Thursday, February 20, 2014

Submission, objectification - and the true meaning of BDSM



I cannot re-blog this image enough.

Not only is it incredibly sexy, and a perfect representation of submission, but the truth of the words is one that should be at the heart of every player in BDSM. The sub, the slave, the pup or boy - all may kneel before you, but they do so in respect and in love - not because they are less than you are; to be a true Top, Master, Sir or Handler is to accept their submission - and them - with the respect that such strength and honesty truly deserves.

The 'net does not convey such depth and subtleties in the true meaning and purpose of BDSM.

All you see is an image: a helpless boy kneeling before an aggressive-looking Top, a struggling figure painfully bound in rope, a hooded and fetishised body devoid of individuality or emotion. You do not get to see the negotiation before hand, the careful monitoring to ensure that the boy is edged but unharmed - the continuous interplay that builds the necessary levels of trust for one to submit to the other. In all the Tumbles, Twitters and Instagrams all you ever see is the image - you never see the MAN inside.

Unfortunately, there is also a thread in BDSM fantasy that plays upon these very themes of objectification. 

It's a very sexy idea: to either take, or be taken - to twist and pervert someone into giving you everything that you desire with no limits, no repercussions - or to be pushed to serve against your will (at least, initially) by someone bigger, stronger, more masculine than you. Maybe this thread reflects half-remembered images that we have of Greece and Rome: of Masculine initiations and savage coming-of-age rites where a boy is forced to become a man by serving a MAN. And maybe it echos a deep feeling that he who submits is somehow 'not good enough' - not man enough on his own; that the one who kneels must be inherently less worthy than the one he kneels to...

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There's been a recent thread on Tumbler around images of puppy play, and the dehumanising commentary that often accompanies them when they are re-tumbled by some users:

malebndg:
All the various "less than human" comments here really are a sort of cancer and very misleading for someone new to the scene who doesn't know any better.
pigfun :
Thanks! My problem is that I didn’t really know any better when I started getting into this sort of thing, and i was led down a similar path. I know we talk about the sexy side of all this, and that power exchange which is so hot, but fundamentally, in a long term D/s relationship there needs to be love there.

That’s what i love about Dylan and his pups and noodlesandbeef.tumblr because they are really super love each other and they take their relationship to amazing places physical and psychological through that bond. I think that’s so much more interesting, exciting and good for us as people than “oh yeah there’s a gimp in the corner, go piss in him.“

I think that malebndg has the exact phrasing: the rhetoric of Objectification is one that threads through the BDSM internet like a cancer - and like a cancer, it eats at the very heart of what it means to be a pervert - and what it means to be a man.

Sure, the ‘dehumanised object’ thought can be sexy (fuck, half of my early fiction is based around it!), but ultimately it’s as empty and hollow an experience for both players as fucking a blow-up doll.

BDSM is about power exchange, and that means a two way process. It has to be about two players - two initial equals - and the flow of energy, power and connection between them: Yin to Yang. 

It’s not just one guy taking whilst the other endures, ignored - that’s one step away from rape and abuse. In even the most extreme of play, the Top should always have His Sub’s interests at heart, as much as His own desires. It's simple self-interest really: He’s going to want to make sure the sub enjoys himself in giving as much as He himself enjoys the sub's service - otherwise the sub is never going to give fully, and will certainly never be come back...

In all power exchange, one man gives, the other takes - but just which is which? The Top may take His pleasure from the sub, but equally it is the sub who takes pleasure in serving; the Sub gives of himself to the Top, but the Top gives the sub the space and the focus to give himself in the first place. One cannot be without the other - and both are enriched and empowered by the exchange.

To me, that exchange is part of what it means to be a Man.

So often, the images of Masters and Sirs are of hard, aggressive men: skinheads, punks, greasy bikers - or abusive men in authority: Coaches, Police officers, prison guards. It's as though we look for the potential for violence as a sign of Masculinity - as if their transgressive potential for harm is a reflection of their super-charged testosterone. We look to Men on the edge of losing control, tense with their hunger and burning with predatory desire - and think that this makes them more of a Man than we are. Or perhaps it's the idea that these men will somehow be able to force their will upon us (thereby salving us of the guilt...).

I can't deny that such images of hyper-masculinity are incredibly hot - but, like the passive images of BDSM, I think they lack the depth of what it really means to be a Man

Any dog can fuck in the street - but that's not being a Man. Masculinity is about having desires - deep, overwhelming, bestial, potentially violent - but being in control of them and harnessing them to your will. Being a Man is about the hunt and using your skill and strength to catch your prey - it's about honing your body and mind by pitting yourself against adversity and overcoming through strength of will. Being a Man is about protecting that which you have, and that which you love - about being strong when you need to be, and gentle when you can. 

Being a Man is about being the Hunter, the Warrior and King - and it is also about being the Father, the son, the Lover and Protector.

How can I trust a Man to be in control of me if He is not in control of Himself?

That's why, for me, it is the images of Men who show restrained strength and power that are the most sexy: The LeatherMan who stares out from the shadows of His Muir with hunger in His eyes - and a knowing smile ghosting His lips; a Master who looks down upon His kneeling slave with Pride, knowing the true pleasure of Ownership is in owning that which can walk away at any time; the Top who wraps one hand around His boy's collared neck and the other around his cock - growling in appreciation at the look of helpless arousal in His boy's eyes.

Because at the core of our play we are all really looking for CONNECTION.

Perversity, play, fetish - it’s all sex, and sex is two (or more…!) bodies coming together in an expression and exploration of pleasure. It’s about those two bodies - those two minds - meeting, touching, discovering - and ultimately, bonding - even if only for the short time of their meeting. Bondage, fetish gear, puppy-play - they are all ways to enrich that connection: ways to open up more of ourselves to each other - and to ourselves. They allow us to explore our fantasies, our inner images of ourselves - and to explore those of the one we play with; together, we enrich and deepen those shared images, and are empowered by what we find in the connection we forge.

In sharing that connection, we each come to discover we are not alone: that there are others besides us who have hungers and needs; others who can give and receive pleasure - and in doing so, embrace something that is bigger than they are alone.

Ultimately, our play is about the need for love - even if that love is only the fleeting warmth of passing friends.

Because, if it isn’t, we would simply make do with a wank at home…


So, remember - no matter the play: there is always another Man - another being - behind the gear and the eroticism. Make sure you get to meet Him at some point: He could be your next best friend.


2 comments:

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