Semantics and Stubbornness

April 11th, 2013

Once more, with feeling. Two humiliation play classes, one emotional masochism class, several blog posts, several more emails, and various verbal discussions. And it is still on my mind. Well, let’s get it out here and see if I can reach any conclusions today.

Objectification – “the treatment of a human being as a thing, disregarding his/her personality or sentience. Sexual objectification – the practice of regarding or treating another person merely as an instrument (object) towards one’s sexual pleasure.” (Wikipedia)

Objectification in play, can have two different formats. You can be used as an object – a lamp, furniture, a sex toy. Or you can be treated as a thing with no regard, or even disdain, for your personality, sentience or worth. These are two very different things. The first, being used, for me, is not at all humiliating, or degrading, though it could be for others. Being used is something I rather enjoy. The latter is specifically about humiliation and degradation, something I am struggling to define my interest in. First, we get into the semantics of those words.

“Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is an emotion felt by a person whose social status has just decreased.” (Wikipedia) “Erotic Humiliation is the consensual use of psychological humiliation in a sexual context, whereby one person gains arousal or erotic excitement from the powerful emotions of being humiliated and demeaned, or of humiliating another.” (Wikipedia) “To reduce to a lower position in one’s own eyes or others’ eyes.” (Merriam Webster)

Degradation – “decline to a low, destitute, or demoralized state” (Merriam Webster), or “the process of deterioration of characteristics of an object with time” (Wikipedia), or “treat or regard (someone) with contempt or disrespect.” (Google)

Basically, as a form of play, these are about bringing someone low, treating them and making them feel like something less than they are. (Yes, yes, you can’t ‘make’ anyone feel anything, how about, creating an environment that encourages them to feel that way?) I looked these up and provided the definitions I found, because I was having trouble in my own head, with my own understanding of the terms. Humiliation is feeling bad about yourself, your actions, your thoughts, your desires. Degradation is being torn down. Degradation is generally humiliating, but humiliation doesn’t have to be caused by degradation. The two do go fairly well hand in hand.

So, why are these things stuck on my brain? We tried it, it went horribly wrong. And we eventually figured out the problem: I was not fully separating self from scene. I am a writer and my own worst critic. I am a perfectionist and cannot stand failures in myself. It seems like playing with humiliation and degradation would be a bad idea. But I am a(n emotional) masochist and I’m stubborn. I don’t even like failing at failing. (No, that isn’t called succeeding.) I enjoy being beaten to a pulp, physically and mentally. I find it cathartic and stress-relieving.

So, I keep coming back to – okay, so you want to play rough? How can you do it safely? Which seems counter-intuitive right off the bat. ‘Can’t do that.’ ‘Too dangerous to self and relationship.’ ‘Why would you want to feel like that?’ And on and on. Is it just a case of wanting is not so pleasing a thing as having? Is it like the interrogation scene? What I really want is the challenge and this is the easiest way to label it? Probably. I love being challenged, mentally and physically. (Hmmm, what kinds of other mentally challenging play could I do?)

I’ve also gotten a recent inkling of kink as ritual ordeal, to come out the other side stronger. And this definitely seems like something that would be good for me – to face all the negative feelings about myself and come out the other side knowing that those feelings are false and wrong. (Not to mention that I should really get better at dealing with and accepting failure.) I am working to become stronger and more independent than ever before, and so this idea appeals to me on a personal growth level.

There we have it. A much better exploration of where my head is at with all this than I’ve managed in quite a while. Hurray for having my head back on straight again. 🙂

Share

What I Learned About Humiliation Play

February 7th, 2013

One of the first things they talked about was the different levels of humiliation play. You could play lightly with being shy, or a little harder into embarrassment, or harder still into shame, or further into degradation, or go all the way into objectification. Or you could run up and down the ladder in one scene. The first couple are about things you’re doing – shy about talking about sex, or embarrassed by being naked in public. In shame, you’re digging more into the person, the brain – feeling like a bad person for what you’re doing, or that you’re enjoying what you’re doing. Degradation is deeper tearing down of a person – being Told you’re a bad person, or a slut, or worthless. Then, you can get all the way to objectification – being treated like an object, with no rights, no voice, no humanity – you have become a piece of furniture, a thing to be used, or not worth using.

The next thing he talked about was how to create these scenes. How to find things you can humiliate a person about. Mostly here, he talked about conversations, and reading body language. If a person’s eyes dart away and back, or they blush or bite their lower lip. This could be something to play with. You can also tell what level of humiliation they are at by body language. When a person reaches shame, the eyes tend to stay down, and the body language turns away. Degradation and objectification lead to even more closed and small body language. He also talked about it being important, once you start down this road, to not let up or balk at the first sign of resistance. The bottom/sub generally wants a strong top/dom, not someone who is going to back down at the first argument or tear.

The third most important thing, in my opinion, that was discussed was reconciliation after the scene. You have to both recover from a humiliation scene, and it can be a lot more mentally taxing than other types of scenes. Some pretty horrible things can be said and felt. It is of utmost importance to remember that you love each other and that you played that way because you both enjoy it, and it gives you pleasure. You also have to figure out what kind of aftercare you require beyond these reminders. In the class, he said he has to leave her alone for 20-30 minutes because she reacts in anger, and has to come down from there on her own. For me, I need verbal reassurance and physical connection. Chocolate is never a bad idea either. 😉

Share

Rape Culture Rant

October 11th, 2012

Some unusual (for me) conversations this week. It started on Monday, when I was accused of making light of rape culture and slut shaming because I was joking about my rape fantasies. Having never heard the term “slut shaming,” I gave the person opportunity to explain it to me, and after a bit of agreeing that society is full of stupid people, we let the matter drop. Tuesday there was a discussion about the differences in age of consent and what actually qualifies as statutory rape, and the double standard between men and women. Yesterday, there were conversations about gender inequality, repression of women, sexism and dressing sexy. I say unusual conversations, because I’m not a particularly politically active person. These are not the types of discussions I normally get into, I’m not a great debater of social issues. I generally think society can go fuck itself, and I stick to having friends who are not idiots. But with all the discussions, and some of the stupidity this week, I am feeling a bit ranty.

Let me start at the top and work my way down. I tend to avoid discussing rape fantasies in public. The horrible reality of rape is a dividing line for many people. Some of us have the fantasies, others find it unthinkable. For me, it took me a long time to admit to having the fantasies. It felt shameful, wrong and terribly inappropriate. But they were there, from my earliest fantasizing, they’ve always been there. To deny them, is to deny a part of myself. Coming to be a part of this community, has involved a lot of getting to know myself and getting comfortable with myself. Learning to stop denying who I am and what I like. And I still find it hard to admit at times. But Monday, I felt I was in a safe place, and was a little offended by the accusation that I didn’t take the issues of rape culture and slut shaming seriously just because I was talking about my rape fantasies. They are power exchange fantasies, not an actual desire to be violently violated by a stranger. And certainly nothing that supports sexual violence against anyone.

So, let’s move on to those things. UpsettingRapeCulture.com defines rape culture this way: In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

I take very seriously, the problem of sexual violence, and find it abhorrent that even some of our laws are written in a way that casts blame on the victims. That “she was asking for it” is ever an acceptable response to rape, is disgusting. That not only men, but some women believe that we shouldn’t wear short skirts, because that only tempts men to rape us or exploit us, is insane. That’s going down another point that I’ll catch back up to later. The point for now, being that rape is one of, if not The most horrible crimes a person can commit upon another person, and it’s terrible that society as is stands, generally accepts inappropriate sexual advances as normal. That sexual violence of any kind is acceptable, is something we seriously need to change if we ever hope to be an evolved and enlightened society.

The FinallyFeminism101 blog defines slut shaming this way: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings.

This concept is not new to me, Americans live in a society that was founded by Puritans. Women are socialized to be chaste virgins until they marry, and then be faithful to that man forever. Naming the problem slut shaming or bashing, seems to me, to only perpetuate the problem, but then, that’s a matter of linguistics, and focus. We are socialized to be ashamed of our sexuality, I am still fighting my way past that ingrown shame. And negative comments only make it all that much harder. But it’s once again a matter of being able to say fuck society, I am strong, and healthy and my desires are natural. This is not an easy thing to do, but we in the kink community do it all the time. This is just one more step, don’t make it harder for those around you, just because you’re jealous of their confidence or partners. And if you see others doing it, stand up for each other, show them how strong, confident and sexy we really are.

So, age of consent and statutory rape. The discussion Tuesday began with a relationship between a 17 year old boy and his 27 year old teacher. Obviously, a pairing that violates the ethical code of said teacher’s contract, and all the things that go along with it. In whatever state this was, the age of consent is 16, and the parents of the boy approved of the relationship. However, the teacher was still being charged with rape, among the other counts against her. It was the general consensus that some case-by-case common sense should be shown and the rape charged left out of the legal proceedings. The conversation then moved on to a discussion of the double standard that older teenaged boys don’t need protection against older women, but girls of the same age need protection from older men.

As I understand it, every state sets their own age of consent, to me, this is the first problem. As I said, I’m not big on politics, but it seems to me that a national standard would serve everyone better than a different standard every few hundred miles. Some common sense wouldn’t hurt in setting it either. High-schoolers having sex with each other, in many states could lead to a rape charge and that person will be stuck on the sex offenders registry. I’m not even going to pretend I have the answer, or the perfect age, or the right rules for this, but it just seems something we ought to be consistent about. And I think, once we figure out what age we are all comfortable with, consent should matter. Charge the teacher with breach of contract, take her license, whatever, but if the 17 year old is old enough to consent to sex with her, do Not charge her with rape. And, as a woman, who honestly feels that women biologically mature faster than men, let’s not have a double standard for consent. If a 16 year old boy can consent to sex, you better believe a 16 year old girl has the same ability. But girls need protected from predatory men? Then prosecute them for rape if she’s said no and he didn’t stop. Protect them from the predators, but not from their own freedom of choice.

On to the last bit, the wearing of sexy clothing and the objectification and exploitation of women by sexist men. Dude(tte), you need to get out more. A lot of women wear sexy clothing because they want to, because it makes them feel good. Because they enjoy receiving compliments from men who appreciate their beauty. None of this means that the woman is objectifying herself, or that the men giving the compliments are objectifying her. It is about feeling good about yourself, and loving yourself, and not being afraid to be who you are, if that’s a sexy girl in skin tight latex, or a stunning woman in a business suit. If you’re only being viewed as an object, you need to get new friends, get out in the community where the delicious mind is appreciated inside every body. The enjoyment of sexy clothes does not detract from the desire for intelligent conversation. Yes, there are sexist assholes in the community, too, they’re everywhere, but we don’t put up with them for as long as the general public. Deciding that women should wear long skirts so that men aren’t tempted, is sexist in both directions – repression of a woman’s choices and sexuality, and lack of faith in men.

Part of these conversations came out of discussion of women in the media, on tv, video games, movies and the like. And some of that is a problem, when the woman is only there to be pretty and do nothing else. To be the damsel in distress who must be rescued, because only men can do things in life. Yes, this is a problem, so don’t watch those shows, don’t go to those movies, don’t support those products. Watch the ones with strong female characters, buy the DVDs with the intelligent men and women working together to save the day. Buy the products that show women as powerful. But judging a show by how a character is dressed, and not by how she acts/is presented, is just sexist. Isn’t that what you accuse men of doing?

Share