Pouty Slave Girl

Friday, March 30, 2007

Question

I am a 25-year-old woman who is a newcomer to the BDSM scene. Despite being relatively inexperienced, I have found a wonderful dominant man who has taught me a lot about love, trust, and my body's potential to do things I was afraid were only possible in fantasy. One of our favorite activities is whipping. I find that a heavy, prolonged flogging puts me into a state of ecstasy for days afterward. I always wish it could last longer, and I am often begging my master to whip me while I am marked up from our last session. He has reluctantly agreed on a few occasions but now says it is not safe to whip me if I am bruised. I can't see the problem. As long as I still like the way it feels, what does it matter if I am black and blue from last night's play? I'm feeling a little desperate about this. It takes so long for my marks to go away. I'm a heavy player and don't want to be deprived of this special experience. What is your opinion on whether it's safe to be whipped if you are already bruised?

Answer

Like many safety issues in the BDSM world, we have to rely on common sense and information we can glean from many different sources. No good research (or bad, for that matter) has been done on this topic. I consulted with body workers and was told that massage is considered to be unsafe if the client has a hematoma (bruise). Their thinking is that a bruise consists of coagulated blood, which the body needs to get rid of in the process of healing. Concern exists that a massage over a bruised area might dislodge a bit of coagulated blood which could travel through the bloodstream to the heart, causing a heart attack, or to the brain, where it might trigger a stroke.

A doctor I spoke with pointed out that adding trauma to an already-bruised part of the body will make it harder for that area to heal. You need to think about maintaining the integrity of the smaller blood vessels in that area. It would not be a good idea to permanently damage a significant number of your capillaries.

But I do have some ideas for you that will help this situation. Your master can perhaps divide your body into zones. You can be whipped on the ass, perhaps, and the back of your legs, but not your back. That leaves a clean area for the next session. You can also be whipped on the front or inside of your thighs, but not the back of your body.

Over time, as you continue to play, you will become more difficult to mark. I have seen this happen with literally hundreds of masochists. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. There's a certain thrill to be gotten from pressing on a bruise, causing a slight ache, and reliving a portion of the high that you felt while your master was pouring all of his energy into you. I've often said that a scene lasts as long as the marks last. It can be a little discouraging for an experienced bottom to take a severe whipping, with little or no evidence of it afterward, when a novice looks like they have been through the Spanish Inquisition after six cane strokes.

Keep your body as healthy as possible. Pay attention to good nutrition, and exercise regularly. Twenty minutes of cardio training three or four times a week will help your immune system, circulatory system, and mood. Arnica is a supplement you can take that will promote healing of a bruise. It can be found in health food stores as an ointment or in oral doses, i.e., in pills or tinctures. A poultice of grated raw potato has also been recommended to me by a holistic healer to help heavy bruises to fade more quickly.

Let's also remember that whipping is not the only pain game in town. What about hot wax, nipple clamps, temporary piercing, and electricity? These activities leave no or minimal marks behind. And they are guaranteed to make a masochist purr like a big kitty, dance around with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, and go to her bright happy shiny place. Usually without that much fanfare.

Be cognizant, also, of the fact that doing a scene takes a lot out of a top. The feeling of bliss that you treasure so much is composed of the energy he gave you. Look at or feel the psychic link between the two of you during play. Is it going one way or both ways? Deliberately set up a channel through which you send him your energy as well. This will create a spiral effect that will contribute to both of you feeling even closer and more intensely happy. After a scene, make sure to be extra nice to him. Do some little tasks around the house that will save him effort. Bring him breakfast in bed and insist on giving him a massage. He needs to recharge his batteries in between major performances.

If you are always saying to him, "Whip me, whip me, whip me," you might begin to sound as if all you care about is getting beaten. He may start to feel like a the BDSM equivalent of a vending machine. He needs to know that you treasure the unique relationship, and that the things he does to your body are valuable because they are symbols of his dominance and your submission. It's fun to top because of the tremendous ego boost you get by sending someone to the moon. If you can honestly compliment him for being superior to other masters, or somehow express what you find unique and irreplaceable about him, you send him a better message about why you want to get whipped.

We aren't meant to wander through the world being perpetually high on drugs, alcohol, sex, pain, or religious fervor. There's a reason why mystics are usually cloistered. Their desire to be in a deeply felt relationship with divinity every waking minute of their lives disables them for functioning in the real world. The pleasure of transcendence is so intense that it's very tempting to make it your permanent residence. But that usually destroys its value. A frantic search for that feeling of floating at the heart of the universe doesn't usually bring the desired result. It takes more and more to get high, and often you can't get high at all—you can only briefly escape the misery of being alone and deprived.

The mystical experience has a component of grace. None of us deserve it; it is dispensed almost arbitrarily. You can prepare the temple, but you can't make the god dwell within it. That decision is not up to you. So you have to learn to make the discipline of preparing the temple as important and rewarding as the joy of escaping from the physical world into a state that seems more pure and eternal. In a BDSM relationship, this translates into the details of a domestic life and the emotional care and feeding of yourself and your partner. It can also become a quest for perpetual, dignified and joyous improvement as a bottom or slave.

I strongly encourage heavy players to develop some kind of spiritual practice. If you are an atheist who doesn't believe there is anything other than the here and now in the material world, you can still create more meaning in your life by making a commitment to something other than your own survival needs. Volunteering for a worthwhile cause, including grassroots organizing in the leather community, can fit the bill. Others may want to learn how to meditate (either sitting or a walking meditation like the labyrinth), do yoga, chant, drum, dance, or pray. Devotion to a particular creed or deity is suitable for many of us; we don't talk about this a lot in the BDSM community, but it's important to have a set of values and a sense of why you are on earth.

I suggest this because some of the needs that we hope to get met in S/M relationships or scenes are better met through a spiritual practice. A master or mistress can disappoint you; slaves can be sulky or run away. But a connection to the divine or to meaningful philanthropy will keep you grounded, avert depression, and help you to take a more balanced and less desperate view of your BDSM connections. If gratifying your partner or getting to play becomes your only reason for living, you are setting yourself up to be devastated if your partner is flawed or abandons you, or if the play isn't meeting your highest standards.

This is a pretty long response. As they say in twelve-step groups, take what you need and leave the rest.