Friday, July 24, 2009

I am gearing up for a busy seven days, and they’re going to be rather split-second in terms of timing. And somewhat schizophrenic in nature.

Today is easy. I'm about to spend some private time with a friend, and then I’m doing dinner and silliness and kinkiness with a group of my pals. But soon, who should arrive but - my dearest mamma. Which is all well and good, except that I’ll have to do a quick reversal of role.

You seem, my mother is a sweet, gentle woman who loves me very much. She would never raise her voice or argue with anyone. She wants nothing except that the people she loves be happy.

Occasionally, though, my mother gets ideas about what, exactly, would make someone happy. And once she’s decided that - oh, you better just get out of the way. Because she is a five-foot, one-hundred-pound force of nature with a southern accent, and she is simply not going to stop until she has brought about whatever set of circumstances she just knows will be best for her loved one.

I have developed a sort of emotional Aikido for dealing with my mother when she’s on one of her campaigns. You know - don't hurt her, just redirect her momentum. But I pick my battles. Whatever it is, unless you're highly skilled and really invested in not doing it, you should just choose to go along and be made happy by it. Believe me, it’s much simpler if you don’t struggle.

Fortunately, I think she exhausted a lot of her making-people-happy-whether-they-like-it-or-not mojo on my brother’s wedding in May, and besides, now she has a whole new set of people (my sister-in-law’s family) to interest herself in.

Just to make these few days even more fraught with the possibility of comic mishaps, my partner and I also have Midori staying with us. We love her, and she is the best and easiest house guest imaginable. She travels so much so has it down to a science, and she has a knack of flowing into a busy house so smoothly that you hardly now she’s there.

She often stays with us when she’s in town. In fact, my mother and her husband have met Midori at our house before. So when I told my mother Midori would also be here, she replied, “Oh, yes, your friend from San Francisco! She’s so nice, and so pretty. Tell me again, what does she do for a living?”

“Um…she’s an artist. Yeah. An artist. So, is there anything particular you’d like to do while you in Seattle, Mom?”

It used to be that this sort of worlds-colliding would have been flatly impossible for me to manage. But I’ve gotten more relaxed lately about people from my various worlds encountering each other. Still, some things challenge even my ability to keep a lot of balls in the air. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t send them all flying in the wrong directions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Letters: Emotional Baggage

I'm looking for guidance on trying to discover just the kind of submissive I am or if perhaps my feelings are merely an expression of some self-loathing. I've read much and still am not certain about my own feelings or fantasies.

I was abused as an adolescent and humiliation, feminization and fondling were part of it. Some others I know that have had similar experiences have found sexualization of those experiences helps them gain control over those events.
I've never quite been able to master the experiences that way and have just compartmentalized them. Sometimes I'm successful. But, I find I continue to be drawn to being dominated, as I get close to it, the negative feelings of my past experience take over and I'm unable to continue.

I wanted to come to you for guidance because you seem to be very well regarded and in your years of experience, I thought surely you've encountered others like myself.

This is a nice note, and I have sympathy for the writer. And it’s flattering that this person thinks I can help him.

But I can’t. He says it himself: But…as I get close to it...negative feelings...I'm unable to continue. You see, I feel strongly that if you just listen to what people say, they will tell what you need to know. Most people don’t listen to what’s actually being said, they listen for what they want to hear. Or they listen for what they think they already know.

Both those habits will bite you in the ass time after time. And when they do, you are apt to say to yourself, “Dang, I should have known X would happen.” Well, yeah, you should have. Because someone in a position to know told you it would, but you didn’t listen.

For example, this man is telling me he’s not emotionally ready to do BDSM. I can see why. He’s got serious unresolved issues from the abuse he suffered. I predict that if anyone tried to do a BDSM scene with him, it would go badly. Why? Because BDSM is not therapy.

Let me give that a line all by itself: BDSM is not therapy.

One more time: BDSM is not therapy.

Are we quite clear about that, everyone? BDSM is great. It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s intense, it’s life-affirming, it’s growth-enhancing, it’s stress-releasing, it is a lot of terrific things. But it is not therapy. You will not heal deep emotional damage just by doing BDSM.

It’s a terribly attractive idea, I know. I have personally seen a lot of folks try to use the bondage rack as a therapist’s couch. (I have seen extremely unethical people use it as a lure to psychologically-fragile partners, too, which I find despicable.) But I have never seen any indication that doing BDSM fixed anyone’s long-term emotional problems. Occasionally the feel-good endorphins and novelty of the roles can buoy up a troubled person, but only in the short term. My observation is that the crash from that high often leaves them worse off then they were before.

So, can a basically healthy person use BDSM to vent stress from one tough day at the office? Sure. Can you work through deep emotional issues like child abuse? I really don’t think so.

Thus, while I don’t share these issues and thus can’t speak to them from the inside, I am profoundly skeptical about “gaining control” of any past issues in this way. I will say that I would firmly decline to play with anyone who presented himself to me with such a motivation. I’m a dominatrix, not a therapist.

Being healthy and happy as a kinky person takes some work even for people who weren’t abused. The writer has got some work to do before he can do this from an emotionally healthy place. My advice to him and anyone is a similar position is: find a good therapist, if you haven’t already, and get clarity on this before you try to incorporate anything as highly complex as BDSM into an intimate relationship. And good luck to you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm going to vent here for a moment about some internet silliness that occasionally happens to me.

Here's how it works: someone posts to a narrowly-targeted online community - one devoted to, say, BDSM or polyamory. They say something like, "I want to know how to communicate and be understood by people like you. I'm not one of you, but I wish to learn more about you."

I reply and explain some basic customs for dealing with us. For example: notice that we call ourselves polyamorous, not polygamous. Or: Don’t refer to anyone who likes a spanking now and then as a slave, that’s not accurate.

And then they reply, “Oh, you’re being way too nitpicky. You should just assume that I mean what you mean, it’s not important that I get all these details. You’re just trying to force me to be politically correct.”

Right. That’s me, all about the political correctness.

Rhetorical question: Why in the world would someone ask for my well-informed opinion about something and when I give it to them, get huffy and tell me since it doesn’t validate their assumptions, it can’t be correct?

That’s rhetorical because I know why. I know exactly why. It just makes me feel better to say it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I just watched this video from CNBC about “high-end prostitution”. And it made me roll my eyes a lot.

Okay, on one hand, it’s really not bad at all. They have some great people in it, like Veronica Monet and Carol Leigh. They're fabulous. And the escorts they interviewed were all bright, articulate women who represented themselves and what they do very well. So from a strictly PR point of view, it’s fine.

What exasperates me is the fact that it’s a 40-minute slog over the same old clich├ęd ground. I didn’t see or hear one new thing in this video. In fact, I'll save you forty minutes and sum up the whole thing for you in a few lines…

“Women sometimes exchange sex for money. (Here’s some sexy pictures of women.) Sometimes a little money, sometimes a lot. (Here’s some more sexy pictures of women.) Some women like this and do it freely. Other women don’t. (Here’s some MORE sexy pictures of women.) Some people think this is bad, while others think it’s no big deal. Doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon. And, that’s our report. (Oh, here’s a few last sexy pictures of women.)”

That’s it. There was some focus on how the internet has changed sex work, which it very definitely has. For well over ten years now.

So - can any of this really be news to anyone past puberty? I mean, come on, people. This is not news. Perhaps you might classify it as a documentary. Perhaps. A rather dull documentary.

It’s like the editor had a staff meeting and said, “Okay, it’s time for something titillating but journalistically defensible. Give me a Number 317.”
“Okay, boss. That’s Expensive Call-Girl Story, right? Just the usual?”
“Yeah. Spin it out for forty minutes. Lots of pictures off the internet, and stock video footage of women putting on stockings and looking out windows. Put some footage of streetwalkers in there too, we gotta have some of those. And make sure you use that one voice-over actress, the one with the suggestive lilt. She could make a fast-food order sound like phone sex.”
“Sure thing. Have it on your desk by Thursday.”

This is a cookie-cutter story. It’s boring. It’s old. I mean, it’s really, really old. I think you can find the very first version of this story painted on a cave wall somewhere in picture form.

I get it that they have to fill up the hours. I get it that a lot of what’s called “news” is just entertainment. But good lord, with the resources at their disposal, you’d think CNBC might produce just one vaguely new and interesting thought in forty minutes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Once again, I'm doing an informal survey from among the ladies of Seattle for a Stranger column.

The subject is a delicate one - it's about providers and race.

If you're willing to answer a couple of questions, and you can get back to me within 24 hours, I'd love to hear from you.

As always, all names will be changed. No identifying information of any kind will be seen by anyone but me, ever. (And I will never disclose it!)

Email me at