tagReviews & EssaysIrony, Skin, Paradox, Leather

Irony, Skin, Paradox, Leather


I am never naked.

That's not true, of course, in that I shower and change clothes and have even been known to walk around my house disrobed--if admittedly only when certain that all doors, windows, and even possible future cracks in the building's stucco shell (etc) are sealed and safeguarded. Also, being a grown woman of functional mind and body, I fuck with some regularity. This means time is spent without clothes. (tragically).

Even in those moments, it's a near thing, though. Now, I'm not (anymore) the hide-from-all-light-never-be-touched 'fraidy cat I was a dozen years ago or so--not bad considering I ain't gotten anything but larger, more out of shape, and worse-looking over the intervening years. If nothing else, there's always the convenient diversion of concentrating on the other person's pleasure; once you commit to that road, they're not looking at you or anything else. Well, at least not once you learn what does it for them.

So, while I can strip to the skin and romp the freak just fine--and even quite well, my ego pipes up--I am never truly naked with another human being.

Generally speaking, I do not get close to people. Sometimes, when I am fortunate, people seem to come near me. They get close to me. Even when I try, I most often find I do not get close to them. There is always something in me that holds back and keeps distance between us, that hedges my bets when I'm about to reveal too much, demand too much...something.

I don't know exactly what it is that I'm put off by or afraid of, but I do know that even when I trust someone implicitly, there's never been a place where all the armor comes off. One eye's always watching my back in some form or another; it's not even pessimism, really, just a placid certainty that such distancing is not only beneficial but essential to living.

It's like the not crying thing. I've spent so many years learning to repress tears--because they'd catch me a beating, because they'd draw a lecture, because it made someone uncomfortable, whatever--that I'm completely locked up about it. There are times when I can literally feel the tears burning in my chest, when I can barely breathe around them. But, I just can't do it. I can't *choose* to let my guard down that much in front of another person. Most days...hell, most months, I can't or won't let it down that much alone.

And I really can't decide if I don't really want to, or if I'm just dead inside. (not literally...forgive the "Friends" reference)

The emotional landscape surrounding love, trust, passion and sex is definitely grey area.

~~~ This is where I go off on a thing about that damned GooGooDolls song. (I'm typing this from memory, so I'm sure it's off in many respects.)

"Iris", by J. Resnick & Goo Goo Dolls

And I'd give up forever to touch you 'cause I know that you feel me somehow You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be and I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment and all I can breathe is your light 'cause sooner or later it's over I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me 'cause I don't think that they'd understand when every thing's made to be broken I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming or the moment of truth in your lies when everything feels like the movies and you bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me 'cause I don't think that they'd understand when every thing's made to be broken I just want you to know who I am I just want you to know who I am

That's just it, too. I *do* bleed to know I'm alive. All the time. I scare myself, intentionally, all the time. I take risks, I fight uphill (and often doomed) battles, I take the fucking path of most resistance. Not to go all Robert Frost (particularly since he ultimately ate a bullet, just like Hemingway), but I believe that it actually does make all the difference. I believe that the battle can be beautiful.

However, at some point you're kidding yourself if you don't face the fact that path-of-most-resistance behavior is a way of life fraught with problems. Masochism is difficult to live on a sustained time-line without losing hope or becoming addicted to the pain as an outlet for self-hate instead of using it as a path toward a greater Love. It's a struggle, and often a painful one. But sometimes that's the price of feeling alive at all.

And that's just it: those moments--the scariest, most out-of-my-norm, against the prevailing wisdom, respect-no-authority-but-experience-as- *sensation*-approaches-its-limits moments (of all kinds and in all contexts) are the only times when I feel...whole. And not like an "I'm broken all the time boo-hoo, poor me" kinda thing. Just, those are the times, and usually it's so fleeting you could almost miss it (or spend a lifetime chasing it), when there is no dance or costume or lines or role. Those are the moments when I am most simply experiencing and therefore feel most alive.

Those are the edges where the simplicity of being alive and aware and *in that moment* consume everything else--all thought, all masquerade, all fear, all ego, all awareness. And yet, that's not true. There is such crystalline awareness in it, such clarity of focus that it's almost hyper-rational even while it's utterly without order or hierarchy or logic. That's the maso-head in the meta sense, I think. At least, it is for me. But it's applicable all over my life, I've come to realize.

So in a sense, I'm closest to naked in chains. But that's not the truth--or certainly not the whole truth, because I'm not a one-sided creature that way. (Or, as some would likely say, I'm never capable of being that succinct.)


There are a lot of reasons I flip the D/s and the S/M switches, none of which are the point of this particular venture, I don't think. Suffice it to say there's a twisted blend of personal history, backlash from feminism, baggage from religion, and what I honestly believe are core elements of ingrained biology at work in the kaleidoscope that is my sexuality. However, that's the only way it makes sense to me--or more appropriately, the only version of "me" as a sexual being that feels honest and *right* in all the shadings of meaning that matter. So, the switch. But, not entirely. Or at least, not usually.

How to explain? Let's try this tack--Now, Your Mileage May Vary but for me it's always true that when I scene I both give something of myself and take something of the other person/people, no matter what roles I occupy on the power and pain axes.

The metaphor-enhanced-for-television version is something like this: on the Top, play the other person's bodily responses, breath, sensory input. I play in the innocent sense of exploration. I play, too, in the sense that I set a scene, design costuming, direct the events and take from the bottom the responsibility for these things, the need to figure out how to please or attract or satisfy me. I make it simple and neat and in many ways about them. I open them up through pleasure, and given time I learn to play the range of frequencies which can make their bodies hum with ...life. Brilliant, exquisite, twisted life.

It has a lot to do with the mind-fuck. I draw them out, crawl inside them, learn the desires that make them sweat and shake and sometimes want to hide away in shame. I take that mask from them and what I give in return is the chance to make those fantasies real, or as real as they can be. And once I'm inside their heads like that, I also give the assurance that I can protect them and keep them safe, allow them to be freely sexual and committed to the moment without fear or judgment or abandonment or real harm. I Top and I Domme, and I do both with great joy.

On the bottom, I open myself to whatever the other person has in them to externalize onto me. I take from them the violent explosion of emotion that is the controlled burn unique to a sadistic Top at play. It can come from many places: rage, pain, fear, hurt, even hate--though I've never met the person who operated from a place of hate with sufficient self-control to transform it during scene into something positive. But when done both right and well (my personal ethics fall somewhere between the RACK & SSC camps, not surprisingly) it always also comes from a place that is purely about intense desire; even when it doesn't operate from a county anywhere near Love it comes from and with tremendous passion.

Make no mistake, the performance of the (sadistic) Top is an art. I am the canvas, the screen, the blank page on which they can write their desires. I give the focused intensity of my experience of reality, the passion which drives my capacity for both pleasure and pain to the moment, to their desires, to their control over my body and what's enacted upon in within that context. I perform--and like any play, the better the direction, stage management and costume department, the better my performance. I bottom, gladly and with great pleasure. I would say that I rarely, if ever, truly submit.

Now a few years ago I may have said something else, but I've come to look at it somewhat differently. While I consider myself not only a lifestyler but someone who's more or less always lived a leather life, because I switch many dismiss me. Because of this, as well as my own ideological reasons, I've often been a bit bristly and defensive on the subject of my own relationship to sexual submission. On one hand I used to feel a kind of need to defend the "depth" of switches in general. A kind of "my sub is as good as your sub" thing similar to the endless but equally pointless game of "bisexual *is* queer" debate that finally drove me out of LBGTA (et al) entirely. On the other hand, I also feel a real draw to the maso-bottom role--but also to something which more closely resembles what I'd call simple submission.

It has something to do with level of commitment at the *moment*, I think, the difference between a bottom headspace and a sub-head. Now, all that "Nine Levels of Submission" stuff talks about duration of power exchange, levels of acquiescence and consent and things like that.

These definitions are, ultimately, a lie. Nobody lives their life either empowered or disempowered in exclusion, not even within the very limited context of their most intimate and intense relationships. Not really. There are a million simple tasks adults perform every day that could be the subject of a power exchange, but if they all were real life would grind to a halt. The dishes would never get done, the bills remain unpaid, and no lifestyler could hold down a job--much less goes to Parent-Teacher conferences, lights a fire under slacking employees, write a play, or maintain a website.

So, I don't buy at all, if i ever did, that the depth of submission is about duration or even about the level of restriction enforced upon one's liberty to self-direct. To define it in those terms makes the definition of submission actually a definition of Dominance--or a sliding-scale describing the level and/or frequency of enacted discipline, at any rate. Instead, I think it's actually about the experience of the submissive, or at least the definition of it *should* be.

From what I've seen and felt, that place, that submissive head, is very much like the maso-bottom space. Except, and this is a big exception, for the fact that instead of giving oneself to the experience of a moment, one gives over to the other person. That's a difficult difference to adequately explain, but a very emotional one. The edge, the loss of fear and thought and speech and *self* is still there, but transformed. Shared in some strange way with the Dominant charged with holding that sublimated self, with holding *YOU* for you while pushing the -it- that is the body and submerged identity left behind (and then, if they are worthy of holding that submission, back from) the edges of desire and dread.

For a Dominant that journey, however long it lasts, is a tremendous responsibility but a great gift to receive too; when a submissive's commitment is as near total as it can be, it's a round trip ticket into the screaming chaos that is also a serene and quiet place.

These are the paradoxes which structure my sexuality.

I am only naked in leather.

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