Wednesday, August 26, 2009

(Warning: there is NO sex or naughty stuff in this post. And like Pascal, I made it long because I lacked the time to make it short.)

Mistress Manners

I asked for questions from the Twitter-spere, and here’s one I got...

(Can you address) poly etiquette issues like when do invitations include all the partners or selected ones - differences between etiquette for poly, kinky and mainstream that you have noticed.

I presume this refers to social invitations – parties and so forth. I am further going to presume that for the purposes of this post, we are talking about events held in someone’s home or any other private space controlled by them.

As a party-giver, this is a subject close to my heart. So first let’s talk mainstream etiquette, because I think even that is often not adequately understood. My theory is: because many poly/kinky people are also geeky, the Geek Social Fallacies sometimes come into play. I am only slightly geeky, and I’m actually pretty traditional when it comes to social etiquette. It’s my Southern upbringing.

Let’s start with the big one: With very rare exceptions, I think it is terribly rude and crass to say “Oh, I heard you’re having a party, can I come?”

If your significant other is invited to a social event, and you’re really and truly not sure the invitation included you, then it’s acceptable for the invited person to ask. For most social events, it’s nice to ask both halves of a couple. But there are actually people in the world who are close to my partners, but not to me – and vice versa. And it’s completely conceivable that they’d want to have him over for, say, an intimate dinner party with eight carefully selected guests, and I’m not one of the other seven. That’s utterly fine with me. If you host an event, you get to have it exactly like you want it.

The invited person should phrase the question in such a way as to give the host a graceful way to say, “No, that person is not invited.”

One may not pretend to misunderstand as a ploy to try to wangle invitations.

If the invitation – either verbal or written – says “bring a date,” or “you plus a guest,” then the invited person may bring ONE guest without further clearance from the host. One.

If you really feel that there’s someone that your-dear-friend-the-host would enjoy having, who hasn’t been invited, then you may go to the host, and verbally and charmingly grovel, and sweetly acknowledge that you’re being terrible, and then ask him/her if you may invite other people. The groveling/acknowledging part? Not optional. I have done this myself. If I can do it, you can do it. As before, you must give the host a graceful out.

(Also: if they say yes, bring an extra-nice host gift.)

If the invitations say anything like “Bring your friends - all are welcome - the more the merrier - feel free to forward this”, then obviously it’s fine to arrive with pals, or tell them about it and have them show up on their own.

Even when it's specified that you don’t actually need an invitation, I think it’s always nice to talk to the hosts and tell them you’d like to come. (Or drop them an email, or message them on Fetlife, or whatever medium seems appropriate.) But that’s extra credit.

That’s mainstream good manners. And this will shock you, but it’s not dramatically different for kinky people or poly people.

The only special thing kinky people need to remember is that social events may or may not be kink-friendly. Obviously if someone invites you to a play-party, you can assume that, at the very least, wearing your leather pants would be okay.

Other types of events may be more ambiguous. I was married once – not to Max – and we had two weddings. One was kinky, and one was family, and you would not believe the lengths my then-husband and I went to in order to make sure our kinky pals did not show up to the family one in chaps and leather corsets, tugging their submissives along on leashes. It was An Issue, believe me. If there is the slightest doubt in your mind, ask. If you can’t ask, err on the side of caution.

For poly people it’s slightly more complex. Here’s how I do it: For the purposes of most social invitations issued to me, Max = my partner. We are an easily recognizable social unit.

Monk is also my partner, of course. And in some ways we too are a social unit, but since we don’t live together, I feel that doesn’t usually apply to social functions. In that sense, Tambo is his partner.

There have been times when Monk and I, specifically, have been invited somewhere. That’s also happened with Max and Puck. That’s all perfectly okay, in my view.

If you do not have a spousal-equivalent, then I think it's all right to ask for clarification. (As always: give the host a graceful out.)

What is true is that Monk and Max and I all move in the same general circle. It’s rare for me to get invited to a large social event that Monk isn’t also invited to. That eliminates a lot of problems, because the main difficulty I see with polyamory and social interactions is “I got invited to an event with one partner, and I want to bring a different partner,” or “...and I want to bring ALL my partners.” That’s where it gets tricky.

Far be it from me to tell someone who is, and who is not, their partner. Never would I wade into such shark-infested waters. What I will say is: if an invitation was issued to Max and I, and Max elected not to go, I would not just show up with Monk – or anyone else - without asking my host if that was all right. I think it’s just basic courtesy to let people know who you’d like to bring into their home. And as a host, I would probably not be hugely offended by such a one-for-one request.

Extra bonus points: But before you ask for a social substitution, ponder: is there a reason why my other partner wasn’t invited? It might be because the host doesn’t know him/her. Or it might be, for example, because the host’s other partner had a bad break-up with your other partner six years ago, and still thinks he’s a giant prat. That sort of scenario is not at all impossible, in the often-incestuous world of poly. You’ll want to have the facts before you start that conversation.

If you want to bring multiple people who were not invited – you’re back to the charmingly grovel/sweetly acknowledge/give the host an out set of rules. But essentially, just because you are intimately involved with someone does not mean they should automatically expect to go anywhere you get invited. It’s the host’s privilege to choose who they want to entertain. And it’s sort of like sex – he/she doesn’t need a compelling reason not to want someone. If you ask, and the host displays any reluctance, mentioning not enough space, the amount of food, any social excuse at all, you should drop it. Only a boor would ask for further justification.

If you cannot bear the idea of attending a social event without all your partners, and your host doesn’t wish to invite them, then the solution is simple: don’t go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This may surprise you, but there are still some kinky things I haven’t done yet. Not many, but some. However, that list has gotten shorter lately. What new experience have I tried? Fisting boys.

(If you’re not into reading about boys being on the receiving end of anal penetration, this would be your cue to leave.

Still here? That’s consent in my book. One more thing: If you’re someone who plays with me, but is never going to get fisted in his whole life, I don’t want you to read this and think “Oh god, I can’t do that, she must not really enjoy playing with me.” That is not the case. I don’t want to do any one thing to the exclusion of all others. This is not a competition - everyone I play with brings something special to the scene. Okay? Okay.)

Now then… I am not new to the idea of getting my whole hand inside someone - I have fisted quite a few women’s pussies. But I hadn’t done any anal fisting. Why not? Well, I have known some anally-accomplished boys, and a couple of them were game to try it, but they were all as cherry at handballing as I was. For my first boy fist-fucking adventure, I wanted someone who’d done it before - someone who knew his own ass very well, and someone I could trust to tell me exactly what I needed to know, moment by moment. To include, “We need to stop now.”

Because anal fisting is not something you just (pardon the expression) plunge into. There is a distinct difference between my hand and a dildo. (Even a big dildo.) Fist-fucking is one of those kink things where, if you don’t do it right, you can damage someone. I don’t mean damage as in “Ow, I’m kinda sore,” I mean damage as in peritonitis. That's bad.

There is also the matter of preparation. I’ve done a lot of anal play, so I’m not freaked out by a little santorum. But I knew that for fisting, someone needs to know how to clean themselves out appropriately. It’s a matter of safety and comfort as much as esthetics. Shit can be gritty. You do not want to rub a gritty substance into delicate tissue.

So I’d read books, and I’d seen some very lovely demonstrations of the art, and I’d talked to knowledgeable people, but the perfect person just hadn’t come along yet.

And then - he did. (Hey there, darlin’!)

So we made a date, and I spread him out and lubed him up and did various pervy things to get us both in the mood, and then I popped on the glove and said “Okay, talk me through this.” I kept pushing - slowly, slowly – and asking questions. “Is it better if I put more pressure this way, or that way? Does it feel good when I do this?” He was exactly what I needed to him to be: communicative, enthusiastic, confident in his own abilities, yet displaying a charming awareness of his vulnerability.

It’s really quite something to watch your hand vanish into someone else’s body. As with many things about BDSM, it instantly re-sets your understanding of what a human body can do. The inside of a woman’s pussy feels, I don’t know, muscle-y-er? That’s not a word, I know. But once you’re past the anal ring, the inside of a boy’s ass feels softer, more velvety. (At least, this boy’s does!)

You can definitely feel the prostate gland, and that’s nice to stroke, but there are other fun places to touch, too. It’s delightful to just wiggle your hand the slightest bit - and elicit a big reaction. It’s tremendously intimate, too. I could feel his heart beating. It’s sort of amazing to feel that and think, Well, yeah - your hand isn’t that far away from it!

And that’s why I do BDSM: I like to play with people’s bodies, and I like it to feel very, very intimate.