Summer is convention season. People keep telling me they can’t meet up because they’re going to be at hotels, camps or tea parties.
So I’ve been looking through BDSM class lists to see what I’m missing. And I was really struck by the SELF 19 intensives, because wow, more than half of them were for subs.
Then I was struck all over again by the fact that most of those classes were no use to me.
Bootblack mentoring? Littles’ day camp? Household management? Servants’ body language sounds intriguing – but my aim is not to imitate a four-star waitress.
Something is not right here. I am an utterly garden-variety straight female submissive. Mostly an emotional masochist, but that just gives me a way to process a lot of kinks: pain, obedience, bondage, even some service. No classes for me means no classes for most of us down here.
Do community leaders think we have nothing to learn? Where are all the classes I want?
- Pain Processing for Masochists
- Biology for Bottoms
- Relearning Servility
- Staying Safe
- Where Are My Limits?
- Peace Conventions for the Brain
- When Should I Get Out?
1. Pain Processing for Masochists
Apparently there are all kinds of mental techniques for managing pain. Visualisation, breathing, dispersion, storage, and more.
I imagine that some of these techniques are more fun for a top to watch than others. And probably not all of them are equally good for [cough] enhancing our experience.
I need to know this stuff. So I read Submissive Guide on pain processing. But I also need to practise! How?
2. Biology for Bottoms
Did you take Advil, ibuprofen or aspirin before the scene? You might want to tell your top.
I won’t even get into the breath play debate. Gave up on that one after talking to two doctor friends.
What else should we know? I don’t know!
3. Relearning Servility
Modern Western culture frowns on it. So I’m sure I’m not the only one who has spent decades trying not to act too submissive.
But now I want to, and I don’t quite know how.
You would think this crushing uncertainty would facilitate less-than-dominant behaviour. But in fact blundering around and freezing up have limited novelty value. And they’re no use at all when you want to tell a dom, respectfully, that something is Very Wrong.
I want confidence in my ability to please. I want grace under fire. Bring back charm school, dammit!
Edit: And not just for service types!
4. Staying Safe
I’ve never heard a 101 instructor mention the Predator Alert Tool for FetLife, let alone how to interpret the spam in the database. And nobody tells you that victims who speak up attract yet another kind of authentic-looking spam.
And essays are not enough. As Mollena Williams tells us, it’s really hard to translate this kind of knowledge from words into reality. Especially when your gonads are firing. We need this class yesterday.
I guess some tops would get defensive. LET THEM BEAT CAKE.
5. Where Are My Limits?
I always cringe a little when doms joke about the sub who tells them upfront that they’re not into scat. “Nobody’s going to assume you’re into scat!” they chuckle.
But once upon a time I didn’t know that. I still don’t know what you need to know about me.
And that’s because I don’t know what you expect. We are so busy embracing diversity in our 101 classes that we don’t tell newcomers about the assumptions they will inevitably encounter. Self-deception is not the way.
Maybe negotiation classes cover this. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t been able to get to any of them.
6. Peace Conventions for the Brain
It’s practically the definition of kink that some part of us is shouting, “Yes yes yes!” while another part is screaming, “No no no!” Neurologically speaking, all brains have multiple personality disorder, but the factional divide in a kinkster’s head is off the charts.
And if you don’t stabilise your internal politics somehow, it doesn’t matter how good the scene is. You’ll end up hating someone afterwards – yourself or your top – and in either case it’s not fair.
Yes, aftercare helps. And sometimes it doesn’t. It would be nice to need less of it, right?
I have never seen a class on sorting out your head. But I have learnt so much from four months of blogging that I know exposure and discussion helps. And if it worked for me, why not for others?
Edit: Lee Harrington has an advanced class on this. Why? Beginners are the ones who need it most!
7. When Should I Get Out?
A lot of the relationship advice given to slaves and 24/7 subs is, essentially, to suck it up (FetLife login required).
If it’s worth it, then I say go for it. But when do we stop sucking it up?
Raven Kaldera has told his slave to get out in the event of insanity (Dear Raven and Joshua, p. 152). Most of us want an earlier breaking point.
I know it’s going to be different for everyone. But if I’d had some help setting a minimum standard ahead of time, maybe I could have saved myself seven years of tears, rage and declining health.
david stein has written that slaves need to be ruthlessly selfish about getting slave needs met. I wish I had realised that goes for subs too, at least this one.
Why This Gap?
I know some of these classes are already being offered. Our pedagogical neglect is not total. But it’s still pretty overwhelming, especially after the 101 level but before you start going to conventions.
What are they thinking?
- Subs don’t need to know anything?
- Subs can learn from their own doms?
- Subs can just attend classes for doms?
I tell you three times, this is not true.
a. Yes, tops are the ones who have to know which parts of us don’t mix with violet wands. But we are the ones who have to know what nerve damage feels like.
b. I am not content to take the chance that every top knows how to explain stuff they don’t experience.
c. Frankly, I wish I could unlearn some of what I know from attending classes for doms. I’m probably harder to mindfuck now.
It’s true that ignorance is much more dangerous to your partner if you’re a top. But painful experience has taught me that my ignorance is pretty dangerous to me, too. And if I want anyone to value my consent, I have to own the responsibility for looking out for number one.
I refuse to believe that we cannot learn from those who have gone before us.