Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Gathering 2012

It's a holiday weekend in Australia and for the Kinky community it's also the weekend for one of the largest events on the Australian BDSM calendar, The Gathering.

This event is a chance for kinkster and members of the BDSM community to get together and celebrate our lifestyle, teach and learn, socialise and connect on whatever level participants choose. There are parties, seminars, guest speakers, and the event I went to on Friday night - The Fetish Market Place. Who wouldn't enjoy socialising with other kinksters, having a drink or two and shopping. Of course it's a two drink limit for me or I'd probably lose control and go home with an empty bank account. Some of the vendors and artisans had amazing wares to sell and I'll include some links to my favorites at the bottom of the blog.
For me an event like this accomplishes more than just shopping though. It's different from a party or going to a club, although those activities are definitely included in The Gathering, just on a grander scale. One of the things I love about this lifestyle is it's diversity. At a party or munch you get to meet members of the local community and there's a hint at everyone's differences and how they incorporate BDSM into their lives. When you go to a national event like The Gathering, how diverse the community really is hits home. I met some wonderful people. There were people from all persuasions and orientations, straight, gay, trans-gender, Dom/Dommes, subs, Master/Mistresses, slaves, young, old, fat, thin, different nationalities, you name it and there was probably someone that fell into that category wandering around. Which brings me to the second thing I love about the Aussie (and I suspect worldwide) community. Acceptance.  
No-one batted an eyelid at people wearing collars or fetish gear, there was a general acceptance that anything was fine. And not everyone dressed in kinky gear, there was a variety of clothing styles from very casual to dressy. Latex, leather and rubber, whatever people felt comfortable in. The event was open to anyone and I did meet a few vanilla people wandering around. One lady even said to me "You guys really know how to throw a party." I didn't tell her it wasn't a party but I guess she knew that and just didn't have another word for what was happening. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, and for me it was a time where I could be myself in a large group of like minded people. It was an awesome evening and I suspect the rest of the weekend would be equally inspiring. Hopefully I'll get to the next one for the whole weekend.
Links to some of my favourite vendors.
Ms Bares Wares - One of the artisans that embroiders the best T-shirts for kinky folk. I replaced my old 'Ouch is not a safe' word Tee.
Gallery Serpentine - I've always loved this shop they sell the most beautiful clothing, everything from corsets to Steampunk, Edwardian and Kinky clothing.
Maxxx Black - Adult Store catering for everyone, there were lots of goodies at their stand.
Wishuz  - Body Art Jewels that looked amazing on the models.
Of course there was a lot more vendors and artisans but these were my top four.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poly, swinging, open, or...?

There are plenty of misconceptions in the "vanilla" world about WIITWD (what it is that we do) in the BDSM/kink community. One of those misconceptions is that everyone is a sex fiend and sleeping with everyone else willy-nilly.


Now, not to say some people don't do that, but as with all populations, there will always be exceptions to the rule.

There are terms tossed around without people seeming to understand what they mean. So let me take a moment for clarification.

When someone says they are "poly," meaning polyamorous, it doesn't necessarily mean they are swingers or have an open marriage.

When someone says they're a "swinger," it doesn't mean they're poly or have an open relationship.

When someone says they have an "open relationship," it doesn't mean they're a swinger or poly.

Or it could mean any or only some of all of the above apply.

The terms are not mutually exclusive, but while sometimes, yes, some people do consider themselves under more than one umbrella, I'm going to discuss the basic differences in them. YMMV.

"Poly" generally means there are established rules or codes of conduct. There isn't any sneaking around behind the other partners' backs. Everyone is on board with what happens. This might mean a "closed" poly group of three or more people, yes, like the menages you read about in fiction, or it might mean one person has more than one partner, but they are committed partners, either permanently or "monogamously" within the confines of the poly group.

For example, in my life, I am in a poly "N" configuration. I am married to Hubby, Sir is married to His wife. Only Sir and I are involved with each other (hence the diagonal on the N), although sometimes Sir and Hubby both top me. The four of us are monogamous within our "pack" as we like to call it. (As in wolf pack.) Occasionally, I will top a male friend of Sir's for play only, but when I do it's usually in an instructional way to show the friend's wife how to use implements.

We are not swingers. We are not "swappers." We are not "open." My primary relationship is Hubby, Sir's primary relationship is His wife. Sir and I are secondary partners to each other.

Poly configurations and rules are as varied as the people in the relationships. We are just one small example of how it can be done.

Swingers are commonly members of clubs or groups (but NO, NOT always) of fellow swingers. They get together for parties or whatnot and have fun as they desire. Not everyone gets lucky at swingers events. People might or might not "swing" outside of their primary relationship on other occasions. Some people only do it within the context of an event or gathering, some have regular partners they swing with.

An "open" relationship is one where members are free, within certain boundaries usually, to seek out other relationships. Sometimes just for sex or fun, sometimes for secondary relationships. Again, it depends on the people.

As I said, these can cross-pollinate (no pun intended, seriously LOL). People can be more than one label. These are just generalities.

Then you have people who consider themselves monogamous, but they might have BDSM playpartners with any level of sexual-type play. To the novice, it might look like sex. But the participants might not consider it sex (for example, orgasm play) and consider themselves monogamous.

Hope that helped clarify things and didn't muddy the water for you. :)

So what are your thoughts on polyamory, swinging, and open relationships?

(Tymber Dalton is a bestselling erotic romance author involved in a poly-N dynamic and is a BDSM switch. You can find her Siren-BookStrand releases HERE, and her website is

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Journey into Submission

As usual we've had some great posts here recently. If you haven't read either of Tymber's or Cassandra's recent blog then I suggest you do so, they're great. Both of them made me think and my blog today stems from what's been said. For most of us involved in the lifestyle, BDSM is an ongoing journey and today I thought I'd share a little bit about the road I've travelled.
I've been on my journey for nearly half a century. *shudder* I just turned forty-seven; yep the terrifying fifty is on its way. No shades of grey jokes please, I couldn't I assume some of you are wondering why I class my childhood years as part of my journey. I do it firstly, because we are all who we are because of the whole experience of our lives not just the adult portion. My childhood also played a part in my concept of Dominance and submission, although it was flawed in many ways.
Looking back I recognize the power exchange in the family for what it was…a D/s one. My family was the traditional, father, mother and two kids. My parents stayed together until death, never divorced, my father was the head of the house, and my mother submitted to his authority. Yes she could participate in the discussion about what to do or disagree with his decisions but ultimately his word was law. That sounds very D/s to me I hear you say. Well in many ways it was but mum's submission stemmed from her religious beliefs of 'wives obeying their husband', not living a BDSM lifestyle. The flawed part of the household came with my father's dominance. He was not the Dom we read about in romance novels. He was sadistic, cruel and abusive to his children behind closed doors and the perfect loving father when in public. In my teenage years I rebelled, not only to my father's authority, but to all authority. I decided I would not be controlled by anyone, would not do as I was told and damn anyone who tried to make me behave. I like to think of my teenage years as practicing to be the perfect brat. Thinking back, the lesson I learned about submission from childhood was sometimes rebelling is what you have to do in order to find yourself.
Once I reached my early twenties I discovered something interesting about myself. I still had the get fucked attitude when it came to being told what to do in most areas, but I found that when it came to sex and men I wanted a take charge kind of guy in the bedroom. I lost all urge to say no way and instead turned into a submissive creature that wanted only to please and obey. I loved being tied up, unable to resist (not that I wanted to) and the first time someone bent me over their knee and spanked my cheeky ass I thought I'd gone to heaven. For a while I lead a double life. I'm sure my friends believed I never had sex, never dated, and didn't want a relationship because I kept my sex life and my 'real' life totally seperate. I worked as an advocate for women and children that were victims of abuse, yet in my personal live I was engaging in all sorts of kinky activities in secret and choosing to be dominated. Not abused, there's a clear distinction, but I knew that at the time friends and family wouldn't see it that way. It took a lot of research, reading and meeting different people on the fringe of society before I realized what BDSM and Dominance and submission actually was. It took more to finally accepted that I was a submissive. That period in my life taught me that it's okay to be submissive if that's your choice.
Like all new and exciting information we try to incorporate into our lives I spent my late twenties and thirties in pendulum mode until I finally found a balance. I'm embarrassed to say I did fall into the doormat role for a while, until I learned that being submissive didn't mean being a doormat. Where was Cassandra's post when I needed it? Lol. I did meet abusive men pretending to be dominants and ran like the wind once I realized what they were. Thankfully, I eventually became comfortable with my submissive side and with that I also became more open about my lifestyle and what I liked about it. I learned that I offered my submission to someone in a mutual exchange of power and that my submission should be valued as a gift and respected by the Dominant I chose to share it with.
By the time I met Shane - my partner, lover, friend and Dom - I knew who I was. I had a firm grasp on exactly what being a submissive was and I wasn't letting go. I believed I had finally arrived and knew exactly how the D/s thing worked. For the first time in my life I entered into a D/s relationship knowing exactly what I wanted and negotiated terms of how Shane and I would live that benefited both of us and met both our needs. Of course reality is never as perfect as you think it will be, but for the large part of our time together and our relationship worked and was a loving one. When Shane experienced some minor health issues the D/s dynamic changed somewhat. We had always enjoyed an open relationship and played with other Doms and subs on a casual basis but eventually Shane decided that in order for me to have all my needs catered to we needed to find a Dom, outside of the relationship, to meet those needs on a regular basis. I still submitted to Shane, he remained my Dom in everyday life and in overseeing the play I engaged in and with who. I was beginning to learn that being a submissive, I could offer my submission to different people under different circumstances in varying ways. 
The last lesson I learned about submission while I was with Shane was a tough one. I learned submission is never easy and you may have to fight for it. When Shane was diagnosed with terminal cancer and told that, without treatment, he had eight weeks to live, my world turned upside down. We discussed everything from his funeral, to whether to accept treatment options offered by doctors, to what I should do once he was gone. After much discussion he made the final decision on what would happen. Shane declined all treatment options except pain relief and asked that when he was too ill to advocate for himself I would ensure doctors and family abided by his decision. Responding to him was the hardest 'Yes Sir' I've ever had to say. In the following eight weeks I didn't fit any preconceived behaviors of a sub that you might see, imagine or read about, but then I'm not a stereotype, I'm a real life sub. As such, I did what my Dom asked. I made sure his wishes were adhered to. I fought with doctors over medication, refused their requests to try and get Shane to change his mind about treatment, I stood up to his family when I needed to, I organized his funeral exactly as he wanted it, I made sure everything Shane wanted happened and I hated every damn minute of doing it.
Then why did you do it?
Because as a submissive I choose. I had chosen to give my submission to Shane and entered into an agreement with him many years before he became ill. As his submissive, I chose to honor our agreement until the end.
So that's my journey so far, I've learned a lot and I'm sure I'll learn more before I'm finished. Being a submissive is all about choice. Sometimes the choice to submit is easy, other times it's the hardest thing to do in your life...but it's still a choice.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vanilla isn't the only flavor out there.

I've been meaning to blog about this topic for a long time because I keep hearing it brought up on both sides of the coin -- people in BDSM trying to explain to vanilla friends/family what it is they do, or someone who is vanilla trying to figure out why their friend/loved one would want to be involved in a BDSM relationship.

First of all, let me address the "vanillas" out there. By that I'm not using a derogatory term, by the way. It's just a way to define the non-kinky from the kinky.

So your friend or loved one is into BDSM, or a BDSM dynamic with someone. First of all, do NOT hie thyself down to a bookstore and crack open "50 Shades of Grey." PLEASE. That is sooo not what "real" BDSM is like.

Why would someone want to be involved in BDSM? Well, you need to ask the person that question, and you need to keep an open mind. The reasons are as varied as the people involved in the lifestyle. For some, it's an intrinsic part of who and what they are in the core of their being. Some people think it's a lot of fun. Some crave/need/use the pain or control in some way, if pain is an element of the dynamic. (It's not all about pain, and some people don't have any kind of "pain" in their dynamic.)

"Well, it's abuse!"

No. Consensual BDSM is to abuse what pineapples are to prostate exams. They are completely different animals. I personally cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want to climb an icy mountain for FUN. To me, THAT'S torture.

Just because something isn't in YOUR frame of reference doesn't mean it's not valid.

Consensual BDSM is as far from abuse as you can get and still be on the same interplanetary plane. It's about boundaries and limits and lots and lots of open communication. Consistent communication. Are there abusive assholes involved in BDSM? Well, sure. Just like there are pedophillic priests and abusive partners in the general population. In fact, it's more likely that someone who is involved in a HEALTHY, consensual BDSM relationship is a far more stable and trustworthy person in the abuse department than the average person on the street.

Why? Because someone who is consensually practicing BDSM is extremely aware of boundaries and limits and how not to HARM someone.

HARM is a key difference. Some people get off on hurting/being hurt. But there is a fine line between hurting someone consensually and harming them.

In consensual BDSM, there is no intentional harm being committed. (Yes, people are human. Accidents happen, people screw up, miscommunication occurs, but it's the exception, not the norm, in a healthy relationship.)

"But...but...WHY would she want him to spank her/tie her up/cane/control/her?"

You need to ask her. She (I'm using "she" generically) might or might not be able to clearly verbalize the reasons.

There are a lot of things about my personal BDSM dynamics that I can't fully "explain" to someone in a way that makes sense. Honestly? I don't have to justify it to anyone else. It's between me and my partners. I can tell you that when I started out in the lifestyle as Domme to my husband (at his request) I never thought my path would lead to where it has. I did NOT in any way, shape, or form consider myself a sadist. I did NOT want to "harm" or even hurt my hubby. I wasn't comfortable in the Domme role at first, but it was something he wanted from me and I was willing to do it.

When I started also playing with Sir as His Top, I found a different side of myself as a Top. He is a very heavy masochist, and He discovered that I had no trouble "not hitting Him like a girl." LOL The joke at first was that I was brought in as the relief hitter, so to speak, when He wore out His wife and another friend of ours who used to top Him, to finish him off.

I found that I reeeeally enjoyed topping Him. I discovered my sadistic side. I enjoyed the dance of a scene, of using different implements on Him and taking Him juuuuust right to the edge of coding, of learning His body language to know when to push Him harder and then back off, to keep Him just on the edge of his endurance and tolerance.

I had a real knack for it. And I started receiving a lot of positive comments after our scenes not just from Him, but from people who watched us play together.

Eventually, it led to me wanting to try the submissive end of the scale. And as He was a switch, and as we already had a very deep, solid rapport, not to mention a trust bond, He was the person I asked to do it.

The day after our first scene together, which was in a back room at a friend's house during a private party because I didn't want to be out in the open, I realized exactly why people enjoyed bottoming. This was just before my diagnosis of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (I thought I was just suffering from arthritis pain) and I felt FANTASTIC for several days. Pain levels practically non-existent, and energy through the roof. Later, I was to discover not only was I not alone in that, but that impact play, because of the endorphins it releases, is VERY therapeutic for my fibro pain.

Do that again? FUCK yes!

And our relationship evolved from there, with a LOT of boundaries at first on my part, until we reached the point where we are today. Our "default" is Daddy (or Sir in a heavy scene) and pet. (We don't do age play, it's just what I call Him.) But I still spend lots of time topping Him.

And above all, it's FUN.

So there's no way I can give a person a succinct, one-sentence reply as to why I am involved in the lifestyle. It is an ongoing journey with no end in sight.

So back to "why" would someone want to do this?

There are women (and men) who were raised, rightly so, to value equality. To consider women equal to men. I'm one of them. Fifteen years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of "submitting" to someone.

When women (or men) are abused, it is non-consensual. Sometimes (too often) it is violent. However, BDSM is NOT abuse when it's consensual. If women have truly achieved equality, insisting that they have to limit their personal and sexual choices to a dynamic determined by the mainstream masses does the opposite of empower them. To say that the only "right" way to have a relationship is one determined by politically correct people who often have NO first-hand knowledge of BDSM outside of badly-made TV shows portraying lifestyle folks as bad guys or the butt of jokes is total bullshit.

We have choices. We are FREE to choose to be slaves or submissives or bottoms or pets or whatever. We are FREE to choose to be sadists or Tops or Owners or Masters/Mistresses/Doms/Dommes or whatever. As long as our partner/s freely choose to participate in that dynamic with us, it's a choice.

Isn't that what equality is all about?

"'s against GOD'S LAW!"

I've got news for you, bucky, that's YOUR problem, not the problem of the person in the lifestyle. If you want to judge someone based on your religious views, that makes you a hypocrite. I know people in the lifestyle who are everything from athiests to Pagans to Christians and Jews and Muslims and everything in between.

Here are a few warnings for you: Do not threaten to "out" the person. That's the fastest way to ruin your relationship with them as well as possibly ruin their life if you do. I'm fortunate to be in a position, since Hubby's retirement, that I can be open with who and what I am. Others can (and have) lose jobs, lose custody of kids, be ostracized from friends and family, etc.

How would YOU like it if they walked into your bedroom while you were having sex with your partner and then spread a video about it to everyone? No? No takers? Because when you threaten to out someone, or when you talk to others about them behind their back, you're basically doing the same thing to them.

Their sex life and relationship is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Period.

"But...but...they have kids!"

So? If you have kids, do you go around having sex in front of them? No? well, why would you think people in the lifestyle would do that to their kids? If anything, they're usually even MORE careful not to expose their children to their lifestyle. Although yes, I do know people who have kids who do witness the more vanilla aspects of their dynamic, like the wife calling the husband Sir, but it's nothing worse than some strict fundamentally religious Christian homes would do.

Now, to my fellow people in the lifestyle: Sometimes, you aren't going to be able to convince your family/friends you haven't just joined a cult. You're going to have to either love them the way they are, or learn to ignore them, or limit your contact with them if they refuse to back the hell off. If they are rational people, they will, in time, likely come to see that you are a happier person by being able to be yourself. If they aren't rational, sadly, nothing you say or do will change their mind.

Your job isn't to sway people to your position. Your job is to live your life. No, you do not non-consensually involve others in your dynamic by being "in their face" with stuff. But you also have to do yourself a favor and give up the idea that you have to persuade people to your point of view. You might have people in your life with whom you have to treat BDSM like politics -- it's there, but you don't talk about it. 

Again, you have to respect the other side of the coin. For example, if your parents are uncomfortable with you addressing your Master as "Sir" in front of them in their home, then you two need to negotiate with each other to work around that. (In your own home, however, your rules.)

I know there are some who will want to say, "Fuck that, it's my life." Yes, it is your life. But how many vanillas go around treating you to what they do in the bedroom in regular, everyday life? Most don't. I'm saying use common courtesy.

But when confronted with someone vanilla who vehemently insists you're in an abusive relationship, keep in mind they probably have the best of intentions at heart. But you will have to learn to establish boundaries with these kinds of people if you want them in your life. You will have to learn to stand up to them and firmly, but kindly, tell them to butt the hell out of your private life because it's none of your business. You are under no obligation to justify your life choices to them.

There is so much more I could talk about on this topic, and probably will in future blog posts. Hopefully someone finds this post useful and can point someone they know/love to it to help them understand a little better.

So have you ever been in this position, either trying to understand someone's desire to be in BDSM, or trying to explain to friends/family why you're in BDSM?

(Tymber Dalton is a bestselling erotic romance author involved in a poly-N dynamic and is a BDSM switch. You can find her Siren-BookStrand releases HERE, and her website is

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Submissives are not doormats

Recently I read a review for a BDSM book that mentioned she didn't like how the submissive was a doormat. I've read that book, and that submissive is not a doormat. She's a submissive. Big difference, but one this reader could not discern. So, being a BDSM author myself, I started thinking about why this reader might have classified this submissive as a doormat.

There are several potential reasons:

1. The BDSM was intense and somewhat edgy.
2. Her Master had rules for her and if she didn't follow them, she was punished.
All rights reserved by msubelli - Creative Commons
3. The submissive was available to her Master sexually at all times.
4. The submissive had a good, high-paying job outside the home, but when at home her personal role reversed.
5. Her Master pushed her, sometimes out of her comfort zone, but she submitted the best she could.

I'm sure I could come up with other reasons, but hopefully you get the idea.

Now let's answer each point:

1. That's how the submissive wanted it. So she submitted in many areas, not just the bedroom.
2. The submissive knew she had organization and self-control issues so she asked for this.
3. Being available to her Master was part of their contract. Her libido had been low for a while before the book started and she thought it might help her sex life to make this a rule.
4. Again, she wanted it that way. She wanted to give up control to reduce stress.
5. Part of a Master's job is to help their submissive explore. Depending on the contract/communication etc this could mean pushing soft limits, pushing hard limits, requiring that the sub try everything once if the Master thinks she'll enjoy it, etc.

Submissives are not doormats. The power in a D/s relationship ultimately resides with the submissive. They are GIVING the Dominant the power. They can and sometimes do take that power away. And it takes an incredibly strong person to be able and willing to give up that power.

So the next time you read a BDSM book, remember, the submissive is doing it because they want to. Safe, sane, and consensual, people!

-- Cassandra
To learn more about me or my books, visit my website at

Friday, September 7, 2012

So...How was the Party?

In response to a few questions following my last post, I'm doing a quick follow-up today on how the party I attended went.

The short answer is, it was great and I had a lot of fun.

Even though I was nervous because I hardly knew anyone, it was well worth the effort. As it turned out, a few people I knew from the Sydney scene travelled up for the evening, which meant I instantly felt more comfortable being there. So the party turned out to be not only a place for me to meet new friends from the local area but also the chance to catch up with some I hadn't seen for a while.

Not knowing how much flesh to show on the night, I chose to wear my not too revealing naughty school girl outfit. It was the perfect choice many reasons. I've recently lost weight and my corsets are now loose on me...bummer. Secondly, I can be a little bratty sometimes, especially in a social setting like this one and as I said, I didn't want to wear anything overly revealing among a group of people I wasn't familiar with.

The local group were very welcoming and interested in chatting, which was a huge plus. I made some great new connections and have a couple of other events planned for this month as a result of invites received on the night.

The party organisers had an excellent play area set up with all the standard equipment. St.Andrews cross, spanking bench, stocks, a medical table etc. Doms and subs freely engaged in different forms of impact play and one of the highlights of the night for me was watching a demonstration on fire cupping.

Even though I had decided not to engage in play activities at this party a Dom I've known for about five years now and who I've played with numerous times asked me to assist with an electroplay demonstration. His sub doesn't like the activity and he knows I do so, according to his Dom logic, that made me the 'perfect choice of victim' for him to use. I was happy to assist because I knew he was aware of my limits and we'd engaged in the activity before.

(I may do a post on fire cupping and electroplay at some stage, if readers are interested, so just let me know).

There's a lot to be said for socialising with like-minded people, particularly in a private setting. It's that whole like-speaks-to-like thing I guess. I didn't have to worry about who might overhear the conversation about kinky activities, whether that conversation would offend anyone or if the person I was talking to would be accepting of the lifestyle.

Everyone in attendance was on the same page and happy to just be themselves.