My friend Natasha Nawataneko sent me her book called Somatics for Rope Bottoms, so I read it, and now I’ll dedicate this weekly musing to my thoughts on it. My first impression is that this book is not for me, as I mainly tie nowadays. The book is a fellow companion for rope bottoms exploring what makes their experience meaningful, and the answer is often found in the body. I habitually tend to arrange things hierarchically—things like concepts, such as surrendering the physical body is less “deep” than offering one’s devotion. And I also put things in relation to one other, like the polarity between surrendering and submitting. It helps beginners to approach my area of expertise. However, I often believe that the question is more valuable; for example, what is the relationship between surrendering the physical body and devoting oneself? And this is what the book left me with, questions, to ask myself, to structure my view of rope bondage.
It’s more and more common for me to encounter people shocked by BDSM imagery. Lately when the Swedish gallery Fotografiska posted a self-portrait of a thirty-year-old Chinese photographer in rope bondage. People on social media were outraged; they thought he was a child, in pain, or didn’t consent to his own selfie picture. After asking people why they are so affected by the image, it often came down to power.
“BDSM FOR BEGINNERS
In this weeks episode I connect with the teacher and bodyworker Andy Buru for a conversation about conscious kink and BDSM. Andy is teaching European and Japanese rope bondage with the intention to create magical rooms where people can rest, heal and grow. What is it with powerplay that awakens the curiosity and arousal of so many?
Andy invites us for a philosophical approach to BDSM where presence and pleasure is the north star.
In this conversation you will hear us talk about:
• How to build the trust to play safely
• How to talk about consent and fantasies
• Why polarity and powerplay is a way to increase arousal
• How to explore your boundaries when you’re new to BDSM”
I often face this question in my work, either from someone curious or from someone claiming to have the answer. Or from myself, asking was this really “good” after an intense session. Two common ways of answering it are consent and addiction, but I think neither of them is good enough, by themselves. In this weekly musing, I want to break the two down and then provide a third option.
This weekly musing is a short follow up on my popular text What do you surrender. That in short describes a four-step model of what a submissive surrender to a dominate, and how it affects the trust required for the power dynamic to function. The steps are the physical body, pain and pleasure, ego and shame, and finally devotion. The text points out that another kind of trust, maybe a deeper one, is needed to act like a dog than to follow in a dance. You can read the text for more details. But it also suggests that devotion is the pinnacle of surrender because then one moves their attention from oneself to another altogether – like worshiping a god.
Hello Andy, good afternoon, you have been coming up more and more, on my newsfeed etc., and I had this understanding, how your work plays a big metaphorical part right now in where we are. Collectively. With COVID. With understanding the magic in sometimes being bound in something. And allowing the acceptance and surrender, of being bound in something, can actually create freedom and opportunity for different kinds of movement, though surrender. I saw the amazing rope thing you did with that guy, yeah just wondering if there is a piece of art or inspiration around, COVID, surrender, being bound by something, but actually still managing to find freedom within that. Within the self, the expression of self, somehow.
I’m planning for a new monthly BDSM-club in Stockholm. The pandemic is giving me oceans of time to figure out what I want to bring into this world. My thoughts circles around performativity. Over and over again. So in this weekly musing, I want to write about performance in relationship to BDSM-clubs. Many people I talk to are scared of performing. There are thoughts like they are not good enough, or that their kink is not kinky enough. When I was studying theatre, I spent a lot of time thinking about what one performs – is it telling a story, a display of a hard-to-acquire skill, or something only eye-catching beautiful, or even a political statement. I think what BDSM offers are presence and emotions.
What does it mean to be perverted? Or maybe a better question, when does something become perverted. The word has a pretty negative feel to it, but why is that? In a way, it’s a word that I love, because it describes a feeling, or behaviour, rather than “a thing”. The abbreviation BDSM feels technical in comparison. I’m reading a book called Deviant Opera with the subtitle Sex, Power, and Perversion on Stage. It talks about why acts of BDSM is becoming a part of modern stage performance. I just started it so won’t say too much, and probably write more about it later. But it brought back the word deviant to me – to deviate from the norm.
Often when people come to me for private rope sessions, they express an interest in suspensions. The ideas about it are many; it can be “ultimate surrender”, defeating gravity, or flying. Maybe the peaceful faces often seen in bondage pictures are alluring—the beautiful suffering, that Japanese bondage has made almost iconic. In reality, hanging in ropes is both a physical and emotional challenge. I believe that there are two fundamental ways to handle hardship, generally in life, particularly in bondage.
“You helped me see my skeleton woman and I’m so fucking grateful for that. I was so bored with everyone around trying to make a good impression on me. So scared of what happens if I didn’t impress someone. If I didn’t make others need me and let go of my need to desperately hold on.
You were doing the strangest thing truly not giving a fuck how did it make me see you. All out of nowhere I just wanted to trust you so badly. I was so inspired and turned on by this. Not by you or what you did but just by this attitude.
Now I feel like I can fall in the rabbit hole of complete delirium but as long as I’m passionate it will carry me on like a parachute and so I can hold on to the ones I care about with open arms. I don’t have to be scared any more cause I see in the darkness how all the insanity can glow lighting up a path and make all the sense there is.”
I just came back from Gothenburg, where I taught a workshop around the question – can BDSM be spiritual? As a way to introduce power play beyond bedroom bondage, spanking and 50 Shades of Grey. The key pillars where power, space and ritual. As most of the participants were new to the subject, I reconnected to three common pitfalls. I like to see them as hidden traps, as they are the kind of mistakes that one doesn’t notice directly.
This weekly musing is a thought experiment on consent and the meaning of no. I write this as an invitation for contemplation on the grey zones of human interaction. If you are looking for a more concrete and practical first approach to consent in BDSM and tantra, then I recommend reading the text “Playing safer” instead.