I read this the other day (see below) and it’s been playing over in my mind ever since. I agree with much of what is said… but disagree with the sentiment.
Whilst it is true that we can immerse ourselves in this lifestyle with varying degrees of intensity, I do not believe that Ds is a game per se. Not for everyone, not always. Once upon a time I would have railed against the use of the word ‘playing’ for exactly the reason that it diminishes the acts I engage in. Now I’ve mellowed out a bit and I find it a convenient term. I recognise that language does not compromise the intent. And the intent is exactly the reason I do not think of BDSM as a game of ‘let’s pretend’.
Yes, crops and collars are useful props. They help induce a certain mindset, they are useful symbols of authority. But I would argue that the state of consciousness they induce is real. I do not believe that because something can change over time, or because it can be taken away, it is any less real at the point of experience.
I am not collared. I do not have a slave contract. I have never felt a need for a physical manifestation of my emotions. I recognise their use and I understand why they are important to some. I do have a contract with my Master, but much like the English constitution, it is unwritten. Bound through tacit consent, but completely invisible to the eye. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that because it is not something you can see or touch it does not exist, nor that it is inconsequential in it’s insubstantiality.
When I am beaten, the pain is real. You may think that the fact I carry within myself the knowledge that the pain will come to an end, or that it was my choice to be present, would diminish the authenticity or the impact of the experience. But the fact is, those thoughts and concerns are entirely banished by the immediacy of the experience. And indeed by the reality. I withdraw my consent with every swish of the cane. I beg and plead for him to stop. Am I immediately released and able to run free? No.
When I reach that place of acceptance where the pain becomes mere sensation and my connection with the world is altered, when I look at him and say do as thou wilt, I mean it. That the following day, out of that headspace, I might not feel exactly the same way does not mean I never did nor that it was never true.
That we have downtime where we relax in front of the TV, that we have public personas that we show to the world, that we go to work, visit our families or go shopping do not mean that he is not my Master. That I have the word ‘no’ in my vocabulary does not mean I am not his girl. It just means our relationship is a complex one with many layers and dimensions. It means that sometimes, those props are useful tools for bringing our relationship back in line.
I think the crux of this argument is how we define reality. Does something have to be physical to be real? Does something have to be consistent and unchanging to be considered valid? I don’t think so. Ds, like love, joy and sadness, is a game of emotion. That we can step in and out of those emotions, that they change and develop over time, that we can stop feeling them altogether does not render them invalid.
My Master demands authenticity, and so do I. Play acting would not suffice - which is one reason we do not engage in role play. Nor is stimulus-response enough. It has to be real, has to be authentic. Emotion is something to be experienced. And whilst we are experiencing those emotions, our state of consciousness shifts. That is a real process. It is certainly not a game of let’s pretend.
Almost every element of life has an element of consensual make believe - whether believing the performance of a football team is important, believing that we’re British, believing that laws govern our behaviour or believing that we are good/bad/nice/naughty/a teacher/a lawyer/a doctor/ a caretaker… what we believe governs our behaviour. What we believe dictates how we experience the world.
Reality is a subjective thing. We have no way of knowing that our reality is the same as that experienced by others. It may all be an elaborate hallucination, placed in our minds by malicious demons. Or we can accept that our experiences are as real as anything can be, and we can give them the credit they deserve.
It’s all a game of “Let’s Pretend.” It’s all make-believe. I know this statement will raise a few hackles, but that’s what it is. One can choose to believe it’s a Lifestyle, sure. But it’s STILL just a GAME.
See, when you don that collar or pick up that crop, they FEEL real… Which, physically, they are. But the symbolism behind these items is all a given thing that can be taken away. That collar binds you to your Master/Mistress/insert-title-of-superior-position-here ONLY because you choose to bind yourself to this person. That title of superiority you are given gives you POWER only because that power is GIVEN to you by another person. It is not all-encompassing, and can be taken away. Even a “Slave Contract” is not truly and legally binding, as every nation in the world, just about, has laws against slavery. That piece of paper is just like that collar, your crop, paddle, whips and floggers in one very important respect: They’re all just PROPS in the GAME.
I have two lovely slaves, each of whom play differently. This does not bother me, as I like the different aspects of each. They’re each perfect for me, in their own ways. One likes to play the game deep and heavy, the other light to medium. And you know something? There is always downtime, even with the one who likes deep immersion in the role. The game does not run round the clock, and this is as it should be. There are times when the game is appropriate to play, and times when it is best to be vanilla and fit to be presented to society’s “Normal” folk. And most importantly, we all acknowledge that it’s a game.
So there you have it. You can play it as light or heavy as you wish, from just the occasional tying up of the spouse for a kinky night of fun to a full 24-hour Total Power Exchange… But you’re still just playing. No matter how you try to deny this, no matter your argument that I am incorrect, you are merely arguing against facts, and opinion makes for sub-par ammunition. Its caliber is insufficient and its velocity to low to even scratch fact.
It’s all a game of Let’s Pretend. It can be an extremely immersing and potentially very expensive game of let’s pretend, but as long as you remember that you’re just playing the game, you can indeed remain a sound-minded practitioner of this “Lifestyle” that… ISN’T.