NSFW Column In my last column I made some skeptical remarks about the BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism) community in Second Life. It's not something I've ever had much interest in, although it is a very prominent feature of SL. You'll encounter it throughout the mature regions of the grid, although you might not recognise it when you do. I was quite oblivious to it, really, until I discovered myself caught up in the lifestyle, quite by accident.
Very soon after I arrived and took up my reporter's post in the Linden electronic playpen, I met a wonderful young woman. We became lovers immediately, and our online relationship took off from there, becoming more intimate by the day. (My poor SL boyfriend Max! He really can't understand this side of me, although he tries, the darling.)
Second Life relationships can be very intense - more so than I had ever imagined. They also tend to be brief: SL is like a time compressor, so any couple who have been together for two months pretty well deserve a trophy. Everything is compressed, intensified, distilled. When you're sharing a fantasy with another resident, there are none of the inconvenient truths, or natural inhibitions, of real life to slow you down. You can go from "hi there", to "oh God, Yesss!" in a matter of minutes.
In virtually no time, my new girlfriend and I were sharing the most personal, and deeply intimate, sexual fantasies that either of us had ever imagined. And as we got closer, she confided in me that she is in fact a submissive. It's not something she had ever explored in real life, and I rather think she won't; but part of what drew her to SL in the first place was the chance to explore this side of herself as a shared fantasy.
So one day, she invited me to dominate her during sex. I tried, but, well, I was hopeless at it! I laugh thinking about it now; I was so awkward and uncomfortable - embarrassed, even. It just didn't feel like me, if you know what I mean.
I told her she'd be better off doing that sort of thing with an experienced partner, and left it at that. She soon found one, and she began learning a great deal, both about the lifestyle, and about herself. Meanwhile, the profoundly intimate SL fantasy that we were sharing continued to develop and deepen.
I was, I'll confess, worried about her. I didn't know what was going on in these SL sims - these simulated dungeons, these cartoon purgatories - that she was frequenting. And I didn't want to know: it struck me as horibly nerdy, and a bit dangerous. Was she being exploited, bullied, hurt? She certainly didn't seem any worse for wear, so I continued to offer support to her in this quest, although, at the same time, I did always worry about her getting into a destructive relationship with some manipulative control freak.
A temporary switch
One day, not long ago, we met in SL, and she did something I'll never forget. It changed our relationship radically and permanently, and it has even changed me, in real life, to some degree. We were enjoying one of our long, sensuous lovemaking sessions, only this time, she got aggressive. Well, as I mentioned in my last column, I happen to love rough sex, in real life and in SL, so this was a most welcome development indeed.
But this wasn't ordinary rough sex; this was different. It was clear that she expected me to obey her, and not to resist or even to discuss the matter. She literally ordered me: how to stand, how to lie, what to do. She told me what I was feeling, and how much I liked it. She commanded me, and she violated me. She slapped me so hard I nearly blacked out. She choked me, digging her nails into the soft skin of my neck, and drew a little of my blood. She bit my ears, and my nipples, hard. She didn't ask for permission; she demanded and took what she wanted of me, without apology, without reservation. And I loved every second of it!
I began to feel free - actually liberated. It sounds pardoxical, but it's true. As I let her control me, I felt less aware of myself. The more I submitted - delivering myself to her, sacrificing myself to her - the less bound I felt by the chains of my own personality, history, agenda, even consciousness. I allowed her will to control me, welcoming it, inviting it, releasing control of myself with joy - and yes, with awe. And I began to feel this literally, in real life, sitting at my keyboard.
The more I relinquished control, the more I wanted to be controlled. But I was not completely free of self-consciousness, until she did something that stripped away my last shred of ego. I'm a bi girl, and I don't mind saying it. I do like men very much. I've been with lesbians, and I confess that, secretly, I feel superior to them: "Scared of a man's c*ck? Ha, you neurotic, Puritanical weakling!" And this is the real-life me I'm talking about, as much as my SL character. And she knew this, and she reached right into my mind and brought it up, and used it.
She was fisting me hard, and I thought, this has got to be as painful as childbirth! The pain I imagined danced through me, making me tremble violently, electrifying me, tingling every nerve - a bright, jagged pain that I adored. It was her pain! I loved it with my very heart. I begged her to f*ck me harder still! And then she sneered at me, shouting, "Feel this hand that f*cks and owns your p*ssy! Stronger and harder than any man-c*ck you ever had in your pathetic bi fantasies!"
And that was the master stroke. She took this personal thing from deep in my mind and humiliated me with it. At that moment, I released every last shred of my ego to her, willingly, longingly, with blind devotion and genuine awe. And then I came in a violent spasm that rolled through me in waves - again, and again, and again.
I had an epiphany.
Actions, not words
She could have asked me to read about BDSM and submission; she could have talked to me about it, explained it at length; and that could have gone on for months without my ever getting it. But instead, she made me experience what she experiences as a sub. And thus I understood it immediately and knew instinctively how to bring it about for her.
She did this to me because she's in love with me, and there's nothing more beautiful to a sub than to have the woman she truly loves become her Mistress. I began to dominate her during sex, and this brought us closer than we had ever been, a development that I didn't think was even possible, so close and so intimate had we become already.
After about a week of this, I sensed that she needed to go further. As her lover - and a damned conscientious one at that, I don't mind saying - I naturally want to do everything that gives her pleasure and happiness. And I grasped instinctively that I would have to collar her to give her all that she wants and needs and deserves.
And so I took her. Today she wears my collar with pride, with joy, and with utter devotion. The collar is scripted and allows me to control her avatar completely, which she loves to experience. But I've got to be clear: I did this for her, as a lover whose only desire is to give her pleasure. I did this to serve her, this wonderful lover whose orgasms I enjoy more than my own. Thus I didn't make her my slave; rather, she made me her Missy. I am, literally, an accidental Mistress.
The sub makes the Dom/me, it's clear to me now. The sub is not weak; indeed, the personal strength required to submit fully is extraordinary, and commands the utmost respect. Domination is service, and submission is liberation. That sounds Orwellian, and it might well be. A current of Fascism runs through BDSM, concealed beneath layers of Medieval veneer. I will return to this in a future column; but for now, I accept what is apparent, if not rational, in this relationship: the Dom/me has the control, but the sub has the power. I feel it, I experience it, and whether it makes sense or it doesn't, I believe it. ®