Do you have a question for the Monday Mailbag, ask it here.
1. Rape Play / TPE / CNC
Can you please tell me the difference between Rape Play vs Total Power Exchange vs Consensual Non-Consent. And also, what do you think of these things? Are they ok?
This is one of those area where I have to preface my answer by saying that this is “The World According To Cross”. Terms like those you asked about will have very different meanings depending on who you ask, so I encourage you not to read to much into someone else’s use of them. With that out of the way, here’s what those terms mean as I define them.
Rape Play is a form of role-playing where the partner”being raped” consents in advance to certain activities, but then pretends to object and resist while it actually happens. Now, while I normally do not advocate the use of safewords, this type of role-playing absolutely demands the use of a safeword in order to differentiate the pretend protests from real ones.
This way, the bottom in the scene can scream “No, Don’t, Stop” all they want without it dissuading the top, but if they use the safeword (Which, in the case of my family, is any use of the person’s real name), then everything immediately stops. In most public clubs and events, there is an event-wide established safeword, usually “Red”.
Total Power Exchange (TPE) is a term that has a wide variety of meanings. I tend to take a very literal definition of the word and interpret that as a submissive who has given consent for the dominant partner to control every aspect of her life. Meaning that the Dom could order them to quit their job, change college majors, move to another state, have sex with their friend, etc. This is an incredibly extreme form of power exchange. But, as long as the submissive always retains the ability to end the relationship/dynamic immediately, if they wished, I do not view this is inherently unethical.
There is a gray area here, though. If the dominant partner uses their total control over the submissive to alienate her from her family and friends, take away their income earning potential, and separate them from other resources, an argument could be made that the submissive would incur serious negative consequences for ending the relationship, to the point where it may be prohibitive. In this case, the submissive is no longer able to freely exit the relationship, and it crosses the line and is at least concerning, if not abusive. Submissives should be very cautious with anyone who wishes to have this type of dynamic and ensure that you would trust that person with your life, because you basically are.
Consensual Non-Consent (CNC) is, again, something that can mean lots of things to different people.
I have heard some define CNC as a BDSM or sexual session where the submissive does not have a safeword or any other means of ending things once they have started. I would never support or endorse that type of play. And legally speaking, if the bottom is not able to remove consent, it is rape and assault, by definition. The subnmissive must always have a way to stop sex or SM play at absolutely any time, regardless of your dynamic, whether it is simply by asking you to stop or by using a safeword.
That said, that is not my definition of the term. As I understand it, CNC means that the dominant has consent to initiate play or sex with the submissive without asking their permission first or warning them in anyway. This may include things like rape play, as mentioned above. It could mean that the dominant arranges for the person to be abducted from a public place. It could mean any number of “surprise” scenes involving any number of other people. To me, that’s what CNC means, is that the dominant has the authority to consent to sex or play on behalf of the submissive.
HOWEVER, even in CNC, the submissive has to retain the ability to stop absolutely anything that is happening at absolutely any time.
2. Porn vs Reality
Have only been exposed to BDSM through porn and a partner who tried too hard to mimic porn. Other than consent and communication, what are some aspects of BDSM that I have probably not seen, or misconceptions I might have about it?
Well, you hit the top two, consent and communication. The only thing that I would say about that is that consent also means fully understand the risks of a given activity. Simply getting them to say yes is not enough. I will have a whole long post about that later this week.
Beyond that, I would say that BDSM has an intimacy and power to it that is rarely portrayed in porn. Having someone give you power over them or to surrender that power to another is an amazing experience unto itself. The sexy things that happen after that are just a bonus for many.
A lot of the common practices in BDSM are not portrayed at all in porn, and the ones that are are usually very distorted. For instance, most people that do flogging do not flog the butt, but rather the upper back. And often never includes anything sexual. In fact, as a mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the vast majority of the BDSM scenes I am a part of do not have a sexual element at all.
There are a lot of things that could never really be portraryed accurately in porn, even if they wanted to. Things like long term orgasm denial or daily rituals and protocol. They can mimic these things, but there is simply no way of conveying the emotions and feelings experienced by the participants that make these things worth while.
If you think you might be interested, I would encourage you to find a munch or play party in your area and find some people to talk to. Ask why they do BDSM and what they get out of it. You will find a wide variety of answers, almost none of which are shown as the motivation for the characters in porn.
So the short answer the question of what you might be missing is: almost everything.
3. Buying My Own Collar
I want to surprise my boyfriend by getting myself a pet collar with an engraving that says “if found please return to (boyfriend’s name & phone #).
I don’t want to make him uncomfortable. I know I could ask him but I want it to be a surprise and it seems when I talk about things in advance, we never end up doing it. It’s better to bring up sex things on the spot with him, like, “here’s some rope, tie me up” not “hey would you like to tie me up next time we fuck?”
The quick answer is that there is absolutely no reason that you can’t or shouldn’t by yourself a collar.
The long answer is that it depends on what the collar is meant to symbolize. If it is just meant to be something attractive for you to wear or perhaps an attachment point for bondage or part of a role-play for a scene, then go for it. But if the collar means to you what it does to many within the BDSM community, then you probably shouldn’t.
For people in the D/s community who practice D/s or other power-exchange dynamics and who view a collar as a symbol of ownership, it would generally be considered inappropriate for a sub to purchase a collar without talking to the dom about it.
For one thing, the dom may not be ready to take on that responsibility. But beyond that, the convention is that the collar belongs to the dominant and is a representation of them. The collar is chosen by the dominant as an extension of themselves which is wrapped around the submissives throat and displayed openly for everyone to see. It is a constant indication to others that the submissive is owned, and a constant reminder to the sub that share is cared for and loved. Many in the BDSM community revere collars more than wedding rings.
Based on the little bit of information I have, it sound to me like you two play with BDSM, but do not necessarily live in a power-exchange dynamic, so it might be alright for you. But just spend some time thinking about why you want a collar and what you want it to mean. That should guide you on whether or not to purchase it yourself, or if it would be better to talk to him about it.
Do you have a question for the Monday Mailbag, ask it here.