After my recent radio show with the vivacious Cassandre Dayne (Click here to listen) about Domination and submission and everything else to do with it, it occurred to me that fetish is rarely discussed.
Domination and submission is all to do with power play, power exchange, control, or loss of it as the case may be. I think it is when fetish comes to the fore, where most can be shocked beyond their comfort limits, and perhaps it is the focus on fetish which gives the lifestyle such bad connotations within the media.
So what is a fetish? The OED describes it as follows:-
'2 a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc an excessive and irrational devotion or commitment to a particular thing.
We all recognise shoe fetishes, rubber fetishes, leather fetishes - but there are also fetishes for hair(excess or absence of it for instance), eyes, breasts, bottoms and so on. All seem pretty harmless yes? Then there is the darker stuff. Asphyxiaphilia - breath play, electrotorture, golden showers, whipping, needle play, cutting, the list is endless, and it is this that the media highlights. With good reason (I know - you won't hear me saying *that* very often).
I have mentioned before the danger of embracing the 'playing' aspects of the lifestyle. Domination and submission is based on implicit trust, and yes fetish can be included in a session, but the danger of the particular fetish must be acknowledged. It is perhaps the danger and fear of the particular fetish which drives the sexual gratification. So how does the community ensure that such practices are safer?
Professionally run establishments have Dungeon Masters and those trained in watching out for danger signs, but how many others in the lisfestyle have professional monitoring during sessions? What is the answer? What can be done. I believe that awareness, open discussions, putting information out there that is easy to find so that everyone who desires to partake in activities can research fully before they embark on the experience.
Since I have started exploring and researching my writing, I have encountered so many who have asked me for such information, needing a few drinks for dutch courage before taking me to one side and starting the "erm, do you mind if I ask you..." conversation, nervously looking around in case someone heard their questions. Not just women either, men ask the same questions. There is a need for experiences to be shared for enjoyment and safety's sake, I wonder whether this is why I write my stories from a gentler aspect? I know that I do not enjoy severe pain, and it stands to reason I'm not the only person who thinks that way. This doesn't, however, and shouldn't, preclude me or anyone else from enjoying the world of Domination, submission and fetish.
The experience of a friend of mine highlighted the need for awareness. She explained to me how she had entered into a Domination and submission scene with a man whom she thought she trusted. She thought that it would be an enjoyable experience as they had spoken about how they wanted it to be, he was much more experienced and it was her first time. It became incredibly obvious to her straight away that things weren't as they should be but she didn't know how to say stop. He had convinced her he knew best, and, the whole experience scarred her considerably. She knew what to expect from the power exchange, but his fetishes were beyond what she was comfortable with, and she had no idea how to handle them other than to just go along with it. Education, support and confidence in being able to say no is what needs to be instilled. So many inexperienced submissives think they have to take what is dished out without a whimper, and it destroys what 'could' be an amazing experience. Further to this, Doms need to do their research too. They need to get to know their partners *before* partaking in any scene, however experienced they may actually be.
Safe, sane, consensual, is the most important thing that must be remembered, and it may be prudent to avoid any alcohol and most definitely drugs during play, and more than anything, always always double check that everything that happens is ok with all parties involved. Just because someone is willing to partake in a Dominant submissive relationship, does not necessarily mean that either party will automatically be happy to satisfy any fetish desired.