I think when it came to literature review, one thing I probably didn’t really underscore enough was that I find a lot of the tone lacking. Probably one of the big exceptions to this is Dossie and Cathy, who I think wrote some great very off the cuff stuff. But overall I find the tone in most writing about BDSM to be preachy, superior, and to have this undertone that convinces me that it was written by a Dominant trying to convince his (or her) submissives that he was born with “safe sane consensual” tattooed on his forehead. On the submissive side, I actually find a lot of the writing better, but there’s an underlying tone of religious reverence. Where it’s genuine, I think it’s great, but often it almost comes off as if the submissive is trying to talk themselves round to it through writing.
I’ve tried at least not to do that. Realistically I know that has scared some girls off of me. I don’t go around starting with a ninety minute safety lecture that is mostly aimed at convincing a submissive I’m safe to play with, and constantly mentioning safety concerns not because they’re plausible but to prove I’m “safe sane and consensual.”
I’ve actually been reading a bit about the concept of RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) v. SSC (Safe Sane and Consensual) and that’s a topic for a later post.
Either you know me and you trust me or you don’t. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have a little buffer there, where people maybe need to think twice before they get down on their knees. I don’t want to sell myself too hard. I’m not perfect and I don’t shit perfect scenes, so I am only going to present myself so much as “superdom.”
Anyway when I Googled “Last thing the world needs” this morning, no. 27 on the list after “some bastard to blow something else up,” was “another preachy high-toned BDSM blog written by a Dom who writes about BDSM as a sacred charge on a par with guardianship of the holy grail (or possibly the net at a Stanley Cup Playoff game, I get those things confused).
Don’t get me wrong. I think trust is important. But I often think the language and high minded ideas obscure the real truth. The real truth is this. “I am in a room with a girl who is (usually) much younger than me, and less experienced (at least in bdsm, often sexually). She is counting on me for a lot of things. She’s generally a friend or someone I care about, and even if she isn’t she’s a human being who is putting her trust in me. I need to not abuse that trust by fucking up, being careless, being callous, or by failing to have the balls to be what I’ve said I was.” That’s it. You can add as many choirs of angels as you want, but you’re talking about somebody surrendering their body to you and trusting you not to fuck them up. I’d rather cut that very close to the line where I am damn certain I understand it. High concept is great but not if obscures the basic facts.
So…the review…tone aside, I’ve turned up a few gems.
I am still turning the Guy Baldwin edited Slavecraft over in my head (SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude–Principles, Skills and Tools by Guy A. Baldwin, M.S.. Daedalus, 2004). This is a fairly classic piece of D/s writing, and one of the better known works on Slave/Submissive psychology. I have found a great deal in it to agree with and a great deal to disagree with. I think the counterpoint written by Pat Califa is a superb touch. I am probably going to try to go through it chapter by chapter here, or at least feature a few of the essays. For now, my principal issue is that I find the writing itself a little lacking…there are a lot of rather high sounding phrases that seem to confuse issues a little…and I find the author a bit too religious for my tastes. Specifically his approach to submission is as an act of quasi-religious devotion. He slaves for a Master, but there is an undertone that suggests he is really serving slavery itself, just as a Monk may slave for the Abbott, but is truly devoted only to God. He uses a lot of nearly religious phraseology in his devotion.
I don’t have an issue with this per-se. It’s a perfectly legitimate approach, and opens to a whole world of ordeal-oriented bdsm/spirituality. But it’s not my path, nor one I’m really suited to guide a submissive on, other than incidentally. The undercurrent is that there is a subtle antagonism towards the Dominant. It’s frankly clear he’s had a few Dominants that he resented, and probably for good reason.
For me, D/s is more about personal intimacy. That’s why I don’t call my submissives “it.” I have a relationship with a girl. It may be about D/s but it is very personal and intimate to me. Even if I make that girl a piece of furniture, I have a close, intimate relationship with that piece of furniture. Slavecraft at once seems to say that intimacy is necessary, then reject many of the things that I see as critical to it.
It is also the case that Principles, Skills and Tools is limited to the essay author’s personal mental tools for handling submission.
That said, it’s a profound book that has a lot of terribly important insights into the submissive mindset. If you don’t know why you submit, there will be some things to learn there. If you do know why, there may be more. It is a book with a lot of ideas. Just don’t sit down and swallow it as the holy bible of Submission. It is valuable, but it is one slave’s opinion.
Sadly I found Master Nage’s Guide To Training Consensual Slaves not to be what I needed. I actually liked the book and the author. He’s a little geeky, but overall solid enough. He gives a bow to online play, which is so strikingly common these days. I think that’s important, because I strongly guess that within a decade probably ten times more people will have done BDSM online than have ever done it in person. So those online communities are effectively making it common, and also establishing things that will become de facto standards. I’ve gotten some interesting insights through online play, and while it’s not real life, I think there’s something to it. Interesting Nage points out that D/s is the one element of WIITWD that can be done, completely and really, online. You can’t beat someone. But you can order them to do something and establish that they have done it. So, online D/s is not stunningly less realistic than rl D/s.
But Nage’s book is a simple one for beginners. It has little real detail. It held fairly little for me, maybe a couple of concepts.
I found Rubel’s Protocols (Protocols: Handbook for the female slave: Robert J. Rubel, Ph.D., Nazca Plains, 2006) to be a very useful book. This was in fact the book I wanted. In pattern it is heavily based on the Protocols online by “SlaveMaster” Mike McDade. I’m going to have to be honest here and say that I found some of McDade’s approach a little offputting. I can’t say in any detail, because in theory I have no problems with consensual objectification, etc. I just didn’t warm to it. It is my understanding which may be faulty that a lot of the material McDade uses is related to protocols that used to be available on the Butchmann’s website (now Arizona Power Exchange – APEX), but I cannot find those anywhere and as far as I know outside of possible magazine instances they aren’t published. All this material, (and again I am led to understand), hearkens back to The Leatherman’s Handbook. As noted earlier this is mostly Gay male BDSM, so that may be one reason I find the tone offputting. It’s not a tone I’d take with women, even very tough women who want to be abused. It’s not content, it’s tone.
At any rate, Rubel put a human, and male/female face on Protocols. I liked his book and it was exactly what I wanted. Short on highblown theory and rants about what it is to be a slave, and long on “this is how you stand….this is how you sit…this is how you take care of boots.”
I have tried as much as possible to use original text in my Protocols, but I certainly paraphrased and in some cases quoted Rubel with attribution.
I’m still reading a lot of online material, and we’ll see what that produces, but that’s the literature review so far….
As the great man said “Good night and good luck…”