Something I can work with

There is a commenter on my punishment post who had some questions regarding my stance and the tone with which I answered the question asked.

I initially agreed with the original post, was interested in the response, and saw “you’re full of shit bro.” It struck me that you were looking for people to make posts like that and then kick them in the teeth if you disagreed.
I think the original post makes a legitimate point because of the nature and unilateral imposition of the punishments in D/s relationships is hard to reconcile with “respect” for someone. The “silent treatment” or “cold shoulder” thing doesn’t feel nearly the same as getting hit, at least not to me. The “regulated” nature and certainty of punishment does seem to be an inherent feature of D/s relationships, but that seemed to be a somewhat different issue, albeit perhaps a benefit of D/s.
It also seems inherently more difficult to feel protected enough to communicate real feelings and concerns with someone who has the authority to punish you, especially if the punishment is harsh and physical. The tone in which your response was written suggested that it might be all the more difficult to do that with you, even though you said you encouraged (or even demanded) such communication. I’d be walking on eggshells.
That’s what interested me in the post. I guess that makes me a troll.

See, that makes sense.  Had that been your original comment, a) I would’ve known better where you were coming from, b) it would have invited discussion, rather than snarkiness, and c) it wouldn’t have been construed as rude and obnoxious.

Your first comment made it seem like you were just looking to start drama.  This comment is intelligent and brings up valid questions.  This, I can work with.

The difference is that I don’t have the freedom to give the silent treatment or hit someone without their consent.  I’ll use the most recent time I punished Kazander as an example (which I actually wrote about on the blog).  Twice in two days, he did not take my commands seriously, and his obedience was lax.  I was annoyed.

In a vanilla relationship, I have plenty of ways to express my annoyance.  I can get snarky, I can give the silent treatment, I can get petty, I can tell him off, etc.  And in a vanilla relationship, none of that is done with his consent.

Instead, I pointed out his mistake, told him I was annoyed, and that I wanted to adjust the behavior.  He has a safeword (that he’s technically not allowed to use during punishment, but if there’s something wrong or he doesn’t agree, he’s given the opportunity to be heard.  Should he be refused that opportunity, then the relationship becomes an abusive one, and abusive relationships are bad, regardless of whether or not D/s is thrown into the mix).

This was a minor mistake, so didn’t really require any deep discussion about what caused it.  More significant issues will prompt a discussion beforehand.

I spanked him, gave him aftercare, and life went on.  There was no need to pout for days or punish him in more conventional ways.  There was no need for him to wonder how long I’d be annoyed at him, or how long he’d need to endure the conventional punishment.

None of my subs have ever been made to feel like they can’t talk to me about anything.  Steel is the only one you can ask directly, since he’s the only one with an online presence, but you’re more than welcome to take a look at his blog. Tell me if there’s anything you find there that implies he’s afraid to talk to me about anything.  Or hell, ask him yourself.  He’s got all his contact info there.

Although do so at your own risk.  He’s not widely known for his capacity to suffer lightly those he considers fools.

People I don’t own are not my subs.  My subs have shown me their commitment time and time again, they’ve proven themselves to me, and they have seen parts of me no one else has.  I respect and admire them as subs for their devotion and commitment, and I respect and admire them as men.  I have never and likely will never punish anyone for talking to me about a problem they have.

Obviously, I don’t know the future, and if a sub were to get in my face about the problem, instead of talking civilly, I suppose it’s possible I’d punish them for their method.  But I prefer not to own the kind of person who would do that, anyway, so it’s a moot point.  All of my boys know they have the freedom to talk to me openly and express any issues they may have.  This is something they know because I’ve proven it to them.  And their opinions are truly the only ones I care about.  Someone who makes an assumption about what it would be like to be owned by me, based on one blog post, is obviously free to do that, but it’s nothing but speculation, and holds no weight with me.

And my long-time readers, who have read other Ask a Domina posts, have seen that I’m not going to bite someone’s head off for disagreeing with me.

I’m accustomed to dealing with people who try to get more information before jumping to a judgement.  You want a decent idea of who I am as a Dominant, and how I can respect a man I have the power to punish?  Read.

Or don’t.

You’re free to think whatever you want.  But (this is not meant with hostility) the opinion of a complete stranger just doesn’t matter to me.  I care about the people I own.  I owe them respect, I owe them the opportunity to talk to me without fear of punishment, and I owe them a chance to have their concerns heard, acknowledged, and understood.

Other people are not always afforded that same respect.  If I don’t own you, I have no obligation to be nice to you (and, if you read more of my posts, you’ll find that one of my favorite things to say is, “I never claimed to be a good person”).  If I don’t own you or didn’t create you, I owe you nothing.

That goes for the gentleman who asked this question.  This is the culmination of a number of increasingly frustrating conversations, both in person and via email, about “whether or not D/s relationships work.”  I owe him nothing.  He’s already shown that he’s not worthy of my respect.

And it’s a pet peeve of mine to claim that my relationships don’t work or won’t last, because they don’t conform to someone else’s views of what a relationship should be.  I think that’s intolerant and small-minded.  Different strokes, special snowflakes and all that.

There are expectations of behavior in every relationship.  And there are consequences for not meeting those expectations in every relationship.  The difference in my relationships is that those expectations are much clearer to both parties, and the punishment is much more clear-cut.

But everyone’s different.  Kazander, for example, cannot handle being ignored.  It’s a hard limit for him.  He would much rather be hit than ignored.  All three would prefer a direct punishment to manipulative and petty games that have run so rampant in the vanilla relationships I have either been in or been close to.

Not everyone would agree with that.

But yes, the regulated nature of punishment is the same issue.  Go back to the most recent time I punished Kazander, and let’s think of a vanilla equivalent.

Let’s say, instead of not shutting up when I told him to shut up, he ran his mouth to me in public.  Not many people are okay with their SO calling them out in public.  And then, the next day, instead of ignoring my request to put his cage on, he ignored a request to help me out around the house, or refused to do something he’d promised to do.

In a vanilla relationship, I’d be irritated and annoyed.  And just based on my personality, I would probably tell him off.  It would cause an argument, we’d probably go to bed angry at each other, etc.  Other people may get petty or manipulative or give the cold shoulder.

You absolutely cannot convince me that’s a better way to handle problems within a relationship.  Maybe it works better for you, but for me it’s inefficient, inconsistent, arbitrary, and just causes more problems.

Regulated punishment is none of those things.

There’s no guesswork involved.  There’s no question of how long a punishment will last, like there often is in vanilla relationships.  There’s a distinct beginning and end.  It’s not arbitrary.  It’s consistent.  Everyone is and remains on the same page.

And should I overstep my bounds, by not letting them talk to me, or by punishing them without reason, or by causing them harm, then again, it’s no longer a D/s relationship, but an abusive one.

They’ve given themselves to me, trusting that I’ll protect what they’ve given me.  They’ve opened themselves up and allowed themselves to be vulnerable with me, trusting that I won’t abuse that trust.

The minute I abuse those gifts, I stop being their Dominant and become their abuser.  And all three are strong men.  They’re not going to suffer an abusive relationship.

They cannot punish me, no.  But they can leave the relationship if their needs aren’t being met and their voices aren’t being heard.  It’s on me to make sure they’re given that opportunity.  If I don’t, then I’ve failed as a Dominant.

Pain as a punisment

So I recently reconnected with an ex (we’ll call him Beck) after he reached out, asking about my views on love.  Since then, we’ve talked about a lot, but he did bring up an interesting point.

In a recent post, I made the comment that using pain to punish a masochist is never a good idea.

However, a few months ago, in my group on Fetlife, I made the comment that I will use pain with a masochistic sub, with great success.

And for someone who’s so into precision of language and all that, it’s a bit on the unclear side.  So allow me to clear it up.

First of all, here’s what I wrote in the group discussion.

I’ve always had success using various forms of corporal punishment. Subs like my husband are easy. He doesn’t have a masochistic bone in his body, and hates pain. But even masochists I’ve owned, I’ve been able to use whipping/spanking/paddling as an effective punishment, simply by manipulating their headspace, keeping them from entering subspace, keeping the endorphins from kicking in.

So they get the adrenaline, the physical pain, the sense of inevitability, the frustration, and the fear, but none of the pleasure or after burn that usually comes with it.

But I guess I should point out that the actual punishment is more emotional/mental than physical at that point. It’s a very uncomfortable, unnerving, disturbing headspace, and some handle it better than others. Some, like my husband, react with anger, and need to be tied down. Others have broken down and sobbed or screamed, from fear, anxiety, or just being generally overwhelmed. One would become very quiet and withdrawn for hours or days afterward, and needed to be gently coaxed back out of his shell.

But then, I prefer to take D/s relationships a bit deeper and darker than most, as far as the psychological aspect goes, so every punishment I’ve used has incorporated that kind of headspace.

I love using emotions like fear, anxiety, or anger in a punishment. Now, I mean the sub’s emotions. Not mine. I never touch a boy when I’m angry or upset. I play hard, and my self-control is the only thing keeping me out of prison and a boy out of the hospital. I don’t fuck with that.

Spanking, whipping, flogging, etc. has always been fantastic, in my experience, because it’s also something I’ll do for fun, something I enjoy, and something that can be quite light-hearted and entertaining. My husband doesn’t particularly like it, unless he’s already in that headspace, but my collared boy is quite masochistic, as are my sissy and my newest boy.

So taking that act, taking an activity that brings mutual enjoyment, and warping it into something twisted and dark, something that he legitimately fears and wants to escape from, and then taking away his ability to escape inside his head, to escape into subspace, has proven quite effective in my experience.

So yes, I do use pain to punish a masochistic sub.  And it’s quite effective, and gets my point across.

Then why did I tell Sarah that it’s a bad idea?

The easiest answer is because Sarah is relatively new to the lifestyle, and still learning, and was dealing with a specific issue with her sub in their relationship.  I don’t know Sarah personally, so I have no idea what her strengths and weaknesses are as a Dominant.  She may very well be capable of manipulating her sub’s headspace during a punishment.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

But she stated that the punishments she’d been using weren’t effective, and that pain wasn’t working to correct the behavior she wanted to correct.

For the average inexperienced Dominant, when dealing with an unruly, masochistic sub, pain is not a good idea.  You’ll note that later in that post, I told Sarah that there are no rules, that she knows her sub, and to trust her instincts.

Manipulating a sub’s headspace is something that simply takes time to learn.  Keeping a sub out of subspace is something that can’t really be explained using generalities.  It’s not something I can teach in a blog post.  It’s something that has to be experienced.  Trial and error.  Watching and observing the sub.  Talking to him before, during, and after, to find out what kind of effects you had on his mind.

That’s something that Sarah, as well as every Dominant starting down this path, needs to learn on their own.  Once you figure out how to twist and warp something your sub likes into something they fear, then yes, you can absolutely use pain to punish a masochist.  Until then, no, using pain to punish a masochist is generally not a good idea.

Every relationship is different, every dynamic is different, every sub and every Domme is different.  Find out what works for you, and do that.

Complacency is Killer

Dear Domina Jen,

I don’t know if you remember me, I wrote about bondage techniques a few months ago.  Thank you for your help, it was awesome!

But now I have another question.  The Femdom dynamic is still going good, but my boyfriend I think has gotten a little bit too relaxed.  He doesn’t always do what I tell him, or it takes him a long time to do what I tell him.  The sex stuff is still awesome and he’s always enthusiastic about that, but the day to day stuff seems to have gone down a little bit.

I’ve tried punishing him by spanking or whipping him but it doesn’t really work and it’s not really effective.  I’m worried that we’re going to lose our momentum.

What am I doing wrong?

Sarah

Hello again, Sarah.  Of course I remember you!  And I’m glad that the bondage tips helped.

What you’re experiencing is rather common.  It can usually be fixed relatively quickly, with relative ease, but before you do that, you need to sit down with him and make sure there’s nothing underlying that’s causing the disobedience, and causing him to not take your commands seriously.

Are you pushing him too hard, too fast?  Is there something he’s not comfortable with, and has been reluctant to tell you about?  Find out what’s going on in his head that’s causing the lax in behavior.  Find out why he thinks that disobedience is acceptable behavior.

If there’s an underlying cause, or an outside influence affecting his behavior, address it as necessary.  Keep in mind that sometimes a punishment is inappropriate.  If there’s something going on, it’s your job as his Domme to figure out what it is, make sure he knows he has a safe place in you to vent/rage/scream/cry/whatever-his-coping-mechanism-is, and help him regain some balance.  Often, once balance is regained, the behavior will improve.

However, if there is something going on, it may be inappropriate to punish him, but it’s still important to sit him down and tell him (very clearly, and in small words… Sometimes when people are stressed, things just don’t occur to them like they normally would) that you’re feeling disrespected/neglected/not taken seriously/whatever.  Just like you can’t be expected to fix a problem you don’t know exists, he can’t be expected to improve if he doesn’t know there’s a problem.

If you’re an emotional person, keep that shit in check during this conversation.  I don’t know your boyfriend, but I know the boys I’ve had throughout the years.  It’s reasonable to expect him to get defensive and tense.  It’s your job to manage that, to keep the conversation constructive, to tailor your delivery and your methods to what will work to make him realize that he’s fucked up without making him feel worthless.  The slightest lapse in control, the slightest emotional outburst could completely shut him down.  And that’s your fault, not his.  That’s why you wear the Domme hat.

So that’s how you handle an outside influence.  But usually, it’s nothing serious, and he’s simply become complacent.

I say “simply,” because again, it’s a relatively easy fix.  But it’s something you need to take seriously.  Complacency is death to D/s and BDSM relationships, and while he’s a grown ass man and has his share of responsibilities in the relationship, the bulk of the responsibility for keeping the relationship from going stale falls on your shoulders.

Welcome to FemDom, Sarah.  It’s not easy being a Dominant.

You’ve most likely been letting him get away with too much.  And there could be hundreds of legitimate reasons for this.  Either one of you (or both) could be dealing with a lot of outside stress that has made you decide to let things slide.

And I get it.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done it, too, and I’m sure I’ll do it again.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to let things slide.  It’s a relationship between people first, and a Domme and sub second.  There will be times you’ll need to sort of step out of the Domme and sub roles and relate to each other as complete equals.

And while this is sometimes necessary, it’s a very fine line, and even I’ve been guilty of letting it go too far, for too long, and letting him get away with too much.  That complacency creeps in, and you don’t even notice until you wake up one morning with a disobedient, disrespectful manly-man who drags his knuckles and beats his chest and grunts at you.

How the fuck did we get here?

I like to joke that every relationship needs a healthy dose of fear.  But I’m actually not joking.  He needs to fear you.  He needs to be reminded why disobeying you is such a bad idea.

Obviously, I’m not talking about unhealthy terror, here.  We’re working within the strictures of a safe, sane, consensual D/s relationship, not an abusive one.  He should fear you, but he shouldn’t collapse into a fetal position when you approach him, trembling and sobbing.

A good way to foster fear and reinforce behavior is to punish him.  And it sounds to me like you’ve got a bit of a masochist on your hands.

Using pain to punish a masochist is never a good idea.

And now I’m going to tell you my personal definition of punishment vs. discipline.

Discipline isn’t always enjoyable, but isn’t necessarily unenjoyable, either.  A long over-the-knee spanking session is discipline for most subs.  It still falls within the realm of “play,” it’s still somewhat light-hearted (usually), and it’s still somewhat fun.  It may be used to simply remind a sub of his place, or plant him in a particular headspace, or any number of things.

Punishment, on the other hand, is never fun, and is saved exclusively for when a sub fucks up.  And it’s got to be catered to your particular submissive.  What may be considered punishment for one may be extremely enjoyable to another.

For example, Kazander is not a masochist.  So using pain to punish him is quite effective, especially since I don’t allow him to enter any kind of subspace while I do it.

But Sounder and Steel are both a bit masochistic, so pain won’t work on them.  I have to think of something else.

And it’s important to note that you don’t have to limit yourself to BDSM activities for the punishment.  I’ve joked with Sounder about sending him to the mall on Black Friday with a very vague, difficult-to-decipher list that would require going to multiple stores as a punishment.  Plenty of people enjoy going to the mall on Black Friday, but for him, a man who thrives on clear directions, a concise plan, and efficiency, that would be agonizing.

Steel has a bedtime.  I could make him go to bed earlier.  Or, in his case, I could withhold a specific kind of pain for a specific amount of time as a punishment.  If he ever really fucked up, there are even simple words I could say that I know would be like a hammer to the chest (in a bad way, not a fun way).

There are plenty of things I could do, with all three of them, that they genuinely wouldn’t like and would be motivated to avoid at all costs.

So you need to sit down and think of a punishment, catered specifically to your sub.  Something that won’t cross any hard limits, but something he genuinely doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do.

But make sure it’s a good one.  You’re going to be reasserting your Dominance over him, so you need to make absolute sure that you have his undivided attention.

And if possible (depending on the punishment), tell him why he’s being punished during the act.  Remind him what his role is, what you expect of him, and where his place is.  Make him apologize for not taking you seriously.  Ask him how he intends to change his behavior going forward.

Once you feel like he’s had enough, end the punishment and give immediate aftercare.  Hug him, comfort him, remind him that you love him.  If this is going to be his first intense punishment, he will likely need that comfort.

It’s important that you are never angry or emotional when administering a punishment.  You need a clear head, you need to be alert, and you need to be the genuine, caring, compassionate lover when it’s over.

If you’re angry, or if you feel like you’re not in control of your emotions, do not punish him.  Wait until you calm down.  You must be in a clear, neutral headspace when you punish him.

It’s also important to make sure he understands why he’s being punished.  It’s not enough to tell him that he was disobedient.  He needs to understand the effect his disobedience has had on you and the relationship.

When you have this discussion depends on the boy.  Sometimes, having it during aftercare, or shortly after the aftercare, is appropriate.  Sometimes, you absolutely should not have that discussion after the punishment.  Sometimes, it absolutely needs to come before.  Particularly if you have a sub who has trouble letting go of guilt or anger at himself (I have two of those, trust me, you want to do everything in your power to nip that in the bud).

The purpose of a punishment is to let the sub know that he’s done something unacceptable.  It’s somewhat eroticized, simply because it’s a stark reminder of the power you have over him, but that’s not the point.  It’s supposed to allow you to express your displeasure and disappointment, and allow him to atone for that mistake.

Once the punishment is over, the both of you can move on.  If you have a sub who will hold on to guilt or remain angry at himself, then the punishment doesn’t end when you want it to, but will continue long after you thought the situation was resolved.  Have that conversation with him before, or during, and let the punishment serve its purpose.

With some subs, that discussion, followed by some heavy discipline, may be punishment enough.  Again, there are no real rules here.  You know your sub.  You know what will work with him.  Use your knowledge of him to your advantage.

But once the punishment is over, you’re not finished.  The effects of a punishment are temporary.  You need to be strict with him.  You need to recommit yourself to enforcing your rules.  You need to make him understand that doing what he’s told is not an “option.”  He can’t simply choose when to and when not to obey.

And this is where it could get tricky, depending on how far his behavior has fallen.  You want him to obey your rules, but constantly punishing him will have the opposite effect of what you want.  Instead of building him up, you’ll end up breaking him down (and not in the fun way).  If you find yourself needing to punish him daily, if he’s fallen that far from his role, then start slowly.  Start with one or two basic rules that he has to follow.  Add another one each week, until you’re back where you want to be.

Be patient, be consistent, and stern.  You’ll get the sweet, obedient, compliant boy back soon!

Punishment and Maintenance

Kazander has been mouthing off lately.  Night before last, he was particularly stupid, and it finally plucked my last nerve.

Long story short, it deteriorated into a fight, and ended with both of us realizing that we could’ve handled things differently.  Still he promised to stop mouthing off, and that obnoxious, alpha-male, my-dick-my-dick attitude is gone.  We purchased a new chastity cage last night, and hopefully it’ll be comfortable enough for him to wear 24/7, rather than having to take it off at night, like we have to do now.  We’ll have to wait and see when it gets in.  I hope it works, though.  He’s much less obnoxious when he’s caged up.

So we resolved the argument and headed to the bedroom to go to sleep.  And then he surprised me by kneeling at the side of the bed and asking me to punish him.  I think that’s happened, like, twice, in the entire time I’ve known him.  My sweet kazander is not a masochist, in any sense.  He definitely doesn’t enjoy pain, and he will usually try to do anything he can to get out of being punished.

So to have him actually ask for it was a surprise.  I was sure as hell going to take advantage of that, though.

I spanked him — hard — until my hand hurt badly enough that I needed to take a break.

God, but I love his ass.

God, but I love his ass.

I know that doesn’t look like much, but believe me, it was enough for him.  He kept his face hidden, but at one point it really sounded like he was crying.  And he was doing this twitching, squirming thing that I’d never seen him do before.  It was pretty sexy.

After I finished that, I sat on the bed beside him and gently ran my fingertips up and down his back while he recovered.  It was a long, long time before he finally straightened up to ask for a hug.  I don’t think I’ve ever spanked him that hard, for that long, before.

But he wasn’t done.  When he got up, he surprised me again by going to the dresser and pulling out a pair of lacy panties, the ones that are actually made for men, the ones that I’d bought just for him.  He doesn’t often offer to wear them, and since we only have one pair (so far) I don’t really make him do it.

Aww, so cute

Aww, so cute

But that night, he put them on, and climbed into bed, cuddling up to me.  The effect that the spankings had on him was so awesome, I decided right then and there that I was going to start doing maintenance spankings every evening, before we go to bed.  Nothing nearly as severe as his punishment, but just enough to remind him who and what he is, and what will happen if he starts getting stupid again.  I think it’s a fabulous idea.  And really, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.

Seriously, I love that ass.

Seriously though, I love that ass.

Becoming Jane

I like Anne Hathaway.  I like James McAvoy.  I freaking love Jane Austen.

Hell, I even like Seth Grahame-Smith, who took classic, timeless stories like Pride and Prejudice and mercilessly and shamelessly butchered them into horridly appalling, absolutely mesmerizing, completely hilarious parodies like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (one of my top-ten favorite books, because it combines an awesome story by one of my favorite authors, with one of my all-time favorite things.  I mean, come on.  Zombies are fucking awesome.  And anyone who disagrees doesn’t have a soul).

Side note:

If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that needs to be at the top of your bucket list.  I have Pride and Prejudice basically memorized, and laughed my ass off through the whole book.

I want Seth’s babies.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

I mean, seriously.  How fucking awesome is that?

Just in case you’re not familiar with the late great Ms. Austen, the first line of Pride and Prejudice is, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  I was in hysterics from the very first sentence of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

And it has fucking pictures!

(This is about where my favorite lit professor lost pretty much all respect for me as a human being.  Because he doesn’t have a soul.)

I fucking love this book.

I fucking love this book.

I’m rambling.  James McAvoy, Anne Hathaway, and Jane Austen.  All very cool people.

So how did I not know about the movie Becoming Jane?

Well, I duct-taped the spawn to the ceiling and found I had some time to kill, so I flipped it on in the bedroom and watched it.

And damn, I love that movie.  I had goosebumps at the end.  Fucking awesome.

Kazander happened to get home from work just as the movie was about over.  He walked into the bedroom and lied down next to me, staring at the screen with horror.

“This is the most awful movie I’ve ever seen,” was about the gist of whatever-he-said.  I was too transfixed by the movie to pay attention.

I said something along the lines of, “It’s the last five minutes.  You can’t judge the whole movie by the last five minutes.”

His response was, “Yes I can.  It’s awful.”

And then he made the mistake of saying, “If you ever want to really punish me, you don’t need a flogger or a cane or anything.  Just make me watch this.”

…. Oooh, baby, you should not have told me that…

I cannot wait for him to fuck up.