tapping on the glass

At this point, I’ve gotta ask myself why.  Why keep trying to get your foot in the door with this stuff?

(a post about kink)

Why, when you never seem to like anything you find.

Why bother, when your sex aversion is so extreme.  Why, when you don’t like to see boobs in public, and you don’t like genitalia, and you’re easily unsettled by pain and painful-looking things because your visceral empathy is out of control.  Why even consider it, when you’re even squicked by a lot of standard(?) D/s fare and can’t relate to all the motivations you’ve heard described for it.  Why, why, why, when you don’t fit in with the culture of the kink community at all.

wha, wah, whaaaah

Why keep eyeing it like this?  Why keep looking to get involved with it somehow?  What do you want?  Where is this coming from?  Why?

I could say it’s just: wanting casual touch, wanting touch-based relationships that aren’t sex-based relationships, wanting to explore sensory experiences.

And, yeah.

But why look to a personal minefield like the kink community for something as mundane as that?

[additional CN from here on out: light bondage talk, animal comparisons, and lots of talking circles around D/s]

Here’s a story I don’t think I’ve told anyone, because it’s never been relevant.

When I was little — maybe six years old or so, one of those ages where it’s normal to play games of pretend — the two of us once played this game, unsupervised.  It was an animal game.  One of us would pretend to be a lion and the other would pretend to be a gazelle.

Normal, right?  Well, yeah.  Yeah, it was.  Probably one of the more normal things about me as a little kid.

The first part of the game involved the lion hunting the gazelle (= us little kids running around on all fours).  Going off of memory, I think we were emulating nature documentaries or something.  That part would end with the “lion” tackling the “gazelle” while the latter struggled to get away until it was “killed.”  And then — and I honestly have no explanation for this part — the “dead gazelle” would get moved to a large closet, which was supposed to be an “oven” (I remember it getting very warm in there if you closed the door) where whoever was playing the gazelle had to lay very, very still until the lion decided it was done and opened the door.  After that, the lion would approach and “eat” (= make chewing noises while not making any contact with) the gazelle, who would lay completely motionless.

You want to know what I think is the weird part?

My friend who played this game with me, who was known for being pushy and bossy and domineering, liked to be the gazelle.  The reason we took turns was because we both liked to be the gazelle.

It was goofy and silly and, looking back on it, seems kind of weird and sadomasochistic.

And it wasn’t that long ago that I caught myself kind of missing it.

But that’s just something kids do.  Weird games like that.  You’re not going to find adults interested in playing with that kind of control-and-passivity scenario.

…unless you want to wade into all that.  Everything that approaching kinksters entails, all those par-for-the-course aspects of kink spaces that I’ve already established to myself I don’t want to encounter.

Almost everything I know about “conventional”(?) D/s and people’s reasons for practicing it is a turnoff.  Even abstractly, both roles sound uncomfortable to me.  I don’t want to “submit” to anybody and I don’t want to “dominate” anybody either.  Loaded words.  Implications that go farther, in the wrong direction.  Which begs the question of, then what’s the right direction?

Is there one?

Well, there’s got to be some reason why I’m so fascinated with the iconic scene from Gulliver’s Travels.

(btw, that’s safe to google if you don’t recognize the title — pretty SFW, unless your workplace has something against classic literature)

I once picked up a book belonging to the copilot, one that proclaimed to be all about “topping,” which is supposed to be a less loaded term than “Domming.”  But I only read a few paragraphs before I found I couldn’t get through it, because in the passage where it discussed motivations for people to top or become interested in topping, I couldn’t relate to any of what it said there.  It was all too alienating.

Which begs the question of, what do I relate to?

Once, when the copilot was telling me about a bondage convention she’d been to, I remember perking up at the mention of a woman leading a man around on a rope, which I pictured as kind of casually escorting him around on a line while his hands were tied.

Another time, after I had finished showing the copilot how to walk a horse using a halter and lead rope, using one of my family’s horses as part of the process, she thanked the horse for being our “demo bottom.”  Which was funny, and, uh.

Hm.  There’s a thought.


Saying I want to treat someone like a horse would be… inaccurate, and creepy.  The way I relate to and communicate with horses is fundamentally different from how I handle people.  Horses don’t have the same reasoning capabilities as people; they don’t have the same breadth of communication as people; they don’t learn or act or bond like people.  Most importantly, they shouldn’t be granted the same autonomy as people.  I’m patient and careful with my horse, you might even say I “negotiate” with my horse, but I don’t operate on the rigid principle of consent with my horse.  Because she’s a horse.

I don’t think any person should be treated like a horse.

Yet there are some… structural elements, like the use of rope and leader-follower relations and imperative language, that could be replicated without treating someone like a horse.

Or.  Maybe I should differentiate “like a horse” from “as a horse.”

I don’t know.

I know that when I read about people wanting a sanctioned time to be mean, and to unleash their nasty side, and wield absolute power over someone, and just “let go” of their internal restraints, I’m like ??? no ?? ?

Sorry to keep going back to horse examples (small reference pools), but when I’m riding or working with a horse I may be the one giving commands, but I’m also on high alert — scrutinizing reactions — keeping tract of where her mind is — balancing multiple inputs — making decisions — trying to maintain a kind of control which is fundamentally unstable and easily called into question — and, gosh, I don’t want to be mean to her.

And replicating that working dynamic in a way that’s molded to the requirements of human-human relations instead of human-animal relations doesn’t… involve “letting go.”

It’s holding on, pretty tight.

I don’t know if I can… isolate some single comprehensive grain of what keeps drawing me back to this subject almost as much as it keeps pushing me away.  I just want to form a semi-coherent answer for why.

And some of it, at least, seems like the monodirectional touch thing taken to an extreme.

Like.  “You figure it out while I just sit here” or “just sit here while I figure it out” and that’s it, pick one.   Binary poles and all that.  Restraint and passivity and… something.

And I’ll be at an impasse with myself until I figure it out.

22 responses to “tapping on the glass

  • epochryphal

    aaaa resonance with a lot of this. i’m so thankful you wrote and shared this? have a bunch of words:

    tying it to monodirectional touch especially is like…man. there’s something going on there, i wish had better insight into it. grains indeed.

    Super Agree about the way (white cishet??) people talk about domming as aaaaa noooo. and as someone who likes to have a dommy person in their life, ??? conflict??

    except i *Don’t* think that’s the way domming has to be or even majority is (though it can feel like it) or Should Be. domming/topping as losing control is Uh. irresponsible imo and yeah scary. (probably could be negotiated but Hey Be Careful, way more than the way you’re talking about it)

    reading about service tops is really nice to me tho. and even as a Very Paper Usually person, the way they talked about paying such close attention and being alert and balancing and managing atmosphere — i kind of see the appeal in that. (and i think, that’s closer to what you’re talking about?)

    i’ll come back and drop a link to an article on disability and kink that talked nicely about that kind of careful attention and control.

    and…hm. i’ve been lucky that my repulsions fluctuate and i can dig through a lot of blech to find what i like. it’s also really different in diff media and sites? fandom on ao3/tumblr that’s good about tagging, versus real people on fetlife aaa (altho some of the subgroups and people’s notes have really good meta/analysis).

    i *did* (try to) give up on kink for awhile because…lots of things, from shame and fear and intrusive thoughts and trying to focus on school, to the overwhelm of navigating people and how awkward kink parties are and how hard it is to find a safe space and good people and negotiate boundaries and aghblagh. but yeah, i am always drawn back despite all of that. kink drive? somatic something? wrestling with passivity/control in a tangible way? i dunno.

    super high five about kids’ games. so many kinky ppl have those stories — and yet, yeah, there’s this whole Adult Kink thing (which honestly i think mostly has to do with, hm, thinking sex has to be involved always inherently).

    also i imagine it’s a lot harder navigating this mess while not being into s/m and pain (that’s my Simple spot in the whole d/s kink weirdness), so, my sincere condolences…yeah.

    (bonus aside: my current safe happy kink outlet is having friends where we side-reblog safe pictures/stories/meta for each other? it’s so nice. it’s like boundary validation and kink affirmation and getting to be a whole person.)

    • epochryphal

      ok this is less relevant than i remembered maybe? i especially think stuff about Discipline (and there isn’t much! argh) might be what’s most pertinent. but:


    • Coyote

      Heh, I’m… surprised you related to it at all. Just, since, if relationship to kinkiness were arbitrarily quantified, it seems like you would be on the other end of the spectrum… But thanks(!!) for the assurance. I wasn’t sure I was even justified in posting this given how it’s so inconclusive, but, eh. That’s where I’m at.

      “except i *Don’t* think that’s the way domming has to be or even majority is (though it can feel like it) or Should Be.”

      yeeeeaaah. I sorta have a sense of that. Seems like how, the emphasis is, kink =/= sexual, kink isn’t necessarily about sex and doesn’t necessarily involve sex! But when I was researching about subspace (…for non-personal reasons, long story) the thing I found which went into a detailed explanation claimed it was mutually exclusive with orgasms and would Not shut Up about how “but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have orgasms too! nothing against orgasms here! orgasms are good!!!” oh my god I don’t care

      [sidenote: this seems similar to… well, when I visited a goth shop w/ the copilot Monday, there were some fishnet stockings whose packaging showed VERY BARE BUTT CHEEKS that left me kind of like ???, and later, when I pulled a skeleton shirt off the rack, I was like “ooh cool, skeletons!” until I noticed the shirt had a French euphemism for orgasm written across it … why does pursing my interests always involve random sexual stuff being thrown at me, please let me live]

      “domming/topping as losing control is Uh. irresponsible imo and yeah scary.”

      There’s categories of “I don’t get this but it’s fine” and there’s “you know what, let’s not have any social contact with these people because yikes” and what I read there was in the latter category tbh.

      “reading about service tops is really nice to me tho. and even as a Very Paper Usually person, the way they talked about paying such close attention and being alert and balancing and managing atmosphere — i kind of see the appeal in that. (and i think, that’s closer to what you’re talking about?)”

      yes!! service tops! That’s one thing I neglected to mention here. I have Heard of those/that concept but don’t know much about it but it sounds very nice. (what is the opposite of a service top called? serve’d bottom? even if it doesn’t have a name, both those roles sound v appealing)

      • embodiedinlanguage

        Oh, I know this one! The opposite of a service top is a “power bottom”–aka, a bottom who likes to be in control.

      • epochryphal

        *murders orgasms* ughhhh

        it’s helped me to consider kink as like, another flavor of cuddle parties sometimes? both take negotiation, often w strangers, to meet touch/emotional needs. makes it less scary. still fuckin hard tho.

        i was trying to read some stuff on top space or dom space that was about focus rather than release, but…man, it was hard to find anything. and a lot of it is framed as “because i’m sexually attracted to this person.”

        also — power bottoms, hmm, i hadn’t made that connection before; i think they’re less tightly coupled than dom/sub, maybe more like butch/femme? i’ve had the impression that a service top is associated with, well, someone who’s paper (and usually not a bratty bottom). idk, i never would’ve considered iding as a power bottom bc overt control in-scene is meh… hm, words.

  • mintythings

    For me, too, a lot (I guess not quite everything, but a lot) of what I’m interested in in kink is about non-sexual touch and physical sensations. You asked why anyone would look to kink for something like that, and I think the answer is, casual non-sexual touch isn’t actually mundane at all.
    A lot of people seem to see casual touch as *always* potentially sexual (or maybe it’s just that so many of my friends are bi?) and put lots of boundaries on it, and just not do very much of it.
    And *serious* non-sexual touch, so to speak, is even less mundane. Intense sensory experiences are really not what casual friendly touch is ~supposed to~ be about, and personally at least, I feel like that’s even less acceptable/harder to explain than friends touching each other in a sexual or flirtatious way.
    So on the one hand, yes, kink is a minefield of other stuff, but it does make sense to be drawn toward it for this, because where else can you go?

    I mean, I do sort of have another place to go, because I’m autistic, and some of the things that I usually frame as kinky interests could also be framed as sensory seeking or stimming. I could go on and on about that but the short version is, I’m not sure if I want to think of them that way or not. But I do really need *some* way of talking about this stuff. I feel like there’s this deep well of experiences and ideas that I can’t describe or explore, because I don’t have the words.

    I don’t really know how to explain it either, but the monodirectional touch–> monodirectional thinking? thing– I relate to that too.

    Also, epocryphal, thank you for the link. I sort of Knew Of that blog but I haven’t read their archive, and my immediate reaction is Holy Shit Yes I want to read their take on this, so, thank you.

  • miyuki.

    I fear that I would begin to sound like a Freudian psychopathology if I said this but childhood games are so fascinating and I love hearing them and thinking about how they affect us later in life. Thanks for sharing that and I really liked that connection you made. I think the way you put it – the appeal of that kid’s game – that’s so much of bdsm deep down but ADULT things must be PROPERLY adult (I think a lot about the concept of ‘maturity’ and how it is often a lot of bull and weird awkwardly forced arbitrary standards) and so there’s this weird gap. I think I yearn for that representation more than anything, then it would be less of a minefield or something. I dunno.

  • miyuki.

    addendum: Part of me thinks there definitely are (unsafe!) people who treat these things more literally and do ‘unleash’ negative feelings in that space but mostly, I think maybe it’s semantics. But maybe this just resonates with the way I personally think about D/s etc. Maybe…I’m just a person who thinks too deeply about it and if someone else thinks half as much they also ‘get it.’

  • embodiedinlanguage

    I reallllly related to this in ways I didn’t expect! I don’t see myself as “kinky” or in any way a part of that scene, both because of all the scary “topping as losing control”referenced above and because of my fluctuating sex aversion. I don’t think there’s a way I could ever be comfortable in an environment that inherently sexualized.

    BUT! I do really enjoy situations where I can let someone else make all the decisions for a while, whether that’s getting a back massage or just being a passenger in the car while someone else drives and navigates. Being able to really relax in those situations is one sign that I trust the other person. Honestly, I think that there’s a whole continuum of ways to give and take control, and they can be a part of all sorts of relationships. I’m a really anxious person who does a lot of trying to control all aspects of my life, so being able to give control up to someone else for a while is very relaxing and healing for me. I do wish this were easier to negotiate (especially with the touch component) without people sexualizing everything. Touch is awfully hard to come by as an unpartnered adult living far away from my family.

  • Kasey Weird

    Augh. Ok yes I am super happy about and relating to most of what us being said re: topping in this post and the other comments. Definitely seconding that you might want to explore service topping more (though also, I get that that will still be difficult because of the ridiculous compulsiveness with which sexuality is tied into kink most of the time.)

    Kinda random suggestion: have you considered just seriously trying recreating that game you used to play as a kid, with someone you trust/ would want to do it with? I kind of feel like reexperiencing what that made you feel (if you can actually reaccess that mental space you used to be able to have around it, which may be hard for all kinds of reasons I admit), you might also be able to use it as a jumping off point for creating other roleplay scenarios that touch on the thing(s) you seem to be drawn to. I think that writing explicitly non-sexual premises and scenarios that you are going to play out might take some of the stress off and help you keep distance from the parts of kink you want to avoid! If you can get past feeling silly about it, this might work?

    (Random additional note: I find it super interesting that my brothers and I used to play a game that had a completely different premise but a lot of similar physical elements – it revolved around one of us pretending to be tricked/forced into a sleeping bag and the other one trapping us by sitting on the end for an indeterminate period of time (it got super hot in there), while some sort of transformation was meant to happen (I spare you the weird child-details, but we called the game “The Booger Bag Man” if you want a sense of the weirdness of it all…) and as soon as the trapped person got out, the roles would reverse.)

    • Coyote

      Well. Hm. That could be an idea worth trying. Thing is, it would require A Person to try it with, and… there’s only one person I know in real life who’s less likely to be totally weirded out by the suggestion, and I dunno if she would want to. Trying to Meet People for this kind of purpose is kind of a thing I’m stuck on, given… everything stated. But, hypothetically, yeah, it could be a decent place to start.

      • Kasey Weird

        I thoughts that might be the sticking, point, yeah. That’s always a tough one – I definitely feel you on being alienated from any version any organized kink scene (for reasons both similar to and different from your ones), but I have had the good fortune to have found people to just explore stuff with on my own without having to delve into. I wish I had an easy answer for how to do that, but I really don’t :/ My understanding around kink communities is that there are events called “munches” which tend to be explicitly sex-free spaces/events, designed specifically to meet and connect with people in a low-stakes sort of way. My impression is that it can often be about meeting people and chatting about your favourite TV shows or whatever more than anything else, just that it’s an environment where if you do make a connection with someone, it’s less fraught than making a connection in a non-kink space because if it comes to the point, you can be more certain that they’ll not judge you for what you’re into. But also I don’t doubt that some of the conversations that would happen would still be very explicit. But yeah, if that’s not a concept you were already aware of, maybe google around for munches in your area?

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