Aug 242014
 

“It’s not service unless the master wants it.” – Joshua Tenpenny, Real Service

It’s such a simple concept, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t grasp it. Hand washing your partner’s underwear may make you feel submissive, but if what she actually needed was her car taken to the shop then all you’ve done is waste your time. It really should be obvious, but doing what you want instead of what your master wants is in fact the opposite of submission.

That is, you’d think it would be obvious, but according to far too many discussions I’ve seen, including these two comments in a thread about kinky people with vanilla partners, the idea that you should try things your partner actually likes if you want to have some kink in your relationship is apparently a mind blowing revelation. In related news I have a theory about why so many men complain that their female partners have no interest in kink.

I understand that it can be hard to let go of the vision of your ideal relationship, but come on guys. Either you give a shit about the actual living breathing human being you’re in a relationship with or you don’t. If you care more about the fantasy than the person, don’t go acting all surprised when she doesn’t seem to care that much about what you want either. After all, you started it.

Even doms can fall into this trap. Credit where it’s due, Lily Lloyd talked about this either on her (sadly now defunct) blog or in her excellent book Discipline (no longer available). It’s terribly easy to get the idea that being a dom means you’re supposed to give your submissive all sorts of rules, particularly if your submissive happens to like rules. You can end up desperately trying to remember and enforce a set of rules you don’t care about until your whole d/s relationship feels like a chore. No matter how much the submissive enjoys it, it’s not service unless the master wants it. No amount of telling yourself you’re supposed to want something or beating yourself up for not wanting it is going to change your feelings about it.

I used to think I wasn’t actually dominant at all because I had precisely zero fucks to give about slave positions or making my partner ask permission to sit on the furniture. Given that being a dom is an important part of my identity now, you can safely assume I was pretty motivated to want what I thought I was supposed to want. It didn’t work. I still don’t care about slave positions even a little bit, and unless someone can magically making learning them stop feeling like a chore, I’m never going to care.

This, of course, makes me a terrible dom for a sub who loves high protocol. Neither one of us is wrong, we’re just a bad match. Honestly, if I found a high protocol sub I got along with and tried to convince him to stop loving rules and structure and doing things just so, I would be the asshole in that situation. I rag on submissive men more because I can’t understand how you can call yourself submissive while trying to mold your partner into someone they’re not, but self-centeredness is definitely not exclusive to men.

Finally, I would say that it is service if the dominant wants it, no matter how much the submissive enjoys it. A really excellent footrub, for example, given to a woman when she wants one doesn’t magically stop being service just because the submissive giving it happens to be a foot fetishist. Now, it certainly does stop being service if said foot fetishist makes things weird and sexual when she just wants to relax, but a submissive person especially enjoying something doesn’t make it not helpful or pleasing to the person they’re serving.

Service, like so many other things, is in the eye of the beholder. The person being served is the only one who gets to decide whether x or y is in fact service. You can wish they liked other things, you can look for someone who likes other things, but trying to make your partner like the form of service you like providing is blatant assholery. If you’re going to pull that shit, at least admit that you don’t care what your partner wants.

Aug 172014
 

First, a quick disclaimer: quite some time ago Lia Silver offered me a copy of her book Laura’s Wolf if I wouldn’t mind reviewing it. I like free stuff as much as the next person, but if I hadn’t enjoyed the book I would have politely told Lia so in private and you all would never have heard anything about it.

Laura’s Wolf is a paranormal romance focusing on the relationship between Roy, a newly turned werewolf Marine and Laura, a former con-artist trying to go straight. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would love to read on vacation while I sip cocktails, and although I ended up reading it in bits and pieces on my lunch break while I worked entirely too many hours, it still helped me relax.

What I really love about Laura’s Wolf is the way it presents female domination as a fun thing normal people choose to do sometimes. Sure, Roy is a werewolf Marine dealing with PTSD (which is not unusual – according to NIH MedlinePlus, in 2009 there were about 7.7 million adults in the US affected by PTSD) and Laura is a former con artist recovering from her own trauma, but they’re both enormously relatable characters. Aside from her colourful past, Laura is lonely but afraid to let people in. Roy, aside from the whole werewolf thing, worries that he’s broken and doesn’t have anything to offer a partner. Who hasn’t felt like that, even just a little?

At their cores, the characters are pretty normal people. Roy’s a regular guy, basically the exact opposite of the awful worthless worm stereotype. Laura’s a normal woman with more curves than society says she should have, not the kind of  icy bitch-queen that porn  and pop culture say dominant women have to be. And the way they relate to each other sexually is just the way they work, not a symptom of their problems (Secretary, I’m looking at you).

The sex scenes themselves are hot and well written, and perhaps ironically for a hardened perv, I like the fact that they’re not all particularly kinky and that they don’t go straight for whips and chains. One of my many, many pet peeves is the idea that once you explore kink you can never have or enjoy non-kinky sex again. That’s a  hot fantasy and there are people out there who don’t care to have vanilla sex, but I think most of us are perfectly capable of enjoying sex that involves nothing more than an enthusiastic partner.

It’s also nice to see kink shown as something you can do without spending a lot of money on equipment. I’m not going to say Laura’s Wolf is perfect, but there’s an awful lot to like about it. If there’s someone you want to introduce to female domination without freaking them out, I’d recommend giving them this book. If you’re already familiar with kink, it’s still an entertaining read. The next book in the series, Prisoner, is already out, and I’m planning on picking it up.

Aug 102014
 

Or, let’s talk about different styles of bottoming and submitting. This post will probably make more sense if you read the last one about styles of topping and dominating. These two posts were inspired by Xiao Yingtai’s brilliant post “Am I Just Selfish? Service Versus Control,” which you should go and read.

The gist of her post is that in addition to the service submissives who everyone seems to know about, there are also control-oriented submissives who (shockingly enough) just want to feel controlled during a scene.

Xiao Yingtai’s post blew my mind because she explained something I’ve literally spent years trying to understand: what the hell people are on about when they say they want to be “trained.” I always thought people who wanted that had spent too much time with one-handed BDSM reading and not nearly enough time talking to real people about how they actually live their lives. But it turns out that some s-types are control-oriented and love things that would make service-oriented submissives miserable. Or to quote from the post:

Constant micromanagement and correction? No endpoint? Sign me up for this!

I never realized that feeling controlled was the point when someone asked to be “trained.” I always kind of thought they were just bad at service or had the idea that there was some magical “right way” to do things and if they learned it they would be the perfect submissive and never feel sad or lonely or inadequate ever again.

The idea of “training” also irritated the shit out of me because if you assume it actually is about making yourself useful, then being trained by someone else before you look for a partner is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Even something as simple as how to make tea isn’t that likely to carry over, and assuming that all dominant women take their tea the same way (or even that we all drink tea) is a good way to convince your prospective dom that you see her as female dominant seven of nine, not an individual human being.

Where things get complicated is when people try to sell themselves as service submissives when making themselves useful is really, really not the point of the kind of scene that they’re after.

To quote Mistress Matisse’s article “Slave Labour“:

Some folks try to turn what’s sexy for them into something of practical use to others, in an attempt to attract partners. This rarely works. My friend Jae has coined a not-very-complimentary generic term for the breed of man who does this: “the Panty-Washer type.” The name springs from dirty-underwear fetishists who try to persuade you that hand-laundering your lingerie should earn them sexual favors.

Another example of that type are the boys who’ll offer to, say, scrub your floor. Oh–did they mention they’d be doing it naked? And you will be standing over them, supervising and disciplining them the entire time? In full fetish gear? With a riding crop?

Guys, there is someone out there who wants to have that scene (possibly for $250 an hour, but that’s a separate post), but you are absolutely not going to find her by trying to convince people that this is a good way to get their floors clean. For fuck’s sake be honest about what you want. I mean, I’m not even particularly control oriented but the way Xiao Yingtai puts it is just hot:

But some of us irrational types like being constantly pushed further. We actually live for that state of desperation, we get a kick out of providing entertainment through our suffering. Or, at the very least, the boot on our necks.

Entertaining me by suffering for me? Yes please! Desperation? I’m all over that. Tell me about that if you want to play, not about how clean my house is (not, let’s be honest) going to be.

It turns out “training” actually does mean something after all. It’s still not my thing, but it makes me so happy to finally have any idea what people who like it are talking about.

Readers, are any of you into “training”? Has anybody else struggled to understand what that hell “training” even means?

Aug 032014
 

Or, let’s talk about different styles of topping and dominating. Broadly speaking I think of reaction vs control as styles of topping  and service vs obedience as styles of dominating, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be obedience based play or reaction based dominance.

Personally, I’m a reaction top. When I’m playing with someone, what makes it satisfying for me is hearing them moan or curse or fight to keep quiet (as long as they’re not too good at it), watching them struggle against their bonds or brace themselves and take it. I want to know they’re right there with me. While there’s something uniquely satisfying about biting someone really hard, in general if my bottom has a lower pain tolerance all that means is I have to do less work to get the reactions I want. I’m also less interested in using any particular implement than I am in getting a reaction. If my bottom loves canes (or love to hate canes), I’ll use those. If sting just makes them angry I’ll use thuddy toys instead.

Other people, at least from what I’ve heard on sites like Fetlife, are more interested in having control. For them a scene (as I understand it, please correct me in the comments if I’m out to lunch here), is more about getting to do exactly what they want and feeling completely in control than about messing around until they get a reaction. I think bondage would be especially satisfying for a control top because of the power it gives them to limit or remove their bottom’s ability to move. I’m also suspicious control tops are just more organized than I am – I’ve heard of people planning scenes out in great detail where I show up with some toys and wing it.

As much as I may be making it sound like control and reaction are opposite ends on a spectrum, there’s no small amount of overlap between them. Part of the fun of getting a reaction is that it makes me feel powerful and in control. I imagine control tops also enjoy getting just the reaction they wanted, they might enjoy being able to play their bottom like an instrument.

With dominance I believe there is a similar spectrum from service to obedience. Service (particular the spooky mindreading sort of anticipatory service my boyfriend is so good at) makes me feel loved, for other people that kind of service is just irritating. Giving orders doesn’t feel natural to me at all and I avoid doing it if I possibly can. Other people love knowing that their sub will drop what they’re doing and obey as soon as they’re given an order.

There’s overlap there too, of course. Just because I don’t usually like giving orders doesn’t mean I never want my bottom/sub to just do what he’s told. Even the most obedience-oriented dom may want their sub to carry out standing orders without being told or to take initiative when the dom is particularly busy.

This may sound like a lot of philosophical noodling, but imagine how a scene would go with a sub who wants to feel controlled and a top who wants to try some stuff and see what gets a good reaction. Nobody’s going to have any fun and they’re probably end the scene thinking the other one has no idea what they’re doing and is probably a jerk to boot. If you’re looking for a d/s relationship, it can be even worse. So many of those ‘well if you were a real dom/sub you would have _____” conversations could be avoided if people had a better handle on just how many wildly different things “dominant” or “submissive” can mean. I’m not always fantastic at this myself, but I think it’s worth asking ourselves if someone just has a different style before writing them off as not actually a dom/sub.

Readers, where do you fall on the reaction/control and service/obedience spectrums? Did I miss your style of dominance?

Jul 272014
 

This thread has some excellent advice for shy people who want to get into their local scenes, but it also reminded me of a couple of my pet peeves. While I applaud the original poster for wanting help overcoming his shyness so he can make friends in the scene and hopefully find a partner, it irritates the shit out of me when people conflate shyness and introversion and when they treat being introverted like it’s some kind of terrible flaw that must be overcome if you ever want to find a partner.

Introversion and shyness are not the same thing! Being an introvert just means that spending time with people tires you out and spending time alone recharges you. Note that there is nothing in that definition about being afraid of people, disliking people, or having poor social skills. Being shy, on the other hand, actually does mean that you’re uncomfortable around people, particularly strangers. It’s not unusual to be both shy and introverted, but that doesn’t make them the same thing. I happen to be both shy and introverted and the feeling of exhaustion I get after a busy week is very different from the feeling of anxiety I get before I have to spend time with a group of strangers.

That anxiety and the awkwardness I feel when I talk with people I don’t know well isn’t a good time or anything, but it’s not exactly ruining my life, either. If your shyness is ruining your life, it’s possible you have social anxiety disorder. Please, please, talk to your doctor if you have one and check out some of the resources online. Anxiety can be treated, you don’t have to spend your life afraid and alone.

Back on the subject of garden-variety shyness, sure, it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, but as personality flaws go it’s just not that bad.  It’s certainly less of a hurdle to finding a partner than being selfish, irresponsible, or thoughtless. Some doms think a bit of shyness is cute, and many of us like being given the opportunity to make the first move instead of being hunted down by someone we may not have any interest in.

As for a potential partner being an introvert, for me that’s an absolute necessity, not a flaw to work around. I have extraverted friends who are perfectly lovely people, but for a partner I need a fellow introvert. I need someone who understands my need to hide inside and not speak to anyone for little while after I go to a party, I need someone who won’t try to fill the house with people every chance they get, and I absolutely have to have a partner who can entertain himself when I’m trying to read (not that I’ve ever had terrible experiences with extraverts being unable to leave me alone for five minutes straight).

To bring that back around to kink, there is simply no level of kink-compatibility that would make me able to tolerate living with an extravert without getting resentful. Play is great and all, but it’s only one small part of a relationship. When I’m not playing, I still need to be able to be around my partner without wanting to smother him with a pillow.

You might not want an introverted partner, and you have every right not to, but if you think there’s anything wrong with introverts you can fuck right off.

Jul 202014
 

Lots of kinky people have heard the term subspace (if you haven’t, it’s the happy, floaty, blissed out state some bottoms can get into when they have a good scene), but it seems like fewer people have heard of top space.

For me, topspace is a relaxed but extremely focused state where everything inside my scene is fantastic and everything outside of it might as well not exist.  It feels like a type of flow state, but more altered, if that makes any sense. While my topspace isn’t quite as floaty and spaced out as I’ve heard subspace can be, I wouldn’t want to make any big decisions while I was in it. It feels really, really good but my judgement is definitely impaired when I’m in topspace.

If that sounds dangerous, it’s because it is. I can get so focused on landing the flogger exactly where I want it that I don’t realize just how close my bottom is to their limits. Fortunately I mostly play with people who are awesome at calling red when they need to so no harm was done, but since then I’ve been a lot more careful to stay focused on my bottom’s reactions when I feel myself slipping into topspace.

On the less dangerous and more funny side, a friend and I were once on the way home from a play party where we had both played and I got us completely lost by being too spaced out to navigate. All I needed to do was reverse the directions he had printed out to get us from my house to the party, but somehow I messed it up and we ended up driving around lost until we found some random people to ask for directions. Moral of the story: don’t play and navigate.

If you know you’re prone to getting into a spacey sort of topspace, I don’t think that means you’re an inherently dangerous top but I do think it’s important to know the signs that you’re getting into an altered state, and to correct for that by putting a little extra attention on your bottom. Personally I start feeling intensely relaxed, letting out happy sighs, and sometimes it seems like colours get brighter and my vision gets sharper. Being someone who has a lot of trouble really relaxing (not that tops are prone to being control freaks at all :), that intense relaxation can be so seductive that it’s hard to remember that I need to pay really close attention to what I’m doing.

Cautions aside, how do you get into topspace? For me, it’s easier to get there if I’m doing something rhythmic like flogging or whipping. Music seems to help too. And to go back to the flow state thing, it seems to work better if I’m doing something I really need to concentrate on. Flogging can get me there, but it doesn’t take the intensity of focus that using a whip does. I imagine needles or knives might do it too, but I still haven’t tried either of those.

What about you, readers? Do you go into topspace, and if you do what does it feel like? And if you have any tips for getting there I’d love to hear them.

Jul 132014
 

Some time ago now, I mentioned that dominant bottoms are a thing. I think it’s worth going into a little more detail about just what I was talking about, because that’s kind of an oxymoron for a lot of people.

First of all, credit where it’s due: I got the idea of human sexuality & kinky interests as a number of separate spectrums from Midori, who teaches fantastic classes and who you should definitely go see in person if you get a chance. She presented a really interesting class on the idea that if you were to graph any given person’s position on the spectrum of sexuality/kinkiness (because not everyone links sex and kink), you would need far more than just one axis for kinky/non-kinky and one for gay/straight. You would also need axes for interest in kink in general (don’t forget, there are plenty of kinks that don’t have to involve power exchange), interest in power exchange, interest in pain, interest in bondage, etc, etc. For example, a person might be could be very interested in giving pain, but that doesn’t mean they care at all about being in charge, and they might or might not have any interest in bondage.

To bring that back to the idea of dominant bottoms, there’s no reason that a person couldn’t be very interested in receiving pain, very interested in receiving bondage, and have no interest at all in actually giving up any control. That might seem completely contradictory if you’re stuck on the idea that actions have any inherent meaning, but if you can let that go it makes perfect sense. If, for example, a dominant woman with a masochistic streak orders her submissive to give her a spanking where and when she wants, exactly as hard as she wants, for only as long as she wants, she is clearly the one in charge. Receiving pain doesn’t magically make you submissive if you’re telling the person giving you pain exactly what to do, and giving pain doesn’t magically make you dominant if you’re doing exactly what your dominant tells you.

As long as everyone knows what they want and can express that, everything is great! But where things get complicated is where people don’t think through what it is that they really want. To use an example terribly common in the female dom community, if a dominant man with a fetish for bondage and pain play assumes that means he’s submissive, he’s going to irritate the shit out of every dominant woman he tries to order around and will probably end up lonely and frustrated because he can’t seem to find a “real” dominant woman. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person (although I do sincerely want to smack that guy upside the head and tell him to be honest about what he wants already), and it doesn’t mean that the doms who get fed up and dump him are bad people either, it just means that a lack of self awareness makes it really difficult to find good relationships.

To complicate things even more, it’s totally normal for even really submissive people to want to act out their fantasies just the way those fantasies have gone in their heads. I mean, would you go into a scene thinking “Oh, you know that thing I think about all the time? Let’s do a scene where we don’t do any of that!” I know I wouldn’t. Having a bit of a fixation on acting out a certain scene in just the right way doesn’t mean the person who wants to bottom to that scene can’t possibly be submissive, but it does mean they’re going to have to work harder to convince me they really are interested in my needs too.

If you’re a dominant bottom, great! Good on you for figuring out what you want and looking for people who are compatible with you. I might even be willing to service top you if we have compatible kinks and you can make it through a whole scene without trying to order me around. However, that only works if you know what you want. If you’re a dominant bottom who doesn’t know it or won’t admit it, well, it’s going to suck to be you until you figure your shit out. Best of luck with that!

Jul 062014
 

Not long ago I was chatting with some kinky friends and the subject of years of experience in the scene came up. Specifically, the way we give people more credit than they necessarily deserve just because they’ve hung around for a while. It’s absolutely normal to assume someone knows more than you do if they’ve been around for longer, but it’s also important to remember that just grimly sticking around does not make a person smarter than you, it doesn’t mean they’re amazing at everything, it doesn’t mean they know what’s right for you, and it doesn’t even mean that they’re good at much of anything. All it means is that they’ve stuck around.

Taking myself as an example, I’ve been part of the local scene for around seven years. Impressive, huh? Well, not so much. First of all, while I started showing up about seven years ago, that doesn’t mean I’ve been coming to events at all regularly. The organizer of those munches used to good naturedly tease me about how I would show up once a year and then go back into hibernation. Even after I started showing up to munches and parties more regularly, there were plenty of times where I was especially busy or just feeling anti-social and didn’t come to much of anything.

Not only does however many years of experience not tell you much at all about how many events someone has gone to, but it doesn’t tell you anything about how much they’ve been playing either. I played fairly regularly at parties for the first few years I was in the scene, then that tapered off for a while, then I started playing mostly privately, then I had another dry spell, and more recently I’ve been playing privately again. Even if I could come up with a rough estimate of how many scenes I’ve done, that wouldn’t tell you whether I’ve been learning from each scene or if I’ve been making the same mistakes over and over. It wouldn’t tell you how the people I’ve played with felt about the scenes we had, or whether I’ve been playing infrequently because I’m picky, shy, and kind of a dork or because I’m such an asshole that I can’t find people to play with.

Of course, having tons of play partners doesn’t necessarily mean much either. Pretty much any idiot can prey on new people who don’t know any better and look like the best thing since sliced bread unless/until they finally hurt someone who has friends and the house of cards comes down. Even having long term relationships doesn’t mean someone is a good person, let alone a good pervert. The whole birthday spankings at munches debacle in my local scene completely destroyed my respect for a number of people who have been part of the scene for longer than I’ve been living outside of my parents’ house and have had plenty of serious long term relationships.

If someone’s advice sounds reasonable to you, if you like the way they play or run their relationships and think something similar would work for you, by all means listen to them. But do not take anyone’s word as gospel just because they’ve been around longer than you have. Despite what some douchebags out there will tell you, you don’t owe any special treatment to people who have been in the scene for longer than you. If somebody wants you to hang on their every word, they can goddamn well earn it.

Jun 292014
 

Or, this one’s sure going to make me popular :D

First, definitions. In this context a ‘veto’ agreement is when polyamorous people (often a couple who’ve decided to open their relationship) agree that if they are uncomfortable with their partner’s new relationship, they can tell their partner to dump the new partner, who gets no say in the matter.

Vetos are for assholes. Why? Because secondaries are people! It is not okay to break some innocent person’s heart because you feel insecure. Isn’t the entire point of polyamory loving more than one person? Hurting people so you don’t have to face your demons is the opposite of loving. It’s cruel, and it’s cowardly. If you aren’t ready to work through jealousy and insecurity without treating people like they’re disposable, you’re not ready to explore polyamory. And there’s nothing wrong with not being ready! But if you’re not, admit that you’re not and don’t hurt yourself and others by pretending you are ready.

Cruelty to secondaries alone is plenty of proof that vetos are for assholes, but wait, there’s more!

Using a veto is also cruel to your primary partner. You know, that person you supposedly love and trust? How are they going to feel about having to suddenly dump their other partner? Putting a partner through a breakup so you don’t have to work on your insecurities is basically saying that if someone has to be in pain you want it to be them, not you. Again, how exactly is that a loving thing to do?

And if that doesn’t suck enough, like Mistress Matisse says in her article Poly Power of Veto, actually using a veto is going to damage your partner’s trust in you. Here they were thinking you two were partners in this poly adventure, and now they discover that you’d rather force them to dump their other partner than work through the underlying issue. They’re going to ask themselves whether you’re really supportive of them having other partners or if you’re just grudgingly tolerating it. They’re going to wonder what’s going to happen the next time they get really excited about someone, and they may even start to wonder if they ended the right relationship.

So not only are vetos cruel to secondaries, they’re cruel to primaries too.

They’re also harmful to the relationship. If you don’t trust your partner to take it extremely seriously if you came to them with a concern about one of their other partners, you have a much bigger problem than whatever your partner’s other partner is doing that makes you so unhappy. If you trust your partner and respect their judgement, why on earth would you need a special rule allow you to unilaterally end their relationship with someone else? I mean, would you ever in a million years consider making a rule that your partner can’t invite people who are openly rude to you to your shared home? No, anyone who would do that would undoubtedly be a terrible partner for a multitude of reasons, so there’s really no point making a special rule for someone you should just dump.

If you need to be able to end your partner’s other relationships to feel secure, you’re not ready for poly. Ending one relationship is just a bandaid on a larger problem, as Matisse also said in her article. Outside of situations where your partner’s other partner really is the problem – if that other partner is trying to disrupt your partner’s relationship with you or is constantly having crises that affect you and your partner’s lives, for example – the underlying problem is either your own insecurity or a weakness in your relationship. How is a veto going to fix that?

That’s a concept it took me a while to wrap my head around, so a non-poly example might help. Here is a quote from a ridiculous blog post titled My Husband Doesn’t Need to See Your Boobs:

When your bare shoulders and stretchmark-less bellies and tanned legs pop up, I not only worry if my husband will linger over your picture. I worry how he will compare me to you.

And then the insecurity monster comes back to bite at our relationship again…me, begging for affirmation, and him tiring from saying the same thing over and over.

Asking your partner for a little extra reassurance is absolutely fine, but asking complete strangers to change their behaviour (by not posting revealing pictures of themselves, if you couldn’t make it through that post) so that you don’t have to face your own insecurities is completely unreasonable. It’s also a total waste of time. Even if all conventionally attractive women did stop posting revealing photos, her insecurities would just find another target. Maybe she’d start worrying that her husband wishes she was a better cook, maybe she would worry that she’s not pious enough or doesn’t work hard enough. If nothing else she would, without a shadow of a doubt, start worrying about getting wrinkles and her husband wishing for a partner who didn’t have crows feet or smile lines. Then what? Would she start asking young women with smooth faces to cover those up too?

Just like a lack of boobs on social media wouldn’t do anything to fix this woman’s insecurities, kicking another partner out of your partner’s life won’t fix whatever you feel insecure about. The same problems will come up the next time your partner finds another partner, and the next, and the next, until you finally deal with the underlying problem or (more likely) the relationship crumbles under the strain. Even if the problem is that you’re just not poly (not everyone is!), it’s not the other partner who’s the problem, it’s you and your partner needing incompatible things.

So, vetos are cruel to secondaries, they’re cruel to primaries, and they don’t solve underlying problems. Like I said in the beginning, vetos are for assholes.

Jun 222014
 

One of many highlights of Westcoast Bound 2014 was the opportunity to personally thank Andrea Zanin for her amazing blog post the problem with polynormativity. I don’t currently identify as polyamorous, but I did dabble in it for a little while and got pretty badly burned. Andrea Zanin’s post (and interview with Cunning Minx on Polyamory Weekly) were really helpful to me. Finally, someone was saying that the way I was treated was not okay, that even if someone is ‘just a secondary’ they have the right to be treated like a human being.

One particularly interesting thing about that post is that it took over 200 comments before a secondary partner spoke up in favour of the polynormative model of a primary couple having a girlfriend or boyfriend on the side. Over 200 comments! Unfortunately I can’t link directly to that comment, but if you search the post for “Jennifer Storm – April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm” you’ll find it. Plenty of butthurt couples showed up to talk about what a big meany Andrea Zanin was for saying they should treat their secondaries like people, not toys who can be thrown out when they become inconvenient, but suspiciously few secondaries defended that model. That alone seems like a pretty strong sign something is badly wrong.

Franklin Veaux wrote an excellent post called A Proposed Secondary’s Bill of Rights, and Aggie wrote another great post called Non-primary partners tell: How to treat us well.

On the one hand it’s great to see people saying “Hey, non-primary partners are in fact people and actually do have feelings”, but on the other hand, to heavily rephrase a point Andrea Zanin already made in her post (which you read already, right? It’s awesome, go read it): what the fuck is wrong with us when we have to tell people to treat their non-primary partners with basic goddamn decency? Seriously, what kind of asshole has to be told that “protecting the couple” is not a good enough reason to treat a secondary partner like they’re disposable?

While not all kinky people are polyamorous (although there does seem to be quite a bit of overlap), there are plenty of us who play with people besides our partners and it’s worth thinking about how we treat those people. Not having sex with a play partner doesn’t mean it’s not still an intimate relationship, not so different from a secondary partner.

And if Andrea Zanin’s post makes you feel extremely defensive, then I hate to break it to you, but you just might be an asshole.