Sunday, January 27, 2008

Getting Serious About Play

I am feeling better today. Better enough to be horrified at the state of our apartment and insist that M help me move things so I could vacuum. Better enough to shower and blow dry my hair. Better enough to be driven to our favorite weekend breakfast spot for real food. But not so good that each of those activities didn't require a 20-minute (or more) rest. This is my after-brunch rest time. It's possible that I'm supposed to be napping, but M is in the other room on the computer and I think I'm ok as long as I'm having quiet time.

Just after the Shadow Lane party, I posted at Punishment Book about my desire to do more spanking play as opposed to real-life discipline, which is both at the heart of my kink and the bulk of what M and I do together. Paul linked to that post and spun off his own thoughts, which made me think about it again. So this is a response to a response. Of sorts. (Remember, you're getting the ramblings of a recently very sick woman.)

Paul wrote:

I think it's probably especially important for people whose primary expression of the kink is real-life discipline that they try to balance that with play that's more explicitly fun, both with their own partners and with others - whatever the conventional kink analogue of a fuck buddy would be.

An excellent point. For those of us who live in real-life, real-time discipline relationships, it can lose some of the spark or some of the energy. If the bottom is always misbehaving and the top is always correcting said misbehavior, it can become as rote and dry as the cliche about vanilla sex where she lies on her back and thinks about England. (Sorry, Paul!) We fall into our expected roles, play out the scripted encounter, and return to the rest of our lives. Which doesn't mean we get no enjoyment or fulfillment out of the interaction, quite the contrary. The very normalcy can be a wonderful thing; I know many people, tops and bottoms, who would love to be in a relationship where kink or discipline were the norm. But it does mean that we may be losing sight of the possibilities for different kinds of interactions and dimensions.

Like a fuck buddy. My gay friends are probably more comfortable with this idea than my straight friends, but we in the kink world certainly have an analogy. Many of the kinky folks I know are purposely not monogamous kink-wise. They tend to share their kink energy more readily than most share their sexual energy, and I think this is a good thing. I'm certainly not proposing that everyone must have multiple spanking partners, but as Paul points out, it can definitely be a good thing for those of us who fall on the heavy-to-serious end of the spanking spectrum. One way to lighten things up is to have alternative partners who interact in a different way than our primary/disciplinary partners. People who only spank you for fun or only spank you to orgasm. Intentionally seeking these relationships is a good, healthy way for us to balance WIIWD (What It Is We Do) with some fun.

And it's generally good to shake up routines and bring spice into a relationship. (Though our "routine" is probably many people's "extra spicy.") It doesn't hurt to remind ourselves to have fun with this glorious kink we've been given. Fun can mean pushing the limits of tolerance--but it can also mean taking some of the pressure off ourselves and playing on a different, lighter level.

Some of my friends play only on light levels. They dislike role play or anything that smacks (forgive the pun) of real-life or discipline. Some of them are sensualists, some are into heavier play, some only like it as foreplay before a sexual encounter. But for those of us who need a "real" dimension, lighter play can pose a problem. Again, Paul:

Figuring out what it means for play to be real, without being real-life . . . is a bit of a conundrum. . . . I'm not interested in play unless it's meaningful.

I don't play much at parties either, for this same reason. I am not a lap surfer, and I had some pretty serious meltdowns after my first few parties where I played with everyone who asked. It took a while to realize that I have a powerful connection with anyone who spanks me; I believe this is because all play is real on some level for me. Even if I'm not being spanked for a reason, the connection and the relationship are real, and those are not things I mess around with. So for me, meaningful play comes from the relationship with the top: a high degree of trust, of course, but also a compatibility of style. I have found a few people I enjoy playing with very much, usually people who are comfortable with themselves and who are flexible enough to play at varying levels of intensity. I am capable of playing very heavily, and I like a partner who can go there too.

Of all the possible ways to engage, discipline is the most intimate, most intense level for me, and I reserve access to that area for only a few people. It is satisfying to a degree I cannot describe; it quite literally puts my world straight and reorients me when I am muddled. But there are levels of engagement below discipline, and I haven't explored those as much.

Probably the level just below discipline is flying. Flying comes from a long build-up spanking where I can relax into the increasing intensity and eventually not experience the heaviest blows as pain at all. I know I'm flying when I lean into the next stroke, eager for the sensation. Others around me know I'm flying when I get a blissful look on my face or start giggling at ridiculously hard strokes. Leather implements will get me to fly the best--I don't think I fly often with wooden implements because the sensation is wrong.

I can also enjoy mock punishment when there are a few people around: me teasing and getting tossed over someone's lap for a few swats. The interaction becomes as much about the crowd and me as it does the top and me, though for it to be fun I still have to trust the top.

"Just because" spankings are sometimes difficult for me to process. I am genuinely hard-wired for punishment, so I expect a reason for a spanking. I've expanded my definition enough that "flying" now counts as a reason, but I have to consciously make myself relax into spankings that are meant to be long and fun. Having experienced some very nice ones, I am better able to shut up the voice in my head that says, "Stop! This isn't fair! I've been good! Why am I getting spanked?" but it still takes me longer to get into that headspace than a punishment headspace.

Then, of course, there are sexual spankings. By sexual spankings, I mean spankings that are only meant to arouse one or all parties and perhaps bring someone to orgasm. No other motives or trappings, no scolding, no stories, no discipline flavor. For as connected as spanking and sex are for me, I've not experimented much with these. My punishment spankings usually turn me (and M) on enough that things proceed naturally from there. And discipline is still at the heart of my kink, so even if I'm not in trouble I'm usually imagining it. Or our foreplay has some taste of it.

I guess this means that I still have some exploring to do in terms of play spanking. Which I'm more than willing to tackle. :-)


Paul said...

Iris, I've been lurking for sometime, I just have to comment on this excellent post.
BTW I'm not the Paul that you are responding to, though I am a Brit.
Your acceptance that no two kinks are alike is pleasing, my Mel, my sub and wife liked very hard spankings but found punishments hard to take.
I was able to spank her to orgasm frequently, this was a delight for us both.
Thank you for an interesting and excellent post.
Warm hugs,

Dr. Ken said...


Oh, sure, NOW you figure this out....LOL

sparkle said...

Iris, I'm glad you're feeling a little better. I hope you're getting LOTS of sleep in between the 'resting' times. And, um, I don't know how you'll end up liking sexual spanking, but I definitely think it's worth your time to find out. 'Cause I enjoy it a bit too much for my own good, you know. When it involves leather, I mean. No wood. Wood is mean.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to leave something here because this discussion, and your words are really very helpful to me as I am figuring all this out for myself as well. I'm unable to leave something more meaningful because you did such a good job that I have great lumps of thoughts swirling around, melding and separating again and nothing really coherent yet. Thank you.

Raven said...

Iris -

I really appreciate this post. I'm going to link to it from my blog, if you don't mind.

Your description of flying really resonated for me, particularly that part about melting into it, that lovely blissful state of endorphin rush when some of the heaviest toys and blows don't register as pain. The image that comes to mind is a bit of a paradox - in those moments I almost feel as if I'm more deeply in my skin than I am at any other time; at the same time it seems like an out of body experience when I see the impact, feel the impact, but feel only warmth and euphoria to a level that rationally seems wrong for what's actually happening. Floggers in the middle of a scene do this to me...I actually start laughing very, very deeply. Maybe you're right about the leather versus wood thing in this arena; a form of temperature/heat play within BDSM play I've heard called devil's fire does this to me as well.

The mock punishment you mention is also fun - that playful interchange that corresponds to fun bratting, the give and take, the ability to ratchet up the teasing energy just enough to get the desired outcome. (Not so good when you realize you're doing it at work with people who either don't get it or don't believe themselves to be in a position to respond in kind... ;-) )

A fun post indeed. Here's to more playtime for all!


Iris said...

Welcome, Paul! I'm delighted to have you as a reader and a commenter. It sounds like you and Mel had a very close, very special relationship.

Dr. Ken, uh, all I can say is that I heard it's -40 in your neck of the woods. Can't say I'm sad to be in LA today. :-p

sparkle, my love, I *am* feeling better, thanks! And I'm looking forward to more sexual spankings. (grin)

Anonymous, I'm glad that my ramblings ferment more thoughts and articulation in your process. Feel free to comment as you continue to name these thoughts and feelings for yourself. This is a fascinating kink we've been given and there is much to explore!

And Raven, I love how you named this: "in those moments I almost feel as if I'm more deeply in my skin than I am at any other time." I too love those moments; in fact, I've been trying to bring some of that awareness and feeling into my non-kink/everyday life. Like when I was giving blood or when I was getting my eyebrows waxed--two times when I tend to flinch easily--I tried to deeply inhabit my body and it produced some very interesting results! And I agree that people who can't respond to mock bratting/teasing/playfulness are not as fun as those who can. Another reason to hang out with as many kinky/aware people as possible!

Thanks for the comments--keep them coming!


Dr. Ken said...

Can't say I blame you, Iris.....
However, I'd like to extend a standing offer to any Minnesota women out there who'd like a warm bottom during this cold spell....
You'd think they'd be lining up, wouldn't you?

Dr. Ken

Raven said...


Good point about bringing that deep body awareness into every day life. Perhaps that is part of what it means for us as kinksters (knowing that everyone's mileage/experience varies, as always) to integrate our sexuality into our everyday lives - such that there isn't the sexual part and the other part, but just one whole.

Interesting examples you use, too! I tried to do some of this when birthing each of my children, based on breathing and mindfulness techniques used in a class I took at Good Vibrations a while back called Tantric S/M. I was more successful with it this most recent time - there were several moments in the birthing tub I would call profound, where I could feel the intensity of the energy radiating through my muscles and ligaments, immense pressure, but not necessarily "bad."

While I'm glad to enjoy kink in my life still, I'm quite grateful I had it as a paradigm for experiencing both births; I can't imagine only having a profane and/or theoretical experience of such energy sensation. ;-)