Archive for March, 2018

MST3K Vs Hypnosis: “The Wild World of Batwoman”

March 25, 2018

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I’m hesitant to list this under any kind of discussion of “mind control in the movies”, because I think it’s a huge stretch to consider this one a “movie” per se. I’ve never seen the unriffed version, but even with the comic asides added (and they’re great–this movie has so much material to make fun of) this is a painful experience. But it does feature mind control, so let’s talk about it!

The plot…for lack of a better word…involves Batwoman (not DC’s Batwoman, just a woman who dresses in a way that vaguely suggests bat-ness and who fights crime) and her army of highly trained operatives, all of whom appear to be young women between eighteen and twenty-four. Batwoman is investigating a villain known as Rat Fink and his army of henchmen and mad scientists (please note that “army”, given the budget of this film, stretches to about five people plus some stock footage) who plan to steal an atomic-powered hearing aid from the Ayjax Corporation, with which he can hear anything anywhere. Because atomic.

Batwoman’s secret plan to defeat Rat Fink is…oh, Lord, I’ve probably watched this movie a half-dozen times and I don’t think you could use the word “plan” to reasonably describe anything that happens to anyone at any point in the film. There’s lots of wandering around, there are Mole People for some reason, there’s a seance featuring a very racist impression of someone speaking in Chinese, and most germane to our purposes, there’s the villain’s primary weapon in a movie that wants to be an action caper comedy heist film and can’t pull any of it off: Dancing pills.

That’s right, the villain has little pills he slips in people’s drinks and food and it makes them so helplessly happy that all they want to do is dance in a mindless stupor and he can drag them around like sleepwalkers. And yet, somehow even this isn’t enough to save this movie. It’s black and white, it looks like it was filmed before they started writing the script, and the MST3K writers described it as the equivalent of one of those Army tests where they walk people into a room full of tear gas and order them to remove their gas masks just to see who’ll do it. But if you want to see people being drugged into a glazed stupor and mindlessly dancing, this is one of your few chances.

I hope for your sake it’s worth it.

You’re a Top Who Just Made a Mistake. Now What?

March 18, 2018

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Everybody makes mistakes. That’s a pretty good general statement, but it’s a little more important to recognize in BDSM because the mistakes you make are more likely to cause harm. Sometimes that will be physical harm, sometimes it will be emotional. Sometimes it will be temporary, sometimes it will be permanent. But it will happen, even if you’re trying your absolute hardest to be the perfect top and keep your submissive’s needs first and foremost in your mind, because you’re a human being and so are they and we’re all going to make mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t make you a bad person. But how you handle it might, so let’s talk about that.

The most important thing to do is set aside your ego. There’s a very natural psychological tendency to try to defend yourself when someone tells you that you did something wrong. We all want to believe we’re good people, and when we’re confronted with evidence that we did something bad, the brain naturally tries to reconcile these two incompatible things by coming up with ways that it wasn’t really bad or we didn’t really do it. FIGHT THIS TENDENCY. Nine times out of ten, it is not the initial screw-up that causes problems in BDSM; it’s the way that the top tries to minimize it or deflect it. If you need this advice, you caused harm to someone. You can only compound that harm by trying to deny its existence.

So don’t tell them that it’s their fault for not communicating the problem better, don’t tell them that what you did was fine with everyone else so it should be fine with them, don’t tell them that it’s really hard being a Dominant and you deserve sympathy for being such a screw-up (that last one is known as the Passive-Aggressive Half-Gainer With a Double Guilt-Trip Twist, and is one of the hardest conversational gambits to pull off in the Asshole Olympics). You need to look at yourself in the mental mirror and say, “Do not bullshit me here, me. This is a person I care about and they deserve better.”

Then you are going to actively listen to what they say. Not what you want to hear because you really really want to be absolved of guilt, but what they’re actually saying. Whether that’s “this imagery triggered an abreaction because of this childhood issue of mine”, or “that hit with the flogger was badly placed and you hit me again even though I was saying ‘red'” or “I needed more aftercare and you scheduled an event without enough recovery time for me”. You’re going to suck it up and listen to what they have to say. You’re going to make sure that they understand that you are listening and understanding their concerns. You are not going to change the subject at all, and you are especially not going to contradict their feelings.

And then you’re going to apologize. You’re going to give them an unreserved, unqualified apology. There are lots of places to go to get good resources to give real apologies, but the basic elements are: 1) You understand what you did and why it was harmful, 2) you feel genuine remorse, and 3) you will not let it happen again because of these specific steps you are taking to avoid the problem that led to it. (There are other elements depending on who you talk to–explaining why it happened, thanking the person for bringing this to your attention–but those three are the most important ones.

There’s also one that is conspicuous by its absence and should stay that way. No. Excuses. If the apology is about you and all the ways that this really isn’t your fault because of “X, Y, and Z”, it’s not a real apology because it’s more about making you feel better and absolving your guilt than it is about making amends to the person you hurt, and this moment isn’t about you.

So to use one of the examples above, you can say, “You’re right, I didn’t give you the time you deserved for aftercare, and that wasn’t fair to you. I’m sorry that I didn’t treat your needs as a priority. In future, I will make sure to schedule scenes with you only when we have the time to do everything and do it right, because you deserve that.” And then you stop. You don’t explain what you had to go and do instead of doing aftercare, you don’t sulk about how much aftercare is ‘enough’, you don’t keep going into self-justification or self-defense territory. You let the apology be, and you let it be sincere.

And then you stick the landing. If your apology was, “I won’t initiate anything sexual when you’re tied up,” you don’t initiate anything sexual when they’re tied up. If your apology was, “I won’t use that imagery in trance play with you,” you don’t use that imagery in trance play with them. If that apology was, “I will never bring a copy of any of the ‘Scary Movie’ movies into your household ever again unless it is for the express purposes of smashing them into dust with a sledgehammer,” you…well, you get the idea.

Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t get to have needs of your own. You can say to your sub, “I didn’t realize how much of a need X was for me, and now that I do, I think that we may not be good play partners because it’s very important to me and it’s a hard limit for you.” It’s okay to recognize that what hurts some people doesn’t hurt others, and it’s better not to play with someone, if playing with them means you could repeat a mistake that hurt them. (Let’s repeat that in bold: It’s better not to play with someone than it is to repeat a mistake that hurt them.)

In the end, it is never our mistakes that define us as people. It is how we respond to those mistakes that define us. You can fix a mistake, I promise. But you have to accept it, first.

How to Deliver Non-Creepy Compliments

March 11, 2018

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 82 amazingly helpful Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

“Oh my GOD, it’s like you CAN’T even SAY nice things to a WOMAN anymore!” This has become a pretty common refrain from guys in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. And while it is complete bullshit, it nonetheless gives us an opportunity to teach people how to give a polite and appropriate compliment to a stranger or acquaintance in a public, non-sexual setting (such as the office) without inadvertently coming off as creepy. (Please note that the tips here are entirely gender neutral, even though you don’t generally hear women complaining about ways to deliver compliments to men that don’t sound like thinly veiled pickup lines for some reason.) (And by “for some reason” I mean “because of institutionalized sexism and performative gender roles”.)

Let’s break this down into a handy checklist, shall we?

Step One: Find a sincerely meant non-sexual element to compliment. Basically, this is an “is your intent pure” moment. If what you are ‘complimenting’ is that the person in question very much makes you sexually aroused, and you’re just looking for a way to lampshade that with a compliment about their appearance, maybe don’t share that sentiment with them unless you know them well and are getting clear and unambiguous signals that said attention would be appropriate and reciprocal. If you genuinely want to compliment someone on an aesthetic decision they made about their appearance, then we can proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Compliment the thing they did, not the person they are. Remember, you are complimenting this person on their taste and on the effort they put into their appearance, not their body and the effect it has on your libido. Complimenting the way a man’s shirt goes with his tie is very different from complimenting his eyes or his cheekbones, just like complimenting a woman’s dress is very different from complimenting the body underneath it. People have a right to be proud of the work they put into looking good, but they do not have an obligation to acknowledge your interest in their bodies. Plan accordingly.

Step Three: Be as specific as possible. The more general you are in your compliment, the more room you have to be misinterpreted as a creeper. If you just say, “I love your hair,” you could mean any number of things by that, some of which wound up in Season One of ‘Hannibal’. Find a specific detail or aspect of their appearance that caught your attention and made you want to compliment them (again, one that reflects effort and thought on their part) and compliment that. “I love the way that dress goes with your hair,” or “I love that shade of purple in your hair,” or “That haircut looks great on you.” There are occasionally reasons not to get too specific in your details (see below) but in general, a sincere compliment about one thing is better than a general “You look good.”

Step Four: Make sure you are not complimenting something society finds erogenous, either by design or by accident. Even if the dress that woman chose accentuates her cleavage in an aesthetically pleasing fashion, and even if you’re reasonably sure that’s why she wore it, avoid using any variant of ‘your breasts’ in your compliment to her. Or ‘your butt’, or really anything that brings the compliment back to sex. If you’re looking to compliment the way they presented their sexier features, it’s okay to be a little euphemistic, like saying, “That dress looks very good on you!” or something similar. That brings it back to their decision, and not their body.

Step Five: Before you say the comment, ask yourself if it really compliments them. If your compliment can be construed as suggesting that their good aesthetic decision draws attention away from their flawed body, that is not really a compliment. That is what’s called ‘negging’, and it’s a shitty thing to do to a person. Try to avoid saying things like, “That outfit makes you look so thin,” or the like. Again, it’s okay to pull back on the specifics if you think that your original intent was a little TMI.

Step Six: Make sure your language is appropriate. “Your outfit looks very…” is usually a good start to a compliment. But when you go in for the finish, try to find words that are appropriate for polite, general interest (like ‘elegant’, ‘well put-together’, ‘smart’, et cetera) rather than ones that are perhaps better used for someone you have an intimate relationship with (‘sexy’, ‘hot’, et cetera). If you’re not sure about a word (‘beautiful’, ‘pretty’, or other words that might indicate a more familiar relationship than what you have) then err on the side of caution. It is much better to be a politely formal friend than an inappropriately informal acquaintance.

Now, I know that it seems like a bit of work to expect people to follow a six-step checklist every time they want to give a friendly compliment. But that’s actually bulllshit too. It’s easy. If you really want to compliment someone to make them feel good about themselves, instead of just to lech on them, you’re going to find the first two to be very intuitive, and the rest are just a few reminders about language so that you don’t put your foot in your mouth. It is really easy to give polite, friendly compliments to anyone so long as you just remember to be polite and friendly. If you can’t hack that, you may not be trying as hard as you think.

The Thing I Wish I’d Learned Faster About Kink

March 4, 2018

(This post has been brought to you by the efforts of my 82 patient and understanding Patrons! Visit my Patreon page to learn how to become one of them.)

I’ve been involved in kink since I was probably about nineteen. And as with a lot of people, I formed a lot of my initial impressions of kink from mainstream portrayals of BDSM, which tend to be… I mean, they’re not great even now, but when I was growing up, they tended to be three bits of shorthand that told the audience “this person is a pervert” in as little time as possible so that the relatively vanilla story could unfold with that piece of information taken as read. (Kind of like everyone carrying a paper bag in television shows and movies has a baguette sticking out of it, because it’s a prop that says “this bag is full of groceries” in clear and unambiguous terms.) The three “tells” on a character being kinky were:

  • They expressed drooling fascination with women’s feet.
  • They wore women’s underwear under their clothes.
  • They asked people to tell them they were naughty… or if they were women, they told men that they were worms and demanded they crawl. (Frequently while wearing leather or holding a riding crop or both.)

Note that the last one is the only signifier that women were allowed to have to indicate that they were kinky – kinky women humiliated their partners. Humiliation is an inherent part of the mainstream conception of BDSM, to the point where every single vanilla representation of alternative sexuality includes it. I’m not going to say that this permanently warped my concept of kink, but it did make me feel like I was in the minority because I didn’t want to be humiliated when I submitted.

And I have very slowly come around to the idea that not only am I not in the minority in wanting to submit without humiliation, I’m also not in the minority in thinking I’m in the minority. I think a lot of people who are into wearing traditionally feminine clothing, who are into foot worship, who are into intelligence reduction and rough sex and really a lot of other fetishes, have seen those things presented in tandem with humiliation play so frequently and so often (and not just in mainstream presentations, either, he says, glancing at his Tumblr page) that they assume that humiliation play is the default for BDSM.

It is not. Humiliation is a particular fetish. It is not integral to any kind of play. If you are a submissive who does not want to be humiliated, you have the right to say no to that aspect of things. If you are a Dominant whose top drop is exacerbated by having to put on a persona involving humiliation, you have the right to say no to that aspect of things too. I am going to say it again, big and bold right here for everyone to read:

You do not have to consent to humiliation to get your other kinky needs met, as a Dominant or a submissive.

It took me a long time to get that, and some really wonderful partners who helped me understand it as well. Every kink can be expressed without humiliation. If you’re a guy and you want to wear traditionally feminine clothing, you can do that and have your Dom/me tell you how pretty you look. If you want your submissive man to explore their bisexuality, you can do it without calling them a faggot or a sissy. If you want to be held down and fucked, your Dom/me can tell you how beautiful you look when you’re helpless. If you want to take someone’s thoughts away one by one and leave them struggling with complex ideas, you can do it without using terms like “bimbo” if they don’t like hearing it. All of these things can be done in a spirit of praise and love and respect for the submissive’s ability to submit to the person they are choosing to give control to.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m against humiliation play. It’s very much YKINMK here, and I can’t imagine ever doing it, but if you get something out of it and it turns you on, then go for it. But if you’re in a situation where everything is hot about the scene except for that lingering discomfort you get when the insults and shame comes out, stop the scene. Safeword if you have to. And talk it out. Because honestly, more people feel like you do than you think, and you have the right to feel comfortable in your kink. There is nothing wrong with what you’re doing, and nobody should make you feel like there is unless that’s specifically what you’re into.

Early Bird Sneak Peek: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”!

March 1, 2018

Hi all! It’s time for another Early Bird Sneak Peek, where I share a glimpse at the story my lucky Early Bird patrons will be enjoying next Saturday thanks to their pledges at my Patreon page! Of course, if you’re not an Early Bird patron, you’ll still get a story next week–”Windfall”  has already been submitted to the EMCSA. But the Early Bird patrons will be getting “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (MC MF MD)!

Ophelia is going to a special event hosted by Sable Fire,  her favorite perfume company. It’s the unveiling of a very special new fragrance – ‘Void Blossom’. But it turns out that Erik Midnight, company founder and head designer of all of the company’s perfumes, has put something a little extra into Void Blossom, and it’s going to take all of Ophelia’s willpower and intelligence to avoid being a permanent guest of Sable Fire. Here’s a whiff:

Ophelia stepped inside, glancing at the bottles of perfume lining the shelves on the far wall. Each of them had a picture of an indigo rose, its petals opening endlessly outward from a center of starry darkness. ‘Void Blossom’, it said just below each rose. Her pulse quickening with anticipation, Ophelia crossed the room, picked up one of the bottles, and gave herself a little spritz.

Everything seemed to happen at once after that. The scent of the perfume hit her with an overwhelming rush, cloying and thick like the cheap deodorant Ophelia used when she was thirteen. The door locked behind her with a soft, menacing click, and when Ophelia spun to face it the room lurched sickeningly with her, leaving her unsteady on her feet for a moment. And the wall opened up to reveal a massive television behind a layer of safety glass, with none other than Erik Midnight himself displayed on the screen.

He looked just like his pictures, a slender man with sandalwood skin and a shaved head with ornate patterns drawn on it in gold makeup.. His eyes and lips were done in gold, too, as well as the highlights of his cheekbones. Even his immaculately-trimmed beard was dyed a lustrous golden color. “Hello, Ophelia,” he said, his lips quirking in a crooked smile. “It’s so nice to see you face to face at last, if not in person. You’re looking lovely today, although I hope not as lovely as you will soon.”

Hope you enjoy it!

Sneak Peek: “Windfall”!

March 1, 2018

Over the last few months, I missed a few of my Early Bird Sneak Peeks. So to make up for that, here’s a sneak peek at this week’s story for the EMCSA, “Windfall”! (MC FF)

The spores that sprouted this spring, out in the wilderness past a tiny North Dakota town have been waiting for someone to find them for a long time. They have a purpose. And for one woman, that purpose is about to become hers. Here’s a taste:

The dissection proved to be the turning point. Keep in mind, I am an expert on wild fungus. I’m not lazy or careless, and I know that inhaled spores can be dangerous. I was wearing my mask, I was wearing latex gloves, and I had squeezed all the dust out of the puffball the night before to make sure I wasn’t dealing with a lot of active spores to begin with. I was ready to handle just about anything known to science.

But these spores were beautifully, wondrously unknown. The second my scalpel touched the puffball, it exploded in a cloud of musty-smelling dust every bit as thick as the one I squeezed out of it when I first found it, one that went straight through my filters like they weren’t there. I gasped in surprise, so startled by the sudden smoky haze that I didn’t even realize I was breathing them in, and that was when I felt it. The communion.

It wasn’t communication. I want to stress that. I didn’t hear a voice speaking to me, I didn’t even get feelings or impressions. It was more of an understanding. A sense of complete comprehension about what the spores were, and what they could achieve. What they could give me, if I opened myself up to the possibilities they offered. It didn’t feel like a compulsion to me at all. I just knew exactly what I needed to do, and once I knew, I was eager to begin.

Please understand, my behavior–my mind–it wasn’t altered at all. Not like the others.

Hope you enjoy it!