Thoughts on Love, Sex, Kink, and Gay Romance Novels

Posts tagged ‘BDSM’

Kinks, Fetishes and Roller Coasters

Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with people both in and out of the overall kinky leather crowd about why we do what we do. Through these conversations and probably way too much time spent thinking about it, I’ve developed my Unifying Theory of Kinks and Fetishes. Your mileage may vary, but it works for me and helps me to explain things to those with a less thorough education on the breadth of sexual kinks.

Every single time I get on a roller coaster, as soon as it’s too late to change my mind, I start thinking “What the hell am I doing and why am I doing it?” All the way up the first hill (if it has one), I keep thinking that. Then the speed kicks in and I scream and yell and laugh and am terrified and exhilarated all at once. And at the end I’m left with a heady sense of power and survival and a sense of having conquered. What I conquered wasn’t so much the roller coaster as the fear.

Roller coasters provide an illusion of danger while still providing safety. Your logical thought processes tell you you’re safe, but millions of years of evolution aren’t quite so convinced, so you still get the rush and adrenaline and the feeling of accomplishment at having survived a fearful situation intact. I think of this as taking the intensity of fear and flipping it from a negative emotion to a positive one by putting it in a safe context and allowing you to prevail over it.

The other part of the puzzle is humanity’s ability to sexualize pretty much anything. If you take a strong emotion or association and sexualize it, you turn it pretty easily into a fetish. And if we’ve learned nothing else from the internet, we should now know that this has happened to pretty much everything in the universe and there’s a web page to prove it.  I think this is the brain’s version of a peanut butter cup. “Hey,” says your brain, “I like sex and I like shoes, so shoes and sex together must be awesome.” And a shoe fetish is born.

Now, what if we combine these two ideas? Flip a negative feeling to a positive one by putting it into a safe context and then sexualize it. Out spring a whole host of interesting kinks: pain, bondage, submission, humiliation, edge play, piercings, orgasm control, etc.

Now I’d actually started out to write a post on humiliation play, but then realized I needed to explain my theory first. So, next up humiliation play… (which makes me feel like a conductor on a very kinky train)

8 Pet Peeves about Fictional Kink

Nothing breaks my rapport with a book faster than taking a subject I love and making it into essentially a caricature of itself.  Though I read many types of m/m romances, the kinky ones will always catch my eye, and I’m likely to go get them unless something in the description turns me off. And here we come to the problem- I’m a big proponent of safe, sane and consensual, and if the characters break this without  a compelling reason, I have trouble continuing to identify with the characters and situation.

I want to make clear that I’m talking about contemporary characters who identify themselves as dominant/submissive and seem to have knowledge and interest in the lifestyle that should lead to them knowing better. I view stories billed as dubious consent or historical or fantasy master/slave relationships as completely different entities. If the author presents the sex games as being for mutual benefit and enjoyment though, certain guidelines apply to real life and would be much appreciated in fiction:

  1. Safety: I don’t care how comfortable or well-provisioned the house/room/cage is, you can not leave your sub unattended without a way of freeing himself. He must have a means of escape in an emergency. This one always makes me start yelling at the book, and makes it very hard to forgive the main character.
  2. Consent: Just because you are absolutely certain that he’d be the perfect submissive, does not mean that you get to start ordering him around before he’s actually agreed to your brilliant plan. So many characters seem to manhandle someone into place, somehow proving in the process that the object of his desires really wanted that all along. In real life, that’s assault and not a real good way to start a relationship.
  3. No discussion: I’ve read several books in which as soon as the supposed submissive agreed to a potential romantic relationship, the so-called dom started laying down rules and handing out orders. No discussion of whether the other man wanted this power exchange, and the dom brushed all objections aside. A hard-on does not grant automatic permission.
  4. Healing abuse victims: This one is tough. Yes, people sometimes do therapeutic bdsm play to work through trauma, but it is a delicate situation and those involved need to take it seriously. I’ve seen this done very well, but not often. If someone just decides that the best way for this sub to get over his experience with a bad dom is to find a good dom, that will strain my credulity from the outset.
  5. Deep end: Do not throw the brand new submissive into the deep end of the kink pool. Cock & ball torture- really not on the syllabus for the first day of class. (As a side note, that’s what prodded me to write this post now. I was reading a review of Take Me, Break Me at Joyfully Jay, which I’d recently read. I started to reply over there, but it was getting too long, so I decided to make it a full post here.)
  6. Physical Realities: I love when an author acknowledges little things like ‘your knees are going to hurt if you spend an hour kneeling on tile flooring.’ And when authors completely ignore the physical situation it makes it harder to empathize with the character. I don’t need to know every likely twinge and ache, but enough to know it’s real.
  7. The Helpless Sub: Especially when paired with the predatory club doms. If someone warns a sub that it’s not safe to wander around a club unattached or uncollared, I’m rolling my eyes unless the author set the scene really well. Any reputable bdsm club will quickly ban anyone behaving the way the “villains” in many of these stories behave. They certainly won’t just look the other way while warning the subs to stay close to a dom. Most of these clubs have people wandering around ensuring that members follow the rules and play safe.
  8. Variety: I admit this isn’t a peeve, so much as a request. I love the spanking and flogging and bondage scenes, but can we have other fun too. I’m always pleased when an author shows they know what they’re talking about by veering off the beaten path (or beaten sub, as the case may be). And please feel free to throw suggestions into the comments for books that do this.

Despite my complaints, if pressed, I could probably come up with a counter-example for all of these that worked extremely well. Just not most of the time.

Critique Group

After some people on the Goodreads m/m romance group expressed in a critique group focused on BDSM/kinky m/m books, I decided to start one. Goodreads has a great system for creating groups that can be made private, so I set up a group called M/M BDSM Authors Critique Group.

This is my first involvement with a critique group, so I’m pretty excited. Expect to hear more about this later, but I thought I’d share the information in case there are other budding authors in the genre who are interested in joining us.