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Cracked.com: BDSM relationships

Along with several other folks, I gave an interview for Cracked.com on BDSM relationships.

 

You can also check out my book chapter on BDSM relationships here.

Part 2: You are the best toy

him

I wake up in the morning to the feeling of you sliding your pussy down onto my hard cock. This isn’t as pleasurable as it sounds. My dick is usually as hard as wood in the morning when I wake up, and about as sensitive. But I am happy to please you, and I love waking up to the sight of the blissful expression on your face. You usually only use me for five minutes, and cum six or seven times. Feeling your spasms of pleasure on me is so much better than any cup of coffee.

When you climb off of me, I go into the bathroom to clean your cum off my cock and balls and even parts of my thighs. I love the way they smell when they’re covered in your scent, but it’s too distracting to go to work like that.

Still naked, and still hard, I go downstairs to make you a cup of coffee while you do your hair. When I give it to you, you greet me with a hug and a kiss and tell me what a good boy I am. Hearing that from you makes me feel like I’ve been lit up a little from the inside. I sit with you at the table while you drink it and we both read the news, while you occasionally distractedly reach out to caress my cock in a possessive fashion.

Eventually, I beg you to stop touching it so it will go down and I can get dressed and concentrate on my work. I give you a kiss as I leave and you put your fingers in my hair, staring at me meaningfully.

“Mine,” you say.

“Yours,” I agree.

I head to work. Partway through the morning, as always, I start to get actually horny. When I get bored, my dick gets hard, and when I get a break for lunch, I go to the bathroom to text you. “Please may I touch myself, Mistress?”

Somewhat to my relief, you text back immediately, “Are you willing to suffer for it later?”

I look down at my insistent erection, sigh, and text back, “Yes.”

“Good. Then you can touch yourself while thinking about getting your large butt plug kicked into you, and then fucking me with it in until I cum ten times.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

I’m not actually allowed to cum unless I’m inside you. Standing in the bathroom at work stroking my cock with no hope of giving it what it really wants is in some ways worse than sitting at my desk and leaving it alone. Thinking about the pain that’s in store for me makes me question the wisdom of what I’m doing, but at the same time, it only makes me more aroused.

I’m careful not to cum. Once I accidentally did cum when jerking off, and you didn’t let me cum at all for three days. I thought my brain and my balls were going to explode.

I give my dick a few minutes to calm down before I go eat my lunch and get back to work. It’s still boring, and I’m still horny and impatient to get my dick back into you. Finally, the day ends and I have a few minutes in traffic to think about how many ways I want to fuck you when I get home.

You’re home before me, and you’re already in the kitchen making dinner. You’re so small that I greet you by easily picking you up and carefully slam you against the wall with a kiss as you wrap your legs around me. My dick is already hard as you slide down against me and it, your feet back down to the ground. I get down on my knees, slide your panties aside, and bury my face up under your skirt and in your pussy lips. I slide two fingers up inside you and feel you cum around them several times while I lick you. As always, it strikes me as truly perverse how easily I can make you cum, even though you say that you’ve never been able to make yourself cum, ever.

The rules say I never have to ask permission to finger you, or lick your pussy, but I always have to ask for things that are for the benefit of my dick. I look up at you from the floor imploringly. “Please can I fuck you, Mistress?”

“Oh yes,” you say, looking down at me. You seductively pull down your skirt and underwear, while I frantically undo my pants.

I leave them down around my feet and pick you up again, this time sliding your pussy down onto my dick. I groan as I feel you instantly cum around it once, twice, three times, your legs trembling around my hips as I hold you up, bracing you against the wall. “Don’t you dare cum,” you hiss into my ear, and I bite my lip to try to distract myself from the pleasure of your pussy.

“Please, Mistress?” I beg.

“Oh, no,” you grin wickedly, sliding off of my dick. “I’m saving that for later.”

I need to cum at least twice a day, and it’s easy for me to cum three times. But more than that, and my dick gets a little less responsive, so you’ve forbidden me from cumming more than twice a day except on special occasions. You don’t usually give me a choice about when those two times happen.

This whole encounter has only lasted a few moments, and, wearing just your shirt and bra, you go back to stirring the food that’s cooking on the stove while I lean against the wall. Panting, my hands touching the back of the wall behind me to help me resist the temptation to touch my hard dick which is soaked with your cum, I desperately wish you’d do anything to make me cum. Instead, you bring out my collar and put it around my neck, and I gasp as you rub your body against me seductively as you do, just to make me want more. I appreciate the comfort of your collar, but I’m too aroused to be able to concentrate on much except my cock.

Eventually, I step out of my pants, and, still slightly hard, start helping you make dinner. When the timer says we have to wait two minutes for the food to cool, you mercilessly get down on your knees, suck my cock (which is still covered in your cum) fully hard again, then lean over the counter and order me to fuck you. “Slowly,” you instruct. “All the way out, and all the way back in, again and again.” I can actually watch your pussy lips become more swollen as I do this, and in that two minutes, I feel you cum four times. I have to pause twice for longer than I know you want me to so that I won’t cum, and I’m worried that you’ll punish me for that.

“Good boy,” you say, when the timer goes off. “You are the best sex toy.” Even though I love hearing that, I still want to cum so much that I actually feel a little like I might cry. And that frustration itself is so arousing that it keeps me a little bit hard all through dinner, as we sit at our little dining room table, both still wearing our shirts and naked from the waist down.

Afterwards, you insist that we cuddle on the couch for a bit and watch a TV show. You casually reach over and touch my cock occasionally throughout, always keeping me at least half-hard. “Please, Mistress,” I finally say, not wanting to do this much longer.

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

Her

“Please what?” I ask, playfully.

“Please may I cum?” you beg.

I laugh. “Well, I warned you there would be a punishment for touching yourself earlier. This is the first part of the punishment. Are you going to ask for the second part?”

You hang your head in shame. “Please punish me,” you whisper.

“Look me in the eyes when you say that.”

You lift your head, and your pupils are so dilated that it’s hard to see your irises. Your cock gets harder with mortification as you say a little louder, “Please punish me.”

“I’d be delighted to,” I say, feeling myself getting wetter from the look of humiliation in your eyes. I pull you upstairs by your collar and throw you down onto the bed. I lube up your biggest butt plug, which is very big indeed, and without any preamble, I begin gently working it inside you. You gasp, and your eyes and dick both get bigger as it goes completely inside.

“Please touch my dick,” you plead.

“No,” I say, and I grin as I watch you deliberately place your hands under yourself to keep from touching yourself.

“Mine,” I say, nodding at your dick.

“Yours,” you half-gasp, half-scream as the butt plug goes in all the way.

I give you a moment to adjust, then stare into your terrified eyes as I pull my foot back. “Count for me from 5,” I say. You do, and on 0, I kick the plug into your ass. Your whole body flexes in pain from the impact, and you groan. I do this four more times until you’re crying.

“Now fuck me,” I say, laying on my back, with my legs spread. “No cumming until you’ve made me cum ten times.”

You look a little hopeless, and we both know that the odds of you succeeding at this are not high–and what the punishment will be if you fail: me forcing you to drink your cum from my pussy while I sit on your face. You’re very bad at not cumming once something is in your ass.

You almost gingerly insert your cock into me, barely moving it. “Even I can’t cum from this, little slut,” I laugh. “You’ll have to do better if you want to make me cum.”

You close your eyes. “Please count while you cum?” you plead.

“Alright,” I say. You surprise me by pulling all the way out and slamming completely inside me, instantly making me cum. “One.” You wriggle your cock around for a moment, and push again. “Two.” You pull out, and repeat the whole process. “Three, four.” You pull out completely, and I watch you pause so you don’t cum. You push in, pull out completely, then grit your teeth and push in again, moving inside me longer this time. “Five, six, seven.” This time you pull out completely and simply pant while a couple of tears slip down your cheeks and sweat flows down your chest. You pause for too long, and I say again, “Fuck me, toy. Your cock is mine.” Really crying this time, you thrust in (“eight”) pull out, thrust in again (“nine”) and pull out. “Now cum,” I order. Sliding back inside me, I’m awed by how long your entire body spasms. My own body responds from the intensity of your orgasm, and it seems like we cum for ages together, until you collapse on top of me.

“Mine,” I say again.

“Yours,” you agree.

I feel your prodigious cum start running out of me before your cock has even gone soft. “I’m impressed you lasted until ten,” I say, and I feel you beam with my compliment.

“Me too,” you laugh.

I reach around you and gently pull the butt plug out. Then I reach up to kiss you. “I love you, slut.”

“I love you, too, Mistress.”

We lay like that for a while, then go downstairs to take a shower together. We wash the dishes and cuddle on the couch until it’s time for bed. We brush our teeth, lay down together, and turn out the lights.

Without saying a word, I start stroking your cock until it’s hard in my hand, then straddle you to ride you. I cum a few times quickly before you beg me to cum. I make you ask three times, but I know how important it is for you to cum before you go to sleep, so as usual, I tell you yes.

There is no pleasure as great or as simple as being rocked to orgasm by the intensity of yours, then falling gently asleep in your arms with my pussy still dripping.

No actual dildo could ever make as much of a mess of me as you can, but no dildo could ever cuddle fuck me to sleep as well either.

“You are the best toy,” I murmur sleepily into your chest before drifting off.

Part 1: Better than my hand

Preface: For the last couple of months, I’ve been toiling away on a novel that is erotic metafiction (it’s why I haven’t been blogging as much). Expect a much abridged version of the following exercise to make it’s way into the novel, as written by my main character. Part 1 gives you the day of a male dom and a female sub. Part 2 gives a very similar day with a female dom and a male sub.

And yes, before you ask, some of this actually happened.
*************************************************************************

Her

In the morning, I wake up, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth. I come back to bed, and arrange myself in a kind of yoga child’s pose, with my ass in the air and my pussy exposed. I keep my face hidden this way. This isn’t about my face. This is about my pussy, which is a substitute for your hand.

I hear your alarm go off moments later, and you immediately roll over and slide your dick all the way inside my waiting cunt. Your dick is always biggest and hardest right when you wake up, and it feels a little like I’m being fucked with wood. I can’t say this is pleasurable; I don’t really like being fucked before I’m really awake. I do this for you. You never say a word to me during all this, and this morning, as usual, you don’t even touch the rest of my body while you almost lazily fuck me. You don’t care if I enjoy this, and I don’t either. Every morning, I bite my lip because I’m forbidden from making any noise and reminding you that I’m a person as you hammer your cock into my pussy, cumming inside me after only a couple of minutes. I feel your cum dripping down my pussy and onto my clit as you pull out in an almost careless fashion.

The rules say I’m not allowed to clean up until after I’ve made you coffee downstairs and stood by you while you drink some. You always joke that you don’t like cream in your coffee, but you love the sight of cream dripping down my leg while you drink your coffee. That’s when the day starts as your girlfriend, and not just your hand. You come into the dining room in your boxers and kiss me when I hand you your coffee, and you tell me I’m a good girl. I smile, and stand near you, reading the news over your shoulder as you look on your phone. Occasionally, you reach out casually to gently caress my wet pussy, and then you clench your hand on it and say, “Mine.”

“Yours,” I agree, loving feeling so tangibly possessed by you.

When finish your coffee and stand up, I go to the bathroom again to get cleaned up, then get dressed for work. It’s only a five minute walk for me and a five minute drive for you to our workplaces. Mornings are always dull, and I always start counting down an hour before lunch when I get to see you again. “I’m leaving now,” I text as I walk out the door.

“Sofa, leave all your clothes on,” is all I get back in response.

“Yes, Sir,” I text back.

I get home and enthusiastically throw myself over the sofa arm in the living room, my crotch digging into it. The rules say I’m allowed to jerk off whenever I get permission, but I’m only allowed to cum with your cock inside me. Being told to bend over the sofa counts as permission, and I writhe against the soft hardness of the sofa arm while I wait for you. As I become more aroused, my underwear gets a little bit wet, and I suspect that some of your cum from the morning has slipped out in my excitement. I only stay like that for about five minutes before I hear you get home. I stop moving, although I’m already so close to cumming that it’s a little painful to stop.

I’m still not allowed to look at you, but I hear you come into the living room. I hear your footsteps as you walk up behind me and drop your pants, and my pussy clenches with anticipation as when I hear your belt clank against the floor. You move closer to me and move my underwear to the side, sliding your cock into me. I try not to gasp at the delicious combination of texture and friction that happens as I get pressure from my underwear pressing against me, your cock thrusting into me, and the sofa arm pushing up against my clit. I keep carefully writhing against the sofa a bit while this happens. The rules say that I’m allowed to cum as long as it doesn’t interfere with or distract from your pleasure. Once I writhed too much, and you didn’t let me cum for three days. Another time I made too much noise, and you stopped fucking me to throw me over your knee and spank me until I cried. It hurt to sit down at work for the rest of the afternoon, which hurt worse because my pussy was so swollen from the way you viciously fucked me afterwards.

But a minute or two later you surprise me when you order, “Cum for me, slut.” I don’t even have time to say anything as I finally can release myself, my hips bucking against you as I feel you cum inside me, with me. You collapse a little behind me, over me, kissing the place where my neck meets my shoulder.

“You’re better than my hand, slut. My hand can’t cum.”

I feel indescribably happy from this praise. You slowly pull out of me, then carefully arrange my panties back across my cunt. “Keep those on until we’re done with lunch, slut.”

I follow your orders, of course, even though they’re soaked in five minutes.

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

Him

There are always too many meetings late in the afternoon, when they feel the most tedious. When I get bored, my dick gets hard because I always start thinking about sex. But I don’t actually like jerking off that much, and you begged me a long time ago not to cum unless I was inside you. You do so many things for me that I’m more than happy to give you that. I love jerking off inside you. And when I let you cum, you pull my own cum out so effortlessly. Your cunt is much better than my hand.

At 4:55, I get your text. “Leaving work in just a minute, Sir.”

I breathe a sigh of relief that the day is almost over. You relax me even as you arouse me. “Bent over the bed. Naked.” I text back.

“Yes, Sir.” That simple phrase puts a smile on my face, even as it makes my dick start to get harder in anticipation.

I make the short drive home, the whole time imagining the way you’ll look bent over the bed. I open the door, go upstairs to our bedroom, and feel my dick tighten inside my pants at the sight of your gorgeous naked ass up in the air, obediently waiting to please me. Your succulent pink pussy lips are still closed together, but I’ll fix that in a moment.

I quickly unbuckle my belt and drop my pants to the floor. My dick is already so hard and has been for so long that I don’t bother to take them off. I spread your pussy lips with the head of it and shove it inside you, observing the tiny gasp that slips out of you.

I love not having to worry about pleasing you. I love that you love for me to use you. I love the arch of your back when you’re bent over like this, and I love the tiny flutters of movement you can’t help but make whenever I pull too far away from you, as if your pussy just can’t stand to be separated from my cock. But most of all, I love the wet way your pussy grips my cock. It only takes a minute for you to make me cum, and then I love the way my cum drips out of you as I pull out.

I let you clean up while I get dressed again. Then I caress your gorgeous naked body downstairs in the kitchen when you come downstairs, rewarding you by putting your collar around your neck as I kiss the back of it. “Mine,” I murmur into the back of your neck.

“Yours,” you breathe in happy agreement.

It’s a pleasure to make dinner with you and eat with you and simply enjoy your company. But watching you eat naked with a collar on while I remain clothed just makes me want you all over again. “Come here,” I say at the end of dinner.

You obey, sitting on my knee while I grip your breasts. There is a daily ritual here, and it says that when I fuck you after dinner, you’re not my hand.

“You’re my beautiful slut,” I whisper into your ear, already feeling myself get hard inside my pants. I unbuckle my belt, and unzip my jeans, sliding them all the way off. My dick is already completely hard, but I want to feel your mouth on it. “Suck it, slut,” I say, pulling my shirt off and then putting my hand in your hair. You move from my knee to the floor, while you take me into your mouth. I groan with pleasure, but I don’t let you do it for long before pulling you back up by your hair. “Ride me,” I tell you. You straddle me across the chair and carefully slide your pussy down onto my cock. I savor the feeling of you sinking down onto me, and I love the way you close your eyes in pleasure. I let you keep going until I’m close to cumming myself and then I pull back your hair, ordering, “Cum for me, slut.” You immediately reach your hand down to your clit and start rubbing. I grasp your hips with both my hands to help you continue riding me, and not long after your whole body shakes as you cum all over me, your pussy spasming and your eyes glazed.

By force of will, I manage not to cum and hold you tightly, standing up with my cock still inside you as you wrap your legs around me. I carry you the short distance into the living room, and put you down onto the couch. I reluctantly pull out of you, but I spread your legs so that your hips are at the edge of the cushions, while I kneel on the floor in front of you.

“Sit on your hands,” I instruct you. “I want you to last as long as possible, but when you want to cum, beg for my cock.”

“Yes, Sir,” you say, your eyes still glazed.

I start gently licking your swollen clit, moving around your aroused pussy lips. I love the way you taste, and I love the way your hips arch towards my face. I don’t last long at all before you beg, “Please, Sir, please fuck me so I can cum.”

“No.” I deliberately slow down, blowing on your clit while you wriggle and writhe underneath my face. I laugh at your agony, then go back to licking again.

“Please!” you squeal.

“No,” I say, looking into your terrified open eyes. I back off again, only touching you with the barest tip of my tongue. Then I go back to sucking in earnest, my cock aching to be inside you again.

“Please!” you say. There are tears in your eyes now.

“Please what?” I ask, standing to position my cock just outside your pussy.

“Please fuck me so I can cum!” you practically scream. I slide inside you, and I feel your pussy spasm in desperate relief around me, which immediately causes me to cum as well. I readjust you so that I can lay with you on the couch, cuddling you and enjoying the feel of your body against me.

After showering with you, I spend the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with you, watching a movie. It’s as relaxing as cooking with you is, and I love the way you hold me.

“I love you, Sir,” you say, nuzzling your head into my chest.

“I love you too, slut,” I tell you, kissing the top of your head.

But eventually, it’s time for bed.

You go upstairs before me, and I hear you brush your teeth and get in bed. After brushing my own, I come into the dimly lit room and see you on the bed, your ass in the air, obediently waiting to service my cock one last time before we go to sleep.

My beautiful slut is so much better than my hand.

Submission is masculine too

Valentine’s Day draws nigh, and we’re about to be treated to another installment of the 50 Shades movie and Christian Grey’s twu domliness (ignoring the inconvenient part where in the book his character was once a sub, because he was apparently underaged so it doesn’t count…). And of course he’s a dom. He’s a guy. In American films, you’re not likely to see masculine high-power business executives or action heroes who get chained to beds when they get home any time soon, because we mostly treat masculine submission as humorous and often absurd (if you haven’t seen it, check out this hysterical segment of Conan). Gods, in a world where we think men being actually raped is funny (check out the Wedding Crashers or to a lesser degree Almost Famous), it’s no wonder that we think the idea of men consenting to submission is just downright absurd.

It’s the twenty-first century, and I’d personally love to see the idea of gender done away with entirely. I want to make very clear at the start that I prefer living in a world where no one gives a shit about gender, and most of what I’m about to say is irrelevant to assigned-male-at-birth people who identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, trans, or even (a la Eddie Izzard) as “executive transvestites.” But since we seem to be stuck with gender for the foreseeable future, I want to make sure that we get something clear as a subculture, because right now the mainstream culture seems to have made us a bit fuzzy on this point:

submission is masculine too

I’ve never heard anyone suggest that a submissive woman isn’t a “real woman,” but the idea that submissive men aren’t “real men” is one of the most pernicious concepts that pervades much of traditional femdom sub-sub-culture. I don’t pretend to know what a “real man” is, so I figured I’d check the internet for help. The difference between men and women on most personality characteristics is so small that it’s barely scientific to discuss it, but the words that show up as associated with masculinity are:

independent non-emotional aggressive tough-skinned competitive clumsy experienced strong active self-confident hard sexually aggressive rebellious

Now if, for some reason, you’re deeply committed to being a twu manly man and holding onto these values, I want to point out how you can hold onto these characteristics and still be a twu sub too (Goddess help us all). Here goes.

  • Independent: while crazy doms might like someone who is financially and emotionally dependent on them, most sane and healthy doms agree that they actually prefer subs who have their shit together and can take care of themselves. To go back to my car analogy of ages ago, most doms prefer a sub who can drive, but just likes it better if their dom does.
  • Non-emotional and tough skinned: don’t underestimate the appeal of a stoic bottom. It’s super hot when you beat the shit out of someone and they barely show any response, even as the welts appear (it’s also super hot when they scream. My tastes are many and varied).
  • Aggressive and clumsy: okay, I can’t make those work. But they’re also super unappealing qualities anyway, and wouldn’t be nice in a dom either…
  • Competitive: by all means, be competitive–just love to lose. And compete with yourself (just how big a dildo can you take up your ass without getting injured? hm?) Also, develop a perverse affection for rigged games (“let’s play rock paper scissors to see who’s going to be on bottom! You can only do paper.”)
  • Experienced: while cherry popping and innocence are easily compatible with bottoming and submission, you can go so much further with someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing.
  • Strong: yes, please. Give me a strong masculine sub, and I’ll do fucked up shit like kick him while he holds his arms plank position until he falls onto my torturous acupressure mat in exhaustion and I get to step on him. No fun to do with someone who’s weak.
  • Active: contrary to popular belief, submission and bottoming are not passive positions. It’s like getting fucked: to be good at it, you still have to actually be DOING something.
  • Self-confident: one of the unsexiest things is people who seem to be submissive because they’re too insecure to be anything else. And they’re way more satisfying to dom because it feels like you’ve achieved something.
  • Hard: I mean, I don’t want to make people who have erectile problems feel bad, but I must admit that I prefer guys who get and stay hard easily. This is equally true for subs and doms, because I’m going to want to fuck them either way.
  • Sexually aggressive: I would love it if we could stop equating “passion” and “dominance.” You can absolutely still be the sexual aggressor and be submissive. Slam me against a wall and kiss me to get me horny, and I’ll still force you down to your knees to worship my pussy. You can still be the one who initiates the sex… by pleading.
  • Rebellious: my sub rebels all the time; I keep a list of strike marks on my phone and beat him later accordingly. Everyone is still happy. Alternatively, you could argue that one of the most rebellious things a guy in our culture can do is stand up and say, “yeah, I fucking love it if my wife kicks my ass.”

Am I stretching things a bit to make this work? Yeah. But we’ve spent the last 70 years passionately re-working the concept of “feminine” to include the idea of “dominant,” and we’ve done an okay job at that (enough that a woman won the popular presidential vote by a substantial margin–something that would have been impossible 50 years ago). It’s high time we started working on the converse of that idea and started thinking about healthy ways to let men be submissive.

Inspiration

So you want to be a masculine submissive (please note that this is not necessarily the same thing as being a submissive man). And I would love for you to. You know, like the cover of a trashy romance novel, except you’re wearing a collar. How do you make that happen?

First, let’s go to a couple of awesome fantasy series for inspiration: Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books, and Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel books. In both cases, super badass manly men lovingly and happily take the backseat to even more badass chicks, and use the same phrase as they do: “protect and serve.” They take a traditionally masculine role (“the Protector”) and use their skills to serve and please the women in their lives. They’re physically and emotionally strong, clever, resourceful, and good in bed… And they seek out women who are even more badass than they are themselves so they can use their abundant personal resources to do what those women tell them to.

Sure, it’s fiction, but that sounds pretty fucking awesome to me.

But let’s talk about the real world. Here’s a few points of inspiration for you:

  • I think it’s wicked hot if a guy walks around a dungeon in a suit being led around by his necktie (what convenient leashes those are!).
  • And what fun if a guy is strong enough to pick me up and fuck me standing up while carrying me… but isn’t allowed to cum until he’s made me cum three times and has to ask my permission.
  • Tough guys can take a lot of pain, and it’s extra fun to watch them suffer. It’s an especially beautiful thing is to watch super strong guys tied up with almost no rope lines on them, basically stuck in a pull-up position… Their muscles inevitably start trembling, and then they finally collapse into the agony of their viciously unsupportive lines.
  • Our culture has become a little obsessed with the idea that part of being manly is being able to please one’s sexual partners. I think that obsession is pretty unhealthy, but if you’re going to cling to it, it’s super easy to make that compatible with submission. (Pleasing one’s partner is one of those ideas that’s easy to interpret in support of any identity, conveniently enough). But I certainly want a sub to be good at pleasing me and enjoy pleasing me, and I think it’s pretty easy to make that compatible with common masculine identity values.

The thing we seem to have the most trouble with is the idea that erections and being on the giving end of PIV/PIA sex are submissive. This idea is a big part of why fem dom stuff tends to put a big emphasis on chastity play and penis cages: the implication is that in order to control a man, you have to get control of the root of his power, i.e. his dick. We’re stuck in an archaic patriarchal conceptualization where penis = power. This is just silly. Men are amusingly weakened in so many ways when they’re hard. It’s hard for them to pee; a lot of times they walk funny; actually, it’s often difficult for them to do much of anything non-sexual when their dicks are hard–especially, say, math. Men are exposed (literally) and vulnerable when they’re hard, and most of them have been taught by society to feel extremely self-conscious about their erections (you want to quickly humiliate most guys: keep their belt on so their pants stay up, unzip their fly, keep their boxers on, and make them hard anyway so their dicks are sticking out of their clothes. Then make them, say, go to the bathroom across the room in a dungeon to get you a kleenex).

Screw this idea that penis = power. The root of anyone’s power–and the site of everything that controls submission, switching, and domination–is never the genitalia. It’s the brain. You get hard for me. You fuck me for my entertainment and my pleasure. You cum when I tell you you can. Done. That’s what submission is. There’s no need to emasculate yourself in order to be submissive, and I’d personally mostly rather that you didn’t.

Oh, and did I mention the most ironic part? The sooner we embrace the idea that submission is masculine, the easier it will be to find hetero-attracted women who want to be dominant. For many or even possibly most (potentially) dominant hetero-attracted women, submissive men are hot because they’re submissive men. And that’s not just about some sort of fetish for the taboo or defying gender expectations by getting a MAN to submit to them. It’s also just about finding conventionally masculinity hot in a context of submission.

In conclusion, I’m not just saying that it’s okay for guys to submit, or that it’s okay for guys to wear collars. I’m not even just saying that it’s hot for guys to do these things. I’m going several steps further and saying: if you are a masculine person who likes to submit and/or identifies as a sub, that can in fact boost your masculinity rather than reducing it. And I’m not just basing this on some subjective idea about “gender is in the eye of the beholder/keeper” (although it is), or some desperate attempt to re-work masculinity for my own mischievous fem-domly aims (although I am). You really just don’t have to work hard to make your identity as a guy compatible with your identity as a sub, for one simple and basic reason: with the right dom, being masculine is likely to please and arouse them, and isn’t that what submission is about?

Gender, orgasms, and control: a femme dom rant

Him: I feel like my life has turned into a femme dom porn.
Me: Except for the part where I’m actually sexually satisfied?
Him: Yeah, that and the bathroom rules.

Check the numbers. Guys in the divvy out to about 36% tops, 28% switch/kinkster, and 12% bottoms on fetlife. Chicks divvy out to about 11% tops, 23% switch/kinkster, and 46% bottoms. If I re-run those numbers to only include people with an easy identity in the denominator, you get 47% tops, 36% switches, and 16% bottoms for men; and 14% tops, 29% switches, and 57% bottoms for women. Although these numbers don’t necessarily represent the actual composition of real public scenes, that’s a pretty uneven distribution for hetero partnership.

Why such an uneven distribution between men and women for these identity labels? Some of it is undoubtedly weird scene gender norms. The vast majority of the serious female riggers I know self-identify as subs or slaves, and even though they like to torture people in rope, still don’t identify as switches. Which is certainly their right, but I think it says more about how women in the scene are taught to identify themselves than anything. Meanwhile, I’ve only ever personally met one sub-identified male rigger… but tons of male riggers who self-identify as “doms” even though they say they love tying for exactly the same reason that all those submissive female riggers do: because they like seeing people happy in their rope. My point here is that we teach women and men to identify themselves differently, and we don’t really encourage anyone to identify as a switch.

But when I look at that identity breakdown, I doubt that it’s as simple as traditional gender norms encouraging men to identify as dominant and women to identify as submissive, just because women identify as bottoms so much more than men identify as tops. And it’s possible that I’m asking the wrong question here, but… why so little purported enthusiasm from women for dominance?

Other than social identity pressures, I suggest that we could ignore most other aspects of gender socialization and narrow it down to this: most women–especially most kinky women–like to get fucked with something A LOT. I know that a significant proportion of kinky women like to get fucked really hard. With dicks, fingers, fists, silicone, glass–you know, whatever fits, and preferably not too comfortably–into their holes. And the problem here, as I’ve mentioned before, is that our cultural concept of submission is closely tied to the concept of penetration. So it almost feels like in order to identify as a dominant woman, you kind of have to also say, ‘I don’t really need a good fucking in order to be happy.’

At best, we let dominant hetero women ride men’s dicks (because if you’re going to be penetrated, at least stay physically on top, right?). I went to @Graydancer’s “tie ‘em up and fuck ‘em” class recently–a class which I think he’s taught for many years. While there, I was reminded how deeply ingrained some of these attitudes and perceptions are. The class, by the way, was excellent, and I highly recommend it. Gray taught a brilliantly simple technique that pretty much anyone can use to tie someone up and fuck them. And being a wonderfully open-minded sort of fellow, he showed it from both sides of the hetero equation (guy-tie-girl, girl-tie-guy). But he only showed the girl-tie-guy version initially with the girl on top until I asked him how I could tie up a guy to make him fuck me missionary (since this is usually how I cum best–and the hardest position to actually feel like I’m in control). He looked really confused for a minute, said no one had ever asked him that before, but being awesome, he promptly figured out how to do it. I’m not saying this to call him out–not at all. I’m just noting how much it apparently hadn’t occurred to anybody that a chick might want to tie a guy up and get him into a position where he could jackhammer her cervix (aka “missionary position”).

Consequently, I think a lot of women struggle with the concept of dominance. Then layer on top of those penetrated/“being fucked” = submissive problems the pernicious way that femme dom porn–which unfortunately has inspired a lot of what kinky people fantasize about and envision in terms of female domination and male submission–rarely shows dominant women orgasming at all. What. The. Fuck. It’s bad enough that kink world obsessively fetishizes the ten women in the world who can cum just from being whipped or hit; but to fetishize women who don’t even get sexual pleasure from doing the whipping is even worse. Newsflash to all the submissives out there: I’m not going to traipse around corseted so tightly I can barely breathe while tripping in absurdly high heels and NOT ORGASMING for your entertainment and call it domination. Fuck that shit.

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to ponder all this lately as I slowly acquired a “slightly less fake submissive” (guy). I can never take any d/s arrangement too seriously for myself, and it really always fundamentally is a game for me. But even in our very tongue-in-cheek “d/S contract,” I wrote, “the dominant likes to orgasm. A lot. The Submissive gets to orgasm if He is sufficiently entertaining.” Because what the hell is the point of being the one in control if I don’t get to cum a lot???

To make it even less appealing to (hetero attracted) women, a lot of popular hetero femme dom activities involve deliberately de-sexualizing men as a technique of humiliation or degradation. Why the hell do I want to put men in chastity devices that keep them from getting hard? This makes no sense at all to me. My good little submissive shopped around until he found a chastity device that basically forces him to STAY hard, which is waaaaay sexier, more fun, and more useful. Here’s another newsflash: for many (perhaps most) of us folks out there who are attracted to male submission, we are actually still attracted to masculine sexuality. Erections are still super hot; precum is still really hot; wet sticky orgasms are still super hot; nicely developed chests and biceps are still hot. I’m way more inclined to train a male sub to get hard on command than to train him not to get hard.

Here’s the thing: so much of our femme dom conceipts are derived from pro doms, who aren’t allowed to have sex with their clients. To get around that fact legally and socially, they devised a few creative ways to “not have sex” with their clients that were still getting their clients off because a happy ending makes for a happy customer. So these guys pay to get fucked with strap-ons, not to apply vibrators to the lady’s bits (which also would be legal). And the concept of dom girls as practically stone just trickled down from the pro houses to the femme dom porn world to the scene. It doesn’t help that men–not women–buy all that femme dom porn too, so there just isn’t much motivation on that side to emphasize dominant women’s sexual satisfaction either. (I’m not blaming the pros for anything, mind. They’re just trying to make a living. These problems happened because of social institutions, not because of individuals).

Which is all stupid, self-defeating, and incredibly ironic since it means that domination becomes way less appealing to women for fun and pleasure, so all those guys who want to get dominated keep having to go out and pay someone to do it instead.

So as a self-identified dom-leaning masochistic-leaning switchy slut, I’m going to lay down a few basic guidelines for SlutPhD’s New & Improved World of Feminine Dominance (note that these are guidelines, not rules or laws) to hopefully make the idea of dominance more appealing to women:

  • The dom gets to cum. A lot. In whatever sexual position is most pleasurable to her, in whatever hole pleases her most. Even if that’s her ass.
  • Being penetrated is not inherently submissive or anything else. It just is.
  • At least for the length of the scene, the sub’s entire body (unless negotiated otherwise) is there for the dom’s pleasure, entertainment, and amusement. No part of it gets locked up or incapacitated in any way unless this is pleasing, entertaining, or amusing to the dom.
  • When fantasizing about impractical things, submissives are hereby directed to focus more energy on impractical fantasies that are sexually pleasing for dominants. For people with penises, this includes things like getting hard on command and cumming on command. For everyone, this includes things like getting their whole fist inside their dom, because fisting is now officially declared to be neither dominant nor submissive, dammit, because it just feels good.
  • Passion and passionate desire are not inherently dominant or submissive. You can still be a dom and like being thrown against a wall and kissed or thrown down onto a bed with a raging erection pressed against your thigh.
  • Doms can still enjoy being cuddled and held tenderly by someone else. And are allowed to be vulnerable and cute and whimsical and all sorts of human emotions beyond “cold and bitchy.”
  • Letting a woman dominate you does not lessen you in any way, and I will personally have nothing to do with any fetishistic practices that imply otherwise.
  • Au contraire, you are hotter because this super sexy creature wanted to utterly and completely have you.

On a Constitutional Right to BDSM

by J.M. Green


 

From the Slut: J.M. Green is a friend who very recently completed law school and was gracious enough to write a detailed explication of an extremely complicated case. Much appreciation!


 

 

Dr. Slut has asked me to weigh in on a recent case decided in Virginia. I’m both delighted and flattered to be guest blogging here. My goal is to offer a solid understanding—legally and factually—of what the case actually decided, what it means that a court made this particular decision, and what actually happens now that the decision has been made.

 

What follows is a very detailed explanation of the case, and for people looking for the short takeaway, here it is: a Virginia District Court made several rulings in a complicated case of college date rape which purportedly involved BDSM. The alleged rapist, who had sued the school over how the school dealt with the case, won most of what he’d asked the court for. The only thing he didn’t win was a claim that the university was required to consider the BDSM context of his relationship, but his own admissions would damn him as a rapist in most BDSM communities. Legally speaking, he argued that he has a Constitutional right to engage in BDSM and the court used easily disputable logic to claim otherwise. The court’s ruling really doesn’t mean much, and it doesn’t apply in a very generalizable way. Moreover, it is suspect in terms of its legal reasoning, its simplistic treatment of BDSM, and its treatment of sex in general.

 

Now. For people who want to understand everything that happened in depth, here goes.

 

There has been has been a bit of rumbling and a bit of bumbling in the media recently about a Federal District Court’s decision in the case Doe v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason Univ., because the court spent a handful of pages (about 4 out of 45) analyzing whether the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to engage in BDSM sex. A shorter version of that already short analysis? “Nope.” The decision is poorly reasoned on the question of the Constitution and BDSM. Critically, however, the “BDSM as Constitutional Right” issue (mostly) didn’t change the case’s outcome in the real world, and the hullabaloo around the decision is a bit silly.

However, the court’s analysis didn’t begin with the BDSM/Constitutional question—it took 40 pages to get there—nor did the court’s answer to that question dictate what actually happened to the people involved in the case. That was decided in the first 40 pages.

Yet, in every discussion I’ve read, the fact that the plaintiff (called “John Doe,” meaning he filed the case without disclosing his name) won nearly all the relief he asked for—the same person who claimed a right to BDSM sex under the Constitution—is glossed over. And yes, you read that right: he won. Without this context, much of the discussion that has followed is nonsensical. So, let’s start here with what happened in the first 40 pages of the decision.

Here’s how we’re going to proceed. First, I’m going to talk about what a “Constitutional Right to BDSM Sex” might look like. Second, I’m going to discuss the non-BDSM holdings in the case, so we have some perspective. Then, I’m going to discuss the BDSM related Constitutional holding (the holding that there is “no Constitutional right to BDSM Sex”) in Doe’s case, and break down how things work in the relevant area of Constitutional Law. Finally, I’m going to talk about why the legal impact of the BDSM related Constitutional holding is pretty much zero.

 

I. (Most of) what was actually decided in the case.

John Doe was expelled from GMU after being found “responsible” for “sexual misconduct.” At issue was whether, in the course of his relationship with a woman the court calls “Jane Roe” (for her privacy), Doe had engaged in sexual activity with her, without her consent. If so, he was in violation of school policies he’d agreed to in attending the school, and thus subject to expulsion. In terms of the school procedure and relevant facts (we’ll talk about the BDSM stuff in part II, but it’s not strictly relevant here), here’s what happened:

  • Roe and Doe dated.
  • Roe and Doe broke up.
  • Doe sent Roe a text message threatening to kill himself if she did not respond.
  • Roe made a formal complaint to GMU about things various Doe did, specifically including events on October 27, 2013 and the text message.
  • GMU emailed Doe informing him he was the subject of (1) an alleged violation of GMU’s sexual misconduct policy and (2) charged with four violations of the code of conduct. Specifically, (1) “infliction of physical harm on any person(s), including self;” (2) “Deliberate touching or penetration of another person without consent;” (3) “Conduct of a sexual nature” and (4) “communication that may cause injury, distress, or emotional or physical discomfort.”
  • Doe was given a hearing before a three-member panel of the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, where he prevailed and was found “not responsible” as to any charge.
  • That decision was appealed by Roe.
  • Roe’s appeal went to an administrator named Ericson, who reversed the panel’s decision and found Doe “responsible.”
  • Doe then appealed the appeal—apparently a unique event in GMU’s history—to Dean of Students Blank-Godlove (what a name!).
  • Blank-Godlove affirmed Ericson’s decision and Doe was expelled.

After this series of events, Doe brought a lawsuit against the school, with a variety of claims, including the one that the school violated his Constitutional right to engage in BDSM sex.

The opinion that came down at the end of last month was a ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment. All “cross-motions” means is that both Doe and GMU are asking for summary judgment. Summary judgment is something granted by a judge where, if no relevant facts are in dispute, the law requires a particular result.

For example, let’s pretend Dr. Slut sued me for insulting her by saying “you’re stupid.” After we have each gathered some evidence, each of us looks at what we have and discover there’s no factual question of whether I said “you’re stupid:” it looks to both of us like I did say it. So, I go to the court and say “here are the facts we agree on, I think that there’s no legal reason I can’t say “you’re stupid” to Dr. Slut. Dr. Slut does the same, but in reverse, essentially saying “he admits he said ‘you’re stupid,’ and the law says I get money if he does that.” Then, the judge rules on what the law says. With me still? Cool. Let’s look at the opinion.

In this case, the court made three separate rulings. Two were about summary judgment, while the third gets a bit more complicated, so let’s start with the first two:[2]

  1. Ruling: GMU violated Doe’s right to have “due process” before he was expelled.

Explanation: The “Due Process” Clause of the Constitution requires a certain amount of notice to be given to people like Doe in disciplinary hearings. Doe was given fair notice that his actions on October 27, 2013 were at issue, but not that his actions on any other day were. Because the decisions in the appeal process were based on things Doe did on other days, his Due Process Right was violated.

  1. Ruling: GMU violated Doe’s right to “free speech.”

Explanation: The Free Speech protections in the First Amendment protect speech in the form of text messages, but “true threats” do not have any First Amendment protections. GMU’s policy banning text messages that are “likely to…cause[] injury, distress or emotional or physical discomfort” bans more than just “true threats,” without justification. The court thus ruled that because Doe’s text message does not satisfy the legal definition of a “true threat,” it may not be the basis for an expulsion. The court is careful to note, however, that the issue was with the expulsion and its relationship to the policy; GMU would have been perfectly okay to have a policy that when such text messages were sent, students were sequestered and evaluated by mental health counselors.

So, there’s a lot there. Let’s break it down even further: (1) Doe wins. (2) Doe wins.

The court then addresses what remedy Doe gets. The court rules that Doe should be reinstated in the school, but the school CAN hold a new hearing on the same issues. It also rules that it will decide some related issues—like whether Blank-Godlove and Ericson are too biased to fairly run the new hearings—after more briefing and arguments.

 

II. A Constitutional right to BDSM sex

I think the most important thing in any discussion of a Constitutional right, especially when it is a discussion that probably involves non-area experts, is to set a clear definition of the right you’re discussing, or at least note the potential different definitions in play (I’m looking at you, Mr. Volokh). So what form does a Constitutional right to engage in BDSM sex take? What conduct does it protect? What conduct doesn’t it protect?

Constitutional rights, generally, are rights against the government. Because of the nature of government funding of universities, universities are considered government actors for a lot of purposes. So I have a right to free speech against a university, but not against an individual. If I make posts arguing that sex is morally reprehensible on Dr. Slut’s blog, she’s absolutely free to ban me without violating any right of mine. Not quite so for the government/a university. For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot bar a protester from wearing a jacket with the slogan “Fuck the Draft” from entering a courthouse.

However, rights are never absolute. In classic terms, my right to freely swing my fist ends where your nose begins. So, let’s pause and assume there’s a Constitutional right to BDSM sex. Where would such a right end? The most sensible place, it seems to me, would be with consent. This squares with the case Doe cites as the source of his right. Doe cites Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court decision about “homosexual sodomy” as establishing that “all adults have the same fundamental liberty interests [and therefore Constitutional rights] in their private consensual sexual choices.” BDSM only becomes more interesting if you assume it includes consensual non-consent-type play.

Thus, we might see two versions of the right. In the Lawrence case, Mr. Lawrence ended up in court claiming his right because the police broke down the door to his house and arrested him when they found him having a kind of sex Texas had made illegal. Applied to this case, we could imagine a set of facts where a roommate reported Doe and Roe for their sexual practices, and the school expelled him without Roe’s complaint. In that case, we’d have a question of whether a school could—consistent with the Constitution—ban BDSM practices altogether. The other form of the right—the one Doe’s case seems to present—is a question of where Doe’s rights end and Roe’s rights begin.

 

III. The other part of the case.

In the 4½ pages at the end of the opinion, the court rejects an argument that the university violated his “substantive due process” rights.[3] Before we talk about what this means, we should lay two pieces of ground work: the facts and the law. I should also note that while it’s probably important to know the facts here, the law of substantive due process is pretty technical. While writing this piece, I’ve been able to get laughs from other law people by simply stating that “I’m writing a piece that explains substantive due process to a non-law audience.” So, please feel free to skip ahead to part IV.

First, the facts (we’ll unpack them a bit more below):

  • To use the court’s stilted language, Roe and Doe were in a “romantic relationship” which “included certain sexual practices known collectively as ‘BDSM.’”
  • Roe and Doe agreed upon and used the safe word, “Red.” They also seem to[4] have agreed that their sex would include consensual non-consent play (“stop” doesn’t mean STOP; “no” doesn’t mean NO).
  • On October 27, 2013, Roe and Doe had a play session in Doe’s dorm room. Apparently during this session, Roe pushed Doe away, and when asked whether she wanted to continue sex, Roe said “I don’t know.” Doe then resumed activities, according to the court, “despite the equivocation, given that Roe did not use the agreed safe word ‘red.’”
  • After they broke up, Roe made reports to both GMU and the GMU university police about a variety of things Doe did, including various sexual encounters where she felt he violated her consent.
  • According to the facts considered at summary judgement (this only means that there was some argument about the facts—not that there was an ultimate factual determination) Roe did not use the safe word on October 27.
  • However Doe has admitted he has failed to stop sex and play when Roe safe worded, and even admitted this in his GMU hearing:
    • On a call that Roe and the GMU police recorded, Roe asked Doe “why [he] never stopped when [she] used the safe word,” to which he replied that he “felt like [she] could handle it.”
    • At the hearing before the Sexual Misconduct Board, Doe was asked if there were instance outside of October 27 when Roe used the safe word and he refused to stop. His response was it happened in “very rare” and “unusual circumstances” because he was “set in the routine of things.” He qualified this by saying when Roe said “red” again, he would then “stop immediately.” He apparently also assured the Board that he would “not just blatantly ignore and then continue.”
  • The 3-person GMU Sexual Assault Panel found Doe “not responsible” as to the October 27 incident.
  • Roe appealed and (ignoring the procedural issues in part I) Ericson investigated.
  • Ericson found that Doe was responsible for sexual assault, specifically violations of GMU’s ban on touching or penetration “without consent.” However, his formal announcement did not explain the facts supporting or the reasoning of the decision.
  • Doe appealed the appeal, and Dean of Students Blank-Godlove investigated.
  • Blank-Godlove reviewed “only those portions of the record identified by Ericson as supporting his decision.” She upheld Ericson’s determination.
  • Apparently those portions were not just about October 27: later, during the lawsuit, it was revealed that Doe was “expelled for conduct other than what occurred on October 27.”[5].

With the facts covered, let’s dig into the law of substantive due process, and look at what it means in this case:

First, for those unacquainted with Fourteenth Amendment law, let’s start with what the words mean. Drawing some very rough lines, a “substantive” right is a right to some actual thing in the world, as opposed to a right to some kind of process. If I have a substantive right to free speech, for example, I have a right that involves actual speaking. This stands in opposition to a “procedural” right, which is a right to some kind of process. For example, if I had a procedural right to free speech, I’d have a right to have a certain amount of process take place before my speech rights were taken away.

Substantive due process is about a set of rights that are so fundamental that they are implied in the Constitution, rather than explicitly stated. The doctrine has a storied history. For example, in 1905, the Supreme Court used substantive due process to strike down minimum wage and other labor laws because the Court saw those laws as infringing the fundamental right of individuals to freely contract (Lochner v. New York). More recently, decisions have taken a liberal turn, and notable “fundamental rights” include a woman’s right to control her own body and have an abortion (Roe v. Wade); in an individual’s right to engage in consensual “sodomy” (Lawrence v. Texas); and the freedom to marry a person of one’s choice, regardless of gender (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Doctrinally, here’s how you win a substantive due process claim.[6] There are two kinds of review that a substantive due process claim can be given: strict scrutiny review and rational basis review. Winning cases essentially requires getting strict scrutiny review. When conducting strict scrutiny, courts use a lot of phrases like “substantially further a compelling government interest” and “least burdensome means,” which boil down to “government, if you want to restrict this right, you better have a damn good goal and no other way accomplish it.” Thus, it is exceedingly rare that a regulation can survive that test. On the other hand, courts doing rational basis review will ask if the government has a “legitimate interest” (and there doesn’t need to be a single piece of evidence that the interest identified in court was what the people passing the restriction had in mind) and whether the restriction is “rationally related” to that interest. Just as exceedingly few laws survive strict scrutiny, exceedingly few laws fail a rational basis test.

So, how do you get strict scrutiny? You must establish that the right you’ve identified is “fundamental.”[7] The easiest way to do this is to find a case where the Supreme Court has already identified a fundamental right, and argue your right falls under that larger heading. If the right has not already been identified, or a court disagrees with you that your right should fall under a pre-existing right, there are two ways to show a right is fundamental. You can show either that your right is (1) “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” or that it is (2) “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937); Moore v. City of East Cleveland 431 U.S. 494 (1977). Most arguments will cover both bases.

As you might guess, the most important fight in determining whether a right is fundamental is the fight over how—and at what level of generality—the right at issue is defined. To show you what I mean, let’s talk about the decision in the Lawrence v. Texas: the case that is the source of the fundamental liberty interest Doe claims. Lawrence was about a Texas law that banned “deviate sexual intercourse,” which was defined to mean “anal intercourse with a member of the same sex (man).”[8] Police, responding to what was apparently a false report of a “weapons disturbance,” entered the home of John Lawrence and his partner. The police found them making the beast with two backs, and arrested them for violation of the Texas “Homosexual Conduct” law (the one I mentioned above). They were convicted, and appealed that conviction to the Supreme Court, saying the law violated their substantive due process rights.[9]

Ultimately, the Court decided that “all adults have the same fundamental liberty interests in their private consensual sexual choices,” and that this right extended to Lawrence and his partner. However, Texas didn’t argue that all adults did not have a fundamental interest in “private consensual sexual choices.” Instead, Texas argued that there was no fundamental “right to engage in homosexual anal intercourse,” and argued vehemently that even if there was a right to engage in private consensual sexual choices,” that right didn’t help them because they could not “establish a historical tradition of exalting and protecting the conduct” (read: anal sex) “for which they were prosecuted at any level of specificity.”

In Doe’s case, the most sensible approach would have been to start from what is clear in the law; Lawrence unequivocally stated that there is a fundamental interest in “private consensual sexual choices.” The proper question left for Judge Ellis to decide was not whether there was a fundamental liberty interest in “freedom from state regulation of consensual BDSM activity,” but whether the regulation of consensual BDSM activity violates broader right to “private consensual sexual choices.” I am not suggesting that would be an easy constitutional question; but I am saying it’s the right one to ask. Instead, Judge Ellis takes a nonsensical perspective and argues that “Obergefell [(the gay marriage case)] explicitly establishes that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses are interlocking and each leads to a stronger understanding of the other” (quotation marks removed). While it is true that this is the case in Obergefell, the claim that Obergefell somehow ruled that all Substantive Due Process claims must have an Equal Protection element is an absurd one, and one I can’t find being made anywhere else.

I should also mention that at least some BDSM communities would recoil in horror at Doe’s attitude towards safewords, and thus it’s far from clear that the BDSM context wasn’t (or couldn’t have been) taken into account. Recall that Doe admitted at the hearing he did not always immediately respond to safewords, sometimes because he was “set in the routine of things.” Clarisse Thorn wrote a fantastic piece on safe words several years ago, and has cited approvingly to Thomas MacAulay Millar’s annotated version of it. In the annotations, Millar writes that it “can’t be emphasized enough” that “Tops Can Never Be On Cruise Control!” (emphasis and capitalization from the original). Along a similar line, one major online resource for submissive partners in BDSM relationships (the “Submissive Guide by lunaKM) instructs that “[i]f used, the ‘stop’ safeword should be respected unconditionally. After the bottom uses the safeword, the activity or entire scene is over, inflicting pain or any physical forcing should be stopped and all restraints should be removed immediately. Ignoring safewords is considered dishonorable and a deeply immoral practice in the BDSM community” (emphasis added). While this by no means speaks for everyone in the community, Doe’s admissions about his behavior regarding safe words would be plenty in at least some BDSM communities to—with the BDSM context he asks for!—determine he had violated consent; he failed to stop “immediately” because, as he describes it, he was “set in the routine of things” (in other words, he was “on cruise control”).

 

IV. What is the impact of this decision?

Of course, none of the above may really matter; the impact of the BDSM portion of decision is (next to) zero. To explain this, I want to start with what will happen to John Doe now.

John Doe has a right to a new hearing because the appeal process for the original hearing was found to be Constitutionally inadequate. Let’s talk about what that means in light of what we know Doe did. Doe claims that Ericson and Blank-Godlove did not take account of the BDSM context of his relationship in his appeal. However, if that was strictly true, it’s hard to see why they would have needed to rely on events OTHER THAN the October 27 incident. On October 27, we know that Roe physically pushed Doe away and expressed disinterest in continuing sex, which Doe responded to by continuing sex. Without a BDSM context, that is a pretty clear violation of consent.

Even with a BDSM context, we know that Doe admitted he did not stop activity when Roe used her safe word, and we know that he did this more than once. This is legally relevant because it means that the court’s decision on the Due Process right is a decision on a question that was not appropriately before it; on the undisputed facts, Doe’s right to private consensual sexual choices was not violated when the school enforced a consent policy against him. Moreover, as far as I can tell, his argument that BDSM community norms would compel a different result on a consent determination is simply wrong about community norms.

I should also explain a little bit about what it means that this case was decided in a Virginia District Court. The court is in the federal system, which is structured as follows:

  1. United States Supreme Court (top)
  2. Federal Appellate Courts
  3. Federal District Courts (bottom)

In this system, decisions by a higher (closer to the top) court must be followed by that court, and  any courts below them. Additionally, a judge at the same level as another may explicitly overrule the decision of that judge, though such decisions are less common. So, the Virginia district court’s (the bottom rung on that ladder) decision only requires another court in that same district to follow its results, and even then, it is not exactly required so much as strongly suggested. Furthermore, because as I mentioned above, it was not necessary to decide the Constitutional question to reach the result in this case, another district court might call the decision “dicta.” What that means is that the court was expressing an opinion on an issue it didn’t need to decide, and therefore that opinion is just that: an opinion, and not a binding judicial decision.

Finally, I want to express one last opinion. Because this case is a district court case, its influence is only as great as its reasoning is convincing. Judge Ellis’s reasoning is not convincing, and here’s why: it is entirely consistent with both Lawrence and the result in this case to say that (1) Doe should lose on the Constitutional issue, and (2) there is a Constitutional right that protects BDSM sex. Recall that Lawrence was about a legislative ban on a victimless crime. By contrast, Doe had a victim. The facts of a case that would actually require a court to decide whether Lawrence’s right to consensual sex includes BDSM would look more like this:

  • Doe and Roe are in a BDSM relationship.
  • They are having a consensual non-consent type scene in Doe’s dorm room.
  • Doe’s roommate walks in, and immediately calls the GMU police.
  • Doe is brought before a Sexual Misconduct Board, where Doe’s roommate testifies to what he saw Doe doing to Roe.
  • Roe either testifies that she had negotiated with Doe, or is for some reason unavailable to testify.

Whether that case would come out differently is perhaps underscored by the fact that Doe was found “not responsible” by the Misconduct Board, even when he explicitly admitted he didn’t always follow safe word practices appropriately.

 

V. Conclusion

So what does all this mean? Doe is now a student at GMU again. He’s going to have another hearing. However, there is no reason that he needs to be found “not responsible” in that hearing. Based on what appear to be uncontested facts, in that hearing, a panel could take into account BDSM context and still find him “responsible” for sexual assault. Doe clearly won the battle here, but it may be something of a pyrrhic victory. But none of that should make us worry deeply about the Constitutional status of BDSM. This case has no binding effect decisions by future courts in cases where an actual ban on BDSM practices is enacted, nor does it have any binding effect on cases where there is no victim. It is unfortunate that even in the legal field, sometimes very important complexity is lost in translation, and that has certainly happened in reporting on Doe’s case.

I also want to take one last moment to focus on the impact of this decision on Roe. Tragically, the University’s handling of this case probably forces her to make the horrible choice of going through a hellish proceeding again or knowing that Doe will go unpunished. It seems clear to me that a little less squeamishness around the BDSM element of the case would have gone a long way: if the administrators had looked up BDSM community standards on safewords, Doe’s testimony would have damned him, and they could explicitly say “we took into account the BDSM context, and in that context, you were responsible for sexual assault.” Perhaps we can hope this case teaches universities that lesson.

[1] A big thank you to my dear friend Maya (mayashakti) for help in trying to make this understandable to non-lawyers.

[2] For those familiar with some parts of Constitutional law playing along at home, you may notice that it’s kind of weird that a University can violate Constitutional rights. That’s a complicated story, but it can be reduced to “Universities are basically government/state actors in some cases.” It’s also worth noting that the court mentions that its second holding may be moot—that is, not relevant anymore—because it rules in Doe’s favor on the first, and the relief Doe requested is the same for each violation.

[3] For those keeping score at home, this actually isn’t the first time this was addressed in this case. Doe’s substantive due process right to BDSM sex claim was actually dismissed back in September. See 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125230. Doe raised the issue again with a motion to reconsider. The analysis is substantially different, so I’m going to talk exclusively about the February decision.

[4] The court is not particularly clear on whether Roe explicitly agreed to consensual non-consent, though it notes that “according to [Doe,] the ground rules for his BDSM relationship with Roe included that [Doe] should not stop sexual activity unless or until Roe used the safeword.”

[5] The court treats this like it was a surprise to Doe, but at least one charge—the charge related to his text message—was clearly about a non-October 27 event. That said, it does seem reasonable to say that, with regard to the allegations of consent violations, this may have come as a surprise to Doe.

[6] I am only treating the kind of substantive due process claim made by Doe. There are some other modes of analysis out there that I’m not mentioning because this is already way too complicated. See, for example, Justice Souter’s dissent, proposing sliding scale-type analysis in Washington v. Glucksberg (a case about assisted suicide case), suggesting that the test should be comparing the importance of the right asserted with the importance of the state interest.

[7] There is a variance in terminology, and the opinion in Doe’s case uses both. Just know that “implied fundamental right,” a “fundamental right,” and an “implied fundamental liberty interest” mean exactly the same thing.

[8] Yes, they made super-duper clear they were only going after homosexual dudes. Heterosexuals and lesbians could apparently have all the anal sex they wanted.

[9] There is also an equal protection story here, but let’s put that aside.

 

Why Do People Do BDSM + Bonus Bondage

Back in the fall of 2015, I gave an academic-ish talk for a group called We Are Takoma. I threw in some bonus bondage performances as it was also an arts venue. The talk explains why people engage in BDSM. The bondage performances are a sexy bonus.

The talk is by me

The first performance is by Sardonic and WigglyBunny

The second performance is by me and Greneydathlete

Video here

 

Wrecking Ball Parody

I managed to pull together some friends to create this parody of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. Enjoy the absurdity.

(NSFW) http://www.xtube.com/watch.php?v=SzLcu-S401-#.VUfZH_lViko

Book Preview: KINK: Sometimes Truth Is So Much Stranger Than Fiction

If you read this stuff in a novel, you probably wouldn’t believe it… Meet the real people who engage in BDSM (Bondage & Discipline/Dominance & submission/Sadism & Masochism). Kinky will introduce you to a woman who can orgasm from being whipped, a man who likes to take a woman’s entire fist and forearm up his anus, and a Queer woman who likes to groom and train people who identify as “ponies.” As a professional sociologist and long-time member of “the Scene”—the social world of people who call themselves “kinky,” Dr. Fennell describes the lives of the many kinky people she has encountered with an insider’s unique brand of empathy and playful wit. Drawing from her extensive experiences interviewing, observing, and frolicking with kinksters throughout the mid-Atlantic, Fennell explains what it is that kinky people say they do, what they actually do, and why they do it. A tourguide who knows the scenery intimately, Fennell takes you to a world that is simultaneously exotic and unexpectedly mundane, but where the rules are just… different. It’s a world where the ties that bind are tighter than those of the outside “vanilla” world, and not just because there are usually ropes or chains involved. And it’s a world where love (and sex) can get very, very big, and very, very, very loud.

Sometimes truth is so much stranger than fiction.

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Want to read more? Click on the 2 sample chapters linked below! If you want to see this book in print, please vote in the poll here, so I can encourage publishers to make it happen! 

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Sample chapters:

Chapter 2: Shades of Gray

Chapter 4: The Love Language of Kink

 

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Editors and publishers: I’m still looking for a publisher for my book! If you’re interested, please send me an email at theslut@slutphd.com, and I’ll put you in touch with my agent.

Great Advice for Concerned Parents

Freaked out about your kid’s porn preferences? Chances are, they’re just kinky, not a future abuser. Dan Savage offers some great advice for parents who are worried about their kids.

http://www.avclub.com/article/ethical-sadist-214995