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Posts Tagged ‘dominant’

The Master’s Voice #17: The wider BDSM World

It’s time to look at BDSM in the context of the big wide world out there. This post is a two-parter and I asked my alpha slave to give us his thoughts for this first part and next time I will explore some of the other options out there for all you seekers of knowledge, skills and fun.

So far every post in this series has focused either on abstract concepts (the meaning of submission/slavery, what to look for in a dominant) or else accounts of my life as a slave with Master Tim. Today I want to widen the scope a bit by talking about the wider BDSM world, both offline and on the internet.

It’s entirely possible that you’ve begun to explore the world of submission without ever encountering some of the standard online meeting places. For the most part, they’re just dating profile sites geared specifically towards people looking for some kind of dominant-submissive relationship. Recon, probably the best-known site for this kind of thing, lets you set whether you’re more dominant or submissive (‘active’ or ‘passive’ in the site’s lingo) in your profile settings, something you’re unlikely to see on OKCupid.

Needless to say, the images people put on their profiles tend to be a bit different to what you see on ‘normal’ dating sites. Expect depictions of the full range of BDSM fetishes, some of them quite explicit, as well as a lot of partial nudity. This is very much a NSFW site we’re dealing with here!

Having said all that, I’d like to dispel the notion that the online BDSM world is wall-to-wall porn and, for lack of a better term, ‘perversion’. There’s a tendency for the media to treat kink-related gathering places as vortexes of weirdness into which innocent people might become accidentally drawn, never to return to the safe world of straight vanilla sex. In reality, a lot of interactions on Recon boil down to requests for meet-ups or fantasy-fueling discussion of specific fetishes. I’ve never actually been on a traditional dating site, but I imagine they’re not too different to Recon.

If Recon is the (gay) BDSM equivalent of a dating site, then SMGays is probably analogous to a club where most of the clientele are there to hook up with someone for the night. SMGays is a London based organisation which seeks to educate people about the world of BDSM. The organizers run themed ‘Discovery Nights’  focussing on different aspects of BDSM and cater primarily to people with little or no previous experience in a particular fetish or subculture. As a newbie-friendly environment, they tend to be very welcoming. You can show up to take part in a demonstration or just stand on the sidelines and watch, which I would probably advise doing if it’s your first time.

Having been to SMGays a few times now, I’d say the media’s depiction of a real-life BDSM gathering is actually too tame, probably because you can’t show explicit sex acts on TV. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things I saw or experienced during my first trip to a gay BDSM club:

  • People dressed in everything from full leather gear to almost nothing at all.
  • A sex sling (which was in use at the time).
  • A St. Andrew’s Cross (also in use – Google it at home if you don’t know what that is).
  • A guy in a vacuum bed (again, Google it at home if you don’t know what that is).
  • Doms leading collared submissives around with leashes, one of whom decided to feel me up from behind even though I was clearly there with Master Tim. I politely rebuffed him!
  • Spanking (heard rather than seen, but the sound is fairly hard to mistake).

And so on. If anything, many fiction writers actually don’t go far enough when they decide to depict BDSM gatherings with no real-life experience. If you can imagine it happening between consenting adults, chances are it’s going on somewhere in a city near you!

There is one thing I want to stress, though, which is that the people you’ll meet at an event like SMGays are, for the most part, perfectly ordinary. There isn’t a separate class of weird people who engage in kinky behavior 24/7; rather, there are normal people who just happen to be interested in unusual things. BDSM is a huge leveller of class and almost every other type of differential you might think of. For all you know, the bland office worker behind you in the line in Starbucks might have been enjoying all kinds of fetish activities the night before!

The Master’s Voice 06 – Fantasy Vs. Reality (or, Why Porn is not Research).

Whether I’m addressing friends from the BDSM world or my many author friends there is one acclamation that you hear me use a lot: Porn is not Research. If you wish to live the lifestyle or dabble in it, this is very important. Maybe you are wanting to write accurately and descriptively about it. Either way the fantasy world of porn can give a wholly false impression. In truth BDSM without the checks and balances, without the careful negotiation and preparation could be a very dangerous thing. In this blog I intend to look at the differences and relate them to real experience.

My Alpha Slave often talks about how the months (or years!) leading up to his first real-life BDSM experience involved a lot of research. Like so many he sought out blogs written by experienced Doms and subs. Perhaps like him you’ve sought out some of the many books written on the subject.

Or, and I’m guessing this is as likely if not more so than the previous options, you looked at porn.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with that! BDSM porn is abundant on the internet and elsewhere, and it’s certainly a valuable tool in determining what exactly you’re interested in. (Of course, it has other, non-educational benefits as well.)

The problem is that, as always, porn depicts a very skewed version of reality. Just as vanilla porn shows a heavily idealised (or non-idealised, depending on your perspective) view of sex, BDSM porn shows a version of the Dom/sub relationship that is unlikely to exist in reality.

Rather than going through all the ways porn movies ‘get it wrong’, I’d like you to ask yourself a simple question: what does porn not show?

The answer, obviously, is ‘real life’. Most BDSM porn doesn’t show a sub arriving at a Dom’s house (or hotel room or club or what have you) for the first time. It doesn’t show the actors negotiating over limits and boundaries. It certainly doesn’t carry on after the money shot is over to reveal how the Dom and sub get along outside of the playroom/dungeon.

These are all things that are going to happen in the real world, but porn movies aren’t going to give you any pointers on how to handle them. Going solely by what you see in pornography, you might think that BDSM relationships are things that happening spontaneously to a pair of automata who exist in their own pocket universe.

The one exception to the rule might be erotic fiction, which often at least pays lip service to depicting the full breadth of a Dominant/submissive relationship, but here we get into the issue of accuracy. Most authors of erotic fiction do not have real-life experience in the world of BDSM, and are likely to base their descriptions of it on second or third-hand information. (Or, worse, they might base it on those porn movies we just spent several paragraphs discussing.)  By all means, read fictionalized accounts of BDSM relationships as a way to fire your imagination, but don’t expect what you read to be perfectly in line with reality.

Ultimately, any media created primarily for titillation is a fantasy, and nobody expects or even wants their fantasies to match the everyday experience of their real life.

To quote my Alpa Slave again “In my case I was lucky, because in Master Tim I found someone who was able to take what I’d been fantasizing about for so many years and turn it into a reality, but even still there were things I couldn’t have predicted before I met him – mostly because, well, I hadn’t met him yet! My idealised ‘fantasy’ master was nameless, faceless and mostly devoid of any personality. He was an idea, not a human being, and anything I imagined happening with that idea couldn’t possibly happen exactly that way with a real person. The reality is so much better than what I envisioned, but it doesn’t change the fact that that disconnect exists and is something you should keep in mind when you’re planning your future life as a submissive or slave.”

Porn has been around for time immemorial, but there is now a new kid on the block when it come to BDSM fantasy. The internet has changed the way we find each other and interact with each other in ways we could never have expected. My reason for inserting this topic is the explosion of social media and of dating sites. We are all well aware of how transparently truthful people are on such sites and how we should believe online biographies implicitly. Yeah right! If the number of fit guys with 10″ dicks is true, then anatomists need to reassess their idea of what is average. Also when it comes to listing ages, the internet seems to indicate that number blindness is far more common than we thought!

For those seeking to find BDSM partners and experiences, there is a more insidious issue here. People spend a huge amount of time gathering their ‘experience’ online before they build up the courage to try the real thing. It is therefore more than likely that their expectations will be much closer to fantasy than reality. I find more and more that BDSM novices are only novices of the real thing and that faced with the reality they are at best confused and at worst, quite disappointed.

As a novice practitioner you should also be prepared to enjoy things you never thought you’d enjoy and to dislike things you were expecting to like. This is probably more relevant for people who want to seek out a Dom/sub relationship heavily based around shared fetishes, but it’s worth noting for everyone: just because you enjoy thinking about something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll enjoy doing it for real. It is a great shame when it happens, but it is easy to imagine someone being confused or disappointed when they discover that the thing they’ve been craving for so long turns out to not be exactly what they wanted after all.

Ultimately, there’s no amount of research – porn-based or otherwise – that can prepare you for meeting a Dom or Master for the first time. Trust your instincts, keep an open mind and wait for the right person. There’s no better way to make sure that your fantasies become a reality.

The Master’s Voice 01 – Sub or Slave: Is There a Difference?

THE MASTER’S VOICE – Part One.

Of all the many questions I get asked on a regular basis, the most frequently presented one is some variation of  ‘Am I a Sub or a Slave?’ Or ‘What’s the difference between a Sub and a Slave?’ It’s a subject about which everyone has an opinion, and the debate has been around for as long as there have been people to discuss it.

For most people, the terms are interchangeable and the boundaries are woolly. For some the definitions are more rigid, or at least very personal and individual. I would maintain that there are no wholly right or wrong answers, but that does not mean that we don’t need some clarity of thought or some acceptable descriptors. These at least give us a baseline from which to form opinions and arrive at acceptable definitions which work for each individual person or couple.

Submission is not a weakness

For me, the basic definitions start with the words themselves. Slave is a noun and so a slave is what you are. Submissive is an adjective and so it describes what you do.

In BDSM relationships, submissives make their own decisions and choices, holding on to their own rights and freedoms. Submissives also set their own limits. A sub may choose to be ‘owned’ but the terms of the ownership will be jointly negotiated and it will only last as long as they choose to allow it. Submissives characteristically seek out casual contacts or relationships, moving in and out of their role freely as they go about their lives.

A true slave is a very different person completely. While a submissive may choose how, when and to whom they submit, a true slave will submit completely at all times to their chosen owner, with little or no negotiation. Slaves usually seek ownership, preferring to give themselves wholly to another dominant person. The slave has no rights or freedoms and certainly no choices. Of course in reality this only works where great wisdom, common sense and profound trust exist.

I can hear a whole chorus of ‘buts’ as I write this and I respect them all. Every slave or sub is different and every situation is unique and individual. At the end of the day, our roles are defined by our relationships and seldom the other way around. The sub/Dom roles derive from the type of relationships we enter into, after safety and personal limits are agreed.

We must accept that any definition is merely another form of labelling imposed by the wider society. Labels are a way of compartmentalising things which we might otherwise struggle to understand. Once you are labelled, you are ‘understood’, but of course real life is seldom so easily pigeon-holed. Every couple needs to arrive at their own working definition for what they have.

It should be clearly understood that the definition is a work in progress and will change over time. Every aspect of a relationship needs to be placed on a grey-scale where the two extremes are ‘black’ and ‘white’ but all our life choices rest somewhere along the line between the two. Anyone who thinks that there are only ‘fifty shades of grey’ (pun intended) is in for a big surprise!

A submissive may choose to submit sexually, but outside the bedroom (or dungeon) they will may still behave as equals with their Master or Mistress. The sub may choose to be a domestic servant but still maintain equality in their relationship. The mutually agreed level of control may be quite extensive and in effect be the same as slavery but of course the sub retains the ability to walk away or simply to say ‘no’ at any time.

A real slave, in contrast, wishes every aspect of their life to be controlled by the Master or Mistress. The slave will often describe themselves as “incomplete” without ownership and they will seek out a powerful dominant to control them. Of course in reality they will seek out their owner and so will be making choices regarding who that person is. At the end of the day they can still choose to end the relationship at any time.

Another point to consider is that not all slaves are submissives!

There is no doubt that I shall be returning to this topic in the future. One area that I would like to look at is the link between BDSM and sexuality. As a gay man I have met a great many heterosexual men who submit to other men. This does not in my opinion, make them gay!

Consider the various definitions, but do not be limited by them. Find what works for you and go with it. BE a slave, or DO submission, but have fun!

In the next part I will be asking my much loved Alpha slave of the last ten years to share with us the ‘sub’ side of this story.

Master Tim is a practicing Dominant with over 40 years of experience and is an alter ego of published m/m author T.J. Masters

Master’s Voice: Introduction.

My most popular blog series, The Master’s Voice and the Submission Journals, are now almost three years old. I’ve decided to compile all of the posts that make up the series into a single, comprehensive BDSM handbook. This will include a good deal of additional material from what you’ll find in this blog series, including updates on practical advice, anecdotes, interviews and some short fictional stories as well.

The original motivation for the series was to be a go-to resource of good, accurate information on BDSM. Over many years I found myself being asked a lot of the same basic questions. It made sense to be able to direct people to the blog rather than repeating myself with the same answers,

There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the BDSM lifestyle and the behaviours which constitute it. I have found that a good deal of the information which is out there ranges from simply vague to downright dangerous.

At the time of writing the original blog posts, I also found myself giving advice to a good many M/M writers who wanted to include realistic BDSM themes and scenes in their books. Prior to this, many had depended on porn or anecdotes for their research. Those who have attended my workshops and panel presentations will have my heard my mantra that ‘porn is not research’ – if you’re going to write about BDSM, you owe it to yourself and your readers to find a more reliable source of information.

So why me? What qualifies me to give advice to others?

As Master Tim, I have been active in the lifestyle (Gay BDSM) for 43 years. During that time I have learned a great deal about BDSM practices and the people who engage in them. I have been lucky to share that journey with many others and have trained numerous submissives, slaves and other tops/Dominants in that time.

I am very fortunate in having a wonderful group of subs and slaves who I see on a regular basis. All are different in their own way, but it pleases me no end that they keep coming back for more. Some have now been doing this for up to twenty years.

As a lifelong educator I see it was my duty to pass on knowledge and experience. For many years I have supported the SMGays organisation in London. I was honoured to be asked to join the organising committee of the group and have now taken on the role of Dungeon Master at our monthly Discovery Nights.

As for my principles and beliefs regarding BDSM, I’m sure that those will become clear as you read the series. This will not be a solo endeavour, since I will depend very much on the input of my slave of the past ten years and on other guest contributors.

For those who saw these posts the first time they appeared online, we will be adding additional content to them now that we’re reposting them. The book, when it comes out, will have a great deal of extra material on top of that. We hope to post regularly on Fridays, so do watch out for weekly updates. Also feel free to post any comments or questions as we go. Have fun, and as always, play safe!