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Monday, August 16, 2010

SL Letter of the Day: Before the Bondage Workshop

Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Just wanted to say thank you for providing me with sample of "alternative" sexualities by way of your column. It's opened my mind just enough to begin to explore my own sexuality without shame... which leads to my inquiry.

I'm a 22-year-old straight female who engaged in self harm (cutting) from the age of 11 until I was 20. From what therapy I've gone to and what I've read about self harm, I've come to believe that when I cut it was to release the emotional anxiety I felt surrounding issues in my life, particularly rejection and abandonment. My self-harm caused my life to become unmanageable, to say the least, and I received treatment. Since turning 20, I have not engaged in the behavior. I consider myself emotionally stable today and have definitely experienced revolutionary changes in my self-esteem and am capable of having healthy and stable relationships with people who really care about me, something previously unfathomable.

So what's wrong? As I've been exposed to a variety of different sexualities and practices, I've found that I am incredibly turned on by submission. I think back on my first sexual fantasies and I've always been inclined to masochism (even before the self harm started) but due to taboo and stigma and perhaps being young and naive, I never indulged. Now I've found a partner who is willing to explore this kink with me and we're starting with a rope bondage class at Babeland in a few weeks.

My apprehension comes from my past thinking and behavior and that I may be perpetuating an "unhealthy coping mechanism" and what I really need is more therapy. While I am really excited to dive into submission, I am terrified of potentially regressing and that my desire to tied up and beat with a cane is reaffirming a subconscious belief that I deserve it. I would love your thoughts.

More Therapy Or A Good Caning?

Sent from the Savage Love App for iPhone

My response after the jump...

•••••••••••

There are people out there, MTOAGC, who didn't cut, people who never struggled with rejection or abandonment issues, people whose lives never became unmanageable, people who never needed to seek treatment for emotional problems (not because they don't have problems—we all have problems—but because theirs didn't rise to the level of requiring therapy). And some of those people share your kinks and turn-ons—they like bondage, submission, maybe a caning now and then—so... perhaps it would help if you viewed your kinks as coincidental to your dealt-with issues and not the result of them.

It would be a shame if you let your past troubles prevent you from enjoying your sexuality fully in the future. You are wise, of course, to contemplate these issues, to think this stuff through, and to consider the possibility of a link between your kinks and your issues without letting that possibility paralyze you. So take things slowly. Check-in with your (hopefully) sex-positive therapist before the workshop, and let your bondage-workshop leader know you're nervous, establish a safe word and check-in with your partner frequently and as his equal. And if it turns out that kink is a coping mechanism for you, well, a coping mechanism that comes with orgasms is preferable to a coping mechanism that leaves scars.

And always remember: safe, sane, and consensual sexual submission is a game and a gift, MTOAGC, and you can call the game off and/or take back the gift whenever you need to. You're in charge of your submission—its form, its duration, and ultimately its meaning.

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