevertheless felt the need to assert their ownership of this street, this city, this country–and to remind Black people that they were unwelcome. I was genuinely, truly, absolutely confused and shocked that the hundreds of Black people I saw on the street weren’t trying to tear down these monuments RIGHT NOW. The fact that they weren’t suggested that 1. They were really used to this kind of blatant oppression 2. Social conditioning had taught them not to worry about it right now and 3. Perhaps most ominously, that there were bigger racial problems they needed to deal with. There’s been a piece of my heart that’s been sad and angry and guilty and horrified ever since.
I wanted to rip those monuments down myself, but I knew that I didn’t really deserve that satisfaction as a white person. I’m devastated that it took 19 fucking years for these monsters to come down, but I needed to go see for myself that they had, and to mourn the agonizingly slow rate of meaningful racial change in this country.
One of the awful truths that gets lost so often in our conversations about racism in America is that structural racism means that white people grow up in a state of carefully government- and socially-crafted oblivion. On some level, we know that life is harder for Black people, but we don’t really understand why or how or feel any connection to it. The system is designed to keep us in barely sympathetic ignorance. Something has to disrupt our illusions in order for us to “get it,” and then it takes years of effort and education to destroy a lifetime of smoke screens (what the great Black sociologist W.E.B. DuBois called “the veil”). That day in Richmond, I felt like someone had accidentally let the veil slip in front of me, and I’ve never been the same since.
I saw a post from a Black woman on Twitter recently saying, “white people aren’t used to thinking this much about race, take care of yourselves.” One of the many components of white privilege is that worrying about race is sort of optional for you, and I’m well aware that depressingly few white people do. But I’ve opted in for most of my adult life since that day in Richmond; thinking about race is a big part of my job, and explaining it is something I do almost every day. White privilege for me means that I don’t have to think about race every day *all the time*; but more importantly, I get to emotionally disconnect from it–which is different from not thinking about it. For me as a white person, that twitter user was sort-of wrong: I think about racism constantly, but I’m not used to letting myself *feel* this much about racism everyday, because if I did, I’d just sob while I taught my classes. I’m accustomed to completely disconnecting from my lessons on race in order to get through them. Even while writing this, I’ve often had to correct myself from talking about white people as a “they” to a “we,” because distancing myself is how I normally cope. As soon as I start changing those pronouns, I start crying.
I went back to Richmond yesterday for some catharsis. I cried for much of the drive down, but surprised myself by not really crying at all once I got there. It felt like a battle had been won. Lee’s monument has little graves all around it memorializing Black people who’ve been shot by the police, which is heartbreaking. But being there, I can tell you that there’s no question that a battle has been won. Lives were tragically and horribly lost, and it’s only one battle in a very big war, but Black people were taking a well-earned victory lap all over that monument while I was there. There were so many Black families cheerfully posing for photos that I didn’t even get up on the monument myself as I had planned to. This was their moment, and as an ally, I bore witness to their victory from a respectful distance without needing to coopt it.
Symbols matter. There’s a little piece of my heart that feels hopeful and assuaged seeing these stone heads metaphorically chopped off. I wanted to guillotine them myself, but I accept that my role as an ally means trying to make a safe space for Black people to do the chopping. And I’m posting this with the hope in my heart that this is not just the end of something. It’s the beginning of something else.
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Interview with Evie Lupine

Evie Lupine interviewed me about the academic side of BDSM for her YouTube channel. You can check out the video at this link. Enjoy!

Rope bottoming education videos!

It’s the apocalypse 2020! So I started making rope bottoming education videos, with the idea that you can keep training for rope even if you’re lacking in riggers.

First video on Body Basics & Safety

Second video on Stretches & Body Prep

Third video on Managing Challenging Ties

If you want the professional version of this curriculum, follow this link to head over to KINK ACADEMY (and I’ll actually get paid 😉

Soon

“Do you really have to go?” I whispered in his ear. 

He smiled sadly. “Yes,” he said simply. 

****

As soon as he got into my house and put down his bags, he knelt in front of me.

“Are you going to do whatever I tell you to, slut?” I asked. 

“Yes, mistress.” 

Going through this ritual, stroking the velvet of his collar and then putting it on him for the first time in so long, I actually breathed a sigh of relief. The simple act of locking him up and claiming him felt like a release for something heavy inside me. 

Pushing my hands ungently through his hair, pulling it slightly, I purred, “This is where you belong. On your knees, locked up for me.”

“Yes, mistress.” 

I stayed like that for a moment, but eventually I couldn’t resist standing up all the way and stepping over him. My long skirt was just black lace, and I deliberately surrounded him with it. He looked like he’d been completely veiled by me, and under my skirt, he began kissing the inside of my legs, his hands running up and down them. It felt so good that I actually giggled because it was hard to keep my balance. When his soft lips reached the place where my underwear met my thigh, he pulled away long enough to ask, “Please can I lick your pussy, mistress?” 

The mere fact of him asking turned me on even more than the feel of his ardent lips and hands. “Yes,” I gasped, my voice catching. 

He pulled my underwear aside, and gently started licking my labia. By the time he moved to my clit, I really couldn’t keep standing any more. Reluctantly, I stepped away from him, then pulled up on his hair to force him to stand up. 

For the first time since he knelt before me, I looked directly at his face. His eyes were glazed, as though he simply got lost in the folds of my skirt – – or me. I found that look impossibly arousing, and in it a confirmation that he really would do whatever I said. I felt the heat rising in my face as I absorbed that look, and he whimpered slightly as I leaned in to bite his bottom lip, not kissing him. His lip tasted like it belonged to me, and not just because it tasted a little bit like my pussy. The softness of it between my hard teeth was such a delicious contrast that I wanted to hold onto it until it bruised. 

But I didn’t, because his mouth was too pretty and useful to wreck. 

****

He sat up in bed, automatically bending his head forward. Without being asked, I took off the earring I was wearing with the key to his lock, and knelt behind him to unlock the lock holding the collar around his neck. 

In movies, the click of a lock opening like that symbolizes joy and freedom, usually from arrest or capture. But in bed, that tiny metallic click is an awful sound, like a door closing as someone you love leaves. The magic has ended; the lights have come up at the end of the play. This time, you’re left with dirty sheets to change, a trashcan full of condoms to empty, and a handful of velvet memories. 

I held his collar in my hands as he turned his head to me, kissed me gently, then got out of bed. 

****

I hooked my finger into the loop on his collar and dragged him (oh so willingly) up to my bedroom. I left him standing in front of me, while I lounged across my bed, still fully dressed in very little. 

“Take off your clothes, slut,” I said archly. 

He wasn’t wearing anything a stripper would wear, and he didn’t make a production out of it, but I didn’t want him to. He just pulled his t-shirt over his head, and then started unzipping his jeans, revealing his dick pressing insistently against his underwear. Then he took his underwear off too, leaving him wearing nothing but an impressive erection. 

“You look like food,” I told him, crooking my finger to beckon him closer. Still seated, I leaned forward to close my mouth around his dick, which was almost too big to swallow. Almost. Biting down hard at the base of it, I dug my fingernails into his balls, hearing him gasp and watching him struggle to stay upright. Still holding his balls, coming up for air, I asked, “How much do you think you can take, slut?” 

“Whatever you tell me to, mistress.” 

“That’s a very good answer, pretty,” I said, relinquishing his balls, and gently lapping at the head of his dick with my tongue. And then I pulled a truly awful contraption out from under my bed and held it up for him to see. “Even this?” 

He gulped visibly, but nodded. 

“I won’t do it unless you ask for it, slut,” I said, dragging one of my fingernails along his dick. 

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Please lock up my cock, mistress.” 

I grinned. “Well, since you asked so nicely! I mean, I think this is technically a chastity cage, but you’re just not that kind of slut, are you?” 

He shook his head nervously, and then I put a metal ring full of awful spikes around the base of his dick and locked it in place with an absurdly incongruous heart-shaped lock. 

“You’re the kind of masochist who thinks this is a cock ring, aren’t you?” I mocked. “You’re still totally hard.” He whimpered again. “What do you want, slut?” I teased, licking the head of his dick again. 

“Please can I fuck you, mistress?” he begged, sounding a little bit frantic. 

“With that on?” I laughed. “Don’t you think that will just make it hurt worse?” 

“Yes, mistress,” he said, his voice redolent with obedience and desire. 

“Fine, but if you can’t make me come with it on, I won’t let you come until tomorrow.” 

He groaned, but stood still while I put a condom on him, and then laid down on top of me. 

“You can take off my underwear,” I said generously, wondering even as I said it how the fabric of it pushing against his dick would have made his predicament even worse. 

****

As he stood up, I tried to enjoy the sight of his naked, slightly sweaty, just-fucked body, but all I could think was, I have no idea when I’ll see this again. Until a minute ago, I forced myself to live in the moment for days, enjoying everything about his body touching me right now and never letting myself think for more than a fleeting second about the fact that he would, inevitably, have to go eventually. 

That’s a lie. I did think about it for more than a second, but every time I did, I comforted myself with the fiction that he’d be back before I knew it. 

****

“You look nervous,” I mocked, taking hold of his dick with my hand to position it between my legs. He gasped. “Aw, does that hurt?” I teased. 

“Everything hurts,” he choked out. 

“I’m sure that will just make you want to come harder,” I taunted. “Don’t worry, this will make it better,” I cooed, lifting my hips up to force his dick inside me, then intentionally clenching my pussy around it. 

He screamed, and then my pussy clenched without me even trying, just because I was so turned on from the sounds of his pain. I wrapped my legs around his back, hooking my ankles together to force him to stay inside me. 

“You begged to fuck me, slut,” I hissed. “So do it.” 

“Yes, mistress,” he gasped. I unhooked my ankles, and he lifted himself up more to gain more leverage. Biting his lip in pain, he slowly started moving inside me. Every time I pulsed my pussy around his dick, he gasped, which was incredibly satisfying. 

“Please can I come, mistress?” he begged. 

“No, but by all means keep asking,” I said, making no serious attempts to come myself just to draw out his torment. “And pull your dick all the way out and come back in.” Looking defeated, he did exactly that, which caused both of us to gasp simultaneously–me with pleasure, and him with agony. 

“Please can I come, mistress?” he pleaded again. 

“No,” I said, pulling my pussy off of him this time. 

“Thank you, mistress,” he panted in relief, sweating from the effort of pleasing me and trying not to come. 

“Are you thanking me for not letting you come?” 

“It’s complicated.” 

“Hm, I thought so.” I grabbed hold of his dick again, causing him to gasp, and forced it back inside me. This time I reached down to touch my clit while he fucked me, and the look on his face was positively desperate. 

“Do you want me to come, slut?” 

“Yes, mistress.” 

“Even though you know it will make my pussy clench around you so much harder and make it almost impossible for you not to come?” 

“Yes, mistress.” 

Gasping, my pussy shuddered around his dick as I came, and he actually screamed, which only made me come harder. 

“You’re a good slut,” I panted, stuffing my fingers into his mouth to suck my cum off, his dick still inside me, albeit no longer moving. 

****

I should get dressed, I thought. What the fuck am I going to do in this bed once he leaves except morosely caress the cum stains on the sheets and try not to cry from how empty it feels? 

How do I look if I beg him to stay? I wondered. Pathetic, sweet, or cute? I care too much about my dignity to tell him how much I don’t want him to go, but even to me, that pride seems pathetic too. 

I’m so used to telling him what to do, but I don’t get to tell him what to do this time. Even a dom can’t order you to stay. 

****

“I think you deserve a reward for making me come with that awful thing on,” I said, pulling my fingers out of his mouth. 

“Thank you, mistress.” 

He pulled out of me, and I unlocked the lock on his dick, freeing it. There were tiny dents at the base of his dick where the spikes had poked him. I licked them, and he moaned. 

“Well, I freed your dick, but now I think I’ll just capture the rest of you,” I grinned. 

I put cuffs on his wrists and ankles, then attached them to latches on the bed. Spread eagled and still hard, I thought he looked more like food than ever. 

“You know, you ought to look like you’re at my mercy like this, but you look like you want it too much, slut,” I teased. It was true. He looked more like a cat that got the cream than a compromised sub. 

He grinned lazily. “I think you knew what you were getting when you threw me into your bed.” 

I pounced, sitting on top of his chest, and pulled my excuse for a dress off over my head. Then I grabbed his balls with one hand and choked his throat above his collar with the other. “My own fucking slut?” He nodded as best he could while I choked him. “Yes, I was well aware.” He actually looked a little bit disappointed when I stopped choking him, although his eyes were much more glazed with my hand still clutching his balls. I looked down at him. “You’re a whore who’s dying to have me fill your ass, aren’t you?” 

“Yes, mistress.”

I moved back a little bit so that I could sit on the bed and extend my leg enough to put my toes in his mouth. “Do you want me to fuck your ass with my foot, slut?” 

He cringed a little bit as he stopped sucking my toes long enough to admit, “Yes, mistress.” 

“Don’t worry too much,” I mockingly assured him. “I’ll start with my hand.” 

****

As I stared at him fully dressed in front of me, I couldn’t help but notice the ironic reversal of convention: a naked dom, sitting in bed, with a fully clothed sub standing in front of her. But that moment of irony was quickly overtaken by the conventional fears and doubts of every nervous dom ever: wondering if he’d ever be back, terrified that this time I’d pushed him too far, never quite believing him when he said he loves the terrible things I do to him. 

If he doesn’t come back, it’s my fault, the awful voices in my head whispered. 

Tell me again that it’s okay, that you’re okay, I want to beg. But you can only ask so many times. 

I’ve never felt as vulnerable and exposed as I do when I’m controlling him. 

****

I grabbed two sets of nipple clamps with chains, and attached a clamp to each of his nipples, then to my own, chaining us together. This wasn’t remotely fair, since my nipples were several times the size of his, so the clamps hurt me a lot less. But fair was hardly the point, of course. The point was that I like having my nipples pinched, and that whenever I moved too far away from him, I’d make him scream. I gave them an experimental tug, just to make sure they’d stay on, and his instant moan of pain was a good clue that I had the right idea. 

I put a glove on and, feeling kind, lubed up my whole hand. I pushed two fingers in his ass relatively gently, and he looked incredibly happy. 

“You’re such an ass slut,” I teased, wriggling my fingers inside him and watching how his dick reflexively twitched in response. I could see the desperate look in his eyes from wanting to touch his cock, but of course, his hands were pinned to the bed. He bit his lip, and I waited for him to ask, still moving my fingers inside him. 

“Please will you touch my cock, mistress?” 

“Sure,” I said, digging all five fingernails from my other hand into his cock. He screamed, and I intentionally jerked my body back too, pulling on the nipple chains between us, which made him scream even louder and me gasp. “You might want to be more specific if there’s something particular you want,” I warned cheerfully. 

His voice sounded a bit choked as he pleaded, “Will you please be nice to my cock, mistress?” 

“Probably not.” Instead I added another finger to the two already in his ass, and watched with delight as his hips bucked (clearly wishing he could fuck me too) and his entire face contorted in pained desire. 

“Try begging,” I suggested. 

Please will you touch my cock, mistress? Please?” 

“You still just don’t sound quite frantic enough.” 

He looked like he was going to bite his lip off in desperation. 

“How’s this?” I suggested, adding another finger to his ass and enjoying his writhing scream as I did. “I’ll touch your dick if you promise to lick my toes after I put them in your ass if you ask me to stop.” 

He groaned, looking trapped and disgusted and aroused all at once. “Yes, mistress,” he said in a small voice. 

“You’re such an ass slut that you’ll agree to just about anything to keep me fucking you, won’t you?” 

“Yes, mistress,” he said meekly. 

I started sucking his cock, my fist still in his ass, but I barely lasted a minute before he looked and sounded frantic. “Please stop, mistress, you’ll make me come!” 

I took my mouth away and gently stroked his dick with my other hand, but even with that he instinctively shook both his head and one of his pinned hands. “Please!” he begged. I laughed. 

“You spent so much time asking me to touch your dick, and now you’re begging me to stop. You really can’t make up your mind, can you, whore?” 

He just whimpered. 

“Well, I think now is a great time to switch to my foot,” I said, pulling my hand out slowly, taking my glove and the nipple clamps on me off, and putting my toes briefly in his mouth to suck on again. I fucking loved the way his tongue and lips felt on them, and I could almost come from the sensation. But instead of sinking into the feeling, I pulled my toes out and added some lube to them. Then I put two toes in his ass. 

His ass was already very open from having had most of my hand in it, and my absurdly sensitive toes reveled in the warm, wet, tightness of him. I got another toe in easily, and then started stroking his dick with my other foot. I really didn’t expect that to do much, but he started moaning in a way that strongly suggested it was, and his ass clenched around my toes as well. I managed to contort my foot until I had all five toes inside him, and at that point he screamed and begged, “Please can I come, mistress?” 

“Yes,” I said easily, which should have been his warning that doing so might not really be in his best interest. But I was far too intrigued by the prospect of making him come with just my feet to say no anyway. His ass twitched around my toes as he came, while splatters of his cum ended up between the toes on the other foot. I pulled my foot gently out of his ass, then rubbed the other foot in the puddle of cum on his stomach before sticking those toes in his mouth. 

“Clean up your mess, you dirty slut, and be very grateful I didn’t push you into having to clean up the other foot,” I ordered. I pulled the nipple clamps off his nipples, making him scream, but then he diligently started cleaning his cum off my toes while I laid back and played with my clit. His mouth felt so good on my toes that it didn’t take much for me to come, and I felt my toes twitching in his mouth in an echo of the way his ass had just twitched on my other foot. 

I pulled my toes out of his mouth, and then I put another glove on my hand and lubed it up. 

“Fuck,” he said, and I just grinned wickedly at him as I pushed two fingers back into his overfucked ass. 

His dick was only half hard, and his whole body jerked as I mercilessly found his prostate and stroked it. I was sure that if he wasn’t tied down, he would have tried to curl his body into a protective ball. Instead, he laid helplessly spread open, while he screamed, his head rocking from side to side in a silent “no.”

“You loved this just a minute ago,” I teased. 

“It feels completely different after I come,” he managed to say, although it was clear that he was having a lot of trouble talking through the pain. 

“I know. Poor slut, tortured by your own pleasures.” 

“This… Isn’t… Pleasure…”

“Fair. Tortured by my pleasures then.” I watched him writhe some more, and then generously promised, “I’ll stop whenever you ask.” I loved adding a whole other layer to his torment: an explicit challenge to see what he could take from me. 

His face was absolutely contorted in agony, and he didn’t last much longer before he just said, “Please.” I knew he didn’t want to actually ask me to stop. 

“Please what?” I asked innocently. 

Please,” he said more insistently. 

“Please you want to come?” I teased. 

His voice was thick with pain and something close to shame as he begged, “Please stop.” 

“Ooookay,” I said, pulling my fingers out of him with an evil wink. 

****

I could deal with him walking out my door so much more easily if he was just taking himself. 

You always give a piece of yourself away when you let someone in too deep. But I knew, with an ache that permeated my entire body, that I’d given him too much. From the first moment I ever pulled him up off his knees and into my bed, I foolishly gave him my desires. Anonymous fantasies I’d had for years now had a face, voice, smell, and taste: his. 

Getting exactly what you want is a dangerous thing. 

Now when he leaves, he won’t just be taking himself. He’ll be taking my fantasies with him. 

****

I gave him a minute to clean himself up alone before pushing him into the shower with me. “Such a dirty whore,” I mocked. I gently soaped his entire body, then rinsed it with the shower head, careful to try to keep his collar dry. When I was done, I told him, “You got them dirty, so wash my feet.” He bent down to do so, and by the time my toes were clean when he stood back up, he was already a little bit hard. 

I pushed him against the wall at the back of the shower and kissed him for the first time since he’d arrived. I loved the feel of his soft lips against mine, but even as I enjoyed the physical sensation, I was still distracted by the ever present electric current of power between us. “You belong to me,” I whispered in his ear, taking his now completely hard cock into my hand. 

“Yes, mistress.” I kissed him again, but now it felt a little bit violent, my tongue playing with his as if it sought to win a game. 

A game that was long since won. 

I hastily pulled him out of the shower by his dick, got us both dried off, and dragged him back to my bed. We curled up naked around each other, kissing each other’s mouths and necks, our hands frantically moving all over each other’s bodies at the same time. I tilted my head so he could suck my ear, then felt my body quivering as he trailed kisses down from my ear, over my neck, all the way down to my nipple. My nipple was so sore from the clamps earlier that his tongue on it almost made me come. 

His dick kept brushing against my thigh, trailing against the outside of my labia, and all I could think about was how much I wanted it inside me. But even though I felt a little bit drunk with desire, I still wanted to hear him ask for it even more than I wanted the thing itself. 

I grabbed hold of the loop on his collar and pulled his face to mine, our lips almost touching. “Ask for it, slut,” I told him. 

“Please can I fuck you, mistress? Please can I make you come?” 

“Yes,” I said, and fucking meant it. I let myself come almost as soon as his dick was inside me, and I kept coming over and over until finally my pussy was so exhausted that I just told him to come with me one last time. 

He collapsed beside me in contented exhaustion, his head resting on my chest. “You are the prettiest fucking toy,” I murmured into his hair, damp from the shower and from sweat. 

“Thank you, mistress,” he said, his lips moving against my neck. “I’m yours.” 

Lifting his face to me by the ring on his collar, I kissed him emphatically and said, “You are mine. Don’t you fucking forget it.” 

****

“When will I see you again?” I finally forced myself to ask as he left. 

“Soon,” he promised, blowing me a kiss. 

It’s never soon enough. 

Tell Me What You Want

Lying in bed beside you, I feel somehow furtive and playful at the same time. I can’t shake the sense that I’m still fantasizing about you, except now there’s a real face in front of me, with actual eyes staring back into mine. If I close mine, I half believe you’ll just disappear. I need some way to assure myself that you’re real, that the thing I remember between us is real, and that it’s not just an erotic fiction conjured by my eager imagination in the months since I’ve seen you.

A sensible person might start with a kiss, but instead I’m stuck staring at you, laying here and gauging you. I don’t have some long acquaintance to draw from, some well established set of touches and habits to cover for my awkward simultaneous sense of familiarity and unfamiliarity. I can almost trick myself into believing our limited past together is all I need to build this present, but right now that past seems too distant and illusory. Besides, I want to focus on who you are in this moment, to taste and discover what you’ve become in our absence.

Of all the things I want to know, nothing is as pressing as my desire to find out if you still belong to me. I doubt it’s a question I can pose out loud and have meaningfully answered; I’m pretty sure it’s a question that only breath and flesh can answer. But I’m so afraid of finding that you don’t belong to me anymore that I’m paralyzed, not wanting to make a move that might prove that you do–because the same move might prove the opposite. So instead I’m left gazing foolishly at you as I try to figure out what I should do first.

I opt for the cheapest and easiest move of all: I hedge. “What do you want?” I ask. It’s a fatuous question, and you’re not going to answer it well. I already know you want to fucking feel, and the longer I keep you talking like this, the harder it will get to make that happen. You want me to fill holes, both literally and figuratively, but no one is good at saying that. That’s not what words are good for.

And besides, you want me to fucking read your mind. Goddamned subs.

I wish you looked aroused by my question, but you mostly look uncomfortable. No surprise, since I haven’t asked the question I most want answered, and we both know it. Just say you want me, I think. Say you want me to own you, to take control of you, to use you. But I know you well enough to know you’ll always phrase those things as being about what I want, not you, still leaving me wondering what the fuck it is that you want. I could write poetry about all the things I want from you, but all I’ll ever really get from you is this heavy silence, thick with expectation.

Fucking. Subs.

“Use me however you want,” you say. It’s an incredibly arousing sentence, but it’s a cheat, and not what I need to hear.

Fuck it. Without giving myself any more time to think about it, I force myself to make an actual move. Both of us still fully dressed, I roll on top of you and straddle your hips, keenly aware of your dick between all those layers of clothes and my pussy. Looking down at you, I feel such a complicated mixture of power, desire, and doubt that I’m almost dizzy. I lean closer to you as I stare straight into your eyes. “You didn’t say you wanted it, slut.”

Between our change in position and our words, there’s no question that something shifted. Your eyes have glazed over now, and it feels like there’s an invisible leash tightening between us. Flesh and breath have answered the question I didn’t ask, and that should be enough to calm the fear that paralyzed me before. Words should seem pointless next to this pulsing current of power and desire, your easy surrender beneath me a heartbeat of yes and please. You don’t need the wind to tell you its name to feel the breeze on your flesh, and the power flow between us feels just as basic and elemental as it has every other time I’ve seen you. But I need to hear the words to believe that this isn’t just all in my head and to separate the fantasy of you from the reality of you. “I told you long ago what I most want to own is your desire,” I say, and my voice is heavy with control and the depth of my feelings. (If I believe there aren’t tears in the corners of my eyes, maybe they’ll just go away). “If you say you want it, then I own that too.”

I put my hand on your throat, not to choke you, but in a gesture of control. You gasp as if I’ve truly pressed down hard, then say softly, “I want you to own me.” I can’t pretend there aren’t actual tears running down my face when you say that, and I’m afraid to let you see how much your words (and desire) matter to me. So to cover for myself, I lift up enough to turn you over onto your stomach, sitting now on your delightful ass, my face hidden from your view. I pull your shirt up and over your head, then scrape my fingernails down your back. Hearing you gasp and seeing the visible marks of possession I’ve left in your flesh soothes my overwrought nerves; I finally start to relax as I settle into the rhythm of methodically claiming you. I lick the fresh marks on your back, imagining that you taking pain for me has left a taste on your skin. Even the traces of my tears on those marks feels like a kind of claiming, as though my eyes were looking for a way to own you too.

But my eyes dry quickly as I thoroughly distract myself, reaching around you to unbutton your pants, then sliding them down just enough to get to your naked ass. I take my time massaging it too hard, making you gasp some more and creating interesting red marks as I grip your skin too tightly. Then I put on a glove and some lube and gently slide one teasing finger into your ass. You moan and instinctively wriggle up against my hand, grinding your cock into the bed on the other side as your whole body begs for more. When I don’t give it to you, you whimper, “Please fuck me, mistress.”

I decide to go with a theme for the rest of this encounter, and keep forcing you to tell me what you want. At some point, talking like that is pure suffering for you, but fortunately, your suffering turns me on. “Why do you want me to fuck you, slut?”

You sound almost pitiful as you say, “Because it feels good.”

I laugh. “Even if I was really mean about it and shoved a dildo inside you using only your spit as lube?”

I actually feel your ass clench around my finger in enthusiastic response when I say that.

“I… That doesn’t…” you stammer.

“That doesn’t feel good, does it, slut? But you like it anyway.”

“I like to hurt for you, mistress.”

“You’re a liar,” I say, pulling my finger out, and pulling the glove off too with a snap. “You like hurting and pretending you’re doing it for me.”

You groan as I turn you over again onto your back. “I like hurting for you too,” you say meekly.

Now on your back again, you look adorably compromised (and you clearly know it), without your shirt, with your pants and underwear shoved down around your thighs, and your dick hard. You wriggle your body in a way that only a subby slut like you can, a practiced move that’s half plea and half invitation.

I lay down on top of you, still wearing all my clothes, and you gasp when I touch your dick just long enough to strategically position it against my pussy through my underwear, my skirt hiked up around my thighs. I put my hand back at your throat, still just a gesture of ownership, not choking. Then I lean in to your ear and whisper, grinding my clothed pussy against your dick, “What do you want most right now, slut?”

You groan. “Anything,” you whimper.

I laugh. “That’s such a broad desire.” Swiftly changing tactics, I abruptly sit up and rake my fingernails down your chest, pausing to dig them in deeply a few times and enjoy your screams. “Was that part of ‘anything’?” You nod, your eyes wide and completely glazed.

I put my fingers down my underwear, running them along the lips of my pussy, then shove them into your mouth. You suck them obediently, and your mouth and tongue feel so good on them that I forget what I was doing for a moment. When I pull them out, I dry my fingers off by smearing your own spit across your face.

“What do you most want me to put in your mouth right now?”

You groan again, looking tormented. “You,” you finally say, clearly wishing I’d stop making you talk, stop asking you to make decisions you want me to make.

“Does this count?” I ask, opening your mouth with my fingers, then leaning over you to slowly drool into it.

You nod enthusiastically. “Thank you, mistress. Can I please touch my cock?”

I grin. “No, but feel free to keep asking.”

I move up so my knees are on both sides of your face, then pull my underwear aside, my pussy barely an inch from your face. You lift up your head to try to lick it, but I pull it back down to the pillow by your hair.

“Something you want, slut?” I ask, loving how you look like I’ve captured you.

“Please can I lick your pussy, mistress?”

“You keep changing what you want. You’re so easily distracted. You just want whatever is in front of your face right now, don’t you, slut?”

I lower myself down to your mouth just long enough to mark it with my scent and for you to barely taste me, then I move my underwear back in place and slide my body back down yours. With my crotch on your thigh, and my knee perilously close to your balls, I genuinely can’t predict your answer when I ask, “What do you want most now, slut?”

You whimper again, and I giggle. “You want me to stop asking you that, don’t you?” You nod. “Too bad. Tell me what you want most, or nothing happens at all.”

You look so cutely distraught in an agony of indecision and not wanting to have to form words. You finally force yourself to say, “Please fuck me, mistress.”

“That’s very broad. Be more explicit.”

I love how much you hate this torture with words, and making you voice your desires is doing wonders for helping me forget my anxieties earlier. “Please let me fuck you with my cock.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely…” I put a condom on you, and move my underwear aside again to lower myself onto your dick. I ride it for just a moment, and it feels really fucking good, but I try not to think about it too much as I quickly pull off, yanking the condom off too.

You genuinely look like you might cry when I do that, and your tormented face is hotter than almost any orgasm. “Why do you look so sad?” I mock. “I gave you what you asked for.”

I lay back down on top of you, my clothed pussy still strategically positioned against your dick. “What if I told you I thought now was a good time to go to sleep?” I tease.

“I don’t think I would sleep very well,” you admit.

“Do you think you’d keep waking up, hoping I’d change my mind in the middle of the night and fuck you?”

“Yes, mistress.”

I’ve lowered my face to yours until our lips are almost pressed together, but I put my index finger between our mouths. “If I made you choose between kissing me and being allowed to come, which would you choose?” I know the answer, of course.

Closing your eyes, you unwillingly admit, “Being allowed to come.”

“You’re such a fucking slut!” I grin, sitting up without kissing you, and reaching between you to smack your balls. You moan as I do it several more times, and I’m amused watching your dick start to wilt. Then I grab hold of the base of your cock with my fingernails, pressing them in til you scream. Your dick is barely hard at that point, and I taunt you, “Well, I guess it’s time to go to sleep now, slut, you’re not even hard anymore.”

You actually dig your fingers into the bed in frustration, and I can tell it’s because you’re desperately struggling not to touch your dick. “I’m sorry, mistress,” you say, and you sound genuinely apologetic and distressed. “I’ll do better, please don’t make me go to sleep.”

“What would make you hard again fastest?” Again, I don’t know what you’re going to say.

“If you sucked my cock gently.”

I laugh, rolling my eyes. “You’re lying again, and that sounds boring anyway.” Instead, I slap your dick and go back to teasing your lips with my half-revealed pussy. When I look back, your dick is already half hard, and by the time I push two of your fingers into my pussy, it’s completely hard. Then I pull them right back out and stick them in your mouth to lick.

Again, you look like you might cry. “Your problem, slut,” I inform you, “is that you’re so much more turned on when you don’t get what you want.”

You don’t bother to argue the obviously true point, but take my fingers out of your mouth and start begging. “Please can I fuck you, mistress?” There’s a ragged note in your voice that turns me on even more than your fingers in my pussy did.

“You’re not much of a gentleman, begging to fuck me when you haven’t even kissed me yet.”

You look understandably confused by this reprimand, since we’ve already technically had sex a number of different ways. But instead of disputing the point, you ask, “Please can I kiss you, mistress?”

“Sure,” I say. “But then you don’t get to come.” You groan again, and I love watching you try to make up your mind. “Say please again!” I taunt.

“Please.”

I lean down to kiss you, and your lips are soft and smell faintly of my pussy. There’s another slight shift between us in that moment, and you put your arms around me. Briefly, I notice sex more than power, with your cock straining against my underwear like it wants to break it, our tongues playing, and our arms wrapped around each other. I roll you on top of me, my legs wrapped around you too, keeping your cock tight against my pussy.

“Ask for what you want, slut,” I whisper in your ear.

“Please can I fuck you, mistress?” you ask again, your voice both desperate and a little bit husky.

“Well, you can fuck me until I come,” I say, pushing my soaked underwear aside, and giving you another condom.

After holding back for so long, I positively luxuriate in the feeling of taking you inside me. I clench my pussy around your cock, making you gasp, and then reach down to touch my clit, coming almost at once.

Pulling myself off your cock, which has been inside me for a minute at most, I laugh because it’s the first time you’ve ever looked disappointed from making me come.

Laying beside me, I grin at you. “Such a terrible reward for making me come. But then, you never did ask for what you most wanted, slut. Because what you really want is to not get what you want.” You grin sheepishly back, then bury your head in the pillow in an endearing gesture of defeat and admission.

I put my hand along your cheek. “Well, just as long as you were telling the truth about wanting me to own you.” I feel my breath catch in the back of my throat when I say it, though I play the line off with a wink. You nod emphatically into my hand. “Good,” I say, kissing you very chastely on the lips so I don’t tempt myself out of my tease. “Good night, my pretty slut. Maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll wake you up in the middle of the night.”

 

************

You can also check out a video of me reading this out loud here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDvX5hYa9oY

A parable

(this isn’t about sex. This is about bodies)

 

There once was a man who was an amazing dancer. He had always been an amazing dancer, someone who danced as easily as he breathed.

But one day, for the first time in his life, he suffered a minor injury that kept him from dancing: he broke his leg. He couldn’t dance for weeks, and not dancing gave him too much time to have dire thoughts.

 

Was this really the thing he wanted to be the source of his personal power? Was it okay to depend on this fragile body? His partners’ bodies might break too. He couldn’t depend on anything that came from this fragile, weak body.

 

Once he physically recovered, he went back to dancing. But even though his body could still do things that almost no one else can do, all his partners agreed he just was not the same. Finally one of them asked him why. He told her, “I can’t have the same passion for dance that I used to, because I might lose it at any moment. I can’t face the agony of that disappointment again. I can’t let myself NEED to dance again.”

 

His partner said, “Darling, you’ll eventually lose everything, because that’s what it means to be human–you lose it, or we lose you. It just depends on how long you’re here. But are you going to waste your youth not doing something you won’t be able to do much in old age for fear of losing it some day?”

 

He argued, “I can’t put my faith and strength in something so fragile.”

 

She said, “What are you going to substitute for it?”

 

He looked her straight in the eye and says, “I haven’t found it yet. But you told me I’m going to lose it eventually. So I may as well spend the intervening time finding that substitute.”

 

She said, “you’re a fool and a truly great dancer. Cross that bridge when you come to it. We’re all weaker when we let mortality make us squander the gifts we have rather than appreciate the glory of something temporary.”

 

He rolled his eyes. “I’m going to learn to find strength and power in myself, not some stupid thing that doesn’t even matter very much.”

 

She glared at him. “You should be doing that regardless. But what do you think your SELF is? It’s a collection of the things you love and are good at. Leave that behind and you’re trying to find power from a shell of yourself.”

 

He retorted, “My shell is safer.”

 

She said, “Should we never light fires because some day they’ll burn out? The only thing in life that lasts that’s worth having is love. Everything else will abandon you eventually. That’s why all the Hindu gods of destruction dance. So fucking dance. Because even as one thing goes down, something else goes up. And some day, when your personal fire goes out, you’ll know that you didn’t deliberately freeze yourself today because you wanted to prepare yourself for being cold later. Welcome to the world.”

 

He hated everything she said. But after she spoke to him, his dancing changed. A passion of a sort came back. Now he danced with anger instead of joy. He danced with the anger of someone who was furious at the gods for taking away something he loved and then expected him to love it the same way when they gave it back. His partners were afraid now when they danced with him, because his dancing glowed with electric  rage.

 

Then one day, he collapsed at the end of an exhausting dance, sobbing in the arms of the partner who had convinced him to do this again.

 

“I can’t do it any more,” he said. “I just can’t.”

 

“For a little while,” she told him, “you found the beauty in white hot anger. The flame reached a peak. Now you think it’s gone out again.”

 

“I’m sure it has,” he cried. “I can’t do it any more.”

 

“If you get back up again, you should be able to do it indefinitely,” she said. “Because now you’ll dance with embers, and they glow so much longer than white hot flames.”

 

He didn’t believe her, but when next  he danced with her, initially reluctantly, he found he wasn’t so angry any more. He made his peace with his mortality and relearned the art of loving his body. And he was a much happier person (and an even better dancer) because of it.

 

And so he danced. And danced and danced. And even though he couldn’t dance forever, he learned that he could love himself no matter what. 

Program/Video Links for Gruesical 4: A Musical Most Gruesome

This was the final Gruesical! It’s been a marvelous run, and tons of people helped make this madness happen. Thanks to @Ramblegrue for making everything possible, and thanks to everyone who joined me on this ludicrous journey.

All the titles below are live linked to Xtube, so just follow the clicks!

The main camera cut out in a few places, so we had to substitute footage from the Go Pro on the rig. Sorry about that awkwardness.

Gruesical 4: A Musical Most Gruesome

Script & Direction by IPCookieMonster

Intro

It’s just me introducing the show.

Murder, Murder!

(song from Jekyll & Hyde)
Singers: Everyone, sort-of

Dead Girl Walking

(from Heathers)
Singers: @BobbyLaBottom, @Pyrope_

You’re the Top

(originally from Anything Goes)
Filked by @Fire_Monkey and @IPCookieMonster
Singers: @IPCookieMonster and @MJSqueaks

I Get a Kick Out of You

(from Anything Goes)
Singer: @MJSqueaks
Kicker: @IPCookieMonster

Sadist!

(originally “Dentist!” from Little Shop of Horrors)
Filked by @MJSqueaks
Singer: @MJSqueaks
Victim: @Pyrope_

Music of the Night

(from Phantom of the Opera)
Singer: @spectrophile
Top: @IPCookieMonster

Unexpected Song

(from Song & Dance)
Singers: @IPCookieMonster and @BobbyLaBottom

Good’N’Evil

(from Jekyll & Hyde)
Singer: @IPCookieMonster
Other performers: everyone, especially @EmberBliss and @Pyrope_

My Toys

(originally “My Friends” from Sweeney Todd)
Filked by @Fire_Monkey and @EmberBliss
Singers: @EmberBliss and @Pyrope_

Phantom of the Opera

(from Phantom of the Opera)
Singers: @spectrophile and @IPCookieMonster
Other performers: @EmberBliss and @Pyrope_

Finale

(“I’d Give My Life for You” from Miss Saigon; “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables; “Don’t Dream It” from Rocky Horror Picture Show; “Defying Gravity” from Wicked; “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray)
Singers: Everyone

********

AND HUGE THANKS TO OUR STAGE MANAGER, @TOMCAT83, AND TO @DELTAVIE FOR RECORDING EVERYTHING

******
Several people asked me where the hell I got inspiration for this show. Here’s a list of places that were primary inspiration:
https://m15m.livejournal.com/6231.html (totally not by me)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duszpweuB1I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1rKrrYZj_8

Sorry, the BDSM subculture probably can’t solve vanilla consent problems…

As a consent crisis strikes at the heart of upper-middle-class America, I’m getting a lot of people from NPR to academics asking me hopefully if the BDSM subculture has the magic answers for all of their consent problems. They’re always disappointed when I tell them… No.

If I was going to be honest, I’d tell them FUCK, NO.

Now if you’re from the Scene, you probably think the next thing I’m going to say is because we have so many violations of our own, so that must mean that we haven’t “solved” consent. But actually, that’s not it at all. I think people in the Scene have totally lost perspective, and given how much fucking we do with so many people and so many people that we play with… Actually, we’re doing remarkably well, given the considerable cultural constraints we’re starting from. It’s like Dan Savage on monogamy: if you’re married for fifty years and only cheat twice, you’re actually pretty good at monogamy. Perfect we are not, but we’re doing way better than the culture at large, I think. I think.

No, the reason that our consent norms (which I think are bad, but nowhere near as bad as everyone else’s) won’t work in the vanilla world is for a long list of other reasons–in no particular order after the first two.

The top reason BY FAR that our norms won’t work elsewhere is because we drink so much less than everyone else.

I often like to joke that the only thing kinky about the Scene is that we do the shit we do while sober. Shit, sometimes people literally come to the Scene to help them stay sober. Kink consent norms assume that you’re basically sober when you’re negotiating with someone else, and on the whole, people usually are. Meanwhile, in vanilla culture, there’s pretty much an assumption that if you’re having sex with someone you don’t know well for the first time, you’re both probably at least a little (if not a lot) intoxicated. And people are SHIT at negotiating while drunk, partly because the culture has told them that being drunk is a legitimate excuse for being bad at negotiating and taking responsibility for what they do sexually… if they’re a girl, anyway. (You still have to take responsibility for anything else you do drunk, from hitting someone to driving. But for some reason sex is special). If you’re going to negotiate while drunk, I’m pretty sure you need a different set of rules and expectations. At a bare minimum, you have to alter the cultural meanings of drunk + sex.

The second biggest reason our norms won’t work well elsewhere is because mainstream culture doesn’t teach anyone to really value consent.

In the Scene, we’ve all been taught to value consent in general. We fuck it up by pretending like bottoms’ consent is the only thing that matters, and that tops’ consent is irrelevant, but we at least have the spirit of the thing. But in vanilla culture, no one really values consent to start with, and then they fuck it up along gendered lines, with people assuming that women’s consent matters and men’s doesn’t. Specifically, I hear a lot of people going on and on about how guys don’t value women’s consent. This is such a wild misunderstanding of the problem that it occasionally makes me want to go on a violent kicking spree. First of all, in terms of what they’re taught culturally, guys don’t value ANYONE’S consent. Have you ever seen the way lots of gay men interact with other? They’ll literally grab each other’s dicks without asking; even het guys recklessly sexual harasseach other without apparently even thinking about it that way. Second, women have been taught to think of themselves as completely unthreatening, so they don’t value anyone’s consent either. Women don’t bother to ask men if they want to have sex with them; they just assume the men want it. Watch how easily women touch other women and men with total freedom in vanilla spaces, and then watch how straight men touch other women and men. Men’s touches are assumed to be laden with the threat of sexual violence, and women’s touches are assumed to be sweet. Women get passes for making consent errors; men don’t. Men would take women’s consent so much more seriously if women took theirs more seriously, so nothing changes until we teach EVERYONE to value consent more.

The Scene is a highly monitored, tightly knit social world. Reputation is everything here.

In the Scene, the social cost of fucking up is relatively high, and you’re relatively likely to get found out. You can’t just go to a different bar next week to pick up a girl from somewhere else. (This is why the key violators in the Scene were/are people who travel a lot and/or deal with a lot of new people). But there are no dungeon monitors at a frat party. Meanwhile in the Scene, it’s common to negotiate in front of your friends and play and have sex with someone in front of other people. There’s a lot more potential for others to enforce consent.

The Scene is way more gender equal.

We still have all the problems of thinking that men’s touches are potentially threatening and women’s aren’t, but overall, my statistics say we take gender equality more seriously in every way than mainstream culture. When you think men and women both desire sexual pleasure, and both deserve sexual pleasure, consent negotiations are a lot easier and less awkward. On top of that, most of the vanilla world is structured around the assumption that men have to persuadewomen to have sex, because of course, “women don’t want to have sex”.

The Scene is way more sex-positive and way less slut shamey than vanilla culture.

In vanilla culture, part of the reason girls often don’t tell their friends about Bob the Rapist is because they’re ashamed they went home with Bob in the first place and are afraid of their friends judging them (and they probably are). In the Scene, people care waaaaay less about that, so the social cost of telling your friends that Bob is a dick is a lot lower. Being more sex positive also means people feel less like they have to get drunk in order to be allowed to fuck.

The Scene isn’t monogamous.

This view may be unpopular, but in my opinion, mononormativity discourages people from being honest. It encourages you to lie to your partner and pretend you weren’t checking out that girl over there; that you don’t watch porn; that you didn’t have lunch with your opposite-sex co-worker, alone, when there was nothing business-y to talk about; that you hadn’t had sex with 30 people before you met your current partner (I actually interviewed that woman); and that you aren’t still dating two other people because you haven’t actually agreed to be “in a relationship” yet. Mononormativity generally operates from a place of “some things are better left unsaid.” In that social world, bluntly asking, “Do you want to have sex with me?” doesn’t fit well because people just aren’t used to being truthful. They’re used to being cagey and coy and constantly skirting the boundaries between truth and lies. But in the Scene, polynormativity tends to encourage people to just constantly word-vomit their feelings at each other, and sometimes to feel guilty about hiding anything. It’s much easier in a culture of honesty to say things straight-up like, “can we rub bits?”

The Scene has a clearly established system about who’s supposed to start and lead the consent negotiation.

In KinkLand, for better or for worse, we’ve made it clear that it’s the top’s job to start and lead a negotiation. Things get fuzzier with switch scenes, but people still seem to be pretty good at adapting the format to their specific situation (and generally, the toppier person ends up leading the negotiation, and it becomes a way to try to establish dominance). In the vanilla world, it’s totally unclear who’s supposed to start the negotiation. Vanilla culture has sort-of decided that this is the guy’s job, but then they shame guys for making unwanted advances and so then the culture overall gets super-nervous about the way that initiating those negotiations ostensibly gives men so much more sexual freedom and power than women… so now it’s officially ?nobody’s? job. Without a clear definition of roles here, whoever makes the first move in a negotiation has the power of the initiator, but loses power based on the principle of least interest (as the person initiating, you look like you care more about the outcome).

The Scene’s norms don’t work spectacularly for negotiating sex in KinkLand.

Don’t get me wrong; I think we’re doing a lot better than vanilla people on this one. But I’ve got the numbers: if you met someone at a culturally BDSM place (munch, dungeon), you’re waaaaaay less likely to have sex with them than if you met them at a non-BDSM place. I’ve led workshops about negotiating sex for scenes, and people were like, “whoa, I never heard anyone talk about this before!” We’re so nervous about it that we constantly set up places to ease the negotiation process by functionally pre-negotiating it for everyone (gangbangs, orgies). Basically, as far as I can tell, our negotiation norms often actually prevent people from getting laid (in addition to preventing people from getting raped–can’t lose sight of that!), but I think there’s still a LOT of room for improvement.

Looking forward

I think there’s a bit of an order to the way these things have to change for things to improve in vanilla culture. I’m pretty sure that first, they need more gender equality, more sex positivity, and a more honest approach to relationships. I want to believe that fewer drunken hook-ups would follow naturally from that, but Icelandic culture (the most gender equal in the world) suggests that might be a vain hope; at a bare minimum, vanillas have to start acknowledging that reality of drunken hook-ups and try to develop realistic strategies for establishing solid negotiation systems in that context.

Even if they had those things, lacking a cultural norm about who’s supposed to start consent negotiations and a deeply entrenched system of social monitoring, vanillas are highly unlikely to be able to employ our system any time soon. I’d like to believe that the social monitoring is mostly only necessary because people aren’t especially great at monitoring themselves–basically, once you have a well-established norm, people generally start enforcing it for themselves. So perhaps the only real problem to solve there is who starts the negotiation. I suggest that the answer should be whoever asked for the date when you were chatting online/to go out/to go home, etc. But lacking blatantly defined power dynamics, vanillas need to recognize that starting those negotiations is always going to be trickier than it will be for kinky folks.

I don’t want be the bearer of despair and hopelessness. I think that vanillas can probably learn a little from the way we do things, if for no other reason than we’re showing that consent can be better. But I think that generalizing from the deeply eccentric cultural space of KinkLand to vanilla world probably won’t work too well: I think the fucked up consent culture that pervades the vanilla world is largely the product of a fucked up gender/sexual culture, and it’s basically impossible to fix the consent without ALSO fixing the gender and sex.

****
I recently did an interview with NPR where I talked about a lot of these things.

Advice: Should I Be Worried about the Violent Porn My Loved One Watches?

Question:

“I found your website while trying to find and answer to the following question, which has been surprisingly difficult to get ANY real information on:

Last month, I inadvertently found some VERY violent pornography among a loved one’s belongings — extreme stuff by any standard: mutilation, broken bones and torture, even hints of necrophilia and snuff, all sexualized in one way or another.

He’s long been quite vocal about being a kinkster, and I understand that much of this is “play” — “like a violent video game,” as it’s been described to me. But is material this extreme something to worry about, in your opinion?”

 

Answer:

The short answer is that it’s probably not a big deal. The slightly extended answer is that no one really knows, but it’s probably not a big deal.

Very long answer:

So I’m not really sure how you came to be exposed to this information about the person you love, nor what the nature of this pornography is, but I’ll make some guesses and move on to the important issues…

There are basically two angles I see to answering your question: 1. Should you be worried about this person actually going out and raping/torturing/murdering people? And 2. Do I personally believe him watching/owning this is immoral?

 

Should I be worried about him actually going out and raping and murdering people?

…Probably not. There’s a pretty big difference between watching fucked up shit and doing fucked up shit. There’s at least one study (which to the best of my knowledge has never been replicated) that found that in countries where (fake) child porn was legal, child molestation rates were much lower (see Perv). Thus there’s actually some reason to believe that people watching “bad” porn might make them *less* likely to do “bad” things (I know I get therapeutic experiences from playing violent video games, and I think there’s every reason that the same idea could be applied to violent porn).

I have a partner who jerks off to (free and publicly available) videos of people being (actually) tortured because he figures the videos have already been made so he might as well as enjoy them. He’s not even looking at “porn”–just eroticizing the torture that someone else experienced, which might objectively be way creepier than what your friend is doing. Yet I’m fairly certain that my partner’s not likely to go on a serial killing spree any time soon, but I guess you never know. All of which is to say that watching, reading, and jerking off to “extreme” stuff doesn’t necessarily make someone more likely to do those things. If he’s deep into the BDSM subculture, a big motivation for a lot of kinksters is to find ways to do super fucked up things in safe(ish) and consensual ways.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no reputable or meaningful academic studies that have looked at the actual violent tendencies of people who watch extreme porn. There’s good cause for them to look at it, too, because merely possessing such pornography became a crime in the UK in 2009. For a great look into all this, check out Clarissa Smith’s chapter on snuff (linkand Jonathan Clough’s article on extreme pornography (link).

Okay, now I know you’re thinking about the three million studies you read where a psychologist took 36 undergraduate men, showed them some violent porn, and then they said they thought the idea of raping women was more appealing. The problem is that those studies have nothing to do with real world behaviors. And lest you appeal to the “common sense” argument here, let me point out a “common sense” contradiction between experiments and real-world findings that is much better understood: condom use while intoxicated. Common sense says that people are less likely to use condoms when they’re drunk, experiments say that men who are drunk find condoms less appealing, but… real world data say that there’s just no connection (I wrote a paper on this in 2013). Really, the question that they should be researching is if a taste for violent pornography is linked to actual violent behavior, but I can’t find anything that does that.

And I know you’re thinking about all those news stories about the crazed serial killer rapist dude with his terrifyingly creepy porn collection, and forensic researchers who insist this is real evidence. The tricky thing there is that’s a one-way correlation: my understanding is that there are pretty decent odds that people who do fucked up things will watch really fucked up porn. But the correlation doesn’t necessarily go both ways: there’s decent reason to believe that lots of people watch really fucked up porn but don’t do the really fucked up things. I think Smith’s article (cited above) does a pretty decent job of explaining why that might be.

 

But what about the moral implications?

For me, it mostly depends on whether the people making the pornography in question are doing so in an ethical way. According to Smith, a lot of these websites promise that no one was actually harmed in the making of their pornography. To that, I say, cool. If the porn is not ethically produced, then I think it’s super creepy to financially support it (and kind of neutral to say, steal it off the internet). But people buy stuff that’s immorally produced all the time (from illegal drugs to the literal clothes on our backs), and I personally think that anyone who’s supporting the Mexican drug cartels has way more to answer for than people supporting an itsy-bitsy basement industry of criminally produced pornography. They’re both terrible, but… hey, that’s just me…

The British government, by the way, decided they didn’t care about the ethics of production. They decided it was just bad, end of story. So if your loved one lives in the UK, he’s in potential legal trouble, regardless of the ethics of the thing.

 

The thing that actually matters

True story: I once went on a date with a guy who did in fact commit first degree murder just a couple of years later. After that single date, I decided there was no way I would ever go out with him again because he was “clearly too violent.” This was blindingly obvious to me, but clearly not quite as clear to many of his friends…

My point here is that the majority of the time, people don’t randomly turn out to be serial killers and rapists; there are usually a thousand clues around them that have nothing to do with porn and everything to do with how often they’ve beaten people up, talk about beating people up, and how much they believe “women really want sex from you even when they say no”. There are a small number who aren’t so obvious, and they generally have NO friends; the ones who actually have friends and still manage to pass as normal people are absurdly rare.

So. In my opinion, the real question isn’t, “Should I be concerned that my friend has creepy taste in pornography?” but far the far more complex, “Does my friend seem like someone who gives a shit about the well-being of both men AND women in general and his partners specifically? Do his partners seem afraid of him? Does he seem to have violent tendencies in general? Does he often cover up things, lie, constantly make excuses, hypocritically slut shame, seem really into sex but weirdly and disproportionately uncomfortable talking about it in a personal way, or massively exaggerate?” Even in the BDSM scene, I’ve met a number of people who were really bad people, and every single one of them so far was easily identifiable to me by one of those traits. And in my experience, those are the things that separate the kinksters with disturbing tastes from the future convicts of the world.

And believe me when I say I know, have played with, banged and AM a kinkster with slightly disturbing tastes.

 

Kinky people: please take and share my survey

Calling all kinksters! I am currently doing a survey of people in the BDSM subculture, and I would love for you–yes YOU–to take it and share it with your kinky pals. Here’s the link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DN96W78

Yes, I am a real academic researcher. And this research has been approved by the Gallaudet University IRB.