I recently sent a note over to W: “I have all these Draft posts and I am so overwhelmed, there is so much good in here but I don’t know where to start. Help?”
So he did, agreeing to assign me one Draft post at a time to work on (will probably end up being weekly-ish.) The fun part is that all he gets is the title, no context and no description, and he chooses which one base solely on that. This is the first one he assigned.
I’m not really sure how or where this essay came to my attention, and it doesn’t appear to be part of any larger body of journaling/blogging (if it’s yours and there is, please let me know) but after reading it I was inspired to create a Draft post with a few (minimal) notes…
- BDSM as higher communication, as infusing sex with greater connection
- Being able to communicate openly about the good and the bad in bdsm practice makes it a safe place to explore and learn about each other and to better fulfill each other’s desires in sex/bdsm and, ultimately in relationship
- Being able to listen/accept/discuss criticism (or simply re: commentary on) technique, what works, etc. is the mark of a good Top, not a weakness/not topping from the bottom
I’m not really sure I understand a lot of what the author was saying in the original essay; much of the language is esoteric and difficult to decipher (to me, others are probably smarter than I.) And I am not sure where exactly I was going with my notes, either, but I know what this inspires in me to write about now, so that’s what we’ll have to go with.
I think a lot about communication. As the cliche goes, “Communication, communication, communication…” Ultimately, however, it’s not a cliche, but the bald truth. If you cannot communicate with yourself honestly, you can’t hope to communicate with others effectively. If you can’t find your way to communicating your needs, desires, feelings and fears to your other(s), then how can you hope to have a relationship that meets your needs?
In BDSM, as a bottom or submissive, if you aren’t communicating your needs with your D-type, then how can they know what is working and what isn’t? If relationship is the ultimate goal, then wanting both sides to have their needs met is essential, and most of the Tops that I have respect for acknowledge that. Wanting to be sure that their submissive’s/bottom’s/property’s needs are met is not a service that are doing for the s-type, but a function of creating a relationship that will be strong and last. Even in those relationships in which it seems to be all about the Top’s needs and wants being fulfilled to the seeming denial of the submissve’s, I would argue that, if the relationship is a long-lasting one or will be, the Top has ascertained that that dynamic does, indeed, fulfill their bottom’s needs, even if it seems that those needs are to have their needs subsumed and overridden by the Top’s. At some point, communication had to occur to establish that fact, and, in fact needs to continue to occur. What that communication looks like to an outsider, how that communication occurs, is entirely up to the participants themselves, but it has to occur in some fashion.
This communication does not equal “topping from the bottom” or any other such nonsense. As I said in this post (in not that exact phrase, but I believe my meaning was clear), a relationship requires communication on both sides. Sure, you can have a “thou shalt not speak unless spoken to,” “Thou shalt never question thy Top” dynamic for a scene, or even longer, but eventually, if it’s going to last and be healthy, communication’s gotta happen. And being open to that communication, even when it isn’t comfortable to hear, is the mark of a good Top (or anyone, really. It’s a marker for all good relationships, between friends, family, lovers, coworkers.) And really, the bottom line on topping from the bottom is that manipulation of the scene or top on the part of the bottom is only possible if the Top allows it, either because he/she chooses to, or because he/she just doesn’t realize they’re being manipulated. In which case…well, I’m not too sympathetic to the Top. Own your own shit, yanno?
In our relationship, and in most that I would consider healthy BDSM dynamics, the bottom is required to communicate as honestly as possible, and not doing so is considered an abrogation of her responsibility in the relationship. Actually, for the most part, W doesn’t need to dictate that. I vomit at all out with little-to-no encouragement. But I know that he appreciates that I am open about my needs, because, ultimately, what his end goal is is to have a long, healthy relationship, and that can only happen if he knows how to craft that relationship, where to steer it, how to make it flourish.
That means that sometimes I say, “This isn’t working.” That means that I feel safe enough within our relationship to be able to say that. And it gives him the same sense of safety, as it does Ad, in terms of how our relationship works on a broader scale.
It also means that we are able to discover and explore places that we might not have had the courage to in other relationships. It makes our relationship better emotionally, but it also makes the sex hotter, because we know what works with the other. We know all the little nooks and crannies, or are willing to delve into them without fear of reprisal. So in that way, yes, I believe that BDSM – because there is so much discussion and communication inherent in it to make it work – does in fact make the sex better. We do have a greater sense of connection, through the communication we share via BDSM. That’s not to say that vanilla relationships don’t have that level of communication, just that mine, personally, did not. It was not until I entered this world that I was truly able to feel safe in communicating so completely, and in being communicated with. I crave their honesty (even the hard things) because it is then, when they do tell me those things, that I know they feel safe as well. Knowing that I can provide that for my Guys, as they do me, is a wonderful feeling and what, in my opinion, relationship is all about.
To read the entire essay, go here: Open Hand Slap