[Quote Quest] You Need to Have Power Before You Can Give it Away

“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”
Oscar Wilde

TW: abuse, abuse of power, shitty Doms

I’ve always found the term “power exchange” – to describe a Dominant/submissive dynamic, relationship, or scene – fascinating. It’s not called a power over or a power from, but an exchange. I think there’s a reason for that. And I think that reason is as this title says: you need to have power before you can give it away.

Have you ever noticed how toxic and abusive Dominants (particularly cishet male Doms) try to get into relationships with the most powerless people they can find? Dominants who are insecure in their own masculinity and their own power chase submissives who are extremely young, extremely inexperienced and new to the scene, and whom they can groom into a relationship under the guise of “that’s what dominance is.”

It’s no surprise that those relationships tend to end up with, at best, a wildly uneven level of dependency. Often, they end up horrifyingly abusive.

Is it really consensual dominance if you take control over someone who has so little power, relative to you, that they can’t meaningfully push back or say no or leave? I don’t think it is. Are they truly giving power consensually if they can’t take it back? I believe not.

My first Dom was intimidated by me the moment I gained any real power. When we met, I was meek and quiet and obedient and so very, very young. A few years in, when I went to University and met my people and found my voice. He told me that he didn’t know what to do with me any more. “You don’t need me any longer,” he said. What he meant was, you can live without me now. And he didn’t like that.

Later, he told me that he couldn’t be my Dom any more because he was worried I was smarter than him. Because I was suddenly confident and outspoken. And what I realised is that he didn’t want to consensually dominate someone who was consensually subservient for fun. He wanted to domineer over someone who he could conceptualise as genuinely lesser.

Power is complicated and multi-faceted. You can have more power than someone along one axis, and less power along another. It’s not always an easy thing to quantify. That’s especially true when Dominant and submissive kink dynamics come into play.

But if you’re seeking out someone who doesn’t know any better due to age or inexperience, who won’t question you, who won’t leave because they need you or feel like nothing without you… ask yourself why.

If you feel threatened by someone who is a little older, has a modicum of experience, or is as smart or as successful or as confident as you (or perhaps even more so,) you need to interrogate that. Why do you need to feel like your partner is beneath you? Isn’t it more satisfying for someone who has a secure sense of their personal power to choose to give it away to you as their Dominant?

And if someone is chasing you who clearly has a hugely disproportionate level of power over you, ask questions. Do they fetishise your youth or your newness or your inexperience or your naïvety or the sense of security they get from feeling like they’re just kinda better than you? Do you feel the urge to put them on a pedastal or to do everything they say, even if it doesn’t feel right, because they say they know better?

Don’t give power over you to someone who doesn’t view your personal power as a beautiful thing that you alone own.

Learn yourself first. Explore with people who will make space for you to be curious, to try things out, to not know. Not with someone who treats you like an untouched lump of clay they can mold to their specifications.

Because you can only consensually give away your power, for a scene or a weekend or a few years or a lifetime, if you have that power to begin with.

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I wrote this piece for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see the other contributions or to take part. And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Masturbation Monday] Watching

He watches me. His glasses perch on the bridge of his nose and his mouth curls in a small smile at my embarrassment. I feel his eyes fixed upon me, even when I close my own. Watching, always watching.

I feel his gaze as surely as hands on my skin. He can carress me from across the room with a glance. An approving nod can make my whole day, a warning raise of an eyebrow bring me back into line. Under his control. Under his watchful gaze.

Some nights he doesn’t even touch me. He just sits in the armchair, sipping a glass of Merlot or a strong black coffee, and waits for me to put on a show for him.

I stretch out on the bed, running my hands over my own body. Slowly peel off my clothing, one piece at a time. I never stop being self-conscious. Every time, I feel the flush of humiliation creep warmly through my veins. He just watches.

I pinch my own nipples until they’re erect and smarting. Spread my legs, showing him the deep pink and brown folds of my vulva, running my fingers through my curly black pubic hair. He, watching, knows that I am drippng for him.

When I can’t stand the ache between my thighs any more, I dip my fingers into my cunt. Perhaps I pause to taste my own need, savoring the faint tang of my arousal on my tongue. Or perhaps I just fuck myself, head thrown back, arching my back and thrusting my hips, exaggerating my moans because I know that’s what he wants to see.

The show ends when he’s had enough. If I haven’t had time to reach satisfaction when he says it’s time to stop, I go to sleep aching and wanting. If he wants more, I’d better keep performing for him, forcing climax after climax out of my overstimulated cunt until he’s satisfied. It is for his pleasure. My own is incidental.

Sometimes I wish he’d just fuck me, but that’s not what we do. Knowing I’m gagging for it is part of what gets him off. Knowing that he won’t fuck me. Probably he won’t even touch me. He’ll just sit there, while I make a spectacle of myself for his entertainment.

Watching.

The Masturbation Monday meme is run by Kayla Lords. This week’s prompt image, shown at the top of this post, is by the absolutely gorgeous and extremely talented Cara Thereon. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week, and please buy me a coffee if you enjoyed this little sexy story! Plus don’t forget it’s #MasturbationMonth and I’m working with Lovehoney to bring you sexy content all month long.

Masturbation Monday: Three Ways to Explore Masturbating With Your Partner

Masturbating together is a hugely underrated sex act, in my opinion. The overwhelming majority of us are our own first, last and only truly lifelong sexual partner, so no-one knows what we like quite like we do!

Despite this, many of us forget that mutual masturbation can be a wonderful way to explore sex with a partner – or consider it “not real sex.” So today I want to give you three possible ways to explore masturbating together, and why you might want to try them.

Show your partner what you like

This works well in newer relationships where you don’t know each other’s bodies well yet, but is equally wonderful for more established relationships – particularly if you feel stuck in a sexual rut or one of you isn’t feeling as satisfied as you’d like.

Masturbating in front of your partner shows them, in intimate detail, how you like to be touched. This could involve them touching you too, mimicing your movements until they get it just right, or just watching and taking mental notes.

Does this sound cold and clinical to you? It doesn’t need to be! Imagine your partner lying back and spreading their legs, their eyes closing in bliss as they give themselves pleasure. Imagine them saying something like, “I like to have my clit rubbed in little circles like this…” or “I really like someone gripping the base of my cock hard. Don’t worry about hurting me, I’m into it.” Super fucking hot, no?

Talking about what you like in bed is hot. Showing your partner what you like can be even better.

Putting on a sexy show

Is there anything hotter than seeing your partner’s pleasure up close and personal? Masturbating for your partner can be an incredibly hot way to put on a sexy show for them.

Some people find it sexy to exaggerate their moans and movements in this context for their partner’s enjoyment. Others like to simply lose themselves in the pleasure and let their partner see them at their most raw and vulnerable. Experiment to see what works for you.

This can also work really well as part of a D/s game. As a submissive, I enjoy being told to touch myself for my partner’s amusement – especially if I’m not allowed to come (or stop) without their express permission. If you’re in a power exchange relationship or enjoy these games, try telling your partner to touch themself for your entertainment. The details are up to you – are they forbidden to come? Instructed to edge a certain number of times? Ordered to bring themself to orgasm within a specific timeframe? Have fun with it!

Exploring a new fantasy together

Masturbating together can be a lower pressure way to explore a new fantasy. Interested in threesomes, bondage or watersports, but nervous to try? Touch yourselves side by side while you talk through a scenario involving your fantasy. (Frankly, even if you’re not exploring something new, masturbating together and talking through a shared fantasy is a really hot way to have lower-energy sex!)

Another way to do this is watch some porn or read some sexy erotic fiction together while you both touch yourselves.

Have you tried masturbating with your partner? Tell me in the comments or tweet me to tell me what you love about it!

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Masturbation Monday is a meme by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone is getting off to this week! This week’s prompt image is by Shelbie Rie of House of Eclipse. This post contains affiliate links, which make me a small commission if you purchase through them. You can also buy me a coffee to show your appreciation!

The Kinky Love Languages: Acts of Service

(This week’s “midweek” post is late, sorry about that.) This is the last post in my “five love languages for kink” series. Today we’re talking acts of service! I deliberately left this one until last because it is, arguably, the one that most obviously lends itself to a BDSM context.

The acts of service love language can best be summed up as “actions speak louder than words.” The key for people who subscribe to this love language is doing things for each other in order to show love, caring, consideration and commitment.

How to love a submissive whose love language is acts of service

“Hold on a minute, Amy!” you’re saying. “The submissive performs service for the Dominant, not the other way around!”

Which, yes, that’s certainly the way it looks – and in many dynamics, that’s how it plays out. But “service” doesn’t have to mean subservience. Acts of service, in a love language sense, means doing things for the other person that make them feel loved.

The Five Love Languages site suggests things like doing the dishes, collecting their mail, and getting up in the middle of the night for childcare duties. But how do you perform acts of service for your partner as a Dominant without it undermining your dynamic?

Acts of service are, fundamentally, about taking care of each other. And I believe that as a Dominant, one of your primary and most important roles is to take care of your submissive. Exactly what “care” means in this context is, of course, open to interpretation and will depend upon your dynamic. A Daddy Dom will care for their submissive in a different way to a sadist, a pet player, or an Owner in an Owner/property dynamic.

So, yes, making your submissive dinner might be considered an act of service. You can do this out of love and to show care… and even Dominance. Making a meal might mean you’re making sure that they get proper nourishment, because they’re your most cherished possession and you like to take care of your things. Similarly, taking a chore off their hands when they’re exhausted, running an errand to save them time on a busy day, or picking up medication for them can all be acts of service that show them they’re loved… and also that you’re taking good care of your favourite toy.

Acts of service from a Dominant can also facilitate the possibility for kinky fuckery. An exhausted submissive who doesn’t have the energy to play because they’re busy running both your lives is no fun at all. Offering acts of service, as well as making your submissive feel loved, can also free up time, physical energy and mental space… which can be used to do all your favourite filthy things together.

And don’t forget that a relationship is a partnership! You might have negotiated an unequal power imbalance but you both still exist in the real world, and in that world you need to be equal human beings with responsibilities that you take on together. And shouldering your share of the load – and sometimes extra in order to support your partner – is sexy (and Dominant) as hell.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is acts of service

I mean, this is the easiest one of the entire series to write! Service is very often a part of a D/s relationship, in the sense of the submissive performing acts of service to the Dominant.

Of course, exactly what this looks like for you will depend on your dynamic. In one of my past relationships, one of the ways I showed service was by cooking for my partner (who hated cooking but loved good food.) At other times, making someone’s tea or coffee has been an act of service. Right now I’m not in a 24/7 D/s relationship but I perform small acts of service for my partners when I can, whether it’s making them food or going to the store for something they need.

Ask your Dominant, if they haven’t already told you, what specific shows of service work best for them. Perhaps you always make their drink in the morning, iron their favourite shirt or polish their boots before you go out, or have dinner on the table when they get back from work. The keys here are routine and flexibility. Routine can help build a dynamic and a submissive headspace, as well as showing consistency and reliability. But flexibility is essential when circumstances, people and needs inevitably change – which they will.

Acts of service can also relate directly to your kinky play. Cleaning the sex toys after a session, coiling your Dominant’s rope in the way they like, or making the effort to have their favourite brand of lube before they come over all totally count as acts of service. Not to mention that sexual service – performing a sex act for the Dom’s pleasure – can be hot as fuck.

Years ago, a (*tongue firmly in cheek*) Terribly Twue Subby Sub I knew lectured me: “submission isn’t cups of tea and blowjobs, you know!” And I was like… maybe not to you? And that’s fine? But I’m a service-oriented sexual submissive and actually those things ARE a big part of it to me.

Service, like submission and Dominance and kink and sex and relationships, is what you want it to be.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

The two big keys to successfully pulling off acts of service are:

  1. Doing it without being asked, at least sometimes.
  2. Going above and beyond the usual call of duty.

Of course, no-one expects you to be a mindreader and know exactly what your partner wants without them asking. But presumably you know them at least reasonably well, yes? So use that knowledge to find little ways to perform service for them without being prompted. Run to the store when you’ve run out of milk before they get up and make their morning coffee, put a hot water bottle in bed for them on a cold night, or make them lunch before a long work day. The significance here isn’t in grand gestures, but in finding little everyday ways to show consideration and love.

“Above and beyond” just means that doing the expected roughly-50% of general life duties (household chores, childcare, life admin) isn’t enough by itself (though it is important!) You need to go a step beyond that, at least sometimes. The quickest way to make your partner feel unloved and resentful, if their love language is acts of service, is to do the bare minimum you can get away with.

How can your partner show they love you via acts of service?

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The Kinky Love Languages: Physical Touch

It’s time for the penultimate “Kinky Love Languages” post, in which I explore the five love languages and ways that they can relate to kinky relationships. Today we’re exploring the love language of physical touch.

When people think of the love language of physical touch, they often think of sex first. And, yes, sex is part of this language for sure. But it’s far from the only part. A person whose love language is physical touch is likely to highly value things like cuddling, holding hands, hugs, kisses, and even an arm around their shoulder.

Let’s look at some ways this can relate to kinky relationships, shall we?

How to love a submissive whose love language is physical touch

A submissive who speaks the love language of physical touch is likely to highly value the physical aspects of BDSM. Think the thud of a flogger across their back, the feeling of rope tightening against their skin, the raw intimacy of a spanking, the feeling of your hand in their hair. If your submissive speaks this language, it’s more important than ever to make plenty of time for close, physical, intimate kinky play.

For a submissive who experiences love through physical touch, your touch can be its own reward. Caress their cheek when you tell them they’re a good girl or good boy. Give them a few swats on the ass before bed. Stroke their hair. If you want to reinforce certain behaviours or just make your submissive feel loved, give them plenty of physical affection. Touch them lovingly, easily and often.

Many submissives want to feel taken care of. You can incorporate physical touch into the way you care for your sub. This could include things like washing or brushing their hair for them, helping them with things like shaving, or even – something I’ve occasionally found super hot – feeding them from your hand.

Something I love as a submissive is to feel like my Dominant is proud of me and wants to show me off. If your sub’s love language is physical touch, try keeping them physically close to you when you go to a kinky event or play party. A hand on the small of their back, an arm around their waist or simply holding their hand could help them to feel more submissive and more loved.

You can also easily incorporate physical touch into your day to day or quiet time at home. Fondle their ass while they’re cooking, if that’s something you have consent to do. Have them sit at your feet with their head in your lap while you watch television or read the newspaper. Give their leg a gentle squeeze when you’re sitting together. Hold their hand as you walk around the store. Pause to kiss them before you go to work.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is physical touch

People tend to forget that Dominants like hugs and cuddles too! Many Dominants highly value physical touch and physical intimacy with their partners beyond just the sexual.

If your Dominant’s love language is physical touch, you have so many opportunities to bring this into your service to them. Learning to give a really good back massage or foot rub can be a wonderful gift for your Dom. You could also include physical closeness by doing intimate tasks for them such as painting their nails, styling their hair, or washing their back.

You can also show your submission through low-key physical affection. Try laying your head on their lap or shoulder, curling up close to them on the couch so they can pet you, or kissing whichever parts of their body they like to have kissed. (I used to show submission to a former Dominant by kissing their feet. Super hot if that’s your thing!)

Again, the physical side of kink is likely to be hugely important to your Dominant if this is their love language. So make time for kinky play! Prioritise it in your week and do your best to stick to any play dates you arrange. And tell them what you like and what you’re in the mood for! A Dominant whose love language is physical touch will love nothing more than to have the body of a naked, willing submissive at their mercy to play with.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

I firmly believe that physical intimacy is so, so important for almost all romantic relationships. For many people, this does mean prioritising regular sex and/or kinky play. If this is you (or your partner,) don’t forget to make time in your week to get sexy together.

Again, though, remember that this love language isn’t just about sex. Cuddles, kissing, holding hands and the kind of easy physical closeness that come in a long-term relationship are all so important. Prioritise them.

Physical touch is probably the hardest language to meet if you’re in a long distance relationship. There are still things you can do, though! Give your partner a soft toy to hug. Give them a shirt that smells like you to sleep with. Invest in some really good app-controlled sex toys so you can touch them sexually by proxy. But realistically, if one or both of you feels strongly connected to the love language of physical touch, you’re going to need to make an effort to see each other in person as often as you can.

Is physical touch your love language? How do you meet it? How can your submissive or Dominant partner help to meet it?

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The Kinky Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

This is the first in a mini-series of posts where I explore the five love languages as they can relate to kink and BDSM. If you don’t know your main love language, take the quiz to find out! Most of us are a mix of several or all of them, but have one that comes out most strongly. The model is somewhat flawed (I think there are more than five languages – two additional ones of mine are co-creation and food, for example) but it’s a useful starting point for exploring how you like to give and receive love. I believe that a lot of problems with one person feeling unloved and unappreciated, in relationships where everyone is acting in good faith and doing their best, come down to a mismatch of love languages and not understanding each other’s.

Words of Affirmation

People whose primary love language is words of affirmation like to be told they’re loved. They like to be told explicitly, out loud and in detail that they are valued by their partner(s.) People who understand love via words of affirmation do not ascribe to the adage that words are meaningless and only actions count. Don’t get me wrong though – your actions still need to back up your words!

How to show love to a submissive whose primary language is words of affirmation

Many submissives will tell you that the words “good girl,” “good boy” or similar will just make them melt in their Dominant’s arms. If you have a submissive who will do anything for these nuggets of praise, you might just have a sub whose love language is words of affirmation. Offer them genuinely as often as you can.

You can take it a step further, too. Mix in other compliments and words of praise. This can range from “I’m so proud of you” when they accomplish something, to “you look so hot kneeling for me like that” during a scene. Compliments – on their achievements, talents, character and looks – should be given freely. Remember to make sure everything you tell them is genuine and heartfelt. A person who speaks this language can tell when you’re just parroting the lines with no feeling behind them.

A submissive who needs words of affirmation is likely to need regular reassurance, too. They might need to hear that you love them, that you value them, and that they’re not too much or too needy. If you’re in a non-monogamous dynamic, they’re likely to need verbal reassurance sometimes when you’re spending time with others. Tell them explicitly how much they mean to you.

Don’t underestimate the power of written words, too! If you live apart, a “good morning beautiful/handsome” text could brighten their whole day. If you live together, a naughty or affectionate IM while they’re at work will make them smile and keep them thinking of you.

Writing tasks were also made for these submissives! Have them write down fantasies, write in a daily journal, or write down mantras to increase their confidence in themselves or the relationship. You could even set “lines” as a punishment if they misbehave! As with any punishment or protocol, make sure you negotiate fully.

How to love a Dominant whose primary love language is words of affirmation

People tend to forget that Dominants have emotional needs too! Like anyone else, D-types also have ways that they prefer to give and receive love. So if your Dom is into words of affirmation, how can you make sure they feel loved and appreciated consistently?

A Dominant who is into words of affirmation might love to hear lots of verbal feedback during and after play. You don’t have to go overboard or fake it, but a well-timed “mmm, that feels so good” or “this is making me so hard/wet” is likely to go over well. After play, general words of appreciation (“I needed that so much, thank you”) or specific compliments (“the way you handle the whip is so sexy”) are likely to make them glow. Again: whatever words you give, it’s important that they are genuine! Only say things you mean!

It’s amazing how often submissives don’t realise this or forget it, but: COMPLIMENT YOUR DOM! I often say “hey, nice ass” when I see Mr CK walking around naked. (Words isn’t really his language, but it is mine.) Tell him that shirt really suits him. Tell her the way she looks in those boots makes you go weak at the knees. Make sure they know you really appreciate their skills as a… whatever it is they’re good at. Tell them you love their laugh, their random acts of kindness, their devotion to their family. Just pick something and tell them how great they are!

However confident and stoic they seem, Doms can also feel insecure, jealous or wobbly. Regardless of your relationship structure – but especially if you’re non-monogamous – check in with your Dom regularly to see how they’re doing. Be prepared to offer any verbal reassurances they need. Ask them what they need you to remind them of, or pick it up from contextual clues, and tell them that thing. Let them be vulnerable with you and meet that vulnerability with words of love and support.

If your D-type sets you a writing task, take it on promptly and joyfully. Do the best you can with it. In fact, you might even suggest this to them if they haven’t thought of it!

Additional tips that are good for anyone

Don’t be afraid to remind your partner of your confidence, faith and pride in them. As someone who speaks the words of affirmation language, if I have a big interview, presentation or important meeting coming up at work I love nothing more than hearing “good luck, I know you’ll rock it!” from my partners. And if something they aim for doesn’t pan out, be there to pick their spirits up with loving reassurance that it doesn’t mean anything about their ability and that things will go better next time.

Sexting was made for relationships between people who communicate their love in words. Share a filthy fantasy, a sexy dream you had, or spinning an elaborate scene together over text or IM are all great ways to feel more connected… and to gain delicious new ideas of things to try together.

If you live apart (or even if you don’t!) then consider love-letters. These could be emails or actual, old-fashioned pen-and-paper letters. However you do it, they’ll give you something to look back on and cherish for years to come.

Say “I love you.” Seriously. Say it often. No-one who speaks the “words of affirmation” language will get tired of hearing it.

Do you speak “Words of Affirmation” as your love language? How do you like to give and receive love in your kinky relationship?

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[Guest Blog] Broken Toys Are More Fun to Play With by Lilith Young

Today’s guest blog is from the fabulous Lilith Young. Lilith describes herself as a “30-something kinky lesbian switch” and blogs at Lilith Young Writes . I absolutely loved this piece and am delighted to be sharing it with you all today.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice on how to make kink safe for you. Do your own research. What is safe for me may not be safe for you.

This is my first time writing about how my disability affects my sex life. To be honest, it’s quite terrifying. But, in the end, all the good stuff is just that. Quite terrifying. Maybe that’s just one of the reasons I am into kink – I like the edge that comes with being scared. So in the words of Jenny Lawson, “Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken.”

My name is Lilith and I am broken. I am a 30-something kinky lesbian switch, who makes awkward jokes when I am nervous, and I have EDS and POTS. To put it simply: my joints fall out of place and my heart rate often races until I pass out. Sorry fellas, it’s not you making my heart race – it’s my poor circulation. Ladies, on the other hand… well, that’s poor circulation too, but you do make me wet. So that counts for something, right?

That’s all nice, Lilith, but how does this affect kink? I mean, why am I even still reading this post? Perhaps your kink is women who ramble incessantly. In which case, hi! I’m Lilith, and you are?

For me, kink and disability all boils down to negotiation.  It is super important to explain anything that impacts your safety or your partner(s) safety. If someone seems unsure, can’t keep you safe, or dismisses what you are saying, don’t play together. You know the type. The guy that calls himself a master, but doesn’t know what he is talking about and casually dismisses your concerns. Cringe. Red Flag. Run Away! Or make an excuse to go the restroom and call your friend and sneak out a window. Whatever method is easiest for you.

It can feel impossible to say to someone, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but play with me maybe and… I have lots of medical issues. No, wait, don’t run away – I have a cute butt. I swear.” In reality, a lot of people will not be intimidated by you expressing your needs clearly. In fact, many will appreciate it.

So, you caught the big fish and you found someone to play with. It’s not so hard to quickly get down to playing. Just make sure you discuss anything that can hurt you or others. That’s it. You do not need to share your life story.  Can you stand? Can you sit? Can I hang you upside down? Do you bleed easily?

One time I got one of my many spontaneous nose bleeds at a fashion show in Miami. Gushing. I was in the bathroom for thirty minutes trying to get it to stop, thinking, “Great, now everyone here thinks I am super into cocaine! And where is someone with blood kink when you need them?”

Be specific about your limits and give details. Such as, “I pass out easily. My primary partner knows the signs; listen to them when they call it and don’t freak out if it happens.”  

So what are some big things I personally negotiate

  1. I can’t stand for long periods of time. So don’t ask me to. Lots can be done from a stool or a bench or kneeling on the ground. Oh so much…
  2. I can’t be still either. So again, don’t ask me to. Five minutes of stillness and my joints start to sublax (that’s when they slide in and out of place on their own). I find watching it fun, in a creepy sort of way. But it does hurt (and not the kind of pain I am looking for), so I have to be able to adjust my position at all times. Fullstop. Someone who is super into protocol probably would not want to try to negotiate a night of high protocol with me, but guess what? I make a terrible slave in other ways as well. Literally terrible. The worst. They would never invite me back!
  3. You’re probably thinking: if you can’t sit still, I would tie you up. That is almost always what is said next. Sorry folks. That will just pull my joints all out of place. Plus, now I am still… and in undesired pain. How about you let me tie you up instead? That I can do. I once had a friend run their hand over my spine and my spine moved around in their fingers. I laughed. They freaked out.
  4. I have lots of extra safewords. There is so much debate on safewords – some people argue that a Dom should recognize the signs and know when to stop. Some people argue that you should never play without safewords.  I will not dive down that rabbit hole today. For me, I use colour safewords. This is something almost everyone has experience using and feels comfortable with. Since I need to be constantly checked in on, I like green, yellow, red for that. This way I can pause things with yellow to adjust as needed. “Yellow! I need to move my arm.” I also use purple when playing with long term partners. If something has triggered an anxiety or panic attack that’s unrelated to what we are doing, I will use “purple” to stop play. I wanted something that indicated that we had not crossed an agreed limit, but that something had gone wrong and I needed to stop. Those are deep conversations I don’t have with everyone. With someone casual, I will just red out. Goodness, I can’t unload all my baggage on casual play. And I don’t think I really should.

It took me a considerable amount of time to gain confidence in my play and life surrounding my health. It happened so slowly that I did not realize I had overcome a lot of my fears. Until one day, I started wearing my compression socks out in public, whether or not they made me look like an old lady with stockings on, and no matter how many people made comments on them.

“I’m not looking up your skirt, I’m – are you wearing stockings?” That was my boss. Because at that point, I knew I didn’t give a fuck how it looked to other people. I only cared about how it helped keep me from getting dizzy and blacking out.

So I don’t care if creating a long detailed negotiation is too much for some people. Those are not my people. I care about how I feel when I play.

Once you begin to accept yourself, a whole world opens up. You never know what may happen. I even found a pair of bondage cuffs that allowed enough movement for me, and I am pretty sure that moment is exactly the same feeling people get when they climb Mount Everest. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. A little. What can I say? Kink is all about letting your imagination run wild.

So, jump in and start playing.

Thanks to Lilith for sharing her story so generously with us. Don’t forget to check out her blog and give her a follow on the Twitter!

Ten Things a Collar Can Mean (But Doesn’t Have To)

Mr CK and I recently had a discussion about collars – specifically, whether there was any context in which either of us using a collar in kink play with somebody else would ever be okay. (This is, and currently remains, one of my absolute bottom-line boundaries – seriously, that limit is so hard you could etch it on a diamond).

After a while of unproductive discussion, we realised we were talking past each other for a simple reason:

We both understood what we were talking about in completely different ways!

To him, a collar essentially means very little. He considers it a piece of equipment, no more inherently meaningful than a length of rope or a paddle – useful as a way to, say, move someone around or immobilise their hands by tying them to it, but that’s about as far as it goes.

To me, a collar means everything. I don’t do 24/7 D/s dynamics any more (for good reasons) but wearing a collar for someone is still a profound display of love, trust, vulnerability and – yes, even for a limited amount of time – giving myself to them completely. For me, my primary partner collaring someone else would be a betrayal akin to putting an engagement ring on someone else.

We were elightened by this realisation, but remain unable to completely reconcile our massively different views on this topic.

But it got me thinking about all the different things collars can mean, and not mean. A simple band of leather (or stainless steel, or faux leather, or whatever) can take on so many different significances. Here are some I thought of, though I am sure there are many more.

A lifetime commitment

This is perhaps the closest to the “a collar is an alternative to a wedding ring” school of thought, to which many kinksters ascribe. For people who feel this way, a collaring – whether with a formal ceremony or not – is as significant as a marriage. I very much felt this way when I was collared to my ex.

Permanent ownership

Not everyone who wears or gives a collar views it as a symbol of ownership or ascribes to an “owner/property” dynamic, but many people do. In this kind of permanent D/s relationship – which may also be romantic or not – the collar can serve as a symbol, marking the submissive out as property of the Dominant. Many people in these types of relationships will use collars that lock and cannot be removed without the key. (If you do this, please, please give your submissive a spare key in case of emergency!) Some even go as far as to get a body modification, such as a tattoo or piercing, in place of or as well as a more traditional collar.

Remember: ownership (of whatever kind) does not necessarily imply monogamy. Polyamory can absolutely be a part of a D/s dynamic.

Temporary ownership

This is perhaps closest to the way in which I think of collars these days. I do not wish to be permanently owned by anyone – but I find enormous comfort, meaning, and hotness in giving “ownership” over me to my partner for a limited amount of time (usually a scene, sometimes an afternoon or day, occasionally up to a weekend). In this type of non-24/7 D/s dynamic, the collar serves as a symbol of going into and then back out of that headspace. When it goes on, I am his property. When it comes off, I am me again.

Connection and closeness

I heard this one a lot from people in long-distance relationships when I threw this question out on Twitter. Wearing a collar can symbolise closeness and connection to your partner, and even a sense of being “with” them while apart.

Consideration or training

There’s a certain school of thought on collaring that has submissives wear a “training collar” or “collar of consideration” for a period of time before being formally taken on as a submissive (at which time they would receive a permanent collar). Many people who view collars in this way describe a collar of consideration as the D/s equivalent of an engagement ring, and the permanent collar as the wedding ring.

A way to get into a headspace

When Mr CK and I go to an event together where I’ll be in the submissive role, often one of the first things he’ll do on arrival is put my collar on me. Kneeling in front of him (or even standing with my head bowed and moving my hair out of the way) while he puts it on is an almost instant subspace trigger for me. This seems to be a pretty common experience – with the collar, you also “put on” a certain role or headspace. Similarly, a pet play enthusiast on Twitter told me that putting on their collar is how they quickly access their “pup” headspace.

Leave me alone, I’m taken!

When I was in a 24/7 D/s relationship, my partner rarely came to events with me. As such, I was usually attending with friends without a partner in tow. Often, I’d be the only person not visibly partnered in our group. So wearing my collar was an easy way to signal “not available!” It worked… sort of. I definitely got significantly less unwanted attention when wearing it (and yes, I did an experiment). Unfortunately, it also led to some comments implying that if he wasn’t physically with me, I was available for any random Dom who took a fancy to me.

Nothing, it’s a tool like any other!

This is the version Mr CK most closely ascribes to. In this schema, a collar is there for what it can do rather than what it means. For example, he’s had me wear an anal hook to an event and then fastened this with rope to the back of my collar. He’s also clipped my cuffed hands to the ring at the front of my collar to immobilise me. There are dozens of ways that a collar can simply be of practical use as part of a bigger scene.

Nothing, it’s just for decoration!

Collars look pretty! I have one that, though I adore it, doesn’t have any particular meaning as part of a relationship (it was given to me as a freebie to review). I sometimes wear it out and about, just because I think it looks pretty, complements my outfit, or subtly flags me as kinky. Which brings me on to…

Flagging kinky in public

“Flagging” originates from the “hanky code” of the 1970s US gay and bi male scene, where coloured handkerchiefs placed in certain positions indicated interest in various sexual practices. Thus, it refers to using outward symbols to subtly indicate your proclivities to other interested parties. There are any number of events where it’s safe to assume many of the participants will also be kinky, but not all of them will be. (Think gay and bisexual community events, goth clubs, geek/sci-fi events, Renaissance Fairs and so on). For me, wearing my collar signals that I am a kinkster and invites other kinksters to come and make friends.

Do you wear a collar, or does your partner? What does it mean to you? Comment below or tweet me – this topic is so fascinating to me in sheer variety alone.

The Taboo Brighton Logo

This post was sponsored by the good folks at Taboo Brighton. Taboo launched in 2003 and has established itself as a genre-defining Brighton retail experience, winner of the “Best Sex Shop in the UK” at the Erotic Trade Awards and once described in The Guardian as the “Dolce and Gabbana of Sex Shops”. It has also featured on many TV shows including C4’s Sugar Rush, The Sex Inspectors and the forthcoming documentary The Family Sex Shop Business. I love checking out Taboo whenever I make it down to Brighton, but you can browse and shop their whole extensive collection online. All views are, as always, my own. 

[Kink Product Review] Three Mini Reviews: Cuffs, Rope, Paddle

It’s no secret to my readers that I love small, independent, women-owned-and-run businesses, especially when they sell exclusively body-safe adult products. That’s why I am proud to be an affiliate of The Pleasure Garden Shop, a homegrown (pun intended) online feminist sex shop right here in the UK.

I must first apologise for the delay in getting these reviews out – my health (physical and mental) have taken a nosedive since the beginning of the year and Mr CK has been unwell too. As such I am woefully behind on testing and writing about everything! But no matter – we’re here now.

I was really excited when Francesca, owner of The Pleasure Garden (who I interviewed recently!) reached out and suggested a series of mini-reviews of kinky products that might appeal to people looking to explore BDSM for the first time, along with some handy tricks and tips on using them safely. This is the first of such a series – let’s take a look at what was in my very exciting parcel when it arrived…

Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs

People who have seen me getting my sexy on will know that I kink super hard for leather. (Yes, I know, as a vegetarian this makes me a horrible hypocrite – don’t @ me!) Good quality leather also tends to be expensive, which is probably why I don’t own that much of it.

Bound Noir black leather cuffs

So the Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs had me squeeing for joy! Not only are they super stylish, made of soft black leather with gold coloured metal accents, they’re also an absolute steal at £32.99. I’ve seen leather cuff sets go for £100+, but there’s no need to spend that much when these are so good! They come with a removable connecting chain with clips at either end, and each cuff has two D-rings – so lots of ways to fasten your sub to something (or to themselves) should you desire.

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous hands

These cuffs feel super luxurious to wear. The leather is really soft and supple, and just gets softer with use as you break them in. I’ve worn them for well over an hour before, including in a session where my wrists were above my head. They remained comfortable the whole time. The gold accents give an elegant feel. The perfect accessory for any sexy outfit!

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands

They’re super adjustable. They have 5 notches, and there’s no reason you couldn’t get an extra one put in if you wanted to. (Take them to a professional leather worker, you could ruin them if you try it yourself!) The adjustability means they’ll work on most bodies. I have tiny wrists so I use them on the tightest setting. But I’ve also used them on people with much bigger hands/wrists than me with no problems at all.

Leather Wrist Cuffs Tips & Tricks…

Bound Noir black leather wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands
  • Experiment with different positions. Not everything will be comfy for everyone. Clip your partner’s hands together behind their back, hook their arms around the bedpost, tie their hands to something above their head.
  • Pair with a set of ankle cuffs and a 4-way hogtie for more complete immobilisation.
  • Cuffs should be loose enough that you can slip 1-2 fingers between the cuff and the skin, but tight enough so your partner cannot wiggle free. Experiment with different settings and check regularly. If there is any numbness, tingling or pins and needles in the hands, take the cuffs off IMMEDIATELY.
  • Never, EVER leave a bound person alone.
  • Store your cuffs flat, not fastened – the leather will degrade quicker if you store them closed.

Bound to Please Hemp Bondage Rope

Ask any rope bondage aficionado about their favourite type of rope, and you’ll get wildly different – but equally passionate – answers. We all have our favourites. I’ve always been a jute fan; I love the smell of it, the feel of it and the way it handles. But hemp is also a really popular choice. So I was delighted to try out this hemp bondage rope from Bound To Please.

Hemp rope coiled

This rope comes in 10 metre lengths and 5mm width. I believe this is the most ideal rope thickness for most bondage – any thicker and it starts looking bulkier and less elegant, any thinner and it starts to make ties more painful due to the way thinner ropes cut against the skin. (Not necessarily a bad thing if you like pain, but I don’t suggest tying with anything below 5mm until you’re experienced!) Each length costs £12.99.

“How much rope should I buy?” is always a question beginners ask me. It depends on a number of things, including types of ties and the size of the bottom. If you eventually want to move on to complex ties and suspensions, you’ll need more. If all you want to do is tie your partner to the bed for sex, you can get away with a couple of lengths. As a rough guide, for a TK (Takate Kote or Box Tie, the first formal harness tie most riggers learn) you’ll need 3 lengths and possibly 4 lengths for larger bodies. (If your partner is very petite, you might get away with 2.)

(I should just write a Big Guide to Choosing Rope, shouldn’t I? Okay, coming up…)

Anonymous leg tied in a futomomo with hemp rope

The thing I really love about natural fibre ropes, and especially hemp, is the smell. Hemp rope has this slightly undefinable sweet/woody smell and it’s gorgeous. I love tying in a room full of rope enthusiasts because the mix of natural fibres, bodies and sex in the air is just so intoxicating. Natural fibre ropes also get softer and smoother with use, as they are handled and absorb the natural oils from your skin.

Yes, I LOVE this rope!

Rope Tips & Tricks…

Close up of part of a futomomo in hemp rope on anonymous leg
  • Firstly and most importantly, always – ALWAYS – keep a cutting tool to hand. The safest and best tool is a pair of EMT shears, like this, which you can by for a few quid on Amazon or from a medical supplies store.
  • Suspension looks cool and is great fun, but it is NOT the be-all, end-all. It is also very dangerous if not done properly. Gain proficiency in floor-work before you even think about suspending, and then do it under the tuition of an experienced rigger. Bottoms, this applies to you too – don’t ask someone to suspend you when you’ve never even worn a basic chest harness before.
  • Rope is for everyone! No matter the size of your body or your ability level, you can do rope if you want to. Listen to your body and be prepared to adjust.
  • Get some lessons! Rope bondage is inherently risky, and can be dangerous if not done properly. If you’re really lucky, there might be a rope studio near you. Otherwise, see if there’s a Peer Rope event in your area (these are usually listed on Fetlife) or find a trusted private tutor.
  • Check out some instructional Youtube videos. Ask in your local community or on Fetlife for recommendations, as not all teachers are created equal.
  • Get a book, such as Shibari You Can Use or Showing You the Ropes.
  • Learn about the safe areas of the body to tie. This is a great and thorough guide to bondage safety.
  • Rope can be a scene in itself. “Tie them up and fuck them” is great if that’s your thing, but don’t discount the possibility of rope for the sake of rope. Some of my most amazing scenes have been rope and nothing else.
  • To keep your rope in the best condition, coil it and put it away as soon as you can after a session.
  • This is worth reiterating: NEVER leave a bound person alone!

Bound to Please Silicone Paddle

I’d never used a silicone paddle before, so the Bound To Please Silicone Paddle was an exciting new addition to my impact play collection. It measures 41cm long by 6cm wide and is nice and light to handle. Silicone is super easy to clean and sterilise (just chuck it in boiling water or use a body-safe medical wipe), and as it contains no animal derived materials is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

BLack silicone paddle

I tested this one out with The Artist. From what I recall, my reaction to it was a string of profanity, followed by tears (because it hurt so fucking much, y’all). Due to the density of the silicone and the slender design, what feels like a relatively light stroke to the Top can deliver a hell of a sting to the bottom.

This thing is fucking vicious.

SIlicone paddle

I absolutely adore this paddle. But I am an experienced bottom and have been doing impact play for well over a decade at this point. Unless you have a high pain tolerance and a very clear idea of your body’s capabilities and limits, I cannot recommend this paddle to a beginner.

A wide leather paddle or a paddle that is padded on one side are great options for a gentler start for complete beginners! If you’re feeling brave enough to try this fucker, it retails for a very affordable £24.99.

Paddle Tips & Tricks…

Black silicone paddle in anoymous hand
  • Start slowly. People can take more impact if you build up gradually rather than just whack them at full force straight away!
  • Remember that the goal isn’t “take as much as you possibly can”. The goal is for both of you to have fun and get something out of the session.
  • Get clear about what kind of scene you want and what impact play means to you. Playing with punishment is hot to some people, and emotionally painful for others. “Teacher spanking a naughty student” roleplay is a VERY different scene to “I’ve had a terrible week and need you to spank me until I cry“, even though both might superficially look similar.
  • Learn the safe areas of the body to hit. Upper back and butt = good. Thighs, chest and genitals = yes if you’re careful. Face, head, joins, spine, lower back and neck = absolutely not.
  • Making your partner count the strokes and/or ask you for them can be super hot. Try phrases like, “Thank you Sir/Miss, may I have another?”

Other recommendations for your beginner kit…

When you’re just starting out in kink, you don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on kit – especially before you’ve fully worked out what you like! Exactly what you prioritise spending your money on will, of course, depend on your interests. But here’s a few things I think you should consider for your basic all-purpose kink kit…

Thank you to Francesca at The Pleasure Garden for sending me these items to review. Please check out the affiliate links in this post – by buying from The Pleasure Garden, you’ll be supporting a small woman-owned business as well as sending a little commission my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing. All views are, as always, my own.

Yes, I Have a Problem with Fifty Shades… But It’s Not What You Think

It’s actually more accurate to say I have several problems with Fifty Shades of Grey, the infamous erotic trilogy (plus rewrites-with-the-pronouns-flipped) about the kinky-ish love between naive college student Anastasia Steele and young handsome billionaire  Christian Grey.

Yes, I’ve read the first book, and enough of the second and third to get the gist. I’ve also read Cliff Pervocracy and Jenny Trout’s recaps (which are hilarious, by the way). Make no mistake: these books are horribly written and I did not find them erotic in the slightest. The sex depicted in them is either boringly vanilla, dubiously consensual (or straight up rapey), or both. The main characters are both awful people and the dialogue is about as sexy as a root canal. As a kinkster, I hate that people think this is what we’re about. As a writer, I think it’s a travesty that Ms James has made more money than anyone ever needs in a lifetime, while genuinely talented artists are underpaid and undervalued every day.

So yes. I have issues with this book. But they’re not that it’s an unrealistic kinky romance between a virginal college student and a vampire billionaire.

“But it’s fantasy!” fans cry.

And yes. It is. Look, I’ll be the last person to tell you that you can’t have your fantasies, even your problematic ones. Fantasy is not reality and fantasy exists to enable us to escape from the real world for a while. And nowhere is that more true than in sexual fantasy.

A huge part of the reason that erotica and porn should only be accessed by adults is that adults, typically, understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Jaime Mortimer wrote a really good post on this recently.

I’m not going to infantilise everyone who reads Fifty Shades or any other problematic book and tell you that it’s going to turn you into a rapist or make you leave your husband for an emotionally stunted billionare (or a vampire in a Volvo). I read plenty of erotic fiction and plenty of it has themes that would be super problematic if they were real – doctor/patient scenarios, professor/student scenarios, consensual-non-consent roleplay, voyeurism and exhibitionism, public sex and more are just some of the themes I’ve enjoyed in my sexy fiction.

Guess what? Fantasy. And again: adults, overall, have the capability to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

So enjoy Fifty Shades, if it’s your thing, as a fantasy about a naive young woman being seduced by an dude with more money than God and pants that hang from his hips (yes, this is an actual line in the book). Enjoy the light BDSM, the sexy  helicopter rides, the grumpy, brooding, damaged male lead if you want to. I’ll be the last person to judge you for enjoying some silly escapism or some improbable erotica if that’s what gets you off.

My problem with Fifty Shades is actually in the social and cultural narrative surrounding Fifty Shades.

Because this is not a great love story. This is not something to which young women should aspire! And the problem is that it’s being sold that way.

There is tonnes of erotica (and straight romantic fiction) out there that relies on problematic tropes and scenarios that are hot in fiction but would be a terrible idea in reality. That’s fine. Again: fantasy is cool, y’all!

But none of that has the marketing power behind it that Fifty Shades does. Ms James and her publishing team have made their collective fortunes not on selling Fifty Shades as fluffy erotic fantasy, but on selling Fifty Shades as a style of relationship to which we should all aspire.

And that is what is dangerous about this book. Not the fantasy it depicts, but the marketing power that sells that fantasy as genuinely aspirational. Because make no mistake, the relationship between Christian and Ana is very often abusive.

How many young women do you think have watched this movie, and decided that if this is romance, my boyfriend obviously only super jealous and controlling because he loves me? Or, Ana loves Christian out of abusing her, so if only I behaved better my husband would stop hitting me? Maybe not in quite so literal terms, but make no mistake – these messages are out there, and victims of abuse are listening and absorbing.

You might think this is hyperbole, but it’s not. This is the kind of power that massive marketing budgets, ingrained cultural narratives about love, and a total lack of sensible sex-and-relationships education has.

I don’t blame Fifty Shades for my own experience in an abusive D/s relationship, of course. But I do partly blame growing up surrounded by the idea that if a man hurt me, my job was to heal him so he could love me properly in the end.

Fifty Shades is far from the only story to suffer from this phenomenon

We have always built collective cultural narratives around these deeply problematic stories. I am reasonably confident in saying I doubt that Shakespeare intended Romeo & Juliet to be considered the greatest love story of all time. If you read it as a love story and analyse it for more than three seconds, it’s a ridiculous play. If you reread it as a satire about “love at first sight” and teenage stupidity, though, it becomes utterly brilliant. (While we’re at it, Wuthering Heights isn’t a great love story either. And Christian Grey bears a passing resemblence to Heathcliff in a variety of ways.)

Despite being for children, even Disney movies sell us some pretty horrible messages about relationships. Think about it: marriage is the ultimate goal for any girl. Once a man chooses you, you’ll live happily ever after.  Cinderella tells us to be good and subservient and pretty until a man rescues us; The Little Mermaid tells us that what we have to say is the least valuable thing about us; Sleeping Beauty suggests that kissing a sleeping stranger is totes a sensible and romantic thing to do… and so it goes on. We’re drip-fed these messages from earliest childhood, so is it really any wonder that so many of us grow up with totally screwed up ideas about what relationships are actually supposed to look like?

Don’t ban – educate

In closing: I don’t support the banning of Fifty Shades or other problematic stories. Fantasy is important and something we should all be able to have access to. Instead, we need a greater cultural understanding and greater education around separating fantasy from reality, and understanding what healthy relationships actually are.

I’d be much happier with the thousands and thousands of twenty-something women enjoying Fifty Shades as sexy, escapist fantasy if they weren’t already surrounded by a culture that teaches them if he hits you, it’s your job to be better so he can heal from his fucked up past.

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