Monday, May 31, 2010

Responses to Your Responses, 20-26 May 2010

Moose said: "Remember if your not absolutely lovin it then dont do it!" Just so. Reflecting on our tastes and limits is critical, and we should revisit them periodically, because they may change. Some subs fall into the psychic trap of believing they must frequently or constantly endure experiences that dull or cut their spirit, in order to be "good subs". No. As Moose also said: "Some dominants are just plain bullies or worse. Unfortunately some submissives think being a sub is submitting to abuse."

Moose also talked about "assisting dominants who might be inexperienced." I've starting thinking more about "junior doms and junior subs." We should encourage and nurture newcomers, to grow the community (both Dark Den and the larger D/s and kink community). puyin rightly said that we need to encourage those who are "educable", and politely deter those who aren't, those who Moose says "have no clue what they are doing and will not listen because they think they are doing it right and everyone else is wrong."

My beloved primary rightly balanced my argument about subs challenging Doms, saying that a smart sub may be testing a Dom, to see whether he has the flexibility and cleverness to handle complexity. She wants a Dom to use "my sensuality against me." I can't say it better than that.

I was clumsy in my thoughts on protocol. As puyin amended, I was trying to outline ways that players could demonstrate excellence through their avatars. I unwisely mixed it in with my discussion of enforcement. Subs with the right attitude should be encouraged and reinforced, regardless of their players' present skills. Any IC correction should probably be coupled with OOC IMs, to ensure that protocol play is enjoyable for both. My larger point was that Doms and subs should think about each others' experiences, since D/s should be about mutual pleasure, not lockstep adherence to protocol.

I like the open structure at Dark Den very much, and I wouldn't want to see it changed, or limited to D/s or BDSM. Specific subcultures might want to be more organized and D/s oriented (e.g., Sisterhood, EM, the relationship between Sisterhood and EM), but people should be free to play in other ways (i.e., by not joining the Sisterhood if they don't like how it's organized).

I like ROPE. I've completed the certification. I recommend the classes and examination process. I'm a very experienced role-player, and I learned some new things.

Take-in-Hand is very intriguing. Thank you, Tami, for calling our attention to it. I'm still reading and processing on it.

Regarding what I'm calling classic D/s, with male Dom and female sub... Arguments about what's natural or found among other animals have limited appeal to me, for D/s or homosexuality or whatever. We are animals, and we are sentient. Both aspects of our nature matter. I want everyone to enjoy themselves and the partner(s) of their choice, in healthy relationships that stroke their kinks and make them ultimately feel fulfilled. I love the live-and-let-live climate in Dark Den, and I hope that any partners in any combination or of gender, species, and D/s (or not) feel welcome. (Obviously, I'm not referring to combinations that violate our OOC rules.)

Personally, I find strong ties between my identity as a man and my identity as a dominant. But I don't assume that others find the same match in their identities, nor assume that I am the right man or the right dominant for every submissive woman I meet.

Some of you talked about the shortage of men. I'll probably say more about that in a future post.

Finally, repeatedly and respectfully... the reason I'm focused on D/s in this blog is because I was asked to offer some vision and provocation about D/s in Dark Den, as a D/s Coach. And because that's why I'm in SL: sensuality, sexuality, and D/s. I have a voice in Dark Den, but it's one among many. Thanks to all of you for sharing your voices so far.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sculpting, Bonsai, & Perspective Taking

Master SuperMaster says, "A true Dom doesn't care what a sub wants. A true Dom knows what kind of sub he wants, and does whatever is necessary to make the sub that kind of sub."

I read a beautiful essay by a sub, about the difference between sculpting marble and shaping a bonsai tree. A block of marble has distinct properties, in its composition and striations. While a sculptor must respect these properties, he can more or less directly create whatever he envisions. A tree is far more unique, especially because it's dynamic. It responds to water, light, pruning, and wire. So a tree can be shaped purposefully, but only indirectly, and there are limits.

Bonsai is the art of learning the tree-that-is and the tree-that-can-be. Dominance should be the art of learning the sub-that-is and the sub-that-can-be. There is nothing wrong with a Dom preferring a certain kind of sub. If so, he should be expressive about his preference, and thoughtful about the subs he chooses. He shouldn’t try to make a different kind of sub feel inferior, over what may just be a matter of taste. If a bonsai tree is not a flowering species, no amount of bondage or shouting will make it blossom.

Communication is essential to a successful D/s relationship. Communication is more effective if the Dom knows some of the right questions to ask and topics to discuss. How can the Dom do this? Perspective taking.

Empathy is a natural animal ability. We can vicariously experience the elation, distress, or pain of someone in our pack. We can sharpen our empathy, by attending to our vicarious experiences, and checking our perceptions through communication.

Perspective taking is a deliberate mental skill. We can try to imagine what someone is thinking and feeling. A Dom can mentally simulate a sub’s state of being. Many subs use perspective taking, either intuitively or through self-directed effort. They try to anticipate their Doms’ wants and needs, and are better subs for it. Some Doms seem mystified about a sub’s state of being, or simply don’t care. They seem to only focus on what the sub says or does.

I practice perspective taking a variety of ways. For example, I try to think like a sub would think, if she were playing a Dom. Thus, after a particularly good intimate experience, I might send an affectionate notecard or long IM the next day, just as I might send flowers to my lover in my 1st life.

Perspective taking is part of being a good Dom. It overlaps the same way that teaching is part of being a good Dom. I’m a teacher in my 1st life. In education, we say that the beginning teacher asks, "How am I doing?" The advanced teacher asks, "How are my students doing?" The advanced Dom asks, “How is my sub doing?”

Perspective taking is also part of good etiquette. In Dark Den, many of us have been discussing the value of “respect.” For example, when you meet someone new, do you respect them until they lose your respect, or do you start with no respect, and expect them to earn it? How you answer says something about whether and how you imagine the experience of being a newcomer, and how you want a newcomer to feel.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Respect a Master's choice

AvaAdore: *taps her public address system microphone* Condom's name is Condom, call her that or go to jail. Love, Prez

Kandr Newall chuckles at the announcement. "Speaking of fundamentals of D/s. Yeesh."

Cara Lionheart shakes her head "I don't get the controversy. It's her name. Given by her Master. End of story"

Just so.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quote: Violence & Discipline

Dark Den includes a strong theme of male Dominance and female submission. Can we call that classic D/s? This theme is delicious for me. Of course, it's far from the only combination of power exchange. For example, I'm bi, and I'm a shade switch.

Many of the best quotes about D/s are about classic D/s. For example, the novels of Gor offer many inspiring and steamy quotable assertions. Unfortunately, these quotes are often buried in the otherwise ponderous and lame writing. Thank the gods for the fans who have labored through the novels, and put the best stuff on the web. I stopped after book 5.

Today's quote isn't from Gor. It's from Clan of the Cave Bear. My beloved primary describes the sequel, Valley of the Horses, as a strong, early influence on her sexuality. To better understand my beloved, I'm going to read Valley. I'm starting with Clan.

Any quote has limited value, especially taken out of context. But nevertheless, a really good quote can make me go, "Ohhhhh yes. Just so." Here is today's quote:

A man did not prove his manhood, in Brun's opinion, by overcoming women. Women had no alternative but to submit. It was unworthy of a man to pit himself against a lesser adversary or to allow his emotions to be provoked by a woman. It was a man's duty to command women, to maintain discipline, to hunt and provide, to control his emotions, and to show no sign of pain when he was suffering. A woman might be cuffed if she was lazy or disrespectful, but not in anger and not with joy, only to discipline. -Clan of the Cave Bear, p.66

Of meetings, management, and Masters

I don't plan to post here every day. But now that my first posts got your attention, perhaps you're wondering what's next. Answer: a pause.

There's some tension in Dark Den, and it's not just IC. Over the past few days, I've been spending hours meeting with the leaders and some of the major stakeholders. We're making good progress towards some changes that will reduce the tension, and let everyone, including the leaders, get back to focusing on what matters most: relationships with their closest lovers, and fun, kinky RP and sex.

I've asked everyone to step back from the IC conflict for a bit, while we sort out some things behind the scenes. Hopefully, we'll build consensus on the changes, and then go public with them.

That's why I haven't been posting here. When I've not been mediating or working on theme, I've wanted to enjoy some fun, kinky RP and sex myself.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Do your knees hurt?

Thank you for the many prompt and passionate responses to my first posts. I've directly heard from many people in SL, too. We clearly have a lot to discuss. I'll come back and respond to some of your comments in future posts.

Today, I want talk about protocol. Sin Flanagan has ICly been publicly pushing from a more detailed, universal protocol in Dark Den.

Gor appeals to many people in SL, because the protocol for kajira is clear and detailed. A Dom or sub can read about it in detail: both the novels, and the digests and interpretations of the fan community. A sub can find extensive guidance on how to appear, speak, move, and serve. Within this protocol, she can distinguish herself by self-discipline, conversation, flirting, vivid writing, and clever interpretations of routine actions, like assuming a nadu-style kneel with a particularly provocative description.

Gor doesn't do much for me anymore. I like variety. Sometimes, the most interesting kajira I met clearly had submissive personas at odds with the protocol. They were like beautiful, wild mares, harnessed to one of those merry-go-round pony rides we see at country fairs. I'm not saying all kajira are docile ponies; some are exceedingly hot and captivating. I just don't like seeing a woman dampened by a protocol that hobbles her. The impressive critical mass of Gor in SL pressures women to do this.

I like variety. I like a sub who uses her particular strengths to be pleasing. If she's not at her best when kneeling in a camisk, she should try something else.

Some of the women in DD practice the kajira protocol. I find it delightful. Perhaps this is because a sub is choosing a protocol that fits her, rather than a universal protocol handed out at the arrival point.

With one of my slaves, I started laying out a detailed protocol. There were more than 15 rules when I abandoned using specific rules. Instead, I taught her five broad principles. I believe she is intelligent and creative enough to respond to specific situations appropriately, based on the five principles. Does she always interpret a situation the way I would? No. That's part of the pleasure, for both of us. I'll say more about my five principles in a future post.

So, I'm not a fan of a detailed, universal protocol, at least IC. OOC, I wouldn't mind some universal protocol in DD. It might make the "PRG Excellent RPer" title even more meaningful. What kind of protocol would I enjoy and be willing to enforce? It would include things like:

* Respond to a Dom with at least equal length and speed. If I'm posting 2-4 lines every 3 minutes or less, I crave the same in response. I've literally missed some subs' minimal responses in the chat spam of a crowd.
* Pay attention to what a Dom does. Recently, at different times and with different women, I've invaded personal space or touched her body, with no response. Perhaps as a player I come across as too much of a teddy bear. But the character would expect a flinch, or an indrawn breath, or even a clear attempt to ignore the presumption.
* Use your body. There's a lot of nudity in Dark Den. Marvelous. But by giving up clothing and accessories, a sub can reduce herself to an anatomy illustration. Within any RP, consider describing how you hair moves when you turn your head, how the muscles in your thighs stretch as you shift position, how the sun kisses your smooth skin, or the bead of sweat rolling between your breasts. There are some gorgeous bodies in Dark Den. But the avatar should just be the beginning.

Just the beginning... Protocol should be the start, not the end, of excellence. One of my favorite scenes in Gor started like this:

"Master, this girl's knees are aching. May she please stand and massage your shoulders?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not a cop

Master SuperMaster says: "A true Dom can bring any submissive to heel."

This is rubbish. Even if it should be true as a principle, it's not fun to actually play out in SL.

As a Dom, I strongly prefer training willing submissives over battling bratty ones. This is true for the player and the character. Why?

My time is valuable. In SL, there are many subs and few Doms. Any time and attention I give one sub takes away from another. It's very easy to reward negative attention-seeking behavior, and thus reinforce it. In a public encounter involving several subs, I would rather reward the sub who seems eager to please, especially if she is making an effort to write vivid, distinct posts.

I enjoy sensuality, sexuality, and Dominance. I don't enjoy disciplining children. In my 1st life, I'm a parent, and I've taught high school. I already get my share of defiant, adolescent nonsense. I come to SL for something else.

Many so-called submissives seem to enjoy challenging Doms in public. There is frequently a subtext of, "Make me respect you." I've talked with subs about this OOC, and this subtext may be a deliberate or unconscious expression of the frustration that a Dom is going to focus more on one sub than another. I'm curious what others think.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good struggle of will and strength. If a sub challenges me with an energetic, vivid post, I can see that her respect and yielding is worth fighting for. But one-line cheap shots? Parting snipes? "mutters under her breath"?

"You can't Dom me." "Probably not. Why would I want to?"

I'm not here to entertain you. I'm here to co-construct a mutually pleasurable experience. If you want to tell a story in which you're a defiant brat, I respect your tastes and goals, but you'll have to find a different collaborator.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Square One

Welcome to my blog. I've been asked to serve as a Dominance/submission (D/s) Coach in Dark Den (DD). DD is a marvelous place in Second Life (SL), combining a sane out-of-character (OOC) community, consistent In Character (IC) public role-play (RP), and public erotica (including sex). Yum.

OK, DD has a mostly-sane OOC community. People who enjoy RP, D/s, and sex are passionate. Passionate people are always a little crazy, myself included. As my uncle told me before I got married, one key to a successful relationship is to take turns being crazy.

DD is owned and administrated by YT Recreant. YT chose me as one of several D/s Coaches. She loosely defined the role. She wrote that if a Coach was qualified, they would already know what to do. Clever.

While I'm still learning DD, I know D/s very well. I want to help sustain and improve DD, especially the D/s climate, while continuing to study the endless, fascinating complexities of sensuality and power exchange.

For this and many reasons, I'm starting this blog. I want my fellow kinksters at DD to know me, even if our prime times don't match, or our tastes run different. I'll try to provoke some thinking and discussion. As you know me better, I hope you'll be more comfortable approaching me, when I might be able to help or support or just listen.

Why am I Dom, and why should you consider my ideas? I have been with my beloved primary for about 16 years. We recently celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. My beloved has a bedroom collar and an everyday collar. She discovered her submission first, and asked me to explore Dominance. In many ways, I've been a Dom all my life. I just needed to learn the language, so that I could be a mindful Dom, and properly study and improve. Fundamentally, I'm a Dom because I love my primary. She is my best of all friends, and the most desirable of all women. I am a Dom because I want to bring out the best in her.

Also, I like kinky sex and I'm a control freak.

Master SuperMaster says, "A true Dom never makes a mistake."

I am not Master SuperMaster (MSM). You'll know this if you play with me, because you'll see me make mistakes. MSM is a fictional character my beloved and I have joked about for years. MSM is a parody, combining the most ridiculous and dangerous beliefs and behaviors we've encountered among so-called Masters in SL.

In this blog, MSM will periodically be my sparring partner. I'll let him take a swing, and then I'll show how absurd, even hurtful, his ideas are. I usually don't capitalize pronouns for Dominants (e.g., "I'll let Him take a swing"), but even if I did, Master SuperMaster wouldn't get this honor.

So... Welcome, and thanks for reading. I hope you find this blog entertaining and useful.