Lab Coats & Lingerie » Uncategorized http://www.labcoatlingerie.com Apparently adorable, but secretly brilliant. Fri, 16 Mar 2012 08:42:37 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Courage http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/03/16/courage/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/03/16/courage/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2012 07:17:28 +0000 Professor Chaos http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=307 Trigger warning: needles

The first time I ever stuck a needle into myself was four years ago. I was twenty-two. I was terrified. I had just been diagnosed with yet another enigmatic, difficult to treat medical condition, and I had been prescribed a medication that required a subcutaneous (or sub-Q) injection, a shot into the layer of fat under the skin. After a long and tedious diagnostic process, I was looking forward to feeling better, but I was still petrified by the idea of that first needle stick.

I felt completely unprepared to administer it. No one wanted to show me how to properly do the damn thing. I knew there wasn’t a huge risk associated with subcutaneous injections–as far as methods of administering medications go, they’re pretty benign, apart from the sharp pointy bit going in your skin.
Needles and photo by the TooBadMice

Needles and photo by the TooBadMice

Last summer I had two of my friends put ten needles into my back and lace them up with ribbon.  I didn’t particularly enjoy it–I’m not much of a masochist–but it didn’t bother me that much either. It was painful, but not terribly. It was emotionally uncomfortable, but no more so than many of the medical procedures I have endured. It was a little weird, a little scary. But that’s okay. As someone whose body has endured quite a bit in the name of medical science, I feel the need to balance that out by making art with my body.What I enjoy about artistic BDSM like decorative needle play is the chance to make a point. Putting needles in my back and lacing them up with ribbon is aesthetically pleasing and emotionally unsettling; when onlookers squirm with discomfort, I ask them: Why is this more upsetting to mainstream society than labioplasty? Or high heels? Or any other way people torture their bodies in the name of beauty?

But I digress–back to medical needles.  My specialist couldn’t show me how to do the injection because of insurance reasons. My general practitioner didn’t want to do it because she felt uncomfortable dealing with specialty medications. The pharmacist wouldn’t show me how to do it because that wasn’t his job. I felt like of all of these people, all of whom were supposed to be on my team, no one was willing to go to bat for me.  None of this did anything to assuage my fears. While I was used to getting needle sticks–frequent blood draws will do that to you–I still wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of them, or the sharp pain that went with.

My specialist was the one who finally caved and extended me some kindness, the one to show me how to do it. She was very reassuring and willing to accommodate my uncertainty. First we practiced with some saline solution. I think I did it on an orange before I gave it to myself. She showed me how to uncap the bottle and disinfect it with alcohol. She showed me how to unshield the needle and draw up the liquid. She told me to hold it at a 45º angle to my skin. And then she told me it was my turn to do it.The moment of truth.

And I don’t remember it. I know I gave it to myself on the left side of my belly button and that it burned and was red afterwards, but it often burns and is red afterwards. The terrifying event itself–the poke in the skin, the push of the plunger–I have no memory of. I have given myself the same injection every night (more or less) since then. The memory of that first time has been blurred, washed away by a long and steady, day-by-day, stream of the same action.

I don’t remember the injection itself, but I do remember what happened afterwards with astonishing clarity. I remember being in the car on the way home with my mom. I remember the intersection we stopped at, because that’s when I started to panic. My heart raced and my breath came so fast and shallow that I wondered if I was having an allergic reaction to the medication. The hard part was over, and yet I was still terrified. That first needle stick that had scared me so much wasn’t such a big deal; what it represented was. It meant a big change in my life. I felt scared and alone and overwhelmed with uncertainty of what my life was going to be like in the future. I felt weak and not at all brave.Needles have become mundane to me. Over one thousand injections later, the stick is still as painful as the first time. I barely notice it. It doesn’t phase me. It’s not because I am brave or tough or special. It’s because, if anything, I am normal. I’m human. The only super power I possess isn’t very super at all, but normal human resilience.

Soon, I will have to face another medical fear of mine. I’ll be getting a peripheral intravenous central catheter (PICC) line, a semi-permanent IV line that will start at an opening in my arm to snake through my veins into a major blood vessel and finally rest in my heart. This will be a contributing source of fluids and nutrition for me for the next two months, as my gastrointestinal tract can no longer do its job. There will be machines and bags of nondescript stuff that doesn’t intuitively seem very nutritious. There will be a hole in my body, and so there will be dressings to be changed and care to be taken not to infect the line, as line infections cause death in 15% of patients receiving this kind of nutrition. A bigger deal than a self-inflicted needle prick, to be sure, but you’d think with all I’ve been through, I could handle it. But I’m not that resilient. That statistic rings in my ears and hammers in my chest–I have a very real fear of central lines, because they end in your heart, and I need that thing to work, goddamnit. It’s one of the few parts of me that does these days.

People tell me “you’ve been through bad stuff before, you’ll be okay” and I want to hit them. I might be okay, eventually, I will probably be okay, eventually, but right now I am exceedinglynot okay. I’m suddenly transported back to that intersection in the car with my mom. I’m that twenty-two year old girl, feeling scared and overwhelmed and unready for a big life change. I feel weak and powerless and needy–all the things I hate feeling.

If courage is the ability to choose to face your fears, then strength is the quality of simply being able to ignore them. I don’t think of myself as being a particularly courageous or strong person. I’m just a person.  A person who gets terrified of what the future holds and who tries to calm her fears and handle things as best as she can, but who still melts down and cries and gets unnecessarily angry at people.  A person who writes emotional blog posts to try and process all the overwhelming things that are happening to her.“How do you keep going with all you have to live with?” People sometimes ask.

I always respond: “You keep going because there’s nothing else to do.”

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Impromptu D/s for Switches http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/20/impromptu-ds-for-switches/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/20/impromptu-ds-for-switches/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 01:30:47 +0000 Fizz http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=287 “I get the feeling the next time I see you is going to be markedly different from the last.”

“It’s possible. I do still hope we haven’t ruled out the other stuff, you know? I want you to take control sometimes. And I want you to fight me sometimes. And other times I want to tell you to kneel, and know even without looking that you’ve done it.”

“… you’re a little greedy, you know that?”

“Seems to be working out for me so far.”

 

I’ve been having a subby week. It’s interesting–it wasn’t very long ago that I was questioning what a submissive headspace felt like and whether it was even possible for me to get into it, and the last several days I’ve been slipping into one so readily that I don’t always notice. Sometimes deeply enough that it’s hard to imagine wanting to come back, even knowing intellectually that I will. (It has felt more controlled, though, and much less isolated, than the last time I wrote about subspace.)

Among the results of this situation (and, if I’m honest, the causes) is a telekink tool that Leon and I designed. It started out as a conversation about impromptu orders–how hot it is to be able to give or get an order in the middle of doing something else, and obey or see it obeyed without question. In a D/s fantasy, you can just do that and it works. In real life, pulling it off successfully requires a minimum of two things to be prearranged: consent and interest.

Establishing consent in advance is easy (knowing of course that it can be withdrawn when needed), but in a relationship where everyone switches and we’re not always in any role, establishing interest in advance is hard. Any other time we want to start something, we just ask, but this particular kink is one of the few situations where asking defeats the point. The whole fun of it is the pretense that obedience can always be assumed.

Enter the sigil. My original idea was to have something physical that could be worn in a variable way–the example was a ring, on one hand or the other–and agree that one way means “I am amenable to being given orders” and the other “Not right now, please.” In other words, if I’m minding my own business and Leon feels like making me do something for him, he glances over and checks the sigil; if the ring’s on my left hand, he gives the order, but if it’s on the right or absent, he assumes I’m not in the mood. This gives us the ability to do basic negotiation silently, without sacrificing spontaneity or the illusion of constant control.

Note that this is only basic negotiation! It works for us because we’ve already talked a lot about desires, preferences, and boundaries, so I know I can trust his judgment about what he might order me to do, and he trusts that if something’s wrong I’ll tell him. Even then, there’s room for error–if I accidentally leave the sigil set wrong, for example, or he makes an incorrect guess about what I’ll be okay with doing. We know this, and explicitly gave ourselves and each other permission to screw up a couple of times while we’re still experimenting. If that wouldn’t be safe and fun for you, I don’t recommend trying this. It’s also not a substitute for suggesting play when you actively want play; if I want to do a scene, I won’t just set the sigil and expect him to see it, I’ll ask.

So that idea was all well and good, except that most of the time we’re hundreds of miles apart and heaven knows that doesn’t stop us from wanting to play with D/s. We needed some way to get the same effect–a sigil I can set without alerting him and he can check without asking me–remotely. Ideally, it would be readily accessible inside the chat service we’re already using, show him how recently I set it, and reset itself after a while in case I forget to.

Long story short, that’s exactly what we now have. There’s a detailed explanation at the end of this post, but in less technical terms, I type a command into my chat program when I notice I’d be okay with getting random orders (or am not), and he types a command into his when he wants to know my last recorded preference. The program tells him how I’m feeling without telling me he asked, and the rest takes care of itself.

This has worked swimmingly. Every time he gives me an order when I wasn’t expecting one, I get a little rush–from the momentary surprise, the strength of his assertion of control, and the feeling that he can do whatever he wants with me. At the same time, I’m secure in the knowledge that we’re playing within our established boundaries, and that security–provided by the scaffold of nonverbal negotiation we’ve erected–does more than just dispense with a background obligation. A huge part of the reason I enjoy submitting to Leon in the first place is that he makes me feel safe. That means that negotiation in general and the sigil system in particular aren’t just practical necessities; by enhancing something that makes me feel submissive, they strengthen the D/s, and thus actively make for a better scene.

 

The technical details of our IRC sigil system are as follows:

I installed cron.pl and fakectcp.pl, both of which are available from scripts.irssi.org, in my irssi. I used fctcp to add a CTCP response to an agreed-upon fake request, and then modified that script so that it wouldn’t echo anything in my client when that specific request was made from his specific nick. (I’d rather have gone by hostmask, but given that he’s registered, runs irssi in screen on a remote VPS, and rarely renicks, it shouldn’t matter.) I set up three aliases which switch the response to that request between dommy/subby/neither and append a timestamp of when the alias was called, then set a cronjob to call the neutral alias at 6am (when I’m probably asleep and my mood is most likely to reset in real life).

The result: I hit the appropriate alias to change the sigil or just update the timestamp, he can send a CTCP request (which I assume he’s also aliased) to read the sigil without me knowing he’s doing it, and it reverts to neutral by itself if I don’t touch it for a day. We’ve debated a few other features (such as letting me add comments like “but I’m in public so keep it subtle,” letting him see when state changes, or making a way for him to query it other than CTCP) but for the moment are quite satisfied.

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CCSS #1: This Is What Consent Culture Looks Like http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/15/ccss-1-this-is-what-consent-culture-looks-like/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/15/ccss-1-this-is-what-consent-culture-looks-like/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 09:56:31 +0000 Fizz http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=276 This is the first in a series of Consent Culture Sex Stories: explicit posts describing real sex, including the communication around what happened, how we got what we wanted, things that didn’t go right and how we adapted. Their purpose is to make clear and enthusiastic consent more than an abstract idea discussed by sex nerds–to show how this actually works in real life, and that it’s hot.

 

I was having a let’s-see-if-our-interests-are-compatible conversation with someone I’d met a few times but didn’t know well. We chatted a little about vanilla things before cautiously getting into the more personal stuff: D/s, petplay, strapons, impact. I told him about some specific memories I enjoyed, including one of tackling someone onto a bed, biting his neck, and having him instantly recognize it out loud as the alpha-dog gesture it was.

“I like being tackled,” he agreed.

There was a pause. We were sitting across from each other on my big nest of a bed, he reclining against some pillows and I cross-legged, and had been discussing things that turned us on for a while now.

“Can I tackle you?” I asked.

“Sure.”

“ … you’re already lying down.”

He sat up, obligingly. I shoved him back down and pinned his chest under my body weight. My forearms were over his shoulders, our faces a breath apart. The fine hairs on my cheek stood up.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, and several minutes later I was straddling him and breathless. I asked how far he  was comfortable going.

“I wasn’t expecting to have sex today,” he admitted, “but I would be okay with that.”

I had been thinking roughly the same thing. Without moving from my position on top of him, I told him how recently I’d been tested and what my risk factors were; he shared the same information, and told me clearly that he wanted to use “stop” or “no” or anything similar to that as a safeword–in other words, that he wouldn’t be saying any of those things unless he meant it. Since we now had a good idea of how far we wanted to go and what precautions we’d be taking, I could move a bit faster. I pulled his shirt off and brought my teeth down to his shoulder.

“How are you about marks?”

“I like them, but I’d want to check with my primary partner first.”

“Mmkay.” I still bit down, hard enough to make him moan, but without the suction that would leave a bruise.

“I’m going to struggle a little bit,” he warned me a little while later. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

I grinned delightedly and noted that while a verbal “no” from him was genuine, physical resistance was play. “Okay.” When he pushed up against me, I grabbed him and held him down. Given clearly-defined boundaries, I was confident enough to slip into the power fantasy. “Nope,” I informed him cheerfully as he tried to escape. “Mine. You know why?”

“Why?”

“‘Cause I’m bigger than you are.”

His eyes widened, and his body language shifted to show me a hint of trapped prey animal. I smiled to myself at having read him correctly and gave his neck another nip.

There wasn’t a lot of explicit asking after that. I just watched his responses and tried to do more of the things that made him sigh and squirm and go wide-eyed, less of the things that produced no reaction. It was very first-time-with-this-person sex: exciting and exploratory, but a little awkward due to the unfamiliar terrain. We had fun, though, and parted on good terms.

Over the next several days, we traded some email to check in with each other. He was having some strange feelings about sleeping with someone other than his primary partner; while their relationship was open and healthy, he hadn’t done that in years, and something about it didn’t feel right. I felt a little selfish disappointment, and told him so–there were things I had been looking forward to trying again with him–but also let him know that of course that was fine. Amicably, we left it there for now.

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Heartbreak Dog http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/09/heartbreak-dog/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/09/heartbreak-dog/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 03:38:34 +0000 Professor Chaos http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=273 “Is there anything I can do for you?”  These are the words my boy, Shadow, says to me, his eyes filled with concern and love.  I don’t know how to answer him.  I am filled with so many conflicting emotions that I am paralyzed.  I don’t know how to tell him that no, there is nothing he can do.  There is nothing anyone can do.

A few months ago, it was on its way out, but I didn’t realize that at the time.  I should’ve seen the warning signs–long nights at work, not wanting to communicate with me, lack of affection.  And now, it’s just gone.  About three weeks ago, my confidence just took off, leaving me feeling bereft and lost, with a sad heart full of insecurities and taking much of my dominance with it.

I’ve been through a lot over the past month, but I feel like I should be able to handle it.  I know I’m too hard on myself, but that knowledge just makes me feel more critical of myself.

My dominance is such a big part of who I am.  I feel as if I’ve lost myself.  This sort of thing has happened before, and I know I will get through it, and I know I’ll find myself again.  But right now I feel lost.  I lack the confidence to assert myself over my submissive, who wants so badly to serve me.  This, in turn just makes me feel worse about myself.  I’m not sure how to break this cycle.

I hate pity.  This is both because of my proud nature and as a sometimes-wheelchair-user who has had too many people talk down to me.  Some people conflate pity and sympathy, but they’re not the same.  They are similar, but there is a distinct line between them.  That line is respect.  Pity is felt for an inferior, sympathy is felt for an equal.

Respect is also important in the context of D/s.  When I don’t feel like people respect me, I have no interest in dominating them, and any interactions we have in that context make me feel, at best, under-appreciated or misunderstood, and at worst, used.  When I lose my confidence, it is so hard for me to accept service, because it seems as if it is given from pity.

One of the things I have been trying to do over the past few years is to be more open with my emotions, which is difficult for me.  It’s easier to just keep people at arm’s length or shut them out.  But I recognize that even if it’s difficult, it’s a worthwhile venture to do so, so I’m trying to open up.

Letting people love me is difficult for me.  I’ll tell you why.  My friend E loves big dogs. But there are some breeds of large dogs that don’t live very long, due to health problems associated with their size, and E calls them “heartbreak dogs.”

It’s hard for me to let people love me because my life is variable and unpredictable.  I spent much of yesterday curled in a ball in bed, my abdomen hurting, having taken as many painkillers as I am allowed, wondering if I would have to go to the emergency room.  I couldn’t do the things I said I would do. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.  I’ve broken so many plans, called off so many things, that I feel like I’ll never stop playing catch up.  This leaves me with a huge amount of guilt. I know it’s not my fault, but, things pile up.  Never underestimate my ability to feel guilty over what I can’t control.

All of this has been building inside of me and I’m getting so overwhelmed by the things I can’t control that I don’t even want to control the things I can.  I don’t want to let Shadow serve me because he had to spend so much time taking care of me while I was sick and I don’t feel like service is something I deserve. It just feels like pity. I’m sure everyone is all just sick of it by now.  I know I am.

People tell me I’m strong, but I just don’t see that in myself anymore.  When I look in the mirror, the only thing I see is a heartbreak dog. ]]>
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Galen http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/05/galen/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/05/galen/#comments Sun, 05 Feb 2012 19:19:39 +0000 Fizz http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=268 Chaos and I were arguing with a friend a few months ago about whether it’s possible to submit to someone without their consent. The (vanilla) friend didn’t see it; it seemed to him that if you act submissive to someone who’s not dominating, you are at worst a bad lay. I disagree with him on both counts. Submitting without consent to dominate doesn’t necessarily make you a bad lay, but being a bad lay isn’t necessarily the worst thing that happens, either. Here’s a story, for the second round of Kitty Stryker’s second Safe/Ward Blog Carnival. Decide for yourself.

(TW: There is no nonconsensual touch nor specific trauma in this story, but there are references to self-harm.)

 

I say that Galen was my first kiss. It’s not precisely true, but his was the first one that meant something, the one that came at the end of the sort of intimate cuddly evening where you’d expect to find a good first kiss. Immediately exposing the depth of my self-doubt, I asked him bluntly why he was doing this. I don’t blame him, in retrospect, for not having a good answer; who asks that?

He was certainly a lot of other firsts, over the next year and change. First time I slipped my hands down someone else’s pants; first person I went down on. First time I penetrated someone else or made them come. Several firsts I wouldn’t recognize as BDSM until much later: tying him up with a belt or a ribbon, using knives as sensation toys, and leaving bite marks on him that could last for weeks (savoring the pride and the intimacy).

I still had about eight years to go before someone would teach me the term “D/s,” but in hindsight the signs of it were delicious. He was beautifully responsive, arching his back and parting his lips when I traced my fingertips over just the right spots. When I sat behind him he sank back into my arms, and would sigh if I leaned down to kiss his neck before unbuttoning his shirt. He was beautiful and sweet–still is–and probably one of the defining influences on my taste in submissives.

When we finished, more often than not, I would pull away from him, curl up in a ball, and cry.

Nobody since has made me feel quite as undesirable as Galen did. With him I was awkward and shy and hesitant, nothing resembling the powerful dominant I found in myself years later. When he didn’t reach out to touch me, never looked for the places he could slide his fingertips and make me moan like I had looked for his, I didn’t know any conclusion to draw except that he didn’t want me. That he tolerated my attention because he was getting off on it, but felt no desire to reciprocate. And why would he? I already had a lifetime of social conditioning telling me my body could not be sexy; this was just more evidence. But he was so sweet, so caring and giving in other ways, that every new time he left me untouched, fully dressed and aching with desire, I didn’t know what to do or to think and instead I just cried.

We never talked about why I was hurting. We almost did, once, but then he had to be out of town again for a while and one thing led to another and he ended up breaking it off (for unrelated reasons) before the conversation ever happened. We never talked about sex. I never said “Will you finger me while I do this?” or even “Touch me. Here,” which I suspect would have gone over famously. But I couldn’t presume then that anyone would want to touch me, and couldn’t bear to hear that rejection or see it in his face.

We didn’t talk about boundaries. He never said “I enjoy being penetrated, but don’t really want to penetrate you.” I never said “It scares me to use a knife on you, when not that long ago I was using one on myself.” Yeah, that was happening around that time too. (The picture you’re getting of how happy and stable I was those days is pretty accurate.) He’d seen the marks on my wrists, though, and when we tried playing with the knife I trembled, then crumpled, and he held me reassuringly. I think he understood, but the most I remember exchanging by way of words about it was “You trust me with this; I don’t.” I had no confidence in myself, and without confidence had no foundation for dominance.

And that’s the point: we never talked about D/s. He never said “I want to submit to you” and if he had I wouldn’t have known what that meant. I never chose to step into the complementary role; I just fell into the vacuum left behind by his passiveness. Accepting exchanged power, without ever feeling in control, is not dominating. I couldn’t give informed consent to D/s because I wasn’t informed, either about what he intended and wanted or about its alternatives. Remember that this wasn’t just my introduction to kinky sex; this was my introduction to sex. For all I knew, touching someone who never touched back was all I could get.

This is why I have a special hatred for the “ice queen” stereotype–the dominant who gets all the satisfaction she needs from touching others. I’m not that dom, never was and never will be, but I have played the part unwillingly for someone I wanted to please because neither of us knew how to articulate what we’d rather have. To this day I don’t know if that’s what he genuinely wanted from me, or if he wasn’t comfortable asking for something else, or if he’d been looking at femdom porn and thought that what it showed was just how this was supposed to go.

Some of the effects of that relationship are still with me. It got easier, later, when I started having egalitarian sex with someone else, and then again much later than that when I started learning and talking about BDSM. But I’m still afraid, always, that no matter how much a lover likes me as a person they’re only putting up with my body. That no assertive touch means no desire. That asking for what I want is imposing. It makes it hard to find confidence when I want to dominate, and after a scene in which I don’t get physical attention it makes me feel used and angry.

My experience with Galen is why it means so much to me to hear and see clearly that my partner finds me sexy. It’s also probably one of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed playing with someone who is, on the whole, more dominant than I am. When I’m bottoming to Leon, his desire is unambiguous. It might not be for sex–he might want to tie me up, flog me, or frankly just get me to comply for its own sake–but whatever he wants, he wants me, this whole physical human in front of him, and when his attention is focused on getting what he wants from me, I can’t forget that.

 

It was a long time before I started to see what Galen’s perspective on our history might be. He was more experienced than I was but not by much; I honestly don’t know how much he knew about what we were doing either. He wasn’t an adult preying on an innocent teenager, he was a slightly older teenager who had a hard time talking about sex, and who, like me, had never been taught that those conversations are necessary or how to have them. I don’t regret my relationship with him, even if parts of it were flawed and hurtful, and I no longer blame him for the fact that they were.

We’re still in touch, and have been close on and off. A few years ago, after a lot of maturing but still before I knew much about BDSM, we wound up fooling around a bit at his place. The day after, he told me he was still feeling sore from something new I’d tried, and described how it had felt as “about a four.” When pressed, he clarified that it hurt enough that he didn’t enjoy it, but he would do it for his dom. (A five would have been what I’d now call a hard limit.) I was incensed. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t tell me at the time if it was that bad, and then expect me to intuit the scale he was using as if there were a standard I should already know. It hit all the same buttons that our silence had in the past, and I threw up my hands and gave up on the idea of trying to connect with him honestly.

About a year later, I told that story to a mutual friend, venting some frustration that the memory brought back. “I just wish he would tell me these things, instead of expecting me to read his mind!”

“It sounds like he was trying to,” she said.

That stopped me cold. She was right, of course. When we’d talked the next day, he was giving me exactly the kind of feedback I wanted–just later and in a different format than I expected. And I’d yelled at him for it. No wonder it was so hard for him to talk to me about sex!

The next time I saw Galen, I brought it up. “I don’t know if you even remember that,” I said, “but I’m sorry for getting mad about it. I know you were trying.”

“I don’t,” he admitted, “but thank you.” I knew from his smile that he meant it. Words may be hard, but at least there are some ways I know that I can read him.

 

We’re getting better at the talking part, too. I woke up recently from a hot dream, enjoying the memory of it as it faded. I grabbed my phone and sent Galen a text:

“So I definitely just had a dream in which I asked if you wanted to make out some time. And the dream was pretty sexy, so what the hell. *Do* you want to?”

The reply came the next day: “Sure :)”

Such a simple thing, but that’s all that needs to happen: ask and answer. Maybe we’re finally figuring out how to do this thing right.

It’s important to tell the stories of when communication and consent are difficult and complicated–we need something to replace the pattern in people’s minds which says that the only two sides of the consent line are “both partners magically get what they want” and “a stranger leaps out of the bushes.” By the same token, it’s important to tell the stories of when clear communication results in great consensual sex, to replace the patterns which say that talking about it is a turnoff, or that everyone’s supposed to have sex the same way.

On that note, consider this the prologue to a upcoming series of short posts about communication gone right. They will be true, explicit stories of sex and BDSM scenes, including the parts where we talk about what we want and don’t want and the parts where everything isn’t magically easy but we make it work. I’m calling them Consent Culture Sex Stories (or “consent porn” for short), and the first one should be up within a couple of weeks.

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Questioning http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/02/questioning/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/02/02/questioning/#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 09:28:08 +0000 Professor Chaos http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=260 I have recently jumped back into the wonderful world of dating. I have to educate people in my personal life, which is incredibly emotionally exhausting.  Not only does it require me to be immediately vulnerable to them, but there’s nothing that makes me feel less sexy than talking about my health.  What invariably ends up happening is that I just decide to not have a social life, because it’s too much work.I had this idea of making a pamphlet–”So You Want To Date a Chronically Ill Person.”  Whenever somebody asks me out, I’ll hand it to them.  It’ll save us both a lot of time and energy–which, for me, is extremely important, as time and energy are my most limited resources.Few people are more outspoken than I am in defending the rights of people with disabilities to have an equal place in sexual or romantic relationships and in society as a whole, yet I can’t seem to finish my “Guide to Going Out with Gimps.”  It’s too hard for me while I’m struggling with my own feelings of inadequacy about being a worthwhile romantic partner.

I feel like such a fucking hypocrite. I feel needy, reduced to a mess of insecurity, brought down by my own internalized ableism.

I want to write up my guide.  Maybe, at some point, I’ll be able to.  But right now, the only things that come to mind are questions, the questions I want to ask someone when they start to fall in love with me.

Will you still love me?

Will you still love me when I am hunched over the toilet, throwing up for the fourteenth time because my stomach has decided it doesn’t want to work that day?

Will you still think I’m clever when I can’t speak because my brain has experienced an electric storm, ripping me away from consciousness?

Will you still consider me brave when I am curled in a ball in bed and crying from the pain because there are tiny rocks building up in my ureters, damming the flow from my kidneys?

Will you still think I’m beautiful when I’m in the hospital, in a gown that hides my curves but reveals my shame?

Will you be okay with the fact that you will almost certainly outlive me?

Will you be okay with the fact that we may never be able to have children together?

Will you be strong enough to hold me up when I cannot hold myself anymore?

Will you be patient enough to come with me to doctor’s appointments, to listen to me ranting about my health insurance, to help me deal with the inevitable mishaps with the pharmacy?

Will you be brave enough to face the inevitability of my situation and to let me grieve?  Will you be able to comfort me without platitudes, without empty words of a hope that doesn’t exist?

Can you accept the fact that I will always have to put my health first?

Can you learn to live with uncertainty?  Can you learn to live to see the beauty in the moment?

Can you still love me even though I am broken?  Further than this, can you learn to think beyond positive and negative judgments, can you accept that is part of who I am, and love that person as a whole?

Will you still love me?

Can you?

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Lion Taming http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/01/13/lion-taming/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2012/01/13/lion-taming/#comments Sat, 14 Jan 2012 03:00:19 +0000 Fizz http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=250 “Mine,” I declared calmly, clasping his hands against my hips. My pace as I rode him was slow but insistent, and I could feel the heat building up in the wet intersection between our bodies. He seemed patient, though—too patient for my taste. I moved his hands back above his head, pinning each of his wrists firmly against the pillow, and whispered to him,

“Show me how much you want it.”

He didn’t say a word. He just wrenched first one hand free and then the other, grabbing my right arm with them and twisting it behind my back. When I fell forward onto his chest, he breathed into my ear,

“Put your other arm behind your back. Do it now.”

I swallowed and complied. He squeezed my two wrists together in one strong hand and pushed his other one through my hair, holding my head down next to his.

“Mine now,” he told me. I nodded helplessly, and resumed grinding my hips down against him as he began to thrust up faster.

 

So. … I’ve been switching a lot.

More than I’d realized I wanted to, even. When I talked to Leon before my first visit to him and Ali, I warned him not to get his hopes up; I was curious about bottoming but couldn’t predict whether I’d ever be in the mood to try it while I was there. I knew that there are a few typically bottomy things that I like—being pinned, grabbed, and otherwise manhandled, for example—but had never been inclined to genuinely give up control during sex.

So imagine my surprise, my first night there, when Leon was fucking me from behind and I suddenly realized that the thing I wanted absolute most at that moment was for him to grab my wrists and pin them down. And I didn’t want to ask for it—I was in no way prepared to have a conversation about it right then—I just wanted him to do it, because he wanted to and he could. Lost for words, I moved my wrists a little closer together and stretched them out, hoping he’d notice. Leon, bless his perverted heart, grabbed them. I nodded hard, to be sure he knew he’d read me right, and for the rest of the suddenly-much-hotter minute or so that we lasted I was his.

When we flopped out afterwards, I felt happy and satisfied, but also confused. Where had that come from? We experimented over the rest of the trip, approaching the same headspace from different angles—trying to find another way into it. We already knew that we liked fighting for top, but I came to realize that most of the time we both wanted him to win. I was fighting back not to gain control over him, but to make him earn control over me.

I wasn’t just refusing to submit without being beaten down first; I couldn’t. There’s a lion in me, and it bristles and roars at the suggestion that I lie down as quietly as a lapcat. I could eventually be made to take orders, but I had to be chained up or handcuffed, and usually under immediate threat of pain. Anything else would be dishonest and emotionally uncomfortable, with the intense mental dissonance that comes from playing a role that doesn’t fit.

And yet … for that minute, the first night, I wasn’t fighting and didn’t want to be. That was the closest I’d ever come to really feeling submissive, and it didn’t feel dissonant at all. It was comfortable and sexy, even while leaving me shaken by how vulnerable I’d been. Part of it was the appeal of relaxing my guard, letting go of the tension that comes with responsibility for deciding what happens next. Much of the rest was the relief of trusting Leon with that responsibility, and the delight of having that trust repaid with pleasure. As much as I was enjoying fighting him in the meantime, I kept thinking about the moment when I actually let go, and wondering how to get to that place in my head again.

It took about two months.

“Want to play?” Leon asked me, towards the end of a lazy afternoon. Just the two of us were in the apartment.

“Maybe,” I teased. “Did you have something in mind?”

“Yes.” He smiled mischievously and repeated: “Want to play?” He waited while I thought through the part he wasn’t saying: I have an idea. I refuse to tell you what it is. I want to be in charge. I think you’ll like it, but you’ll have to trust me. Do you want it?

“Yes,” I said.

Curious, I sat back and watched as he looped a piece of chain in a tight figure eight around my wrists and padlocked it there. When he was finished, he tugged on the loose end, pulling my arms around easily.

“You’re compliant today,” he observed.

I didn’t realize the answer until I said it, and then it startled me. “I don’t feel like fighting.”

Leon pulled me around a little more, noticing that I was indeed happy to let him move my wrists wherever he wished. He regarded me thoughtfully.

“I think I like you compliant.”

He tied a piece of soft dark fabric around my eyes, careful not to tug on my eyebrow piercing. Unable to pay attention to anything I was seeing, I found myself pleasantly free of the obligation to do so. My face relaxed, and instead of trying to anticipate what was coming, I sat patiently and waited to find out.

“Kneel,” he said.

Leon and I both kink hard on having someone kneel to us. It’s an unambiguous symbol of a degree of control bordering on ownership; when someone kneels to me, I feel possessive in the best way, proud of the treasure who’s offering himself to me or eager to show her off. As a gesture of submission, it is almost always given voluntarily, as opposed to taken by force. The very idea of kneeling for someone else brings out the lion in me—I can be bound, I can be beaten, I can be threatened into staying where you put me, but all of those things will be over my passionate resistance. I don’t just kneel.

I knelt.

The lion in my head thrashed and roared in protest. It felt muted, distant. In the space it usually occupies, I just felt curious, secure, but tense with anticipation. Leon stood in front of me with a hand on my head—he didn’t break contact, I realized later, the entire time I was blindfolded. Even without being able to see his face, I knew he was thinking about making me go down on him. Even without being able to see mine, he knew it wasn’t the right moment. I was too quiet, too thoughtful … so instead, he asked me to tell him how I felt.

I felt incredibly exposed—I think the word I used was “raw.” Like anybody, I have my public face: the bright, extroverted, always-okay one that anyone who’s met me has seen; and then a more genuine, relaxed face which I wear in smaller groups, followed in ascending order of honesty by the intimate faces which only come out in private. And then this. My defenses were as far down as they come. I wasn’t hiding anything, nor deliberately presenting anything—just being. I was also thoroughly mindful of what was going on in my own head, so caught up in observing my own feelings and responses that it was hard to pay attention to anything outside of them. The only similar experience I’d had before was a particularly deep meditation session.

I rambled to him about all of that, noticing at the same time how soft my voice was and how hard my heart was beating. He said nothing, just listened, letting me draw myself out as I tried to explain with half-articulated fragments of metaphor. It took a lot of effort to form sentences, as well as to physically say them; each of those things required pulling myself a little bit out of the slow, comfortable quiet that had settled over my mind, and bridge the normally narrow gap between my brain and his. If I’d really needed to, I could have snapped out of it, but it would have been difficult and unpleasant. I didn’t want to. This was interesting, and I was curious about it, and having given Leon responsibility for looking out for me, I felt safe taking my time to explore.

Later, after he’d taken off the chain and the blindfold, it took a good half hour of cuddling and soft conversation before I felt ready to interact like a human again. Even then, I remained calm and quiet until after we’d gone out to meet Ali and carry on with our evening. I remember realizing that this is why my local dungeon warns its volunteers to wrap up scenes well before their shifts start; I wouldn’t have trusted myself with any serious responsibility right then either.

We talked a lot afterwards, as we always do, about what had made the scene work. The blindfold was a big part of it. As a communication junkie, I had always been nervous about losing a major source of information, but in practice found it a surprising relief. Lack of ability to see means lack of responsibility to watch, and knowing I had two sources of protection (Leon’s good judgment and a safeword), I was able to let go of that responsibility without fear. This realization made me curious about playing with a gag, which I’d previously had the same concern about. Sure enough, we tried it a few weeks later, and I loved it. In retrospect, my misunderstanding was simple: it’s not only about not being able to talk, but also about not needing to. Or more precisely, about trusting that everything will be okay, even if I can’t.

The only thing in that scene that I didn’t seek to repeat was how disconnected I’d felt. I barely interacted with Leon beyond talking with him; we didn’t have sex, or do any SM. It was just intense D/s, with light bondage and a lot of conversation. While those are enjoyable, it’s not usually all we want out of a scene—we play to connect, and this experience, while fascinating, was aggressively solitary. So having succeeded in finding my way back into what was to all appearances a genuinely submissive headspace, my question was no longer “How do I do this again?” but “How do I do this a little bit less?”

There’s no turning-point anecdote about finding the answer to that; suffice it to say that we continue to experiment. I still mostly bottom to him, and am finding it easier to quiet the lion when what I really want is to give up control. That’s happened often enough for Leon to remind me that he does still like it when I fight back, and would miss it if I didn’t any more. I’d do more than miss it; it was disconcerting when I noticed that the way I’ve most often played in the last few months is contrary to the way I describe my role preference. I still identify as a dominant, and lovely experiences with Leon, Ali, and others continue to remind me how much I enjoy dominating. I just seem to also enjoy submitting, at least to the one person who’s ever successfully brought out that side of me.

When I originally wrote about the lion, I was thinking of it as a style of submission, but that interpretation is too simplistic to encompass my actual experience. The lion is the part of me that fights back against domination, yes, but it’s also the part that dominates. It has no place in the role binary because the role binary has no place for it; that’s just another false dichotomy, trying and failing to represent the world with only two categories. The lion ignores them and roams freely in my mind, coming out in whatever I do: when I’m in control, its strength gives me confidence. When someone challenges me, I resist with its ferocity. And apparently, for someone I like and trust enough, it can retract its claws and be tame.

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“No thank you, Ma’am.” http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/11/27/no-thank-you-maam/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/11/27/no-thank-you-maam/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 07:20:54 +0000 Professor Chaos http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=234 A few months ago, I wrote the following on my fetlife profile:

A bit of a rant about titles and honorifics

Sometimes, when I’m dealing with random passers-by on fetlife, I kind of feel like Carl from UP. (I AM NOT YOUR MASTER.)
I say right there at the bottom of my profile that I don’t like it when strangers address me as “Mistress” or “Ma’am” or “Miss” or “Goddess” or any other silly awkward title when they write to me. It’s even in bold. For, you know, emphasis. To show people that hey, if you’re contacting me out of the blue, here is something you might want to read first.
And yet people do it anyways.
When you write me a message out of the blue and address me as one of the former terms, it shows me that either:
a. You are too lazy to read my profile (in which case I have no use for you)
b. You are too stupid to understand simple instructions or basic courtesy (in which case I have no use for you)
or
c. You’re not actually interested in getting to know me.  You have some libido-induced idea of what a dominant woman should be like, you see the sexy photo on my profile paired with “25 FEM DOM,” and suddenly the blood is rapidly diverted to your genitalia, the unfortunate side-effect of which being that that blood was, in fact, diverted from your brain, the result of which is that you mistake me for pornography and you are then surprised when I’m not, in fact, interested in fulfilling your fantasies and I turn out to be a real person with my own desires.

In which case?

I HAVE NO USE FOR YOU.

I’m not anyone’s Mistress. I like being called “ma’am” in the right situations, but only when I’ve earned it. Otherwise it just feels fake. And here’s the thing about honorifics–while they ostensibly confer respect or honor, using them when it hasn’t been warranted, completely devalues them and, in fact, negates the intended effect.

So unless I have you with your hands tied to my bed, making lovely and horrible noises, while I straddle you and whisper sweetly into your ear…

Don’t fucking call me ma’am.

Random people I don’t know calling me “ma’am” or “mistress” over the internet has almost completely killed the erocitism of those words for me.  I don’t like it.  It’s not consensual.  It is the equivalent of taking a picture of a dominatrix stereotype and pasting a cut-out picture of my head on it.  It’s people trying to submit to me without any domination.

I have other issues with these words too.  They are way too gendered for my liking, and “mistress” has another meaning, one which is undeniably negative at that.

So hearing these words in reference to me, which used to send a little thrill down into my very core, is something I can no longer stomach.

But this has never been an issue.  I mean, I’m the dominant, so I get to be the one making the decisions, right?  I tell people what to call me, and that’s what they call me.  It’s never been an issue, up until now.

For a few months now, I’ve been dating a submissive man who is relatively new to the scene.  He has a surprisingly little amount of damage.  He doesn’t feel the same way I do about those words.  In fact, he likes them.  And, I want to take his preferences into account when we play (not only because I want to be considerate but because I like being able to push his buttons.)  And likewise, he wants to be the one to bend to my will, but at the same time, he cannot deny how much erotic power those words hold for him.  His reasoning is that the words sound sexy and that their meaning and association shouldn’t be limiting, because words can mean anything you want them to mean.

It is a complicated struggle between me, and the words.

Thanks to the BDSM scene, I no longer like the things I used to.  In certain ways, because of the BDSM scene that I can no longer enjoy this aspect of BDSM.

That is very sad.

There are some people who have such a strong aversion to the word “submissive” that they don’t even identify with it any more.  That’s how the words that are supposed to connote respect and affection are starting to feel to me.

I’m dominant.  It doesn’t mean I always know the right thing to do.  I’m faced with a crossroads here.  I feel I have two options.  I can take the words back, reclaim them, use them with defiance.  Or I can find new words to use instead.  The latter appeals more to me.  I enjoy creativity, and coming up with something new seems fun.  But part of me wants to revel in them with my boy toy, and take enjoyment from his untarnished view of D/s, and see if I can learn to forget the stain of bitterness that the scene has left on mine.

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Fighting Fire with Love http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/11/21/fighting-fire-with-love/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/11/21/fighting-fire-with-love/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 08:43:11 +0000 Fizz http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=229 Ali and I turned left, into a park on the urban college campus, and heard shouts coming from behind us. About a block down, there was a dense cluster of people with a handful of signs waving over the top. I didn’t get a long look, but words like “BEWARE” and “EVILUTION” jumped out at me. It wasn’t clear whether the fundamentalists were mostly yelling at the liberal college students or vice versa; one counterprotest sign, held between two of the others, said “STOP NOISE POLLUTION” with arrows pointing to each side.

We looked at each other.

“Want to go make out in front of them?” Ali asked.

I checked the time. “Yes,” I said, “but the tour’s about to start. Let’s see if they’re still here afterwards?”

She acquiesced, and we spent a couple of hours learning about one of the schools I might transfer to in the fall. When we got back, the signs were gone, and the crowd had thinned out. Just in case they were still packing up, we walked past where the group had been, swinging our arms together cheerfully as we’d been doing all afternoon.

Sure enough, a man hurried over to us. “Girls!” he called out. “Did you already receive a gospel tract today?”

We looked at each other, grinned, and shrugged. She grabbed my face and pulled it down to hers, and I wrapped my arms around her as we kissed passionately.

“Jesus Christ can forgive all your sins,” the man insisted.

Ali pulled away and looked at him. “Jesus loves me, and he loves you too,” she said with a smile. Before he could reply, I leaned down to kiss her again.

The man was undeterred, repeating his message with barely an altered word, then turned to me. “Jesus loves you–” he began.

“–not as much as I love my girlfriend,” I decided aloud, then gave her one last happy smooch. She slipped her hand back into mine as we walked away. “That’s my girl,” I murmured, and squeezed it. Ali beamed and leaned her head on my shoulder.

On the bus ride home, at my request, she told me about her personal history with faith–one which is necessarily interwoven with her coming out story. (It’s not mine to tell, but suffice it to say that it’s not the stereotypical tragic drama you might be imagining when I say “faith” and “coming out” in the same sentence.) I wanted to hear it because it’s part of someone who’s important to me, but I asked at that moment because of her response to the man who offered us the tracts. She wasn’t angry, nor defensive, nor interested in engaging on his terms. Her response to his distaste was acceptance–calmly fighting fire with love–and I was so damn proud of her for that.

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Corpus http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/10/19/corpus/ http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/2011/10/19/corpus/#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2011 18:47:21 +0000 Professor Chaos http://www.labcoatlingerie.com/?p=223 Today is Love Your Body day.

I feel like a fraud talking about loving my body today–I don’t particularly love it.  You see, my body and I have a complicated relationship.

Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my hospital, in the midst of an extremely boring, 4-hour long medical test.  This sort of thing is routine for me.  Monday, I had another doctor’s appointment.  And I have more next week.  On a daily basis, I find myself in a lot of physical pain.  It’s hard not to turn that physical pain into emotional pain.

My body is high maintenance.  Good health is something most people my age take for granted.  I envy them.  I am constantly reminded that my body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.   Even on the good days, I have to remember to take all my many medications and schedule doctors appointments.

Sometimes I can love my body.  Even if I can’t forget its malfunctions, I can forgive them, and focus on the ways it can function, and revel in its beauty.

But it’s hard to love your body when it feels like it doesn’t love you.

There is a societal model of illness that is damaging.  When we think sick, we think cancer.  We think fighting.  We think this is something that has to be overcome, a war that must be fought and won, because losing would mean death.  When the illness is a part of your own body for so long, who is the enemy?  I cannot fight my body–that’s a war that I cannot win, the collateral damage would be too high.  Instead, I fight the voices I hear from society that tell me that healthy is beautiful, echoed by my own internal demons who whisper that if healthy is beautiful, I will always be ugly.

So today–Love Your Body Day–the day I am supposed to love and appreciate my body, I instead find myself feeling frustrated and resentful towards it.  I will try and put aside my resentment and remind myself something I wrote the other night.  Physical pleasure is deeply important to me.  I find it empowering to take pleasure in my body when it often causes me so much pain and I take pleasure in the pleasure others take from my body.  Here is what I wrote:

My body is broken. My body is beautiful. My body is perfect. No matter how badly it functions, no matter how much, at times, I hate the way it looks, no matter how much pain it causes me, after a night like tonight, after I’ve given myself countless orgasms, I can say, with certainty–my body is absolutely fucking perfect.
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