Friday, 8 July 2011

Feminism & Freedom - Public Service Announcement

Selfishness is not living as you wish it is asking others to live as you wish. Oscar Wilde.

You know, the point about consensual non-consent, is that it's consensual. It's a choice made by someone who is capable and informed, or it's not consent at all.

I don't need rescuing: really, I don't. I have never been happier in my life. I am more free and more loved and accepted for who I am than I have ever been before. And I don't take too kindly to being told that I should break my word to my partner just because someone else is not comfortable with my decisions about how I live my life.

Feminism is about freedom for women; freedom to choose. Not to choose from a limited selection of options which someone else thinks are good for you. It is not about replacing the tyranny of one group for another.

The choices, freely and cognisantly, made by one woman do not damage the rights of the rest to freedom and equality. Your attempts to dictate what choices she may or may not make, however, do.

What you need to understand is that, yes, I choose a specific asymmetry in my personal relationship, a power imbalance, but the fact remains that it is not, for us, in any way gender based. For the record, I find the whole male supremacy, head of household thing rather off-putting too. He is not the dominant one because he is male, and I the submissive as an inherent part of my femaleness, but because of our natural leanings and desires.

We are what we are because that is who we are. And it is affirming, empowering and good for each of us.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Stand by your man?

Nothing to do with it being hard to be a woman... but rather because it's hard to be a man.

Its clear to me that we are living in a world where it is increasingly hard to be a man. And when I say 'a man', I mean no small thing by it. Kipling wasn't referring to having a pair when he said, 'You'll be a man, my son.' Being a man, a real man if you will, is a tall order and not everyone born male achieves it.

We are born male. We must learn to be men. Remember strength is a force. It is an attribute of the heart. Its opposite is not weakness and fear, but confusion, lack of clarity, and lack of sound intention. If you are able to discern the path with heart and follow it even when at the moment it seems wrong, then, and only then, are you strong. Kent Nerburn, American Author in Letters to my son: A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Life and Love.

It seems that everywhere I look the idea of manhood is being undermined. Men in advertisments and tv programmes are useless, feckless idiots, women seem to routinely, if humorously, put their men down in knowing, eye-rolling exchanges of banter at social functions, loudly proclaiming their position as the assertive, strong and capable woman without whom the whole of family life would collapse in ruins, and their man would certainly never manage to make it out of the house in matching socks of a morning without her to sort him out.

Surely, the chances of a man surviving socially, professionally or privately if he spoke this way of his or any other woman are pretty slim, so why is it okay when she does?

Now I do know that much of this is fun or 'just what you do' and no harm is meant but I do think that some harm is done. This sort of pervasive view is emasculating our men and making it yet more difficult for them to know what they are meant to be to us, and what they are meant to model for their sons. In other words, how to be a man.

Clearly there is an adjustment going on for men as the pendulum swings away from patriarchy and male domination (pardon the irony please) of the world and of women. The old models and patterns are gone and new ones are emerging but they are not clear, not fully formed. Some men seem to have an instinct, some inherent ability to find their own answer, and they are the ones that stand out, head and shoulders above the rest; the ones who inspire and draw others. They seeminly have some inner compass that leads them and some quality that sustains them.

I was fortunate in being the daughter of a truly admirable man. One who knew precisely what it meant to be a man in every sense of the word and in all the roles his life required of him. He had learned the trick of being able 'to walk with kings, nor lose the common touch'. He never let a day go by without telling my mother that he loved her and thought she was beautiful and desireable. His colleagues both liked and respected him for his hard work and not-inconsiderable achievements and his brothers and friends loved him as we all did for his loyalty and generosity of spirit. His daughters knew they were safe and loved. He let us be tomboys and taught us to climb trees but let us know that as women we were worthy of his care and regard too. However one of the greatest of his gifts to us was that he showed us how to be happy; and he was - with his life, his achievements, his family and the world around him which still held surprises and delights to discover, enjoy and share with those he loved.

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthod. (Rachel Carson, American Conservationist)

Of course, there is another notable and special man in my life and oddly (or perhaps not) he has a good deal in common with the first. He is one of these men who apparently doesn't have to work at it; who is entirely comfortable in his skin, in his life and his choices. He doesn't have to flaunt his strength, and certainly not his dominance, and he has the confidence and self-possession to be able to risk being vulnerable. He is enough of a man not to be afraid of being gentle and sensitive and intuitive.

Interestingly both of these men lost their fathers early. But they both seem to have that inner sense or personal lodestone that led them to be the men that they are; without the influence of fathers who were there to guide them through the difficult transition from boy to man. But they both managed it and became remarkable men. Which is what makes me think that there are some who are destined to be great men from the start but also gives me hope for the men of the future that they can and will find new paradigms for what it means to be a man.

And as it happens, I think they both had the help of at least one amazing woman in their lives; which brings me to my point. Whilst the men in our lives seek new paths to manhood, women have a choice to help or hinder. We can use past inequality and oppression as an excuse and use this difficult time as an opportunity to extract petty revenges. Or we can do things differently (I might even say bringing a feminine perspective to the challenge of a world of equal opportunity and mutual respect) and help to shape the new masculine paradigms and support each of the men in our lives in being the best man they can be.

Mine may not need my help in getting there but he can rely on me not trying to drag him back down or attempt to undermine him. Just possibly knowing that he can trust me to stand by him and am prepared to openly show that I value and respect his masculinity might turn out to help in some way: I hope so.

Whatever happens, as a new equilibrium is found, the special men in my life have taught me one thing - that some things don't and won't change.

The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Meng ko, Chinese philosopher)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Just who is the control freak around here?

I've come to the conclusion that it's not Him, it's me!

Yes, he's in control. Yes, he loves to be in control. But, he's easy with it, it sits lightly on his confident shoulders. It suits him. It's healthy for him.

Me, I'm a different animal altogether. I fret about control or rather any lack of it. I leap to fill any vacuum that I perceive in control. But things just have to be under control - come hell or high water - and believe me hell followed.

This is what got me in such a mess before I knew him, before I understood myself and my needs. When things got rocky and others faltered, I stepped up so fast to fill the gaps, to try to bring everything back under control, that I put myself and them in places that were not good for either of us. (And no I am not robbing the other person of their part in it. That person made choices too: perhaps even the ones that kickstarted the whole sorry affair.) But it grew like some malignant weed: the more the other dropped, backed off, the more I tried to pick up and take on... and the more unhappy everyone became. Really not healthy.

And don't misunderstand me, it's not all bad, this tendency to step up to the mark - it makes me tough, reliable, dependable in a crisis, quick to act in an emergency - I am not doing myself down here. I am not some weak and feeble damsel who needs rescuing , who cannot decide what to have for lunch or is not capable of running her own life. Funnily enough, I've not met a single woman or man who identifies as consensual slave or property that is - which says something about the nature of s-types or the taste of their Owners. But I do say that working against your nature is unhealthy and the head docs have it all wrong when they label all forms of dependence as unhealthy.

But back to my point.

The first, perhaps the greatest gift that his dominance gives me, that this relationship with its special brand of inequality holds for me, is the ability to relinquish control to him and stop worrying about it and allowing it to control my life. It's not about dependence, it's about finding and accepting answering needs and roles in each other.

It's freeing for me. The fear is gone and I'm learning a more healthy response to control. He's teaching me not to fear either the control in his hands or the lack of it in the parts of life that no-one can control. And that's possible because he really IS in control of the rest of my life without cost to him. It's fulfilling for him.

Meanwhile, I'm a recovering control-freak and he's the Master.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Words that speak for us

In searching thro my favourite quotes to find the one I wanted for the sidebar I came across the other Anais Nin quotes that have been important to me for some time now.

The first that I came across some five or six years ago when I was starting out on this path to what I then assumed would be a D/s relationship is this one...

“I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don't mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don't mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding.”

... and I remember being thrilled by its aptness and clearly recall the relief that someone out there could put it all into words for me. She was able to do what at the time I could not, and stand four-square to the world and say unequivocally and explicitly, 'This is what I want and you have no right to question it or me!'

As a 40 year old woman who was working through some pretty shaking revelations about my own real nature and needs, it was wonderful to read an unquestionably intelligent, capable woman say that to want to submit was okay, and more than that, to demonstrate clearly that it didn't rob her of herself or her capabilities to do so... it fulfilled her. And boy, did I need that back then.

Later reading turned up other Anais gems that I have come to love and value. The one I've chosen for the site is the one that feels right to me now and which I've adopted as my own since our M/s relationship became established.

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

That's because I think it speaks of the courage that it takes to submit, the self-knowledge necessary to give yourself to another, and keeps in the forefront the consensual nature of the M/s bond and the strength it requires of both parties: you cannot give away power you do not have and you cannot take on control of another's being if you're not already confidently in control of your own.

As a submissive, you must choose carefully, you need a man who is strong, who understands and is utterly unafraid of female strength, and, above all, who won't back down thinking you too fragile or delicate at the critical moments. And just as we work against societal conditioning and pressures to free our submissive natures, dominant males must have overcome the taboos against controlling and even hurting the women in their care.

For me it's a perfect encapsulation of the whole.

The final one I have for you though I kept coming back to without totally understanding why.

"Man can never know the kind of loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in a woman's womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. The woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she has bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child-bearing and man-bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to BE. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment the man rests inside of her."

It speaks to me of the crux of female, and sexual power questions in general: the essence of the fundamental differences between male and female. I love the warmth and the sweet pain, the longing, oozing out.

There are some things here that are almost too personal to address, (she too had no children, apparently by choice) and I can't quite put it all into words anyway but if I touch on it even obliquely perhaps others will get it without me having to. Either way there's plenty more to deal with here.

I can't fully agree with Nin about the absence of loneliness for men; I believe their sense of it is different and there is something incredibly tender and intimate about sharing that truth of male and female with someone who you can trust with it. And perhaps this is at some level what we are doing?

Someone once said of their M/s relationship that to her it meant that she was 'no longer alone in her own head' and I think that's what we get from this thing that we do. There are no more dark or shady corners in which to hide. My Master no longer allows me those female secrets, all the little things which you used to hide or quietly deal with alone; he digs them out, makes me reveal them and claims them, so claiming the deepest, hidden parts of me and making me ever more truly his.

And that sense carries through to all the higher level, more prosaic, worries and fears, and finally you realise that you really are free of them, there's nothing more to be afraid of; no more having to cope alone, to wonder or to worry about because you are not alone. Everything, every silly fear or fancy that flits through your brain can be dealt with and he will accept them all without laughing at them (well, not in a bad way at least) and this unconditional acceptance and even the fact that he cares enough, means that you're no longer alone in the world either.

I think, I hope, that for him too, there is consolation at a human level in this depth of intimacy and trust. I believe that the dominant too is exposed and vulnerable in an intense M/s or D/s partnership or interaction (as long as he's deeply in enough to have moved beyond some stereotyped leather-clad coldness I suppose). Authentic dominance embraces the fear too just as submission must... but the magic lies in doing it together no matter the disparities in power and control inherent in the exchange.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Another Beginning...

How long have I spent lurking, reading other people's blogs, and thinking I should be doing this, writing it all down so that I can share and record, remember and perhaps speak to others following the same path? Well, let me tell you... it's been too damn long! But the pathetic procrastination is over and my rabbitings, ramblings and occasional ravings are about to be inflicted on the wonderful world of the web.

What I'm seeking is simple - an outlet, a voice, a place to share and to ponder, and, I'll come clean and warn you now, probably now and then, an unapologetically personal soap-box on which to have my say on subjects, debates and events that make me go WTF!

So what will you find here? Essentially, the story of one woman's journey... into submission and consensual slavery; from what society expected of me and I obligingly gave it despite the fact it made me miserable and actually disempowered me and prevented me from learning about myself; from a somewhat fearful, forced freedom to consensual captivity at the hands of a strong, stable, intuitive, and lovingly sadistic dominant man which has opened the doors that really matter - to mind and body, soul and sexuality, to life.

But I hope it will turn out to be more than a journal because if that's all it is I will probably get bored before you do. There are too many good subjects out there to chew on so the focus will, I expect, shift without warning from the personal and life with my Master, who is afterall the centre of my world, to politics, feminism, books, sex and sexuality, religion, society and science, and back again. We shall see... it is after all a journey rather than a destination.