There is no shortage of literature in the world about BDSM at this point. There never really has been, even in the many years before Anne Desclos/Pauline Reage made it beautiful and established that there could be a feminine voice and the existence of a feminine need and urge, and Paulhan made it intellectual and smart, there were plenty of things written about it. From the tittering floggings of the Pearl to Weimar magazines, there was writing on the subject.
Now there is no shortage of literary, emotional, psychological writing on the subject. From classic works like the well known Screw the Roses or the Brame’s Different Loving (which falls little short of being an apologia for the art) there is a lot of writing that addresses the emotional and spiritual side of BDSM.
But what about the point where one has applied one’s lips to the virtual puckered asshole of BDSM literature and engaged in about as much literary coprophagia (no, not particularly my kink, stop that tittering and as you were) as one can handle for beautiful, high minded, ideas about what makes us tick and want to control or abuse, or be controlled or abused. When one is well sated on the sweet stuff of ideas and emotional needs.
In every art there are theory works and technical manuals. Sun Tzu’s Art of War may be a classic, but if I’m going to Iraq I may have considerably more need for The United States Army Field Manual on Civil Affairs Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures or Urban Operations. What is available when I stray from even the fascinating glide by details of Car and Driver and need the Chilton’s Manual for Mitsubishi Diamante 1992-2000.
Well, when it comes to S/M I think there are some good resources. Jay Wiseman is prolific and detailed and from SM 101 on presents a lot of good material. There is practical material by Midori and numerous other writers. One cannot swing a cat without hitting a new manual on shibari. Honestly if I want to beat, tie up, pierce, or even electrocute somebody, there is no shortage of material. Some of it tends to run a little short on pages for the $19.95 cover price, and may still include an awful lot of pages of “precious” theory between the occasional pages of useful technical facts (Deborah Addington comes to mind). Still if you’re paying for an expert to cover the material, so be it, as long as the necessary information is there.
But what about D/s.
More years ago than it behooves me to admit, I realized that there was more to BDSM than hitting a girl with a flogger, or even edgeplay. That if I was going to be an effective dominant who submissives responded to I needed to build an overall approach to BDSM. This came out of a number of experiences, including relationships that more or less petered out or failed for lack of content, or settled into boyfriend/girlfriend.
So let us say that I had a good grasp of the dynamics of consensual power exchange. Let us also take it that I am, to quote the late Roger Zelazny “busier than a king’s whore come the revolution” most of the time. So while I may inflict my fumbling, amateur, explanations of the theory of consensual power exchange on the readers of this blog, and on my submissives, let us consider two very important differences…
You are reading this for free, not paying $19.95 to Greenery Press
They are physically restrained…
This does not apply to me when I am looking to quickly assimilate the technical theory on a subject. So, this disinclines me to wade through 200 pages of yet another authors attempt to explain the basic emotional realities of BDSM, in order to find out the practical steps that they have gone to in order to train girls.
At some point I began to think of myself more as a “trainer” than as specifically a “dominant.” That’s just a reflection of role, and I think the fact that I like to build a relationship and rapport, and even some intimacy with a girl I am going to work with more than casually. Most of my work seemed to be in working repeatedly with specific girls and developing a D/s oriented training routine which brought them into SM in a well rounded way. I am not engaging in any braggodocio here about how good I am, merely describing what it is that I mostly do. I am not against single session play and honestly I can really enjoy it. But it’s not most of what I do.
I am one of those people who reads voraciously. In my adult life this has embarrassingly tilted towards nonfiction. I love fiction, but I simply seldom have time for it, because most of my reading is aimed at learning something that I think I ought to know. Unlike a few of my friends who are forever starting projects and enthusiasms, the vast majority of my reading is things I really need to know and need to put into practical use, like how to use a 3D drawing program, how to use a flogger, or how to fuck up less completely at managing money and business.
When I began to slouch into this particular set of skills, I found exactly one book that seemed to meet my criteria. Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual by Christina Abernathy.
I won’t gripe too much about the fact that there seems to be exactly zero material that is aimed at training a D/s submissive who is not specifically a “slave.” In general, I think that the material and presentation of “sexual slavery” by Abernathy is sufficiently vague to cover any ongoing D/s relationship, and the emphasis is not on the act of servitude and surrender but on the process of development and training.
That has since been supplemented by a workbook by Abernathy that I think is quite clever.
But those are basic resources, and while helpful they are not very detailed.
What I really wanted was “The U.S. Army Manual on Training of Submissives,” or the “General Drill for Submissives.”
So over a number of years I have built that resource myself. Not in any useful or practical way of course. It is not a manual but a mass of notes, charts, graphics, and tables. Individualized to every girl. One could argue that one reason I tend to fall into the model of acting as a trainer is that I do some amount of work with a girl and at some point am relatively invested. I have my own little rituals for recordskeeping and even though most records are electronic now, have incorporated even the records into my training rituals.
But recently I’ve returned to a review of the literature. A lot has been published in the past decade. I’ve read most of Guy Baldwin’s Slavecraft, and I have substantial respect for a lot of his material, and it is writing about service oriented submission and I incorporate some service elements. But again, it’s a “journey and discovery” not a manual.
One resource bears mentioning, especially as it was just mentioned recently in a friend’s blog. Last year, a (different) friend, a fiction writer herself who has produced some interesting work, introduced me to Kink.Com’s “thetrainingofo.com” videos. Kink.Com puts out fairly high quality BDSM porn. “thetrainingofo.com” was a personal project of James Mogul, one of the principal intellects behind Kink.Com, and a fairly well known and respected San Francisco sceneplayer. Essentially he wanted to bring a bit of BDSM realism to video, and I think it’s a good job. The series has to pander a bit to fuck scenes in order to make rent, but overall it’s one of the better visual sources I’ve seen.
At any rate to make a long story short, I’ve recently dug my nose out of my notes, and begun looking at what has been published over the last ten years and still finding myself somewhat disappointed. I’ve found a few gems, which I’ll review in this space in time, but this is still an area where I am finding a real dearth of competent technical literature. And…suggestions are certainly welcome.
Ancient Proverb: When the only tool you have is a flogger, every problem looks like a girl’s ass.