As you can guess from yesterday’s post about electroplay technique, being the dominant partner in a BDSM relationship is more complex than it looks. Just mastering the many possible practices may require years of effort… and that’s the easiest part anyway, which you can learn from many books.
The real difficulty is to manage the immense power gained when another person puts his life and soul at our service. It feels quite like being at the wheel of a racecar: exhilarating, yet terrifying as you know that the slightest mistake might cause a catastrophe. It is such a delicate condition that most authors prefer to wholly ignore it, leaving aspiring Masters (and Mistresses, of course) alone facing a hard introspective and relational path.
Conversely, The new topping book is one of the very few books focusing right on this topic, saving just a handful of pages for discussing the more physical side of BDSM. First published in 1994, it was updated in 2003 and remains a most useful read for anybody wishing to approach the world of extreme eroticism in a smart way.
Its main characteristic is concreteness, even when the two authors dare to suggest slightly new-agey concepts such as the “energy flow” between dominant and submissive partners. It is brief and to the point, devoid of the self-incensing so typical of this unusual literary genre. Easton and Hardy are the first to admit the errors and goofs in their own long career as kinksters, in the hope that the readers won’t repeat the same mistakes.
Among the topics discussed you will then find the difference between reality and the pornographic ideals that draw so many people to these activities; between the public face of full-time domination relationships and the true behind-the-scene dynamics; between a healthy erotic use of the Internet and the ghastly black hole of its abuse. Concreteness also pops up when they write about common yet ignored issues.
In example, it is easy to read elsewhere the same suggestions you can find here about how to take your first steps in the BDSM scene, or how to behave at a kinky party or social gathering… but I never found another discussion of how to best relate to uncommon characters like professional dominatrixes, colored players or disabled kinksters.
Predictably, The topping book has chapters dedicated to the building of a healthy relation with your submissives. It deals with communication, limits negotiation, aftercare. An important chunk of the book is about crisis management: involuntary trigging of traumatic memories, accidents and so on. After all, these things do happen when you play at the edge, and you’d better be prepared to tackle them.
The real surprise comes however in the final chapters, examining the use of BDSM as a cathartic tool through which to elaborate and overcome your personal issues. A very sensitive topic that is dealt with uncommon honesty, without any therapeutical pretense. It is easy to see how even a “perversion” can turn into an opportunity for growth and enrichment. Sure, to learn how to do that requires lots of work. But this is what manuals are for, isn’t it?