Thursday, February 17, 2011

Accurate Naming



“Representative Christopher Lee of New York abruptly resigned on Wednesday night after a shirtless photo of himself, which he had e-mailed to a woman, was published on the Internet.”

Before I launch into my usual ranting self, I suppose I have to admit that the above quote, taken from the February 9, 2011 online version of the New York Times, is accurate. Lee did resign after his shirtless photo was published on the Internet. The problem I have with the quote, though, is that it seems that sending someone a shirtless photo is reason enough to resign from Congress. It’s not and it’s also not the reason that Lee had to resign.

He had to resign because of his infidelity, not his photo. It’s my contention that most of us dare not call an illicit action by its real name as doing so reminds us of the hypocrisy with which our society is overwhelmed.

Let me give you an example. I recently had a conversation with a married man who wanted to play with me, unbeknownst to his wife. During the course of one of our conversations, the guy said “My wife and I have a good relationship.” “Do you ever talk to her about sex?” I asked. “No,” he answered.

Am I the only one who sees thr fallacy in his statement? The last time I looked, marriage included a sexual relationship with one’s wife. Can a marriage be healthy, i.e., “good” if it doesn’t include dialogue about sex? I doubt it.

Now I don’t think the guy was trying to fool me. I think he was trying to fool himself. His hypocritical statement didn’t harm me. It harmed him and his wife. My response was to point out his misstatement: “How can you have a good relationship with your primary (and in her mind probably sole sexual) partner if you can’t talk about sex?”

He went on to admit that they hadn’t had sex in nearly ten years. A healthy marriage? I doubt it!

If we are going to maintain a healthy subculture we have to begin to practice what we believe in no uncertain terms. Most of us can probably agree that trust is the necessary basis for what we do. After all, we don’t let people we don’t trust tie us up, do we?

How then can we trust people who regularly hide the truth with euphemism, distortion, or omission? In that group I include those who tolerate such inaccurate speech as well.

Are my ideals too high? Am I playing Pollyanna when I ask for clear language and true communication? I think not.

Let me set the record straight. I not only send pictures of my naked torso via the Internet. I also regularly send a very explicit photo of my erect cock in the same manner. It is a real picture of my very real penis. The only photo shopping of it that I have done is to crop out extraneous background and to optimize it for web viewing.

After all, I am happy with my 7.5 inch circumcised penis. It has been a good friend of mine since I first realized how much fun an orgasm could be.

And, in case you are in doubt, yes, my sex partners know that I do it. There is no need for scandal, resignation, surprise or infidelity here. The truth that I am promiscuous is there for all to know. It’s there because I am as honest as I can be. I can think of no other way to earn a person’s trust than for me to be trustworthy in my speech.

That said, I’ll also honestly admit that I am not perfect and there are some aspects of my personal life that I feel no need to reveal to the whole world. On the other hand there is no aspect of my personal life that I think I can honestly with-hold from my partners. Discretion is, after all, the better part of valor and I do try to use appropriate language according to reasonable norms.

Now, another disclaimer. As a married man I regularly cheated on my wife by having sex with men. I hid what I was doing very well. I spent some six years living as a liar and when I finally admitted the truth to her I made the decision to never allow myself to live in such abject deceit ever again. The words “The truth shall set you free” are true words and I never want to return to the bondage of lies.

Truthfulness is not an easy path, especially when we understand that it means “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

OK. Here’s a necessary qualification for those who are shaking their heads about my idealistic approach to the truth. I am not advocating indiscretion, un-thoughtful disclosure, inappropriate information, or that everyone come out to everyone else. There is a time and a place for every action under heaven and that includes the disclosure of personal information.

The purpose of truthfulness is to bring us to authenticity --- the discovery and actualization of our essential self. Leather, open as it is to all kinds of roles, is the perfect place to find and live that authenticity, From there we bring it to the world. When we do, what a better place the world will be.

Have a great week.

Jack

You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leather as Catalyst for Change

Each of us has a particular and therefore unique world-view. We see the universe in which we live through what I call “rose-colored glasses.” Reality, as we perceive it, is distorted by our DNA, the culture, time, and place in which we find ourselves, and the personal histories that created the present in which we live.




So my parents, the times and places of the late 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Catholic schools, the Atom Bomb, Kennedy’s assassination, etc., etc., and etc. have all contributed to creating my unique perspective on life. The same applies to each of us. Since a nearly infinite number of variables in “nature and nurture” are unique for each of us, our world views are likewise different.




Interaction between and among us is influenced by our individual world-views. That comes as no surprise, or does it? I can’t emphasize too often that the interactions between and among kinksters, lifestylers, leatherfolk, or whatever name your world view assigns to those who do what we do are human interactions. Putting on the black hides of dead cows (or whatever fetish wear you prefer) does little or nothing to negate our humanity.




All of the above psycho-drivel leads to the reality that what it is that we do (WIITWD) can and does change our world-view. After nearly 28 years of BDSM in the fullest meaning of its acronym (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism), I am astonished at how much I have changed.




It is obvious that a man changes substantially between the ages of 37 and 64, but I am still convinced that the BDSM in my life was a catalyst for greater change than would have “naturally occurred” otherwise. Scenes, fetishes, altered states, and unique relationships, to say the least, have substantially altered my world-view and therefore the way I act in the world.




Change is a constant but the very radical nature of the changes I have undergone cause me to believe that something greater than the usual has taken place. After all, I have observed the many men and women in my life who have indeed changed, but none have changed as drastically as those I know “in the lifestyle.”




In some way, kink accelerates change as new experiences form the basis for a new world-view. I l have learned of a previously-hidden strength within me, of amazing creativity, of un-imagined spaces and entities that I never believed existed, and of abilities and a birth-right never dreamt of.




Because of these experiences I believe that WIITWD can be both therapeutic and growth enhancing. From my own experience I know that I have been healed by my encounter with this subculture and that over the years I have grown immeasurably in ability, expertise, love, wisdom and friendship.




This is a reality that is too often lost in the glitter and glow of sex, costume and the pageantry of hot scenes. We may come to BDSM for sexual arousal. We stay for a great many other reasons, many of which cause our first reasons to pale in comparison.




As positive as I am about the possibilities inherent in WIITWD for fostering the therapeutic process of healing and growth, I am likewise adamant that neither dungeons nor the scenes we create within them are appropriate venues for therapy. Once we begin to play amateur therapist we head off into the direction of danger. Even professional therapists, if they maintain the ethics of their calling, recognize that intimacy, such as we experience in BDSM, between therapist and client is not only unethical but dangerous as well.




That said, BDSM and its associated intimacies and culture are a natural avenue into our own consciousness, beginning with our conscious self, moving into our subconscious mind, and “descending,” to use a rather poor expression, into the depths of our unconsciousness. It is not a strange concept, since it is similar to dreaming.




What makes it alien is the fact that we can, and do, find ourselves in such states when, fully awake, our scenes are well-played, our intimacies deep, and our experiences intense. Our usual term for such an event is “subspace,” though it is hardly limited to subbies. Clinically speaking it is better called an altered state, one where the conscious mind defers, for the moment, to its unconscious component.




Again words fail, since to cut the mind into three parts is to defy its integrity. Just as to focus on the mind, when the physical body is in the glory of a wonderful scene, is to ignore the wholeness of what is happening.




As my sexual practice have led me ever more deeply into the possibility of change and growth, I have become more cognizant of the multiple levels of information that are available. Last weekend, in speaking to a friend about it, I began to see the multiple layers of allegory that depict diverse and ever-deepening realities of human existence.




Is the flogger one belonging to a plantation overseer? A pirate captain? A Franciscan monk? The scourge of Christ or the punishment of the sinner? Or is it none of these, since it might well be the cleansing and cathartic lash that frees us from burden and pain?




For me it is an avenue of descent into my unconscious self, an opportunity to discover deeper levels of who it is that I am. But that is only half of the journey. The return to consciousness, bringing with me the recently-found information presents a challenge to integrate what I have learned into my conscious life. Doing so leads me further to a life of wholeness, allowing me to become, step-by-step, more authentic.




It is a slow and sometimes difficult process, one that each and every human is called to experience. Leather, human experience that it is, only hastens it, thereby affording us the chance to become more whole. I trust you will take that chance.




Have a great week, Jack




You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fear and Paranoia

I will readily admit that I feared going into the first leather bar I ever patronized and that I felt the same about the first bath house, the first time I entered an adult bookstore, and the first time I followed a guy home to have sex with him. Not only will I admit to my fear, I will also disclose that I often felt the same way about both my nascent gay identity and my desires for kinky sex. Neither fear nor paranoia are easy to deal with.


There is, though, a difference between them. Let’s begin with fear which is defined as “A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by present or imminent danger.” Paranoia, on the other hand, is “Extreme irrational distrust of others.”


See the difference and are you afraid or paranoid? Even then I would like to note that the feeling of fear may not be rational, i.e., the danger you perceive may be neither present nor imminent.


I’ll let you work through the above ideas. In the meantime here are some tips on how to deal with the nagging problems that might just plague you about our lifestyle, our fetishes, and the people you meet on your journey in kink.

Get references

One of the first “Old Guard” rules I learned when I became a Leatherman was to ask a person for references. Frankly, it saddens me that the practice has fallen into disuse, if not disrepute. I say that because a young man told me recently that he wasn’t sure he could trust me. I went Italian on him and reminded him that I could give him a list of references longer than my arm. He was surprised to think that I would do such a thing.

Of course I would. Referencing is important. 30 years ago, before going home with a likely trick in a gay bar, I would ask the bartender if the guy was “safe.” Bartenders know their patrons better than we think. If the bartender didn’t know, he could help me find out by discreetly asking other patrons in the bar. If there was no one to give the thumbs up sign, then I could just say no thanks.

That kind of caution should be routine whenever you don’t know a person, even when you have found him or her in a group that you trust. Not sure? Ask one of the leaders. If they don’t know, then ask the person him or herself for references. If they have none, say “No thanks, but when you get some, let me know.”


If they give you references, get phone numbers or email addresses and contact them. Getting references means getting them and using them.

Remain rational

Think about what you are doing, whenever you feel afraid. What makes you feel that way? What does the fear tell you. Is it fear or paranoia?

Too often we project the source of our fear onto another person, when in fact what we are doing, not what they are doing, is causing us to feel the way we do. A good example is that of a married man who is afraid of tricking with a gay man (been there, done that). He fears the gay man will out him (an exceptionally rare occurrence). The gay man isn’t interested in outing anyone. The married man fears the gay man because he is cheating on his wife. If there were no cheating, there would be a hell of a lot less fear.

In cases such as this, one needs to analyze the problem and its cause and work on fixing what is really wrong (the cheating) and not what we want to think is wrong (a gay man’s trustworthiness).


Ask questions

As I pointed out in the suggestion to get references, ask questions. This recommendation applies to everyone and everyone includes “submissives.” As I will rant later in this essay, negotiation is the duty of both the top and the bottom and bottoms need to make informed decisions just as much as tops do.

If you are so dead above the neck as to not know what to ask, then ask someone for their list of standard questions and use theirs until you get your own. In any case, as I tell the bottoms who want to play with me, “If you can’t think of anything to ask me, then ask me what I ask you.”


Likewise if your prospect isn’t asking questions then there is something wrong in what’s going on and the something wrong is poor communication. Right there is a good reason to say “No thanks.” If you don’t know how to negotiate, then take a class or ask a friend to teach you. The rule here is pretty easily understood: “No negotiation means no play.” Poor or unsatisfactory negotiation means the same thing.

When in doubt


Now this is a problem with a simple solution. When in doubt, don’t.

Yes, I’m being hard-assed here. I’ll soften up and say that you should ask questions, get references, etc., and eliminate your doubt. If you can’t eliminate the doubt, then don’t do what you doubt.


Be responsible

It’s your job to act like an adult and to insist on adult communication, respect, and full accountability on the part of everyone involved. You can not, under any circumstances, shirk (avoid or neglect) your adult duty in this regard.

OK, I admit that you can try to shirk it, but then you will suffer the consequences, which, of course, you won’t be able to shirk.


Weigh risks


Nothing is without risk. Nothing. The best we can do is weigh risks, rationally consider them, and work to reduce them. Be an adult and do all three of those things. When you do, then your actions will be less risky, which means they’ll be safer and you’ll have less to worry about.


Agree on safe words

Yes, use safe words. Now I know that most seasoned, experience players don’t use safe words but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times, places, activities, and persons with whom you should. I always let my fearing and nearly paranoia bottoms use them. I help them to do so.

It’s easy. I just tell them they have three safe phrases they can always use: “Stop,” “Slow down,” and “Can we talk about this before we continue?”

If you prefer some color or your mother-in-law’s maiden name, that’s fine with me. Use what you want. Of course that means you have to communicate what you will do before you need to do it. Oh, no, now we’re back to good negotiating.

Discuss

Fetish and sex, if you insist on separating them, are both important, meaningful, and gratifying events. At least they should be. Good communication is one of the ways to improve them. Failure to communicate will only lead to a less than ideal scene and perhaps regret.

Open and free communication between partners is essential to a successful scene or relationship. If you’re not adult enough to talk about your desires, your sexuality, and your limits, you ought to not be negotiating. If you can’t negotiate, then please go back and re-read the part where I say “Ask questions.”


I hope that all the above helps. If I sound like a know-it-all, I’m not. Just remember that I have made enough mistakes in my past to make the above list sound like a really good idea to me. After all, I don’t want to make the same mistakes over again. New mistakes are always more exciting.


Have a great week.


Jack