Vulnerability in BDSM

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September 12, 2016
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November 15, 2016

Vulnerability in BDSM

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It’s so tempting to paint a rosy picture of my life on social media. It’s easy to celebrate the success and gloss over (or entirely ignore) the less sparkling parts. It’s tempting to do this because as a pro-domme I want to maintain an image of success, control and confidence. I know a lot of people want to buy into that fantasy, that a Dominatrix is always on top of their shit. But what I strive to bring to my work is some humanity, some of my own personality, and that’s not always perfect. It’s easy for me to do this in person, but much more difficult on social media. Alongside this desire to create a particular image is the fact I’m an extremely private person, only just getting to grips with maintaining a presence on social media and sharing parts of my life with thousands of people. This propensity for only showing the positive (I’ve discovered), creates an air of inaccessibility, the opposite to person I want to be.

I realised to make myself more human I need to share more, the things that go badly as well as the successes. But sharing these is a vulnerable action. Showing the world that I’m not perfect and my life isn’t all joy and rainbows opens up the possibility you’ll see something I’m sensitive about. But like all of us I am human, I have good days and bad, success and fuck ups. And after all, how can I expect clients to trust me with their most vulnerable selves if I haven’t shown any of mine? If I expect strangers to turn up and tell me the whole, unabridged truth about their desires and insecurities, the least I can do is share a little of mine here.

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

There were two aspects of my work I was engaged with when visiting Atlanta; presenting a workshop at Sex Down South conference, and offering pro-domme sessions. Both aspects I put a lot of work into, and neither turned out quite as I had hoped. The workshop was only attended by 4 people, this was significantly less than I anticipated. There are plenty of reasons for this: it was on the Thursday afternoon, the first day of a 3 day event; I was asking people to be brave in front of others and take off their underpants; it was particularly aimed at people wanting to explore sexuality outside of the gender binary. There are plenty of factors explaining why it was such a low turnout, but they don’t quell the insecure voices that came up; that no-one is interested in what I have to say, that I’m too different for even this niche of sex-positive people.

The second thing I feel vulnerable saying is that I only had two sessions in Atlanta, one of which was with a client I already knew. I worked hard promoting myself, reaching out to others, working with the lovely and supportive Atlanta Dungeon, but only attracted one new person. Some reasons for this are (I suspect), my images are significantly less erotic and feminine than other dommes in this area, and I didn’t start marketing early enough. Again, these don’t quell the old insecure voices; no-one is interested in what I have to offer, that I’m too different for even this niche of perverts.

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

The reason these things feel vulnerable is because I’m ashamed of them. In having less sessions and a small workshop I feel like I am a failure, and I don’t want you to see that. But shame is the thing that keeps us frozen in place, that stops us from realising our dreams and desires. Shame stops us having meaningful connections with other humans. Everybody suffers from shame, and the first step in dealing with it is admitting to it, looking it straight in the face, and saying ‘you have no power over me’. – Sarah, Labyrinthe

“What you have done and continue to do is melt an inner ice-age of frozen-ness within me (which includes my sexuality). Shame is withering, searing, crippling, disabling, undermining and demoralising. Shaming an other is a massive part of our personal and collective nuclear capability. SHAME has dogged me throughout my life. In your presence – NO shame, at all. That is such a huge and generous gift to me.” Client – 2016

It’s scary to admit to vulnerability and shame in a BDSM context, but the pay-off is worth it. In return for a bit of discomfort we get to have beautifully satisfying BDSM. Kink that is fun, but is also healing, cathartic, loving, intimate, intense, therapeutic, blissful… By being honest and open and enjoying our kinks we can melt away this shame that hurts us so and live more fulfilling lives.

So, I commit to trying to be more honest. To share more of myself and occasionally show vulnerability, just as I ask people to do for me. As Brenee Brown speaks about at length in her amazing Ted talk, and also in her many books, this is the basis for whole-hearted living. Living a life of love, connection and belonging, being approachable and being human.

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2 Comments on "Vulnerability in BDSM"

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Mark
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It is great to read this and your other post on your blog to see you as a real person and not just someone who is in it for the money.

Mark
Guest

I have just reread this and I relate this. To live life to the full you must take risks: not everything can be 100% successful all the time but if we don’t try we are maybe unconsciously being controlled by society and not really living life to the full. This has made me thing about my own life so Thank You Claire for sharing.

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