This is almost certainly the last post before Camp Crucible. I’m still going to recap the Dark Odyssey workshops, but I’ll probably insert some Camp material as well.
So recapping Sarah Sloan’s saturday morning workshop “Driven to Tears.”
A couple of notes from this workshop. Sarah mentioned Tristan’s new site. OpeningUp.net which is aimed at , polyamory. Good source.
Sarah also put in a good word for the sex/kink aware professionals site. Professionals, particularly Psychologists and Counselors, are very important, and this is an excellent site for finding a professional who can meet your needs in a non-judgmental fashion.
This was probably one of the best workshops of the weekend, and I’ve mentioned I love Sarah as a presenter. This probably came closest at really getting into some of the aspects of psychological play that I’ve found drive me. I left this workshop very emotionally jazzed, and that was notwithstanding the bloody mary I sucked down on the way out the door. It was more intellectual than some of the other workshops. Said Sarah “I like to use big words. If I paid $20,000 a year to learn a word, I like to use it.”
I think it’s going to be very difficult to give a linear account of this workshop because it wasn’t that linear. There was some audience participation and just a lot of interesting bits and pieces.
Sarah plays as both a top and bottom, and got her start in the formal leather community in Richmond, so spent a lot of time in gay bars polishing boots (as we’ll learn later). She was very forthcoming about her own emotions and experiences. One of the early anecdotes she related…and this was a very anecdotal workshop, was of a period a few years back where she found herself in an endless cycle of being in pain and was unable to cry.
I want to mention that Sarah is a pretty together person from appearances. You always get that in the Community…people who appear very together on the surface but clearly have some significant pain in the depths. But she’s not somebody who gives off an atmosphere of fragility. She talks very clearly and calmly about these things, and is entertaining and generally pretty upbeat.
At any rate, she called a top she knew, I believe I recall that she said he was a gay male top, and said, to paraphrase “Could you come over and beat me till I cry”
He was hesitant at first, and she discovered that it was because he was afraid of promising her that anything was going to change after the scene. I could feel this very strongly as it’s always been an issue for me. What happens if you do your damndest and fail to move someone. Again we’re hitting this old school approach of just beating someone very hard, but I think it’s true of mental play as well, and Sarah’s workshop went far afield of simple beatings.
At the time it was about the strongest beating she had taken, though she said, “I have since been beaten harder”…her summary “I wanted him to continue to hit me until he literally though my body wouldn’t take it anymore or until I told him to stop. “
This provided a foundation to talk about serious edgeplay of all sorts. The push in this workshop though wasn’t of flying or sending people away, but more the psychological aspects that are so important to me in terms of extreme play.
There was a lot of discussion on the trust issues. Sarah tackled what I see as the core dichotomy of being a Dominant: “How you are going to balance their need to trust you with inducing fear in them. “ This is an issue from the bottom point of view as well. “If you have to monitor ‘you’re hitting me too hard’ you can’t really let go and trust the top. Bottoms can’t let go when they do let go, Bottoms stop being picky”
“It’s an Inherent contradiction. I want to instill fear, but I want them to be able to trust me.”
Illustrating she mentioned a woman who had told her “What I need in a top is the exact opposite of what I need in a husband. I need to feel loved by my husband and afraid of my top.”
I think there’s room for feeling loved by the top to, but it’s something to be very careful with.
Some useful point of reference. Sarah suggested “the Top needs to know what you look like when you’re good, and what you look like when you’re not good. If when you push back against the restraints you’re struggling because you like it, or because you are really trying to get away and can’t safeword.” This hit something that I’ve always observed. Every submissive has different signatures, different tells, in how she responds to stimulus, so that you can tell by looking if she is processing it, or if things are going south. Learning to read an individual girl’s “tells” is sometimes difficult, but always rewarding, because it broadens the play you can risk doing.
There was talk of a lot of various types of extreme scenes, including psychological touchstones like incest and humiliation. One comment I thought was interesting is that “there is no outside gauge of success or failure on humiliation play.”
Sarah also mentioned “I know a lot of people who say they don’t or you should never use SM scenes as a way to process through rape, etc. Maybe so, but that’s going to happen. It’s going to jump up and hit you sooner or later if you keep playing.” And there is no reason it cannot be intentional. “You don’t have to get raped by a stranger to relive a rape experience”
I got a few interesting rules out of this workshop. Sarah suggested that it’s not uncommon to have a fairly big crash about three days after a big scene, which she usually handles with alone time. She also suggested following up a successful intense scene with something pretty light. She suggested ways to give a partner aftercare chores that help buffer them against crashing, like “get rest, eat a kit kat bar,”
There was some talk of the spiritual side too, with references to Raven Caldera who writes about BDSM as a spiritual tool through an “Ordeal Path.” Again, I’m not against it and I can think of worse things, but one reason I am involved in emotional release through sexual play is that I left behind the concept of emotional release and catharsis through religion and seek it through drama and intimate relationships with other human beings. So reintroducing religion into that equation isn’t something I’m really interested in.
A better framing for me in regards to this sort of edge/emotional play was “liminal space” http://parole.aporee.org/work/hier.php3?spec_id=19650&words_id=900 a fascinating concept I’ve been doing a bit of reading on. I think in this context the concept is to push into a mental and emotional space where transition can happen. This fits in better than strict spirituality with the idea that BDSM is a powerful vehicle for catharsis, and the focus of this workshop was Physical/Mental/Emotional catharsis.
One thing I found very constructive is that Sarah was not afraid to phrase hard questions. She also had a sense of humor, talking about a very analytical partner who will not stop talking during scene…so she gags him.
Some questions that were asked is “How far is far enough” and the comment was made that “You can only get so far into people’s heads,” a truth I’ve felt and lived. There was also discussion of thinking seriously about what you get out of extreme emotional play from either side.
There was a warning that this is not the sort of casual play you can just walk away from. Sarah felt you need to keep in some degree of contact, check in and make sure that your partner was doing alright, mentally and potentially physically… “Take them to the hospital a few days later when that hand doesn’t feel better.”
Talking about intense scenes, Sarah described a scene where after considerable discussion a breath control play partner asked her to choke him to unconsciousness…something that makes this a particularly relevant post with the release of Choking Jennifer in the erotic fiction area.
All in all it was a great workshop and I love Sarah as a presenter. Quotes by the way are attributed with permission.
Grand Theft Auto
So apparently all you need to know about dating is actually available through Grand Theft Auto. Who’d have thunk…
“[I]f you kill a girl through abuse, she will no longer be your girlfriend.”