Some years ago, I was at a private play party being held in a large house that had a number of private rooms. A woman I knew somewhat approached me for a scene. She really liked being tied up with rope so that she couldn't get loose but had a hard time finding men whose skills were good enough to prevent that. She had heard about my special interest in rope bondage. We talked beforehand about what the scene would and wouldn't involve. (Me and my negotiation fetish, don'tcha know?) One of the things she *wasn't* interested in was that the play be sexual. Given that "sexual" is a somewhat vague term, I proceeded to ask her if several different acts would or would not be OK. All of them were not. OK. Candidly, I don't much like doing nonsexual scenes but I figured what the hey. I find her attractive, we seem to have a certain rapport, the scene will probably be "adequately" fun anyway, and who knows what the future might bring, right? So we do the scene, and it's actually not half bad. (For a non-sexual scene, anyway.) Oh, and no, she couldn't get loose. <G>
So the scene is finished and she's getting dressed when I hear her quietly say, almost more to herself than me, "You actually kept the agreement to not be sexual. That was interesting."
I turn to look at her, my jaw hanging open.
"What do you mean?" I ask her.
"You're the first one who ever did that," she replies.
"Yeah," she continues, "All of the other men have just gone ahead and had sex with me anyway."
I cannot believe what I'm hearing.
"What do they say afterwards?"
"Usually something like, Oh, it just happened."
I just stare at her, stunned into speechlessness. Then it dawns on me that she was likely thinking that I would break the agreement as well. She went into the scene anticipating that that would happen. All throughout the scene a part of her brain was waiting for that to "just happen." She was expecting that I would break my word. A part of me starts to become really angry at her that she would think that of me, but I decide to not say anything. After all, I had kept my agreements. We finish up and rejoin the party.
I get to thinking about her prior experiences. That's not OK. It didn't "just happen." A blue car driving by on the street outside the house "just happened." A cloud drifting overhead "just happened." A man intentionally engaging in sexual behavior after he has explicitly promised to not do that is *not* something that "just happened." No, that assertion just plain doesn't fly.
Over the next several months, we go on to have several more private play dates of a similar nature, although as she gets to know me better certain things that were previously not OK now become OK. I love happy endings.
So a short while ago, at a small dinner with some local kinksters, I tell this story and one woman at the table replies, "What's your point?" When she sees that I'm kind of staring at her she continues, "That's more the norm than the exception." The other woman at the table looks at me and ruefully nods agreement.
It gets me to thinking, when Greenery Press was considering publishing "The Kinky Girl's Guide to Dating" I was one of the pre-publication manuscript readers. After I had read the manuscript, I called the publisher and said, "Are you sure you want to publish this? It's basically one long catalog of horror stories about what jerks the local male doms are. An awful lot of these stories are about men lying to get sex, lying about their other relationships, and lying about other important things. If I was a local submissive woman I'd feel like running screaming in the opposite direction. No way I'd want to get involved with these guys."
What particularly bothered me about the manuscript was that the author wasn't talking about newbie men. She was talking about established, well-known guys. Guys seen at places like local munches with some frequency. Guys (supposedly!) well educated about basic SM principles such as consent, respecting limits, and so forth. Guys who *knew better* than to pull crap like that. This bothered me, rather a lot, particularly the implications.
So what I basically have here is at least three women, all of whom seem fairly rational and emotionally stable with no anti-male axe to grind, and all of whom are separately affirming that being lied to by men -- in particular, being lied to by local, known, supposedly educated men -- in order to get sex/play/etc. is a *common* experience for them. In particular, incidents involving men lying or breaking agreements in order to "get" sex and/or to avoid using condoms seem to be extremely common. (In "The Kinky Girl's Guide" manuscript the author recounts an incident in which she wakes up to find her dom fucking her. She's not too drowsy to discover that he's not wearing a condom, which is a direct violation of their safer sex agreements. He was apparently hoping that she'd be too sleepy to notice. When she angrily asks him why he did this, his only reply is a hangdog facial expression. Their relationship ends soon thereafter.)
In my travels across the country, women in other locales have affirmed the basic truth of this. We men are notorious for outright lying (about really important things) to women in order to get play, to get sex, and/or to avoid using condoms.
My God, is the situation really *that* bad?
It is distressing that this appears to be so common. There is no excuse for violating prearranged limits, and for my money it’s never okay to “just roll with it” since most often a bottom in a scene loses the capacity to think straight…I know that’s happened to me while bottoming. And as humans we have the capacity to control our actions, so as far as I’m concerned no one can claim that they simply couldn’t stop themselves.
This is not a defense of men (or women) who violate established boundaries in scene because it “just happened.” But I have to wonder, if someone goes into a scene fully EXPECTING that their hard limits/boundaries will not be respected, why do they choose to engage in a scene with that person and/or why do they not insure that someone they trust will be nearby to stop things from getting out of control? Again, let me make clear that I agree that it is the top’s responsibility to rigidly conform to what s/he agreed to with the bottom before anyone reaches an altered state. What these tops (I’ll agree that in the majority of cases these are probably men) did was not alright but it’s everyone’s responsibility to do things as safely as possible, and it seems to me that there are things both/all parties involved can do to make sure that everyone’s desires and limits are respected.
I do somewhat resent the implication that newbie men might be expected to violate pre-arranged boundaries whereas established players will not. Staying within agreed limits has more to do with respect for other persons than one’s experience with a certain sub-culture’s set of rules. And the central role of respect and consent for any interaction between people is not a BDSM specific thing.
Wow--that's a really weird thing to read, Jay. I have always felt that negotiation of limits was somewhat sacrosanct. Otherwise, what's the point? How can a Dom feel like they have integrity if they disregard the very limits they have negotiated? How can a sub feel safe and secure in that kind of environment? If someone is going to violate your trust where sex is concerned, how can you expect them to keep your trust in any other area?
I generally try not to get involved in scenes where sex is not part of it, but I have on occasion. But if that is what is negotiated, that is what I will stick with.
I'm almost of the opinion that people who don't stick to negotiated limits are unsafe to play with and should be outed so others might be warned. Almost--because I really hate the outing thing.