The weekend for me was full of many blessings. I’m reminded again how Lucky i am to have wonderful friends in 0ur Leather family. As a femme bootblack whose location of choice to black since losing my chair at LRA when they closed is at our Leather Bar. I haven’t had a lot of hardships too often except for the shoulder shoves which isn’t all that uncommon for me when not standing next to Master, usually always by people we do not know. Being used to it at 5′ 3″ i can still hold my footing. ‘The last bar night before this last friday i didn’t happen to be so lucky. Shoved over kit in hand i went backwards into someone and then was shoved back with a barstool. I was a bit shocked and didn’t say anything and kept walking out the door. This past friday night driving in i found myself increasingly anxious. I was nervous to go back into the back of the bar again. That evening i found myself never alone and surrounded by one person after another sent back to make sure i was ok, That is the feeling i carry along with me any time i think i might not measure up.
I was reading an article about the new International Power Exchange couple for 2014 – Stefanos and Shay. I was curious what they were like. Then I read this part of the article:
Why did you decide to compete?
(part of answer removed for brevity …)
I think people can perceive Master/slave as “the way” to do power exchange, and if that specific dynamic doesn’t work for them (as it didn’t for us) they may feel that they’ve “failed” at power exchange. Discovering the vast array of alternative power exchange dynamics out there was an epiphany for us, so we are passionate about increasing awareness of these dynamics!
Now that part surprised me… the concept that if M/s doesn’t work for someone, they consider that they’ve failed. The question to my mind was – “why see it as failure?”
So in thinking about this, part of what slave angie wrote about the other day about “slices of life” brought an answer to mind. Many people will look at how others “do it” and rate themselves. The things they see at the dungeon, at the play space, at the bars, at the events and munches… these all are slices and usually ones with a lot of of the negativity taken out. Most people don’t feel comfortable showing up to a munch in a bad mood, or arguing, or to an event and sharing how sick they feel or how much pain they’re in or how the bills have racked up and everyone in the house is stressed out beyond belief…
So when M/s relationships hit these situations, or they fall into ebbs/ruts, or things happen, not a lot of people talk about how to deal with it. Or know where to go. There are resources – events, MAsT chapters or Power Exchange discussion groups, or even other couples… but it’s hard to go up to someone and say “Hey, this really fucking sucks right now and compared to ‘Master Shiny and slave sparkles’ over there, we feel like complete failures.”
Yea, I get that. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the concept gets extended to “I’ve failed at Power Exchange period” but I was.
Part of that goes back probably to that slave angie and I were just too damn stubborn to call things failures, although we came close once.
Also, we know how hard this is. That’s probably why our blog/365 sometimes reads as a diary of “hard day” “bad day” “we struggled” — but we are doing that in part to say “Hey, this isn’t easy. It’s not the erotica. It’s not 50 Shades or Marketplace or any of the shiny that you read on K&P on KinkyNet… it’s real, it’s got real life in it, and real life is a pure sadistic bitch.”
And yet, it is also beauty. What lies at the top of each hill we struggle to climb? A beautiful view. What lies at the bottom of a hill that we might stumble down on? A wonderful valley. And those things, those successes, those moments and times when things click, when service is effortless and Mastery feels like music, when it all works, those are the times that we revel in and recharge and rebuild.
We say that when we got into M/s, we “threw out the rulebook” and there’s a great deal of truth and freedom in that. We didn’t have a lot of expectations of how it should work. When we said “we are Master/slave”, it wasn’t with the idea that we’ve already reached the 36th chamber and defeated the boss. We learned to accept that this would be a constant journey with ups/downs.
That’s not to say that there weren’t the comparisons. I remember more than one occassion when slave angie would read a blog of “slave sparkles” and how wonderful things were and how easy it was and she would compare and think herself less. It took some time of working that out – to understand that I set those expectations… but it’s easy to get caught up in that. Hell, I am constantly learning from others, but it takes confidence in yourself to say “I’m going to pull that from this person… ” and not get caught up in comparison-wishing.
So I get how failure could be seen… and there are just people who are not cut out for Master/slave. It’s just not going to work, but it’s not a “failure” to admit such and to say “this isn’t for me…”
I don’t see folks in Sir/boy, Daddy/girl, Puppy/handler, Dom/sub, or any of the other combinations as “less” than “Master/slave.” Different for sure. I think of Master/slave as edge players in relationship dynamics, but that’s my own opinion, which won’t buy me too damn much these days. Not everyone wants to do edge play, or do that kind of edge play. Not everyone is suited for that… but that doesn’t make their rigging, or their flogging or their particular S/m play any less fulfilling, less of a journey… because it’s their journey.
So I’ve wandered a bit so let me try to make this clear – I hope there is some way I/we can reach out to people and say “Failure is not an option.” If you find yourself in the hard parts, that is normal. You can look at our blog, or come talk to us, and find that out. If you decide that M/s absolutely is not for you, then good for you! Find what works, and make it yours.
A couple of weeks back, slave angie and I had a long “windshield session” as we drove home from a much needed getaway. This time, an innocent statement about fisting led to a very deep discussion about sexual interests, sexual growth and what exactly is a slave’s place to express her sexual interests and desires and ways to try new things. I love these conversations because I love knowing what makes someone tick, I love knowing what’s in those dark corners (Oh, you like that, hmm, I do too… ) and I love knowing what levers I can use for future sex.
Angie knows that I expect transparency from us both. “Brutal honesty” is how we started out and have remained that way since. That also is true in the sexual realm as well, knowing what she’s into, what new things she’s fantasized about, what new interests she might develop. What has been slower coming has been for her to ask for experiences that might lie outside of us. While we’re open to playing with others, it’s a space that we share only when the stars line up and it works well for all of us. Those spaces are sacred to us, and opening them up to others takes a chunk of trust and good energy, not something that is always easy to figure out.
I’ve never had a problem, in terms of whether it is proper or not, with slave angie coming to me with her interests and requests. Our sexual interests and health is a big part of what makes us tick, both as healthy human beings and as people in a kinky, alternative relationship dynamic. There are many M/s relationships that don’t include sex, and there are many that do. We’re definitely part of the latter. Being able to have those discussions, and for slave angie to feel safe and empowered to let me know her interests is important to me. Her sexual growth and well-being is just as important to me as is her physical health and well-being. She’s not intuitively wired that way, to voice her sexual interests, so it’s been a situation of where I encourage her, and I’ve learned to allow natural growth and curiosity to be drivers for her to explore.
For quite a while, it was like deep sea mining to get her to talk about her ya-ya’s. Truth be told, I do like it that there is a small part of her that is STILL humiliated by me having her admit her fantasies and interests to me… but it was important for me that she could come to me. Even now, ten years later, I’ll hear “please don’t laugh but…” — and I don’t laugh. Someone sharing something so intimate should be honored and welcomed.
That’s how it works for me. And, it goes both ways too. She knows my interests, she knows what I want. My style of M/s has me being transparent to her as well. I make no secret of what makes me hard, especially since I share so many interests with her.
slave angie: Thunder in the Mountains 2007 was an amazing event for Master and I. This break was just what we needed to connect with each other in our Master/slave spaces. Being my first big kink event i was wide eyed to say the least.
Master Michael: It was one of those magical weekends that we still talk about 7 years later. The energy was amazing, we learned tons from the classes and our play brought us back together in an intimate way. It really set the stage for getting us out of a long ebb (or rut) and stepping up our relationship. This is one of our favorite pictures from that event.
And if you’re curious – Thunder in the Mountains 2014. We can’t make it this year, but hopefully 2015?
I’m at the end of filling out a questionnaire for Raven Kaldera for a book he is writing on the various “types” of Master/slave relationships. I’m filling it out from a leather perspective. As well, I’m working on the class we’ll be presenting at this year’s Northwest Leather Conference, on “Living Leather and M/s”. Doing both at the same time has been interesting, as it’s forced me/us to look at how we define things, so that we can explain them to others. Not always an easy task!
One of the questions that I’ve answered in both is “What would you tell someone new who is interested in M/s and leather?” So as not to steal all the thunder from Raven’s book and our class, I’ll share the basic jist of the “Four Things” — feel free to ask questions if you want to discuss further. Once Raven’s book comes out, if it hasn’t been covered already, I’ll come back to this and explore the four.
1. Get involved in leather community. Volunteer. Support. Show interest, not replacement.
2. When doing 1), remember to sit down, shut the fuck up and listen. Earn your way.
3. Walk to the beat of your different drummer. Learn your local/regional/club traditions. Honor them, don’t be beholden to them. Use what works. Throw out the rest. Invent your own.
4. Don’t rewrite history. Don’t accept rewritten history. Go out and learn leather history. Then, make your own by living Life.
These are all things that I was taught, and I hope to pass on.