Serving and exhibitionism (2021)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

A returning question in my musings is; who is it for? When entering the tantric BDSM scene, it is common to focus on oneself, especially when the submissive end of the polarity is appealing. Do I enjoy spanking? Bondage? Rough sex? Tease and denial? Etc. It often goes hand in hand with exploring exhibitionism, which is being seen in one’s sexuality and learning how to be in focus. In my Japanese bondage, a recurring theme is that exposure brings vulnerability because there is often much shame attached to feeling pleasure. The strange combination of consensus culture and strive for individuality in Sweden creates a dynamic of wanting to be seen but not wanting to be different but still looking to be unique. All about me. In this musing, I want to write about what happens when one turns that attention away from oneself and endeavours to serve.

To set the scene, I want to turn my attention to three older musings quickly. The first two depends on each other; What do you surrender? and When devotion is the only option. They muse about how moving the attention from the submissives physical and emotional experience to the will of a dominant is advanced play and what I would call devotion. While for someone with trauma, the default option is often to feel outside oneself to escape one’s own emotions. And in that case, I think, it’s a healing process to return to oneself again. Finally, in the third musing, I have a dream / from ME to WE, I describe this journey more culturally. But, from now on, I’ll focus on the kink of serving.

Imagine the following. You arrive an hour before the dinner. You have already eaten, as instructed. But, instead of food, there is a leather neck corset half covering your face and a white linen apron for you this evening. Your task is organizing the shoes of the arriving guests, all with your gaze down. How someone walks, how the leather shoes are cared for, what socks they deem fitting for such an intimate evening, and if they put them away neatly or casually, leave them for you. It says a lot about someone and how it will be serving them this evening. First, with food and wine, later with your body.

Being in service can be described as being an extension of another’s fantasy. In a way, it is exhibitionistic because it is acting out someone else’s desire so that they can voyeuristically witness their fantasy come to life. And, with it comes the relief of responsibility. That someone else is the pervert. You can read more about the expression perversion here and why I love it so much. Of course, one must be curious about the serving scenario before entering into it, but that is simply part of being conscious and consensual. Once inside, the recommendation is placing the focus onside oneself.

Serving is an opportunity to let go of deciding why to do something. If what happens next fits in the grand scheme or not. Or if the effort is worthy of the pleasure it provides. All one has to do is to provide the service—the doing. The tasks can include simple duties, like organizing shoes, serving drinks, and acting as a human chandelier. Or more specialized tasks, like giving a pleasurable massage, delivering a flogging to another submissive, and entertaining with a sensual dance. Perfecting the job becomes exhibitionistic because the submissive turns into a fetishized object. And practising protocol with the proper uniform, posture, and behaviour becomes a play in itself.

In a way, service play shines in the context of a party or group play where one gets to serve a bigger audience, directly, by practical tasks and, indirectly, by contributing to the ambience of a room. I sometimes joke that the essential interior of a play party is the people in it because their behaviour has the greatest of impact on the experience of everyone. Stepping into the role of a servant, one can fully dedicate themselves to this, rather than fulfilling their private desires (read more about it here). For example, in a ceremonial space that I created a few years ago, we washed the feet of everyone entering the room. So a handful of people spent hours devoting themselves to serving each and every participant. Afterwards, in the feedback we received, that was the most profound experience. For everyone involved, independently if they were washing feet or getting their feet washed. So, expensive furniture, overflowing fabrics and flowers, and unique art help but is, in the end, not comparable to human devotion. Because what one receives is a tiny moment in time of another’s life.

In neo-tantra temples, the service is provided by the dakas and dakinis, and I’ll leave you this time with a story about them, as told by a visitor by the name of Virginie.

If you are reading the mail version of this, you have to visit my webpage to listen to her story.