So. Queering Power 2014 happened
last weekend almost a month ago, and Ghost, Kitty, and I were asked to facilitate a discussion about overlapping power exchanges in full-time and ownership dynamics. Here’s the description:
Long term, full-time Power Exchange is never simple, but it becomes exponentially more complicated when you add polyamoury to the mix. How do you hold someone firmly while allowing them enough leash to hold power in another person’s life? What authority does someone have over you when they are your owner’s owner? How do you balance the requirements of submission and dominance at the same time? In what sense is someone your subordinate, and in what sense are they your equal, when they’re in service to your servant… but not to you? Open and overlapping full-time power exchanges stretch far beyond occasional extra-dynamic playdates or the running of a staff of submissives by a single dominant. Regardless of whether you’re in charge, in service, or in the middle, please join us for a discussion of the difficulties and delights of overlapping 24/7 power dynamics.
Basically this was very much like the Poly and Power salons that I host chez moi periodically, but a bit more specific in focus, both in terms of topic and in terms of how heavily it was facilitated.
Usually, with Poly and Power, the discussion just kind of ambles where it will, and I keep a couple of question-prompts in my back pocket in case things lag or get tangled in the weeds. In this case, we came prepared with a series of open-ended questions meant to get people thinking and talking.
Now, granted, the folks who turn up for Queering Power are basically a bunch of nerdy keeners in fetish gear. (Uh… I’ll be in my bunk)… Where was I? Right. They’re basically a facilitator’s dream group: They talk, they listen, and they build on what others in the group are saying. Basically, my job as facilitator was really easy. ;-)
One of the participants – possibly because he’s a school teacher, but also possibly because he may have been instructed to do so by his Person – took notes. Posssibly I should have done this, too, since it’s now almost a month after the fact, and I’m trying to remember what everybody said.
The main gyst of what came up, though, could – I think – be boiled down to some fairly basic Poly Principals, possibly with a D/s twist on them:
(A) Remember your Place. This is an important one, and I don’t mean it in the sense of “bottom of the ladder” hierarchies where the person who owns someone else’s owner gets to poly-veto All The Things and the person who is owned by the ownee just has to suck it up and take the crumbs. I mean it in the sense of things like… Remembering that I am Ghost’s boss, but not Kitty’s boss (therefore, just as I don’t get to boss Kitty around, I also have to remember that her Personal Growth is not my Personal Project). OR Remembering that, just because your Dominant is someone else’s Submissive doesn’t mean that you have to, or get to, serve (or answer to) two Keepers. OR Remembering that being In The Middle sometimes requires a lot of triage, but that everything still needs to Get Done.
This feeds directly into (B) Use your words. But also use your ears. I’ve got a friend who, at his day-job, recently acquired some Minions. And, as he is familiar with KinkyLand, we’ve had a couple of conversations about management and about the responsibilities that one has to the people over-which one holds power. One of the major ones – and one that I fall down on a lot is making sure that your People have enough direction to keep them busy, but also to keep them interested and engaged and developing. It’s the counter-balance to all those job-descriptions that require you to be a self-starter or good at working independently, rather than being the kind of person who either needs someone standing over their shoulder going “Have you finished that project yet? How ’bout now?” in order to actually get anything finished, or else who can finished Assigned Task X just fine, but won’t independently go looking for Task Y on their own.
This is Polyamoury’s “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate” blended with the multi-tasking long game of the Master, the attentive, multi-layered listening of the Servant.
S-types need to listen for instructions, sure, and not just the kind that are phrased as a formal request/expectation (see: Self-starting), but they also need to be careful not to volunteer, unasked, on tasks that they know they’ll resent doing, but feel like they “should” do without having been asked for them. On a similar note, presuming to clean the leather of your master’s master might wind you up with a sharp talking-to along the lines of “That is not your privilege!” rather than a “Thanks for taking that task off my hands” from your boss.
D-types need to offer instructions, sure, but we need to determine those instructions based on both our goals (for ourselves, our dynamics, our People, and our to-do-lists) and on the needs, spoken or unspoken, of our People. I can want to instruct my Servant to whip me up a new pair of leather sandals this evening, but that doesn’t mean I get to ignore things like (a) paid cobblery work that needs to get done, (b) pain flare-ups, and (c) social/emotional responsibilities to her own servant and any other partners who are in the mix. Sometimes Using Your Words is going to feel less like Issuing Decrees and more like parenting an easily-distracted kindergartener, but you (in theory) figure out how to make it work.
People in the Middle need to be aware of what they can/should deligate to their own servant(s) – and how frequently they can do that before said s-type(s) start feeling like they’re primarily serving a master-not-their-own – versus what needs to be done by them-specifically in order to continue providing the service (the relationship) they offered to their d-type. A big balancing act, to be sure.
No matter what position(s) we play in a given overlap, we all need to remember to talk about it when we’re swamped with Fill-In-The-Blank and need some help or some slack on This or That responsibility/task.
This, in turn, feeds into (C) Be generous with your heart. This means… assume the best of the people in your constelationships. Nobody’s in competition. Nobody is trying to gain control of All The Time, Energy and Attention (even if your Jerk Brain is saying that they are). Sometimes creative solutions (like sleeping three to a bed once a week so that the ownee’s ownee can make everybody coffee in the morning) will be necessary to keep things running smoothly for everyone involved. Something unexpected relationship twists (an owner’s owner becoming – formally or informally – a mentor/teacher to their ownee’s property; a switch in which member of a given diad is Holding the Power) will happen, and the ripples from those changes will also need to be navigated by everyone else involved in the overlaps.
So there you have it.
Some thoughts on “D/s Cubed” and what I learned while discussing the specifics of overlapping 24/7 and O/p power dynamics at Queering Power 2014.
 …Ish. I use the analogy of “auntie/neice” to describe the kind of authority (or “authority) I have where Kitty is concerned. I’m only Tthe Boss Of Her when GHost (her “mom” in this analogy) is out of the house.
 Even when you don’t have a Mommie/girl relationship there are still going to be days where you have to say “Okay, no more TV, it’s time to Tidy Up” or “I thought I told you to Clean Your Room” or whatever.
 Just me? Okay.
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So. Queering Power 2014 happened
Taking a bit of a different tack today. So far, this year, I’ve managed to talk about Poly or D/s during my GGBP posts. Today, howver, I’m looking at safer sex.
Specifically, and having just done this myself, I’m reminding folks to check the expiry dates on your safer sex supplies. I had a whole bunch roll past their use-by dates recently. My hook-up kit (which, admitedly, doesn’t get a tonne of use) is re-stocked with stuff that’s not going to expire until 2016 or later. I feel a whole lot better.
As a side note: You don’t actually have to throw away expired condoms. You can use them on personal-use-only toys – you might want to do this if your toys are porous or otherwise tricky to clean, or to protect your silicone toys if you prefer silicone lube. Just… don’t get them mixed up with the stuff that’s still within its use period.
Look. It’s not the end of the world to use expired latex (and non-latex) barriers during sex – way better to use them than to use nothing. But the risk of having your barrier fail – tear, break, lose flexibility, lose potency (if we’re talking about spermicidally-lubed stuff) etc – gets higher the further past the expiration date something gets. So, if you’ve got the option of using, er, fresher materials… do so.
On a related note: Yeah, you can generally pick up free roll-on condoms in any CHC bathroom or Q/T community info fair. But if you’re wondering where to find affordable insertable condoms and oral dams – both of which can be a tad on the prohibitavely expensive side, expecially when you’re broke – turn to agencies like Planned Parenthood Ottawa and the ACO who give them away for free as part of their respective mandates.
NOTE: If you’re looking for fisting kits – which tend to contain nitril gloves rather than latex ones – I know that the AIDS Committee of Toronto supplies them, but I don’t know if anyone in Ottawa does. (Commenters? Want to throw some information out here?)
Anyway. That’s your PSA for the day.
Reblogging this because it’s an excellent (and funny!) discussion of gender expectations for (cis, at least) women. Why should you never, ever, ever get a tattoo? Possibly because it involves claiming your body as your own and doing with it what you want.
Originally posted on The Ugly Volvo:
And I understand that she’s from a different generation. And I love my mother very much. She’s a really wonderful person and I’m not saying none of them is a legitimate reason, but I’m saying that after having a child, I find it really hard to take any of them seriously.
And so in case you were headed out to the tattoo parlor as we speak, here are:
10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER GET A TATTOO ACCORDING TO MY MOTHER (but having a baby is fine)
1. “A Tattoo is Forever”
Yes, a tattoo is forever. Totally forever! Except that a tattoo can, if needed, be erased with a laser.
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There’s a big part of me that grocks the cultural connection between “pretty” and “feminine” and, even knowing the messed up ways that my culture defines “feminine” in very narrow ways that include things like whiteness, I still read things like this post – which I quite like, to be clear – and feel… ambivalent. Because while, no, “pretty” shouldn’t be a mandatory priority for us. But that little part of me sees it and makes a connection with the way we – as a culture, and as various feminist sub-cultures – tend to treat feminity as something that shouldn’t be valued, that valuing it puts you on the wrong team, makes you shallow, makes you unfeminIST, makes you a “typical girl”, or whatever. And, yeah, a lot of that is probably my Jerk Brain talking and rehashing all the femme-phobic crap dished out by my culture and various sub-cultures. None the less it comes up. And, none the less, I still think this is worth reblogging. Go have a read. :-)
Originally posted on The Belle Jar:
“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” I say, “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I –”
He laughs, a deep laugh that sounds like it came from deep inside him, and touches his lips to my temple.
“Don’t pretend,” I say breathily. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty.”
“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” He kisses my cheek. “I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus …” His voice softens. “You aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m a kicked puppy or something.”
“Well,” I say. “You’re not.”
- Veronica Roth, Divergent
These might be some of the most revolutionary sentences ever to be written in a young adult novel. In fact, they’re pretty incredible no matter what the genre. These words may not look like much, but trust…
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Again and again and again.
Originally posted on The Belle Jar:
Below are the screenshots. The participants are as follows:
Bart Tremblay: a non-elected student involved with the association for the Arts faculty
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This may be relevant to the interests of some people reading this.
Originally posted on Voices of Venus:
From their website:
THEM accepts poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, experimental writing, and pretty much anything. THEM is especially excited by writing that is particular, writing that doesn’t appeal to “being trans*” as if it were one, complete narrative. We are not just trans*. Race, class, ability, size, and sexuality constitute and distribute the oppression of trans* folks. [...]
Feel free to write outside convention: our bodies don’t always pass, neither does our writing. Surprise us.
Do go and have a look.
So February 10th marked four years in Dynamic for me and my wife/property.
We win! :-D
Given the title of this post, maybe I should point out that this doesn’t mark four years in collar (that’ll be May 7th, 2015), and we don’t actually have a contract, per se. The gyst of it is: “Ghost takes care of Ms Syren. And Vice Versa.” And we just sort of take it from there.
Regardless, she signed on for another 40 years, which sounds pretty good to me. :-D
So… other than going “Squee!” about the whole situation, why am I bringing this up? (Okay, I admit it, it was mostly about the Squee). My question is: what do you do with a dynamic like this? How do you deepen it? It still feels… weird? Presumptuous? To be thinking “How do I want to focus my property’s development this year?” but I’m still doing it. It’s still my responsibility to do it.
I look at people who’ve been in dynamic for twenty and thirty years, and I have no idea what that looks like from the inside. Do you just keep claiming more and more of your territory? I keep reaching for the metaphor of cultivation – rather than that of, say, teaching someone new tricks. Where do we go from here?
It would be so easy to finish right here, to say “I guess we’ll find out” as if that were some kind of a Really Profound Statement. And it’s not like we won’t find out, over time, as our dynamic continues to develop. But I’d like to have some kind of a concrete plan for what direction to take.
As it stands, I find myself casting around for a focus-point. Like, “This is the direction we’re going to work on this year”. Given how things are going already, I’m guessing that this is going to be a year of “spiritual stuff” (for lack of a more appropriate catch-all). And part of that’s me, because that’s where I want to focus my energies so, hey, why not focus hers there, too? But that’s not all of it. Where do we go from here? I guess we’ll find out. ;-)
Okay, maybe this is a really bizarre title for a GGBP post, but work with me here. The other night (more than a week ago, now), I went to a dinner that included a number of people in what I think of as my extended poly family. I made the dessert.
Maybe in a more conventially-structured family, I’d look at this kind of an evening as “getting together with friends”. But some of those friends are my wife’s other partners, which makes them more than friends. Some of them are related by leather ties rather than ties of “blood or alliance” (as we like to say in Anthropology Kinship Diagrams). Some are both.
In these small, fringe communities (the queers, the perverts) we are fairly used to (re-)building family from scratch, and – because our communities tend to be small – we frequently wind up being “exes in law” or whatever with just about everybody we know. Throw polyamoury and the amicable disolution/redefinition of power dynamics (like when someone goes from being So-and-So’s owner to being hir mentor, for example) into the mix, and you wind up with these intersecting familial-relationships that can make a community look like the cosmic web.
And the thing is, this isn’t all that unusual. Any small community – think tiny farming towns, for example – winds up with most families linked to most other families through marriage or cousins or what-have-you. It’s just that, when those interconnections are based around The Fucking (kinky stuff, power-exchanges, sex parties, multiple sweeties… you know, all those things that an up-bringing in Patriarchy doesn’t really prepare you for) rather than around weddings and grandkids, it’s like we forget that there was ever a map at all.
But it’s there.
I have a friend who loves Miss Manners and Emily Post. She loves etiquette books because they basically boil down to answering the question “What do I say if my son brings his gay trans leather-daddy home for the holidays” with “You say: It’s a pleasure to meet you”.
We don’t have to come up with a script from scratch. We just have to addapt what’s already there.
 Although those could argueably be grouped under The Fucking as well…