Archive for August, 2008

leather north and south of the border
August 27, 2008

Can you smell it? Fall is on the way. Sure, it’s still sunny and warm out, but the sunset begins at dinnertime instead of halfway through the evening, and the edges of the leaves are just beginning to turn red as you speed along the highway.

Which is exactly what I did twice this past weekend, on my way to and from the Great Lakes Leather Alliance weekend in Indianapolis. Speed along the highway, that is, not turn red at the edges. My loyal companions and drivers (ah, the perils of lacking a license) were Boi M and my best friend and platonic life partner D, and we whiled away the time with fun car games (“how many sex- and kink-related verbs and nouns can we come up with for each letter of the alphabet?”) and in-depth conversations about the nature of D/s, self-mastery versus self-control, and the differences between the American and Canadian leather scenes.

That last one is still on my mind as I write, so I’m going to delve into it a bit here. But first, some context.

The reason we were headed to GLLA is because of an odd text message I received while I was in Amsterdam with Boi L in June. It was from Riley, GLLA Bootblack 2007, asking if I might be interested in serving as a judge for the GLLA 2008 bootblack contest. I’d never judged a contest before, and in fact I generally don’t have many good things to say about the leather title circuit (read my post entitled “the reasons i didn’t run” if you’re curious), but many of my arguments against it were rendered moot in this particular case thanks to the fact that bootblacking is a skills-based contest, not a see-how-cute-your-butt-looks-in-leather contest. So I thought about it for a bit and said yes.

Fast-forward to this past weekend, in which a medium-sized hotel was sold out and packed to the gills with leather-clad kinksters in an impressive variety of sizes, shapes, colours and genders. It was a weekend to remember for many reasons. The company of some fantastic bootblacks – contestants and judges alike, they were all just excellent people, and they made me feel warmly welcome. The occasion to meet and share space with additional wonderful people, two of whom agreed to share a hotel room with the three of us without ever having even met us. (Five to a room meant that Boi M slept in a little nest on the floor, but we both kinda liked that idea, so it all worked out.) The pleasant experience of picking myself up a rather gorgeous “predominantly gay” (his words) boy-toy for the weekend and having all sorts of intriguing fun with him. A trip to Outword Bound, Indy’s queer bookstore, which netted me a lovely stack of additions to the ever-growing collection, along with a few other books from a table at GLLA itself. A new piece of leather from the GLLA vendors’ mart. A trip to a huge old warehouse filled with bootblacking and footwear care supplies – it felt like stepping into the 1940s, and all I could think of was how perfect it would be to set a modern-day queer porn there. Really, it was almost as good as a library, and that’s saying something. And most of all, the experience of judging my first contest – I definitely learned a lot about how the judging process works, thanks to the kind and patient input of the other, more experienced judges.

I walked out of the weekend feeling like I’d had a great time, emerging with new knowledge and experience and some really sweet new connections. At the same time, I also came out of the weekend feeling as though I’d just spent three days in an alternate reality, a different sort of community that doesn’t look much like the one I call home. It was strange to be welcomed so warmly into the heart of that community – into a position of some authority, no less – and yet to still emerge feeling as though I were very much an outsider. I’ve been trying to unpack the differences I felt for the past couple of days, and while I don’t think I’ve got it all figured out yet, I’ve made a few observations that might explain that odd sense of home-but-not-home.

For starters, the American leather scene – at least as represented at GLLA, which brings together participants from seven or more states – is much like American culture in general, in that there’s a sense of staunch patriotism that permeates… well, everything. During the contest’s opening ceremonies, everyone stood and sang the national anthem. I experienced this once before at IMsL in San Francisco, and I had the same reaction now as I did then – I had to hold back laughter.

It wasn’t so much laughter at a room full of Americans singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but rather, laughter as I tried to imagine how it would go over at An Unholy Harvest if we tried to get all the leatherdykes and trans folks to stand up and sing “Oh Canada.” I mean, the idea is ludicrous. One might sing the Canadian national anthem at a Remembrance Day ceremony (if one were to attend such a thing), or on Canada Day before the fireworks go off on Parliament Hill, or perhaps (if they still do this, which I sincerely doubt) in the mornings before class in elementary school. But the idea of bringing nationalism and patriotic pride into the kink scene is downright funny north of the border. Why would one have anything to do with the other? I would be almost as surprised to hear “Oh Canada” sung at a kink event as I would to percieve the opening notes of “Happy Birthday” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and just as likely to bring patriotism into my dungeon as I would be to bring my brothers to an orgy. They’re both fine and dandy but they just don’t mesh. (Of course, I like my brothers way more than the Harper government, so perhaps my comparison is still off.)

So as a Canadian who doesn’t know the words to the American anthem, I could only stand and look around to observe the utter lack of irony present in the room as the proud notes rang out from the throats of everyone around me. I felt like an alien from outer space.

I could speculate on the reasons for this difference. I might be missing some big ones, but the first thing that occurs to me is that the American leather scene will of course be imbued with American patriotism to the same degree that the rest of American culture is, which is to say, heavily. In addition, the American leather scene takes some of its roots in military culture, with its emphasis on hierarchy, brotherhood and so forth (plus the addition of things like gay sex, biker iconography and SM practices), whereas the Canadian one doesn’t have nearly the same roots except in some instances of mild cross-border cultural influence.

I don’t really understand that degree of national pride, but it doesn’t necessarily offend me. Unless… and here’s where I caught a glimpse of the underbelly of that pride. In a workshop that Boi M attended, the presenter talked about how he often liked to come to dinner in a dress uniform because he liked the formality of it within the context of his D/s household. Fair enough, if that’s your thing. But he went on to say that he never wore American uniforms because he had never been in the service and felt it would be disrespectful to sport a uniform he hadn’t earned. Instead, he wore the dress uniforms of French, African and Canadian military.

Does anyone else see the problem here? Um… so it’s okay to sport an un-earned uniform from another country or culture, thereby layering cultural appropriation on top of the existing disrespect? Yikes.

I certainly don’t think that all American leatherfolks see things this way – among other things because not everyone is into wearing uniforms. It was simply an instance that spoke really strongly to me of the ways in which military culture perfumes the American leather scene, but not always in ways that resonate with a fully considered and culturally sensitive approach to that symbolism.

Another example of the place that the military holds in leather culture was the instance when, during another ceremony at GLLA, the MC asked that everyone who was in the service or who had family members in the service stand up and accept the applause of the audience because they’re heroes, and it was thanks to them, and to their fight for freedom, that we kinksters had the freedom to practice our kinks today. Again, this was a bit of a mind-bend for me. First of all because once again, the idea of proudly proclaiming a pro-military stance on stage at a kink event and assuming everyone in the room will applaud would simply never fly in Canada. Not that we’re all anti-military, but there’s not really much glory given to the armed forces; some people think they’re inherently evil baby-killers, some think they’re godlike heroes, and the vast majority predictably fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, acknowledging that the military is necessary but preferring to hold them to ideals of peacekeeping and rebuilding and minimize the emphasis on weaponry and assault.

In Canada, for all that some kinksters fetishize uniforms, we don’t like guns much, we’re not into muscular foreign policy, and we’re highly and vocally suspicious of any instance in which the military seems to be being used as a tool to further our national economic interests rather than to encourage world peace. So the way that robust support for the military was presumed – correctly – among kinksters, particularly in light of the ongoing lunacy of Bush’s approach to Iraq and elsewhere, really showed me how we differ north of the border.

Certainly, as typified by Pierre “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” Trudeau, we’ve also sustained a healthy cynicism when it comes to the government’s right to meddle in our sex lives. With the possible exception of the gratitude that some queer people show the government for allowing same-sex marriage, or swingers for legalizing private group sex, we don’t tend to get all excited about how wonderful our government is and how much freedom it allows us – and ours is markedly kinder to sexual “deviants” than the American one. Instead, we tend to view advances in sexual and relational freedom as ground that must be fought for by grassroots activists and sustained by ongoing critique of the governement, rather than as being a testament to the greatness of that very government and its various arms of enforcement.

Now here’s another difference: titles. I wonder if the American penchant for Scene titles is an offshoot of the military model that underpins much of the leather scene. Just about everyone I met at GLLA prefaced their name with an honorific. Sir This, boy that, Lady This, slave that. Very rarely did I get introduced to anyone who just went by, y’know, Bob. I definitely felt like the odd one out when I introduced myself as Andrea. I know in this blog I use “Boi M” and “Boi L” to refer to my bois, but that’s only for the sake of online discretion; in real life, we just use their names.

GLLA definitely made me wonder what it would have been like to “grow up” in a leather scene that encouraged the use of titles in such an overwhelming way. Had my journey in kink begun south of the border, would I now by “Lady Andrea” or “Sir Andrea” or something? I suppose it’s possible, but they both feel way too formal for my liking. If someone wants to call me Ma’am or Sir, they’re more than welcome to, but I’d prefer they do so because it’s an accurate reflection of how they feel about me rather than as a general nod to my role in the Scene. I just don’t need that kind of reinforcement, and it makes me uncomfortable when strangers relate to me with indicators of a formal sort of respect I haven’t directly earned via a relationship with them. My hierarchical relationships are exactly that – relationships, not a signifier of our respective places in the community. That sense of D/s individualism is, oddly, far more present in Canada than in the US, from what I’ve seen, and stretches far beyond the realm of honorifics and well into the way a community operates, though I’m not sure I can articulate the specifics of that bleed quite yet. Lemme think about it some more.

I definitely have further reflections on this topic, but perhaps they are better saved for a future post when it’s not the wee hours of the morning. Before I sign off, though, I should re-indicate, in case anyone missed it the first time around, that none of these observations are intended as a put-down of the GLLA weekend or its organizers and participants. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am thrilled to have met so many excellent people and be exposed to a community that functions differently from mine. It intrigues me to tease out the differences between those communities, and I do feel more at home when I’m at home (duh), but no disrespect is intended – simply a sense of observation and speculation.

Hokay. Disclaimers over. Bedtime now.

canadian queer and trans writers – these are for you!
August 18, 2008

Any writers out there? I’ve got two calls for submissions for ya. One is from the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives, which is running a first-person essay contest. The other is from Rupert Raj, a prominent Canadian trans activist based in Toronto, who’s coordinating an anthology about the history of Canadian trans activism – a yummy topic if I’ve ever seen one. Full details below. Pass ‘em on!

*****

Call for Submissions

First Person Narrative National Essay Contest
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

This Year’s Topic ~ Once I Was A Child
Essay Length ~ 2000-2500 words.

1st prize      $500.00
2nd prize     $300.00
3rd prize     $200.00

With a special prize of $100.00 for Best Under Nineteen

Prizewinning essays to be selected by award winning author and Giller Prize nominee Wayson Choy and by Sarah Sheard, writer and mentor with Humber School For Writers

Submission Due Date ~ September 30, 2008
Prize Winners announced ~ December 15, 2008

Entries should be previously unpublished, typed, single-sided, and double-spaced with your name, address, telephone number and story title on a separate sheet. Parent/Guardian signature required for anyone under 19. Forms can be found on our web site. Entry fee is $25.00 payable to Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives by cheque or online at http://www.clga.ca. Free for anyone under 19.

Send your stories to
Managing Editor, The Archivist
106 Walpole Avenue
Toronto ON M4L 2J3
or to jacoffey@rogers.com

The contest is open to all ages and all backgrounds.

All entries will be considered for publication in Keeping Our Stories Alive, Volume 1, A Journal of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

*****

A CALL FOR PAPERS FROM TRANS PEOPLE (INCLUDING GENDERQUEER, INTERSEX AND TWO-SPIRIT PEOPLE WHO ALSO IDENTIFY AS TRANS) AND OUR ALLIES AND SUPPORTERS

***Please post print copy and circulate e-mail electronically* **

TRANS ACTIVISM: A Canadian Reader and Practical Guide

(co-editors: Rupert Raj, M.A. & Dan Irving, Ph.D., reviewer: Yasmeen Persad)

This dynamic book project will critically explore the history of trans resistance efforts, as well as the issues and struggles shaping contemporary trans activism in Canada. A groundbreaking initiative, it will be the first-ever anthology soliciting papers from a diverse range of trans advocates working in a Canadian context.

Working within an intersectional, anti-oppression, feminist and critical political-economic framework, this project will address multiple approaches to trans (transsexual/ transgender) activism in Canada. These will include the political, economic, sociocultural, psychological, legal, medical, scientific, religious and existential/ spiritual aspects of trans oppression and trans advocacy (the latter including anti-racist and
anti-colonial approaches).

The goals of this book project are: (1) to continue to combat trans erasure and invisibility through illustrating the rich history and contemporary presence of trans communities and activism within a Canadian context; (2) to enhance community-based research, trans activist endeavours and theorizing through critical engagement with the understandings of trans identities and strategies, with a view towards advancing the material lives and real experiences of trans people residing in Canada; and (3) to inspire and reinvigorate trans activists and community workers to continue to struggle for equity and social justice
for all trans people.

While much depends on the submissions received, this book will be divided into three sections:

(I.) Histories of Trans Activism: What were some of the earlier forms of trans resistance (pre-1990)? How did resistance take place? Where did it occur? With whom/what institutions were activists engaging? Did other forms of activism (i.e., early gay Pride marches, organizing for sex workers rights, indigenous anti-colonial struggles, etc.) include issues arising from sex/gender alterity? What lessons were learned? Is history
repeating itself?

(II) Contemporary Activism: (a) Politicized Issues, (b) Ways of doing trans activism (i.e., community-based research, art as activism, therapy as activism, community service organizations, academic contributions) , (c) Barriers facing trans activists (i.e., burnout, dealing with ?differences? within trans communities, confronting transphobia, etc.); (d) Allies and Supporters.

(III.) Practical Tips for the Trans Activist: Self-care, networking, becoming media savvy, self-advocacy.

Not all submissions must be articles. You can submit drawings/graphics, poems, short stories, etc. If you are a grassroots trans activist, who finds it challenging to write (which might include people whose first language is not English, persons with language or computer literacy issues, visually-impaired individuals, or other folks with specific issues: please specify), you may also submit a request to be interviewed by one of the editors. If accepted, selections from the interview transcript will be included in the book. (We will limit the number of interviewees to a maximum of three people).

We encourage contributions which address, but are not limited to, the following:

*accounts of Francophone trans activism/organizing within Quebec and other parts of French Canada (e.g., New Brunswick, northern Ontario)
*histories of trans organizing from all regions of English Canada
*essays on/by key historical figures within trans communities
*histories of two-spirit identities by those who identify as both two-spirit and trans; organizing by First Nations trans people
*historical, institutional and/or personal challenges of trans activists
*trans organizing within, against and beyond gender identity clinics
*struggles for trans-specific health care services and equitable access to health care
*fighting for inclusive, responsive and transpositive social services for trans people
*trans people with disabilities; ableism within and without the trans and disability communities
*art-as-activism (?artivism?)
*trans labour activism
*developing trans feminism and alliances within women?s communities
*trans prisoners; a transphobic justice system and a need for transpositive prison reform
*past campaigns to decriminalize prostitution; trans prostitutes/ sex-workers as leading activists
*legal battles for human rights of trans people
*therapy-as- activism; the potential activist role of trans-identified therapists/ counsellors
*trans theorizing as activism (trans academia)
*scientific activism; trans-specific, clinical research as transphobic or as transpositive (an evidence-based tool for trans advocacy)
*trans organizing within religious/spiritual contexts
*the fight for affordable access to (higher) education as well as job training
*affordable, safe housing for trans people
*trans (chosen) families as politicized sites of struggle
*HIV/AIDS and safer-sex activism
*trans seniors-as-activist s; ageism within the trans community; organizing re: the rights of older trans people
*immigration, refugee and settlement issues
*fighting racialization of trans people within and without the trans community; whiteness as an obstacle to solidarity
*trans activism within gay, lesbian and bisexual communities
*the rights and/or emancipation of trans and gender non-conforming children and adolescents
*anti-capitalist trans activism
*trans and genderqueer youth
*sexuality and trans activism
*intersex activism by those who identify as both intersex and trans
*transsexual versus transgender tensions
*developing anti-oppression frameworks within activist spaces
*trans activism reproducing colonial and nationalist frameworks
*class as a barrier to trans solidarity
*battling misogyny within ourselves and our communities
*coping with burnout, self-care strategies
*negotiating power relations within community-based research projects
*the violence we do to each other and working through our internal differences
*negotiating alliances between trans and non-trans activists
*strategies to transact, transgress, transcend?

Contributors must have experience as advocates or community workers working with trans people in the Canadian context. While we cannot promise that we will be able to include all submissions received, we still hope that all interested individuals will send us an abstract, including our allies and supporters (e.g., family members, partners, friends, colleagues, health care and social service providers, legal and medical professionals, researchers, educators, policy makers, politicians, faith leaders, etc.). We also strongly encourage First Nations trans people, trans people of colour, trans newcomers, sex-workers, trans seniors, low-income trans people or those with a disability, trans prisoners, as well as trans-identified genderqueer, intersex and two-spirit people, to submit.

A contract with a publisher has NOT yet been secured (but we do have three POTENTIAL publishers). Selected abstracts and bios from contributors will be submitted as part of the book proposal.

The editors are Dan Irving, Ph.D. and Rupert Raj, M.A. Dan is a trans man, trans activist, academic and university instructor working in Ottawa, and has published “The Tragedy of Progress: Marxism, Modernity and the Aboriginal Question.” Rupert is a Eurasian-Canadian trans man, trans activist, published researcher, therapist and gender specialist based in Toronto. Your abstract submission will be reviewed by a three-person committee, including the co-editors and Yasmeen Persad, a Caribbean-Canadian trans woman, trans activist and community worker, who also does outreach with trans sex-workers in Toronto.

Please submit a 500-word abstract (double-spaced) , and a 100-word bio (double-spaced) by Friday, October 24th, 2008 (12 midnight) to: irving.dan@gmail. com, rraj@sherbourne. on.ca and ypersad@sherbourne. on.ca.

(For your clarification, as a courtesy to non-academics: the abstract is only a synopsis or outline – not the finished piece itself – and should include the overall purpose, focus and proposed content, with examples, if applicable. The focus might be a particular population: e.g., trans people with a disability, and/or a specific issue: stigmatization around ableism within the trans community and/or transphobic discrimination within the disability communities and/or mainstream society. Your bio should ideally include relevant professional, community-activist and personal demographic information: i.e., ethnoracial, national, regional and cultural status, place of birth, age, gender identity, sexual identity, and specialized demographics: e.g., are you homeless/underhoused, poor/on a limited income, disabled, new to Canada, etc.; as well as any past, present or future specific trans activist efforts/projects).

We hope to be able to make our final decisions by Sunday, November 2nd, at which time we will notify all submitters whether we will be including your piece in the anthology. We will also acknowledge receipt of abstract submissions and bios as we receive them.

- 30 -

calling all canadian leatherdykes… an unholy harvest is back!
August 13, 2008

Some of you may remember from last year that my kick-ass colleague Jacqueline St-Urbain and I organized Canada’s only weekend event for leatherdykes and trans people – An Unholy Harvest. It was the first of its kind in well over a decade, and it was a raging success. Well, we decided to do it all over again this year. Needless to say I’m already beyond excited! It’s taking place on Thanksgiving weekend (October 10-12) in Ottawa.

Please spread the good news. We really want this to be an event that draws Canadians from all over the country, and so we’re especially hoping to bring in more people from the Maritimes, the Prairies and BC – so if any of you readers know kinky dykes and transfolk from those provinces, please poke them until they sign up! Even better if they want to present a workshop.

The full announcement is below. The early-bird registration deadline is September 5. Come join the fun!

***

AN UNHOLY HARVEST

Shine your leathers and pack your toybags… An Unholy Harvest is back in 2008!

Be a part of Canada’s only weekend for leatherdykes and transfolk! People have been talking about last year’s sold-out and highly successful event since the minute they got home. If you missed it, you’ve probably been kicking yourself… and if you were there, you’ve doubtless been anticipating the next one!

Join us in Ottawa this coming Thanksgiving weekend, October 10-12, 2008.

Get ready for a weekend packed with kink! You can expect…

·    A fabulous kinky auction to get your juices flowing
·    A full menu of BDSM and kink workshops, both hands-on and theoretical, with skilled presenters from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada
·    Three play parties in a fully equipped dungeon
·    Film screenings
·    Plus some extra surprises this year… stay tuned!

On top of all that, we’re raising our registration cap to make space for more hotties to attend in 2008. We want you to come, and we want your friends to come with you! But remember, spaces are still limited and the price is right. Like last year, we fully expect to sell out. Don’t wait! Register now to make sure you get in on the action!

For more info and to register, visit http://www.unholyharvest.ca. An Unholy Harvest is open to women and trans people who respect and honour a women’s play space.

Your friendly coordinatrixes,

Jacqueline St-Urbain and Andrea Zanin

***

Call for presenters

Are you a Canadian leatherdyke or trans person with a skill you’d like to share, a concept you’d like to teach or a great idea for a kinky panel you’d like to speak on? We’re actively seeking presenters for the 2008 edition of An Unholy Harvest, taking place October 10-12 in Ottawa. We are very much open to hearing your ideas!

Please note that while presenters from outside Canada are welcome to submit proposals, we will give first priority to Canadian presenters. We especially encourage submissions from residents of the Prairies, the Maritimes and the Territories. Deadline for submission is August 15, 2008.

Visit us at http://www.unholyharvest.ca for more information and to submit your workshop proposal!

the eloquence of rope
August 11, 2008

I make a pretty poor rope bondage top. I know enough basics to get me where I want to go, and to make the occasional pretty tie, but I’m by no means someone who holds an encyclopedic knowledge of knots and harness styles. I wouldn’t attempt more than a basic or partial suspension. I’ve had the same rope bag for at least two or three years and its contents haven’t really changed. And, full confession here, I’m even (gasp) allergic to hemp – in some people’s eyes this makes me akin to a heretic.

But I like rope work anyway. So this past weekend in Montreal, I attended Midori’s workshop entitled “Scene Dynamics and Psychology of Rope Bondage.”

It seems that what I most often take from her classes, these days, is one or two rich tidbits to chew on, often in the form of questions to myself. And that’s what happened again this time. Near the end of the class, she paired people up and told them to ask one another a series of questions – first of all, what is it about rope bondage that you like? What emotional state does it bring you into? And, can you name three other things that would bring you to a similar emotional state?

Interestingly, for all that it seems incredibly simple, it was the first question that gave me the most to think about. It’s not a simple one to answer, because for the longest time I didn’t really have a big thing for bondage at all. I kept hammering at it because I had this nagging feeling it held something for me to learn, and indeed it did, but it never started out as a major kink for me.

As a bottom, I’ve been tied up a few times, and I do get that there’s a pleasant sensation involved – constriction, the physical experience of having someone patiently wrap rope around you, and so forth. I also to some extent get the psychological end of it – certainly, it’s relaxing to be bound, in that you can’t possibly be expected to move so why not just space out and enjoy it. But I guess my desires as a bottom tend to be more along the lines of wanting to fly on intense sensation rather than wanting to relax into the absence of it, and since I’m not much of a control freak there’s no particular thrill in the loss of it, so I don’t feel a great draw to the experience.

So rather than making me think about the emotional state of rope bottoming, the question made me think about my (considerably greater) experience as a rope top. I’m by no means an expert rigger or anything, so it’s not so much that I have vast or formidable skill (I don’t) as it is that I’ve done a fair bit of bondage in the past few years in a variety of situations – tying up a friend and taking dirty pictures to send to her lover, decorating my own feet in ribbon bondage, taking three hours to carefully knot an intricate string body harness around someone and pierce a needle through her skin precisely inside each diamond, using rope for restraint during any number scenes, putting someone in a submissive headspace while they serve me, holding a butt plug into someone under their clothing while we’re out and about, and positioning someone exactly as I want them for fucking purposes, to name a few.

Each of these examples involved a different purpose, a different energy, and often different bondage materials. With all this in mind, would it make sense for me to try and name “the” thing I like about rope bondage? Not really. And while I suppose in each case the rope allows me to express something, and control something, I don’t find myself transported to a specific emotional state by those experiences – they’re highly functional, and enjoyable, but not thrilling in and of themselves. What’s thrilling, if anything, is the sense of having a tool available to me that allows me to properly achieve a specific result.

So I started to think about exactly that – the range of purposes and results that bondage can be used for. And that brought me back to something I’ve often said about BDSM technique in general. For me, it’s not the specific techniques that I find enjoyable. My aim, throughout my journey in kink, and in sexual exploration in general, has always been to acquire an array of skills so that I can use them to suit my particular purpose in a given situation. It’s all about developing a language, a vocabulary, that I can then use to send specific messages. The more vocabulary I have available to me, the more eloquent and articulate I can be with that message.

But what message do I want to give? What is it that I want to say?

Well, that’s where the fun really starts. Obviously it all depends on the people involved, the mood of the moment, the nature of the interpersonal dynamics, and so forth. The thing that makes rope in particular so useful is that unlike a flogger or a pair of handcuffs, rope is extremely versatile. It’s certainly possible to create versatility with other implements, I’m well aware, but I’ve never encountered a tool quite as malleable as rope, or one that works quite as nicely with other implements to frame or enrich an experience. Here lies the answer as to why I like rope bondage.

I can tie someone in such a way that they feel exposed and vulnerable and frightened as easily as I can tie someone to make them feel safe and contained. I can tie someone to make them feel beautiful or to make them feel humiliated. I can tie someone to create or heighten sensation, or to close off and minimize sensory perception. I can tie someone to make them into a treasured pet, or a useful object, or a helpless victim. I can leave them covered in rope but entirely free to move around, even well outside my presence, or I can entirely immobilize them in such a tightly controlled way that they can barely even twitch.

I can send a psychological message that’s extremely simple – You are desired. You are helpless. You are beautiful. You are trapped. You are mine. You are exposed. You are going to suffer. You are being used. You are an object. You are a beast. You are strong. You are humiliated.

Further beauty lies in the places where the psychological message is more complex. Not too long ago, for example, as I was packing to travel somewhere, Boi M was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by all the things he wanted to do to help me get on my way. He really seemed to be upset with himself, so I tossed him on my bed and tied him up in such a fashion that he couldn’t get up. Then I started opening up my drawers, pulling out the things I needed to pack, and throwing them on him as though he were just another part of the bed. Every once in a while I’d clear a little space, give him a few kisses on the available surface, and get back to my packing process. At first I think it drove him a bit nuts to be immobilized and unable to help out; there was some crying. But after a bit of struggle he eventually relaxed into it. I kept him there for quite a while, until he finally said sheepishly, “Okay, I get it. You love me even if I’m not doing anything. I don’t have to be serving you to deserve to be loved by you.” Indeed. Without a single word, a couple of coils of rope allowed me to send a powerful message about my love for my boi that might have taken hours to pound through if I’d relied on normal conversation.

I suppose it’s no coincidence that, as a writer, I’d enjoy using tools for accurate and nuanced expression, the more precise the better. I know that many bondage enthusiasts are into their kink of choice for some pretty rope-specific reasons; as such, while I’m sure I could learn a lot, I’m probably never going to fit in at ShibariCon or at your average rope bondage discussion group. In truth it doesn’t really matter, though. I’ll keep right on having a good time with my cheap nylon ropes (that don’t give me a rash) and the people who are so kind as to listen to what I have to say with them.

kink in the city of two-cheek kisses
August 5, 2008

I have a confession to make: sometimes, I like to relax. It’s a bit mind-boggling, but over the long weekend I actually went away and hung out at a cottage with no internet access, and then last night I (gasp!) went to a movie! An empty-souled blockbuster, no less! And I ate movie snacks! I will soon be back on the blogging bandwagon, I’m sure, but it’s been rather lovely to just kick back and breathe a bit this last little while.

But speaking of fine ways to occupy one’s time, the teaching circuit is starting to rumble in preparation for the fall’s avalanche. And on that note, this post is a quick shout-out to the Montrealers, or those who plan to be in Montreal soon, to let you know that I’ll be teaching two workshops at the Festival Kinky August 7-10.

The first is Thursday evening, August 7, at 6 p.m. and it’s my Hands-On Play class – I’m going to take the pulse of the group before deciding if I’m going to make it a hard-core one with info about punching etc. or if I’ll stick with the basics, but either way I promise I’ll make it fun.

The second is Saturday afternoon, August 9, at 1 p.m. and it’s my vaginal fisting workshop – same one I gave to the Army in late May, so if you missed it and want to come out this time, it’d be great to have you there!

For more info, check out http://www.kinkyfes tival.com/ html/en/04_ calendrierAtelie rs.html. Tickets are available at http://www.kinkyfes tival.com/ html/en/00_ tickets.html.

Feel free to spread the word. Every little bit helps!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 675 other followers