In 2010, Maisie was just another teenager visiting South Africa for the first time. At the age of 18, she had reinvented her life, so now her future was made out of daisies and sunshine.
Then she was gang raped.
They broke her arm. They left her concussed with a face full of bruises and a life full of horror. Someone found her walking along Main road and drove her to a clinic, where they processed her rape kit and patched up her injuries.
We went to visit her the following Saturday. She was all bandaged and bruised, but it was her eyes that told the real story. I knew that look: it was sexual shame. She wanted to fold her entire psyche away deep inside her where nobody would ever reach, but rape survivors don’t get that option. They must face the world one way or another. We are that world, and we determine how impossible that task becomes.
I’m not sure we deserve that power.
Dominance is not a magic trick or a game that’s won in one easy step. You can’t put it on like a mask. It’s inherent in your character, but it has nothing to do with how well you can browbeat us.
Once someone offers up their submission, will you use it to sate your sexual desires and not a damned thing else, or will you put your sub’s wellbeing ahead of your infinite list of fantasies? It’s tempting to exploit two open hands and a head full of nothing. Show us you’re strong enough to resist that.
As subs, we know the risks of power exchange, and we’re not about to take them for a dominant who’s just looking for their next big orgasm.
At first, you fell in love with her home full of books and her head full of words. You took her love and all her longings and every thing of beauty she held in her palms. You plucked her secrets from her eyes like seeds and let them set root in your spirit.
She spent her mornings at her old Olivetti typewriter while you painted her portrait.
Each noon, you fucked her, and each night, you promised to take her to Florence in the spring.
You fell asleep with her head on your chest and woke up with your fingers in her hair. She was so damned new and pure you could barely breathe.
You told her you loved her and she said it back. You asked if she might want to get married one day. She said, “yes.” You spun your dreams around her like a silk cocoon. She let you. You proposed. She cried.
A year later, you took her to Florence. In between the Ponte Vecchio and your hotel, her sentences began to unravel in your mind. In between your hotel and the airport, you begged her to put her fucking book away and look at the sites you paid so much to show her. In between Europe and a new tomorrow, you spilled her beauty on the tarmac. You spat out her secrets like seeds and tore out their roots.
E’s first sub didn’t want floggers, but fists. She didn’t want pretty rope. She wanted to find herself bruised and slobbering in a pool of her own vomit. Getting past his feminism well enough to go there with her took moxie, but the aftermath hurt him most. He was shocked at his own behaviour, and even more stunned that his body had responded.
E learned a lesson that day: restraint.
When we met, he produced his sadism in small doses, and I was too greedy for that. I wanted BDSM for breakfast and elevenses. And also for smackerels and tea. I couldn’t understand why he was so stingy with it. Now I do: his cruelty couldn’t be doled out in perfectly measured two litre parts. It grew and grew until he lost all self-respect, and he needed to keep it under control. Sadism doesn’t just go back to where it comes from like a genie in a bottle. Not without effort and thought, anyway.
Telling a suicidal person to cheer up is like telling a quadriplegic to dance. It takes a special kind of tone deafness to think such a trite statement will have an effect. If the problem was so easily solved, there would be no suicidal people on planet earth. There would also be no anger or grief; just 7 billion happy people who remembered to smile this morning while they were brushing their teeth.
In other news, a technician in Japan found that telling a computer virus to “just fuck off” works better than an antivirus. The WWF told dwindling panda populations to “hurry up and mate”, which they promptly did, and the South African president ordered rain from eBay.
75% of suicidal people have major depression, and 90% have some form of mental illness. Depression is not a mood you can think your way out of or a set of life problems to be solved. It’s an illness with physiological components, and words can’t cure it any more than they can cure a cold. When you tell a depression patient to stop being weak, it’s like telling the tide to stop coming in.
I have a special place in my heart for flaky boyfriends. It’s pitch black, lined with barbed wire, and plays death metal in the background constantly. If you’re such a person, settle in while I go fetch you a vinegar and mint cocktail. I swear you’ll love it.
My sister spent most of her teen years waiting for a man like that. Showing up was just too complex a task for him to manage. She became more inconsolable with every passing hour he failed to arrive. I wanted to rip out his gallbladder from a hole under his toenail. He made her feel utterly worthless and abandoned over and over again.
I swore I’d never accept that kind of behaviour, but I haven’t always stuck to that promise.
When I found the kink community, I’d never tried a sex toy—not even the buzzy type. It’s true. I’d just come out of a power exchange relationship, but my kink experience was completely absent of even a hint of sadomasochism. I was simultaneously terrified and compelled. I wanted to try it all immediately andnever. Never accuse me of being logical. I can, and will, go to the ends of the earth to chase two opposing desires at the same time.
Crossing the barrier into BDSM-ville required a metric fuckton of courage. My feelings about all that lay in front of me were quite uniform: I was scared of clamps. I was scared of spankings. I was scared of belts. I was scared of submitting again. I was even scared of munches.
I was sure my first encounters would prove I didn’t have much in common with the other subs in this community. I charged ahead anyway, but every metre of ground I crossed was intimidating. Still, if my life has taught me anything, it’s that showing up is almost always preferable to sitting at home alone watching Westworld, so that’s what I did. I ignored my fear and took the next step. I learned that I was most definitely a masochist. I loved clamps. I loved spankings. I loved belts. I loved munches.