Saturday Ponderings: This Puzzles Me

WOW!!! It’s been a very weird, but AMAZING, couple of weeks. I’ve been buried in client work and trying to have a personal life, but the results were more than worth it in terms of my sanity and bank account. The good news is, things have settled down to a point where I can actually do some work on my site and reward my loyal readers for their patience. Don’t forget to come back on Monday, when it’s time for another #MasturbationMonday story…and don’t worry. Everything I’ve been up to will be revealed in due course! So, with that said, let’s get started.

Okay, folks, maybe I missed a memo somewhere.

See, I never believed in the idea of “guilty pleasures.” As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not hurting anyone, and the pleasures you’re engaging in only affect you and any consenting adult partners who may have involved, then there shouldn’t be any problem.

Unfortunately, society begs to differ. They say this is okay, but only if conditions A, B and C are met. That over there is NEVER okay, regardless of how many consensual conditions are fulfilled. And this is okay only if yet another subset of conditions is met. While people are hopping from foot to foot, driving themselves crazy trying to comply with this laundry list of arbitrary rules, they’re actually prohibited from learning about themselves and their desires in a safe and healthy way. Is it any wonder that so many people lead unfulfilling and unsatisfactory lives, especially when it comes to what they do for sexual and emotional release?

Yesterday, a prospective submissive of mine asked me a question which broke my heart.

I’ve been encouraging her to tell me about her desires, fantasies and needs. This is difficult for her, because she’s spent most of her life receiving the exact opposite message from intimate partners, employers and society as a whole. It is also, regrettably, a VERY common issue among people exploring BDSM and kink for the first time, especially those getting into it over the age of, say, 30.

However, this engrained cultural reluctance is anathema to a healthy and satisfying D/s dynamic. With some coaxing and sharing from my side, she finally felt safe enough to confide one of her more deeply-held fantasies to me. I’m not going to say what it was. Even as open as I am about my personal proclivities, some things simply are no one else’s business, not up to me to tell, and should remain solely between partners. Let it suffice to say she opened her mind and heart to me.

Then she asked me, “Do you think that’s weird?”

This question broke my heart because she had spent so long cherishing these desires, but feeling guilty and “dirty” about having them. She felt like something was broken inside her, because “nice” women don’t dream about these things, let alone want to seek out someone who’s willing to actively partake in them. She felt “wrong” in her own mind, heart and skin, because of the transgressive nature of her fantasy.

I assured her it wasn’t weird. In fact, it’s quite common. No less a light than Nancy Friday wrote about very similar fantasies in My Secret Garden, the landmark study of women’s sexual fantasies which I’m drawing on as a template for my own nonfiction work about the lives of kinksters.

What really upset me about this was the pleading in her voice.

The silent prayer I would understand.

The aching terror I wouldn’t.

The trembling dread I would walk away.

After assuring her I wasn’t scared off, but rather charmed and deeply proud she had chosen to confer this immense level of trust in me, I began to think. We discussed the situation in detail, as people must when they are evaluating the prospect of engaging in activities beyond the typical norms. I considered how what I already knew of her fit with the new pieces she had revealed.

As I did so, I felt the first stirrings of a deep anger.

It has always been my belief there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. There is only pleasure given and taken by and among consenting adults, or pleasures which ignore this most essential and basic boundary. The former is to be celebrated; the latter, reviled. Even consensual nonconsent, or “rape play,” does not wholly ignore boundaries and limits, nor does it commonly ignore the need for an emergency brake, in the form of a safeword

In the face of this, her tangible fear of being rejected for an element of who she is both puzzled and angered me. She wanted only what we all want: to be seen for who and what we are and accepted for it. But that trained-in reflexive rejection of her most basic self hurt on a primal level.

It hurt because I’ve been where she was. I’ve known that same fear. And all I wanted at that moment was to hold her and reassure her I don’t see her as a freak, someone to be pitied and shunned, but as a strong woman who knows her own mind and heart.

But the only way any of us can or will ever truly be free to explore what is within us is to grant ourselves permission to do so, ignoring the voices all around us which attempt to deny our most basic natures. To seek out those who will accept and love us exactly as we are. To acknowledge we may be rejected for doing so.

It puzzles me that we should live in a world where we have to fear being who we are. That fear exists in our world as a control mechanism, designed for one and only one purpose: to limit freedom of expression, and thereby restrict and regulate us all.

And I reject that world, and every iteration of it, in order to build a better one.

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