Monday, January 25, 2010

The morning after the chaste night before...

The danger of eroticizing other people's hangups is that love may trap you in your own fantasy...
(Picture borrowed from Britni's blog. I'm happy to take this down or link to the original source if anybody can point me to it.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Paradoxes of Consent resolved?


I've been Googling further (terms like "sex porn addiction dopamine"). I need to read around this, but what I've found so far is interesting:

Wanting and Satisfaction
  • Wanting and Satisfaction are different.
    It's entirely possible to want something - or be excited by it - but not enjoy or like it very much. It's why shopaholics buy crap, then come back for more.

  • Satisfaction quenches Wanting, but then sparks it off again.
    We have a good experience, we want it again... so repeated kinky activity or fantasies can intensify the desire for that activity.

  • Random and often low-level satisfaction increases intensity of Wanting.
    This explains gambling addiction, and the draw of unrequited love.
Wallowing in the Darkness: The bad stuff is real
  • The animal part of the brain experiences things first and does so naively: it can't tell the difference between real and pretend.
    This is why porn arouses us, even though we can't have sex with the girl in the picture, and why irrational phobias still paralyse us.
    It also means that everything that happens in BDSM is "real".

  • For evolutionary reasons, Submission produces satisfaction.
    There's scientific evidence to support this. It makes sense because animals that persistently fought the pack's dominant would have no chance to breed surreptitiously (being dead), and packs where everybody was always challenging the pecking order would die out.
    This has to be the foundation of most masochistic urges.

  • For evolutionary reasons, Fear and Guilt related to sex intensify wanting (i.e. excitement)
    The brave and transgressive breed more! This explains the pull of the dark, and the delicious thrill we feel when contemplating terrible fates for ourselves.
  • If you're aroused enough Pain is also pleasure, but the animal brain still reads it as an attack.
    This resolves one of those central contradictions, I think. You can be getting off on a beating, while still resisting it and pleading.

  • Pain is Satisfying, afterwards
    Even when the pain is too intense to be pleasurable, its cessation releases a flood of happy chemicals, so triggering more desire....
Though the bad stuff is real, we choose to let ourselves enjoy it
  • Our (let's call it) Conscious Self can decide it's safe despite the (very real) bad feelings. These emotions then intensify our excitement, i.e. Wanting
    This is why people ride roller coasters, and consume Horror films, and other things that "scare" them. The fear is real, but they still pay their money and take their seat. It's also why we masochists come back for more, and yet would hate to be beaten up for real.
    Those of us who seek out safe ways of experiencing negative emotions are perverting our survival mechanisms for kicks - it's the equivalent of getting off on the vibrations from the motor that turns the early warning radar.
    So, we are Perverts. (Yippee!)

  • The Conscious Self can become confused or neutralised.
    Standards can slip. People can take greater and greater risks, or lose their moral compass. This explains Porn Addiction, but is of more interest to writers of erotica.
    It also roots our masochism firmly on our psychology.

Conclusions

The components of our masochism are simple, but interact in complicated ways. Most importantly, they are distinct systems, so cannot cancel each other out: the paradoxes are an illusion and can never be neatly resovled.
  • On a primal level, we experience cruelty as real and uncomfortable.
  • If we think we are safe, the cruelty excites us or satsifies us, either directly or indirectly.
  • Some evolutionary wiring underpins our masochism.
  • Our personality still determines which taboos we want to break.
I think it's now time to revisit Aqua Sulis...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Does neuroscience explain the Paradoxes of Consent

It turns out that the brain has different centers for "wanting" and "liking".

We all know from experience that you can want something, but not like - as in enjoy - it, perhaps a new gadget, or a cheap bar of chocolate. You can also like something, perhaps getting very very drunk, but not really want to do it.

What's new is that this sort of ambivalence isn't you maturing, or failing to mature, or human weakness, or hypocrisy; it's actually just a normal interaction between two chunks of your brain, meaning it's not going to resolve itself very easily.

To me, this has stunning implications for masochism (in its broadest sense, covering all submissive proclivities).

First of all, it validates the idea of an authentic BDSM experience without adding layers of role play. I can genuinely want to be a mistreated slave, but genuinely not enjoy it. If you beat me, you are being genuinely cruel. If you are a sadist, then you can enjoy that experience with no self-deception. (I think it's more complicated than that, but that will require a different post.)

It also explains how this exquisite ambivalence can be so very stable; how we can fear the lash, and crave it, time and time again without learning one of the two logically possible lessons, either: "Shit! That's painful, I won't do that again!" or, "Actually, I rather like doing this."

This study suggests to me that erotic masochism is a lot simpler than it seemed: a masochist really does seek out unpleasant experiences, and the experiences really are unpleasant.

Update: Very illuminating thread here.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A simple inescapable chastity belt...

No material is indestructible, no chastity contract is legally enforceable, so how could we make a chastity belt inescapable?

I have an idea. Can't guarantee it would be legally watertight, but...

Suppose, instead of selling chastity belts, a manufacturer leased them out to the wearer; say USD 400 a year for three years, after which the rent would drop to, say, USD 50.

The cunning part is that the device would have to be returned to base each year for checking and servicing.

If it's damaged in any way, then - as per the original contract - the manufacturer charges the full value of the device to your credit card. This could be a hefty but realistic sum, e.g. USD 2000.

Even you would be happy to take the financial hit, the chances are that your spouse would not: "Your bloody stupid fantasy - you live with it until your keys turn up!"

It could even have a timelock, so that there would be no legal issues around refusing to return somebody's keys....

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