BDSM people and multiple or poly relationships

BelasariusI’ve taken the data referred to here from the responses of the  210 people who responded to my BDSM ownership and symbology survey, done through surveymonkey.

However, my earlier “BDSM styles and relationships” survey had a question on this as well – I’ll add data from the much larger response to that survey to this blog when I have time.

I’d prefer to talk about this data as relating to multiple, rather than polyamorous or “poly” relationships, because I’d define the latter as transparent to all and mostly with respect and affection between all parties. There was no way of knowing whether this was the case or not for most  of the answers.

So, in the BDSM ownership and symbols survey we asked people to choose from six options that defined their relationships. Here are the responses, charted and as a table.Answers from BDSM ownership and symbols survey.

Sadist/Masochist Dominant/Submissive Master/Slave
I am not in a relationship 36% 14% 6%
I have one partner ( not BDSM) 4%
I have one partner (BDSM) 31% 54% 67%
I have multiple partners and my primary relationship is BDSM 5% 13% 13%
I have multiple partners and my primary relationship is not BDSM 17% 11% 2%
I am in more than one relationship of equal status 12% 4% 13%

Safewords: BDSM safety essential or sacred cow?

standing stoneSafewords give confidence to people who are new to topping and bottoming and help experienced people who are new to each other understand each other better. They are a sensible approach to safety and have been seen as essential certainly for as long as I can remember.

I am not  going to use the argument that safewords can’t protect anyone from abuse by a determined abuser. The same is, sadly, likely to be  true of any system designed to preserve consensuality and safety. Abuse of safewords does take place and needs to  be exposed. No, my view is that, for some, there are alternatives to safewords that may be as effective, but more rewarding..

Safewords  halt scenes that are going wrong, but are they a bit of a sacred cow? Are there other ways of ensuring safety and making submission feel as real as possible?  Could other ways sometimes be better? I think so.

English: A woman flogging a submissive man on ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Safety and consensuality

I understand that something like a safeword is essential to preserve consensuality in a scene and I have absolutely no doubt that there needs to be communication between top and bottom, dom and sub to ensure safety, but I think “take care”, “stop” and “no” are better than a dedicated safeword.

For me, safewords undermine dominance and submission and they turn play into play acting. They can also become an excuse for abuse.

The sub in control?

In many circumstances, it’s my belief that safewords diminish the experience for all.

Why? Well:

There she is, moaning, groaning and pleading and all of a sudden she says “Amber”. Instantly, you know all that moaning, groaning and pleading was false. Just acting (ok – with feeling, but you suddenly know what you were doing was not having the effect you thought)

She “Ambers” again; things get better and maybe you get a “Green” of pleasure… You screw up and she utters a sudden, shouted “RED”. And you realise it isn’t just the moaning that was false. There’s no submission either. She is in control of the scene. She decides what she receives.

Of course, it’s a little less true if you use a single safeword that always brings things straight to a halt. That way all that is controlled is the end of the scene. That seems sensible to me (but see below), rather than providing the submissive with a tool that can be used to take control, which is what the RAG system, I feel, does. but, if that is your choice, why use a special, secret word, and not just allow people to communicate their needs. It seems to me that people want the freedom to say “please stop” when it’s not what they mean.

Now, from the dominant‘s perspective:

There she is strapped down securely. Cheeks and shoulders beginning to glow as you get into the rhythm a good flogging requires (and which for me, produces it’s own zen-like satisfaction). I know she has a safeword. Therefore, I can do what the hell I like, because she has the responsibility of choosing when to stop. And, she can’t blame me for getting it wrong – because she had her safeword to use!

And for the submissive?

“Well, if I safeword, I’ve failed him, haven’t I. Oh I mustn’t safeword – he won’t be proud of me at all. I must be the best I can be.”

Or,

“I can’t space, it might not be safe, I won’t know what’s happening: I might need to safeword.

Another way to safety?

Erotic illustration
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So for me, ensuring safety in a scene comes down to these things:

Real communication, using real language – Then the moans and the pleading are real and satisfying. And, “STOP” means stop.

The dominant should not have power without responsibility – which is what a safeword can give. Instead, he should observe his submissive and communicate with her. Watch her, check she’s ok, check her ability to communicate, her breathing, her mental state – whether she’s drifted away into subspace.

The result, the submissive enters the scene knowing she has given herself to her dominant within the limits they have agreed and her only responsibility is to be the best she can be. The dominant knows he is free to use her – and that the responsibility for making it a satisfactory time for both is his. She is the instrument, he is the musician.

Fuller results from the poll below can be found in an article lined tto under “related links” at the bottom of this post.

Going from fifty shades of grey into the black?

 

The Marketplace
The Marketplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To be thrilled at the touch of leather, aroused by the sound of harsh words, or satisfied by the security of rigid bondage is the mark of a lover.

“To be thrilled at the opportunity to provide useful service, aroused by a pleased nod, and satisfied by the proverbial job well done, is the mark of a slave.

“It may sound severe. Almost anti-erotic. Until you see two people, owner and owned, existing in a complementary relationship where each suits the other like balances on a delicate scale. Until you feel the energy of their rapport, you cannot understand how they fulfil each other, take and give in ways no negotiation could possibly express.”

BelasariusFrom “The Marketplace” by Laura Antoniou

This means much to me. I don’t use the word slave of my submissive partner, but I do understand there are those who use it and for whom it is real. If you’ve read Fifty shades and found a small yearning for an asymmetric life as well as S/m bedroom play, then I think you should, bi, gay or straight, give “The Marketplace” a go. It will give you a very different view of dominance and submission.

The quote at the top expresses, very closely, for me, the difference between 50 Shades of Grey”s primarily erotic BDSM relationship and one based on service and responsibility.

I respond to the balance of owner and owned.

I should also emphasise that my thinking does not encompass inequality in the way some do – I think of my partner and myself as equal but opposite.

And here is a thread I started to discuss this.

 

Masters and slaves: attitudes to BDSM symbols of ownership.

BelasariusIn my BDSM ownership and symbols survey, 43 Master/slaves (M/s) participants answered the following question:

Thinking of symbols of ownership in BDSM, to what extent do you agree with the following statements?

Their responses to each of the question’s statements are below:

BDSM M/s owbership

Symbols of ownership can be used by anybody in any BDSM dynamic, for any purpose

72% of M/s people disagreed with this (58% strongly). 14% of M/s people agreed. and 14% were neutral.

Symbols of ownership are important symbols of commitment and permanence and should be worn and respected as such.

86% agreed (70% strongly). 7% were neutral and 7% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership can be worn to indicate temporary ownership (for example in play sessions)

35% agreed (just 5% strongly agreed); 30% were neutral and 35% disagreed (which meant they thought it was ok).

Symbols of ownership are fun and have no other special significance

Only 7% agreed (none agreed strongly). 5% were neutral. 89% disagreed (77% strongly)

Symbols of ownership should only be worn by the submissive partner(s)

54% agreed. 40% responded neutrally and 21% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership can be worn by all partners

23% agreed (2% strongly). 23% were neutral and 249% disagreed (35% strongly disagreed)

A symbol of ownership can be anything the partner(s) agree on

84% agreed (the same as D/s respondents, but slightly more agreed strongly, 51% of M/s respondents as against – 44% of D/s people), 12% responded neutrally and 4% disagreed.

A collar is the accepted BDSM symbol of ownership.

86% agreed (63% strongly). . 14% were neutral and none disagreed!

Further background on this question can be found here.

 If you found this interesting or useful, please think about doing the BDSM and Money survey, on the impact of BDSM on people’s pockets. Current results will be visible once you have completed the survey

Related articles

Attitudes to ownership symbols; what dominants and submissives say.

 

BelasariusIn my BDSM ownership and symbols survey, 97 Dominant/submissive (D/s) people answered the following question:

Thinking of symbols of ownership in BDSM, to what extent do you agree with the following statements?

Their responses to each of the question’s statements was as follows:

Symbols of ownership can be used by anybody in any BDSM dynamic, for any purpose

36% of D/s people agreed  with this statement. 21% were neutral and 43% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership are important symbols of commitment and permanence and should be worn and respected as such.

75% agreed (53% strongly). 18% were neutral and only 7% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership can be worn to indicate temporary ownership (for example in play sessions)

70% agreed (22% strongly); 16% were neutral and 13% disagreed

Symbols of ownership are fun and have no other special significance

Only 6% agreed (1% strongly). 19% were neutral. 76% disagreed (54% strongly)

Symbols of ownership should only be worn by the submissive partner(s)

33% agreed (quite a lot less than with M/s people). 40% responded neutrally and 21% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership can be worn by all partners

40% agreed (9% strongly). 39% were neutral and 20% disagreed (8% strongly disagreed)

A symbol of ownership can be anything the partner(s) agree on

84% agreed (strongly – 44%), 14% responded neutrally and 1% disagreed strongly.

A collar is the accepted BDSM symbol of ownership.

74% agreed (42% strongly). This was markedly lower than the ratings from S/m participants. 8% were neutral and 8% disagreed!

Further background on this question can be found here.

 If you found this interesting or useful, please think about doing the BDSM and Money survey, on the impact of BDSM on people’s pockets. Current results will be visible once you have completed the survey

Related articles

 

Symbols of ownership – sadists and masochists view

 

BelasariusIn the BDSM ownership and symbols survey I did on surveymonkey, 37 S/m people answered the following question:

Thinking of symbols of ownership in BDSM, to what extent do you agree with the following statements?

An outline of their responses to each of the question’s statements follows:

Symbols of ownership can be used by anybody in any BDSM dynamic, for any purpose

87% of S/m people agreed or agreed strongly (46%) with this statement. Only 6% disagreed or disagreed strongly.

Symbols of ownership are important symbols of commitment and permanence and should be worn and respected as such.

52% disagreed (41% strongly). 30% were neutral and 19% agreed (3% strongly)

Symbols of ownership can be worn to indicate temporary ownership (for example in play sessions)

92% agreed (65% strongly); 5% were neutral and 3% disagreed

BDSM ownership attitudes (S/m)Symbols of ownership are fun and have no other special significance

57% agreed (46% strongly). 19% were neutral. 14% disagreed and 11% disagreed strongly.

Symbols of ownership should only be worn by the submissive partner(s)

52% agreed (38% strongly). 22% responded neutrally and 25% disagreed.

Symbols of ownership can be worn by all partners

44% agreed (14% strongly). 22% were neutral and 35% disagreed

A symbol of ownership can be anything the partner(s) agree on

85% agreed (strongly – 57%), 11% responded neutrally and 6% disagreed.

A collar is the accepted BDSM symbol of ownership.

81% agreed (51% strongly), 19% were neutral and nobody disagreed!

Further background on this question can be found here.

 If you found this interesting or useful, please think about doing the BDSM and Money survey, on the impact of BDSM on people’s pockets. Current results will be visible once you have completed the survey

 

Collar wearing, what do submissives do?

standing stoneIn the survey I did of BDSM symbols and ownership, promoted through my blog and posts on the website Informed Consent, I asked about people’s collar-wearing habits.

Who answered

68 submissive respondents answered this question. Four were masochists, 49 said they were submissives and 15 identified as slaves. 17 people skipped the question. People could choose more than one response.

A BDSM-style collar that buckles in the back. ...

Collar wearing

Half of the masochists (two people) said they wore a collar as a symbol of ownership. 35% of submissives and 67% of slaves said they wore a collar as a symbol of ownership. None of the masochist respondents said they “Never wear a collar, ever” whilst 12% of submissives and seven per cent of slaves said they never wear a collar.

How do submissives in BDSM relationships wear collars
Clicking on this image opens a larger one which may be more easily readable.

24/7?

25% of masochists (Okay – one person) said they wear a collar all the time, compared to 12% and 13%, respectively, of submissives and slaves. This contrasts with those who wear a collar just for BDSM purposes – 25% of masochists, 45% of submissives and 7% (that’s just one person) of slaves do this.