Like everyone else. I feel.like.shit. And you can’t take the good cold meds when you’re pregnant. DAMMIT SCIENCE!! CATCH UP TO MY NEEDS!!!
In honour of Halloween, Jezebel posted a moderately interested article that touches on the Victorian era’s conflicted feelings around The New Woman. The piece itself reads like a university student essay, but the subject itself isn’t really the characters in the book, or even the shifting role of women in the Victorian era. The true subject of the piece, as has been the case every day since, is the shifting role of women in Western culture, and the difficulty and confusion it breeds in some men.
For some heterosexual cismale partners, it’s hard to figure out what’s asked of them nowadays. Do you open the door for a lady? Do you hold her things? Is that insulting? Does she want that? How can you possibly know?
I often wonder if people like this shouldn’t be more involved in BDSM. In The Scene, you’re taught to over communicate you needs; everything should be discussed, negotiated, explored ad infinitim, until everyone is on the same page about expectations and goals, whether of a particular scene, or for an ongoing dynamic. When someone says on their Fetlife profile that they’re looking for a 1950’s Household, you can be pretty sure that it’s a good time to ask about holding those doors for the lass. But, what if she’s a Dominatrix, you may ask. Does a Domme want someone to hold a door for her? Bring her flowers? Surely, if she’s so dominant and independent, she would look down on those things. And the answer, which sent poor Bram Stoker into paroxysms of confusion and anger around the New Woman, is: you gotta ask. That’s where the communication comes in.
I have a very hard time around this with my husband. It probably sounds like the standard wifely complaint, but he doesn’t bring me flowers. I don’t mean recently, I mean in YEARS. I’ve asked, but frankly, no one wants to continually nag their partner for what they want; after a while, you just let it go and focus on things that actually keep life chugging along. He refuses to do anything for Valentine’s Day, because he claims it’s one big marketing ploy. I could pull the Big Bad Domme card and tell him that he WILL go out and buy me flowers and chocolate, but the fact is, I don’t really know whether that’s what I want, and strangely enough, I don’t even know how to communicate it.
While the woman of today is leaps and bounds beyond Stoker’s New Woman (yay, the vote!), I look back and think that most girls and boys are raised in a sort of “half way” style; neither New, nor Old. Ladies, you should want to be an equal earner, and men, you should support this, is almost the length and depth of the social discussion we have on gender roles in the West. But that sort of non-communicative, you-should-just-know-what-to-do mentality is problematic… or at least, for me. When I married my husband, I didn’t know I was a dominant woman. Sure, I liked being in charge of some things, and I’m certainly no wilting flower when it came to verbal altercations, but I know gobs of submissives like that. Submissive does not equal doormat, by any stretch of the imagination. But my perspective on life, on who I am and what I want, began to change over the years. There were some subtle shifts and some massive cracks and realignments in my core, and gradually, like the end of an earth quake, I just looked around and realised that I was no longer the same woman who walked down the aisle to meet my partner. So, who am I now? What do I need? And just as importantly, how do I communicate those new needs to my partner, and does he know how to listen?
Sadly for us and our marriage, the answer to the last two questions is, “I don’t know,” and “no, he doesn’t.” Don’t get me wrong; my husband is a wonderful person and a fantastic father, and when we decided to open our marriage, it was a completely mutual agreement and he has never resented me having additional partners. He is a wonderful man, and I will love him forever… but we weren’t really raised to communicate. We entered into a marriage on certain grounds, and those are the grounds to which I think he clings, even by his fingertips. Maybe I never learned how to really communicate, until it was too late. Maybe he never learned how to listen. Maybe the world is too new, even for us. But, I kinda can’t help but think that the New Woman of whom Bram Stoker was so scared is still stuck with one leg in the Victorian era. No woman, or man, can ever really independent and their own truly realised authentic self, as long as society tells us, “shhhhh…. don’t raise uncomfortable conversations around roles. When in doubt, just get confused and angry.”
Because in 100 years, that’s as far as we’ve managed to get.
Sometimes, you put on your latex and heels, slap on your lipstick, walk into a dungeon with a client who is begging for your attention, and you own the fucking room. Other times, you put on your lipstick because you need to get yourself into that headspace; because otherwise, you would much rather be home watching tv and eating popcorn. And sometimes, if you get really lucky, you get a client or two who actually rescues you from your daily life. That’s my Sweet Little S.
Client S is a CD, or cross dresser. He’s biologically male, but will always in my mind be female, as that’s how she presents when we chat and email. She has my personal cell phone number. I know a bit about her personal life and job. We’re never going to come home and braid each other’s hair, but it’s not nearly as clinical as some of the other clients I see.
When I’m with S, my entire world drops away. She gets so into her scenes, so desperately wants to submit, wants to allow all power to be stripped away and is so happy when it happens, that it’s hard not to share her enthusiasm. It’s a bit like taking a kid into a toy shop and telling them, “Sure, anything you like, it’s yours.” Her focus is my focus, and it spurs me to want to be a better Dominatrix. But more than that, she’s an escape for me. Some people knit, others write, and still more go out shopping and wrack up credit card debt. Me? I tie my Sweet S to a piece of equipment and alternate between soft touches, and brutal, painful control.
Sweet S came to me via Fetlife, like many new clients. She had never seen a Domme before, and certainly not a professional. We chatted for weeks, and I met her at a café prior to any sessions, as it my typical protocol. She presented in male attire, consistent with her biology. What struck me though, was how absolutely polite, verging on reverential, she was. Kind, sweet, open, honest; the type of person you almost want to protect to make sure they don’t get eaten alive by the rest of the world. The first time we played, she was dressed as S; presenting in her female garb. And there’s something… arousing… for me in the contrast between how society demands that a man dress, and how a cross dresser presents. When people say they experienced their sexuality at a young age, I think back and know that one of my first pre-sexual arousing moments was wondering what a man would look like in a dress. With S, I skim my fingers up her skirt and I know exactly what I am going to find. She resists, but it’s a token; I’m always checking in with her on her breathing and reminding her that her safe word is an option. She’s never used it. She wants everything done to her that I can do. She wants me to explore and play, but most of all, she wants me to be myself. My truest, darkest, deepest self, and in that way it’s a bit of therapy for us, both. She pays me to let her dress as a woman, and to arouse her in a variety of ways. She’s a part of herself with me that she cannot be when the lights are on and the world is watching. But then, so am I. I’m the Dominatrix who will tie her to a bed, tease her, bite her, beat her until she’s breathless… and that’s not something society wants to see from a pregnant soccer mom.
I have nobody in my “vanilla life” with whom I can be so dark, and nobody in my kink life with whom I feel I can be truly vulnerable. S may be the closest I ever get. When her blindfold is on, she can’t see how grateful I am to have clients like her in my life.
Most days, my biggest concern is making sure the other moms don’t see my strap on when they swing by to drop off the kids. You worry that you’ve hidden all the vet wrap, or that your kid doesn’t pull out a flogger and yell “ISS MY OCTOPUS!!!!” as he runs around flailing it in the hall. Most days, that’s your biggest fear.
Until the mortgage company comes a’calling. See, as un-dommely as I may sound, I actually can’t handle everything myself. At the end of the day, no matter how much leather or latex you have in your closet, you’re still a full time mom with a full time job, and a side business that you’re trying to start up. So you can’t handle everything, and you rely on your partner to keep trucking along with what they’ve been doing. That was my husband. For the past 3 years, he’s been managing the mortgage and house-related expenses. Until 3 months ago. Three months ago, he suddenly stopped paying the mortgage on our old house without telling me. It wasn’t until we began getting collection calls at our new place that I got concerned and followed up. I thought it was a scam; someone calling, trying to get my personal information. Just to prep myself, I sent my darling husband a text:
“Hey babe! Have the mortgage payments been going through?”
Him: “No idea.”
Me: “Wait, WHAT?”
Him: “I thought you were handling this.”
…the details are unimportant. What matters is, when you love and trust someone, and they let you down in one of the most profound ways possible, it sends you into shock. As a Domme, I’m used to watching people get close to physical shock from what I do. I can hold them on the edge of pleasure or pain for as long as we both want… but when your world, your VANILLA world, threatens to teeter on the edge of collapse, you have no place to turn. It doesn’t matter how many safe words you have, because this isn’t a scene, and your trust has been well and truly violated. As mine was. Had he gone out and fucked a girl from The Scene, then turned around and said, “Honey, I am deeply sorry and it will never happen again,” I would have cried, but we would have worked it through together. But this was a violation so deep…
Him: “I thought you were handling this.”
No, you didn’t. You got bored of handling it yourself, and you banked on the fact that I would come in at the last minute and save the day. I would take control, because that’s what I do.
But the difference here is, while I may do it in a scene with a client, this was not negotiated, and this is without my consent. This is yet one more thing I HAVE to take control over, because I have no choice. Because without the dommely side of me, it just all falls down.