Weber would gender this unknown as something feminine. Something for the wicked witches and divine goddesses. I think modern feminism has opened up this domain to men, and BDSM is a modality for it. An opportunity to let go of rationality and repression and practice being emotional and intuitive. Even in the dominant role, exposing my, often perverted, desires is vulnerable. If I don’t share my emotions, I simply become an object for another’s desire, like the rational flogging machine pain-2000 or shibari roller-coaster hang-around-upside-down. And then again, I’m back to repression and only being valued for my skills.
The whole situation is created. By asking her to wear the kimono. By telling her to dress in the bathroom. By everyone else being so dressed differently. And she loves it. She feels safe and vulnerable at the same time. And she has everyone’s attention on her. The situation would be completely different if she started naked. Tying rope is like telling a story, and so is undressing your partner. It is the transformation from covered to exposed that is the point. And that makes a tiny inch of bare skin so much more erotic.
BDSM and tantra are almost always edgy subjects. They are attractive because there is a promise of adventure. But the thing with adventure is that there is always a risk of something going wrong. And it will if you keep practising long enough. So what to do when the shit hits the fan? I think it’s possible to split the troubles into three categories—trauma, consent and trust.
People I meet in retreats and sessions have very different reasons to search for submission and surrender. There is almost always a search for permission to be someone other than their everyday selves. And this permission is found in the dominant. The roleplay, power dynamic, and polarity is an excuse to pretend that the world is different. That different rules apply. To pretend that the master is both the primal wilderness, the impossibly divine and the collaborative civilization simultaneously. Giving them this imaginary power enables them to change everything. To change all the conditions and circumstances that made us who we are.
Here is some of the music that I’ve played at my events during 2021.
I’m attempting over and over again to create my dream play party. Great people, live music, fantastic venue, these are obvious. But what comes next? I first encountered play parties at Schwelle7 in Berlin a decade ago. Then, it was called the aristocracy (noble court) of desire. The experience was dream-like for me. There was a culture of behaving shared by the old to the new. Expressing this culture in rules kills it. It’s like my Japanese Ikebana teacher says, almost always. Or my tea teacher says that serving tea is like smiling, and you can’t teach it by the facial expression. It is symbolic and ever-evolving, even inside a play party.
I’m reading a book about Max Weber called Love or Greatness by feminist philosopher Roslyn Wallach Bologh. She says that if Marx was the man who most clearly defined the economic interworking of patriarchal capitalism, then Weber defined the sociological counterpart. I’m still just beginning this reading adventure, but the early chapter about manliness made me want to muse about men and dominance. It is similar to the ideas of masculinity from Male Fantasies: Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History by Klaus Theweleit that I wrote about in my text Like the ocean.
I often talk about insecurity as the step away from safety, away from the known and into the mystery. It’s the first tiny step, and I think it is the longing of many. If one continues on that journey comes maybe unease, anxiety, distress, fear, panic, and apathy. Most want to be brave enough to take the first step, but few want or perhaps no one to go all the way. Moving towards the unknown activates the nervous system; the interpretation depends on the window of tolerance if it is arousing or stressful.
When you enter an event like GRÄNSLANDET you never know where it’s going to take you. Everytime is different. Everytime you find something new in yourself. This time it took me deep into the realm of voyeurism and exibitionism. The evening was a reminder of how much we all need to be seen. Not just in an exhibitionist way but in a human way. To meet the gazes of others and share the same space.
The wordlessness of the space spoke to me. I was drawn by the promise of silence. There are no words in the headspace I want to be in anyway. For someone like me, who feels so exhausted and drained in my everyday life that I mumble good morning to my colleagues without making eye contact, this was a reminder of that need to connect. The wordlessness makes it safe, no unwanted questions or concern, just presence and acceptance. A restful space. That is what I seek in my exploration of BDSM – a safe, calm and restful space.
There was strange music playing. Bodies moving, dancing, flowing. Eyes watching and being watched. Hesitant and bold at the same time. Objectified by the anonymity. Dehumanized and still more human than ever.
When I play I usually get so caught up in my own experience that I stop noticing the world around me. But this evening as I watched others playing I saw the sadistic grin on their faces and shared in their enjoyment. It was impossible to look away, I was enthralled, eyes wide. As someone turned and asked: “Did you see our session?”, the light in their eyes reflected in mine. Yes, I saw you.
Perhaps I am a bit more at home in this setting than my partner. We played, not hard or edgy but enough for us in that space and time. The point is not what we did but what it did to us.
Throughout our whole session I was aware of the surroundings; the otherworldly music, the audience, the school desk wobbling under me with every blow, the irony of the wooden cross on the wall above and the heat of the spotlight that was aimed right between my legs. I kept looking up to see if anyone was watching. I wanted them to see. He made me straddle the desk and my exposed pussy was lit up. Much to my partner’s amusement my head was banging against the wooden cross as he was spanking me. I had to turn my blushing face away. Wanting to hide but not being able to. Wanting to be seen but not being able to admit it.
The exposure and shame might also be my biggest kink. Being held down, exposed, forced and used. My naked body and all my most perverted desires for all to see. I wear my shame with pride. I revel in it. There’s no hiding from the truth. You know it, I know it.
So I confess.
I love this.
About a week ago, my interpretation of a play party resurfaced in Stockholm under the name GRÄNSLANDET / SALOGEN. The ambition is high. Once again, it’s a communal experience, where everyone simultaneously is affecting and being affected by the space—like a feedback loop. Everything is made here and now. And everything is influencing everything: live musicians, an ever-change light setup, and the different constellations of people. Tantra, BDSM, theatre and dance. It’s a delicate choreography. For me, the evening is perfect when I find myself in a constant flow between feelings, people and experiences—a journey into something unknown.
There is something about the Swedish autumn woods that connects deeply to my feeling for rope bondage. Maybe it's the decaying trees, the still waters, and desolate beauty. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
This weekly musing is for the nerds. Or the ones that are interested in creating play parties and sex-positive environments. I first ran the GRÄNSLANDET event five years ago, and it is the seed to the in-between space project. Now, during COVID-19, I got the time and energy to plan a follow-up. And I did it with two friends outside the BDSM and tantra subculture, that has much more experience than me in creating participatory and theatrical events. So this musing is some of the information that we collected. Parts of it made it into the final event, others will remain as inspiration for the future. I hope it will inspire others in their creations. Thank you, Riadalom and Herzog, for the many long breakfasts we spent together.