I have a bone to pick with negotiation checklists. Anyone who’s looked for education or advice on how to negotiate for the kinky experiences you want has seen these things recommended. They’re these multi-page lists of every kinky activity the list author could conceive of, where you’re supposed to rate each one on some scale of desirability. Like:
- Flogging, Hard
- Flogging, Twizzlers
- Bondage, Rope
- Bondage, Chain
- Bondage, Red Vines
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
And okay, I see how they can have some utility for some people some of the time. But I think they promote a fixation on toys and techniques that doesn’t get at what’s really most important for many of us to negotiate.
Personally, I don’t give a crap if the bondage is rope or chain or tape or saran wrap. What I want is to see you spread out like a neatly wrapped toy for me to use, and watch you pull hard but slow against your bonds—not trying to escape but confirming, sinking into, relishing your helplessness. I want to witness you sink into an experience of helplessness. How we get you there is details.
Knowing that you want
- Spanking, Hard
is fine and good, but it’s insufficient. Even knowing finer details of the physical act we’re agreeing to (butt and backs of thighs are fair game, inner thighs unpleasantly ticklish, warmup bores me so please hit hard right away, etc.), while useful, does not get to the understanding that will enable our scene to really sizzle.
Check out this amazing product. It will smack your gluteus maximus with perfect rhythm, with ten different intensity settings, for exactly as long as you like. If the heart of your desire really is about the physical mechanics of repeated whacks on your backside then this is the perfect product for you. If, instead, this gadget strikes you as ridiculous, then that’s a sign that what you really desire is about more than hand striking butt. And for really effective negotiation, it’s invaluable to share an understanding of that “more” with your partner.
What does it mean when you’re spanked? Does it mean that you’ve been bad? That you’ve been good? How do you want to feel about it before it happens, during and after?
Who am I when I spank you? I don’t mean that you’re going to literally hallucinate that I’m someone else, but I’m filling some role in the drama of your arousal. Am I a vicious brute who overpowers your through sheer force, and beats you just to see you cry? Or am I a strict disciplinarian who has a right, indeed a duty, to spank you for your transgressions? Am I angry when I spank you? Disappointed? Turned on?
These kinds of questions make or break kinky connections for many of us. The exact same number and force and cadence of blows might be an amazing experience if delivered with icy disappointment, but a grossed-out “red” if done from a place of obvious hard/wet erotic enthusiasm. Or the other way around. The only way to know before you step on a landmine is to negotiate the feelings and the meanings of your play.
And that stands for tops as well. How does your fantasy bottom feel about the spanking you’re giving them? Who do you want to be when you are doing it? Who are they to you, and what effect do you want it to have on them? If you’re having giggly fun time being spanked by me, I’m honestly not going to be enjoying myself; I want to see my bottom endure something difficult out of devotion to me. I can also enjoy being the disappointed taskmaster who’s only doing this for your own good, but only if you’re going to be genuinely contrite afterward. And I absolutely will not be your out-of-control, violent brute. That’s a huge turn off.
Another point of meaning that’s a really good idea to get clear on is what doing this play together means about us. Do we go back to having exactly the same relationship we did before we played? Are we starting a love relationship? Does doing this heavy degradation play mean that I won’t respect you like I did before? What will it mean to you if I let you put this collar on me? It can be heartbreaking when you find out afterward that one person thought this was the just the beginning of a grand adventure, and the other thought it was a one-time fun-time.
So my advice is to set aside the checklist and the choice of exactly which toys and which specific activities you’re going to engage in until after you’ve negotiated the really important stuff.
- Who am I to you?
- Who are you to me?
- How do you want to feel when we play?
- What do you really, really want?