Monday, 8 June 2009


In my last post "A contradiction" I found myself in the comments discussing the word "violence". It seemed the wrong word for what we do. "Violence" seems to include in its meaning an emotional connotation that is negative and the opposite of what is intended for instance in a spanking or beating in a D/s or BDSM context.

Tristan wrote "It's not the same thing as violence. ... It's just different."

Selkie emphasised the importance of motivation and the need for it to become a dynamic.

I continued to feel uncomfortable with the word "violence" and wondered whether it was possible to deny that a beating, a caning, a flogging or a spanking is actually a violent act within certain contexts. Then by chance I came across the following by Lady Alpha as I was looking through notes for future posts.

"By definition, 'violence' involves aggressive behaviour. By definition, 'aggressive' involves hostile behaviour. Therefore to be be violent, one must also be hostile.

"Clearly in consensual D/s, even if that consent is for subsequent non-consensual action, or is for behaviour which is challenging and painful, maybe even degrading, hostility is not present. The moment it is, D/s becomes abuse. So violence and 'D/s' as we know it cannot co-exist."

This seems to argue very articulately that if such an act take place within a consensual BDSM context then it cannot be said to be "violence".

I am tempted by this argument but still have some concerns. I would be interested in the views of others.


David said...

The accepted definition of violence is "exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse", and so in general what we do is not violence; unless, you then parse the meaning of injure. It can clearly be said that the physicality exercised as part of BDSM does cause clinical injure, it is as you and selkie, and other pointed out, a matter of degree and intent, and what is tolerable or accepted.

Perhaps a large semantics dance here?

mouse said...

I was in what I now realize to be an abusive M/s relationship years ago; he was my first Master. I would think that anger has to be an ingredient. Often when he drank (and when he didn't drink) he would fly into a rage, beating me, breaking things and I considered it even then to be abusive (I saw the reason I didn't leave as more complex than it was). I also learned to cope by getting him so drunk he'd pass out.

I didn't see his hostility as anger, or vice versa but his anger (coupled with drinking) was an issue. The other issue was that, especially later, in our relationship he could no longer become excited unless I was scared out of wits. When that limit was taken away (kinda like removing the safety features on the Holodeck in Star Trek) he knew I was uncertain I might die.

I didn't require the extra boost of adrenaline, he needed it. Unless I was scared, really scared, the kind of scared that comes with loosing all control, then he was able to enjoy it. When it got to the point that I had seemingly given up, he changed, or softened somewhat. I don't think he was capable of of empathy at least by that time.

I don't know if it's just extreme sadism, violence, or just down right abuse. Even now, with years passed, I'm not sure I'm qualified to label it. Maybe it's not really about the choice of words but more about how the relationship makes you feel.

If it walks like a duck.....

Tristan said...

I hate these discussions because they both make me feel uncomfortable (with my concerns, like Pygar, about the root) and invigorated by the challenge of defining it.

I have thought a lot about why I enjoy the use of canes and floggers and ropes without much success. One thing I do know is that I always enjoy it.

That is the key for me and perhaps this , too, is a semantic dance, yet I wonder if abusive behaviour can actually be enjoyable. To me an act born from hostility would seem too difficult to associate enjoyment to.

Then we get into a whole realm of how sadistic is a sadist?

Thanks, Pygar, I'm taking back the Kajira I bought you for your birthday.

selkie said...

when he used to twist his fingers in my curls and pull my hair down my back...then drag my face roughly across the rough stuff of his jeans and the bulge beneath it...

when his hand smacked down and the crack was loud and the mark of his fingers bloomed crimson on my buttock....

When he thrust himself so far down my throat the tears poured form my eyes, I gasped to breathe and desperately tried to ensure teeth weren't involved...

then the falls of the flogger fell across my back and hot red beautiful sensation flooded me...

those, by any other name, are VIOLENT acts.

but they were violent acts by a person in control.

violent acts sought by me and for which I was humbly grateful.

violent acts I knew to the bone and heart of me would never escalate to a point of true danger - physical, emotional or spiritual

"a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

as I said before - it is ALL in the intent and the accepting. One without the other, something that is dreaded not looked for, something that is imposed without consideration for the one on whom it is being imposed - turns violence into abuse.

Tristan said...

Symbiosis, two sides of a coin, yin and yang. One can't exist without the other. It's the submission that gives the dom the control required to keep the activity from going south.

If the one being used is not a part of the circle, they are being abused and the circle is imperfect. If the one doing the using loses control, of himself or his sub, if the sub stops being submissive and the dom does not notice, he's failed and becomes an abuser.

Push them to the limits, but no farther, change them to animals, obectify them, humiliate them but don't abuse the right to enjoy the process. Stay in the framework and pay attention.

In return we are rewarded with submission that continues long after she has gotten off her knees and the marks have long since faded.

In return we get to continue.

I agree, Selkie, a rose or a flogging, it's violent behaviour but it's not the same as getting drunk and beating the crap out of a woman because you're pissed off at your boss and you just want to use her in proxy.

I use the flogger to make her trancend, not decend. I find her deepest moments of submission, those that come when I finally let her stand on her own, to be the most rewarding times.

God, I love that first hug after she has been released. 'Come here, girl, give me a hug. Are you ok?'

It's just different. Two different goals.

Pygar said...

Thank you all - David, renea, Tristan and selkie - for your fascinating and very different responses to this post.

It may be just as David says - purely a matter of semantics. But Words have emotional meaning as well as descriptive meaning - and are powerful in forming our own views and those of others.

There is some agreement that perhaps "violence" is a difficult word - but selkie has embraced it so beautifully yet distinguished it from abuse. And Tristan has embraced this too from the point of view of a Dom. I think the hug at the end says it all.

I am very moved by renea's comment which shows in vivid detail the reality of when this violence becomes abuse. I have another online friend who has only recently escaped such a relationship and is now discovering the possibilities of the kind of violence that selkie writes of so beautifully.

Again thank you all for your comments.


cutesypah said...

Better late than never with my response, I suppose. I only have a few random thoughts to add to that which has already been said.

There is a difference between assertive and aggressive - one is done to stand up for one's self, and the other, aggression, is done for the purpose of harming one's opponent.

Aggression, done to injure or harm, includes anger. Violence also includes anger.

Hence, the difference, imo. Anyone who acts with anger is not focused on the relationship, but is focused on rectifying that anger, whether to make the other hurt like s/he does, or for vengeance, or for validation, justification or rationalization of those angry feelings.

Anyone bent on violence doesn't do it with happiness in mind. One who is aggressive, intent on causing injury.

But, look at it from one who is assertive, focused on his/her partner, intent on hurting another based on consent, an acknowledgement of meeting another's need, want or simple desire to feel the sting of the crop or cane.

One who is violent is out of control. One who is assertive, and acting with the other's consent, must be in control; otherwise, the consent is an illusion. And, we all know that consent, whether it's consensual non-consenting acts, such as a rape scene, or even a beating to leave marks for days, is the foundation to a D/s relationship.

I guess, what I believe, after all is said and done, is if anger is present in the interaction, there is violence and abuse. In my mind, consent and anger cannot co-exist.

Just my .02. YMMV. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Pygar said...

You are certainly not too late cutesy pah. It is good to read your thoughtful comments. In particular I do agree with you in what you say about anger and consent.

And Tristan - I forgot in my previous comment - LOL about your Kajira remark. It really is my birthday in a few weeks so if you could see your way to lending her to me again I would be very grateful ... !


Jz said...

Even later to the party-
I sympathize when you say you "continue to feel uncomfortable with the word 'violence'" because I have the same problem with the word "bitch". (Even though he never uses it in any way but combined with "sweet" or "sexy".)

The fact is, most words have more than one definition. There are also secondary definitions that do not carry a lot of the connotations that make us cringe. Even the primaries frequently carry a lot of qualifiers we somehow manage to ignore in our rush to fret over the negative.

Violence can be "intense, turbulent, OR furious and often destructive action or force". Violent can be "marked by extreme force OR sudden intense activity". [caps mine]
Dominance can certainly be intense. But are you paying attention to all those "or"s? The qualifying "often" (with implied "but not always")?

It's semantics, I know. But it seems to me that's the part you keep getting snagged on. You know what you do is consensual. You know your partner is willing and enjoys what you do. It's the dang word that trips you up. Don't let it.
Words matter - but not as much as feelings.

(btw- bitch has a slang definition of "anything memorable, esp. something exceptionally good" -- I can live with that!)

Pygar said...

I am sure Jz that your Master thinks of his sweet and sexy bitch as being "memorable and exceptionally good"!

By chance I had been joking with a friend about starting a new blog for "Pygar's bitches". I doubt I would get any takers though!!! I am still waiting for the Kajira that Tristan promised me!

More seriously though, thank you very much for your contribution.

You are right that feelings matter so much more than words. But feelings too can often be entwined within the meanings of words - and our use of words can cause such strong feelings - as in your example of the word "bitch. So thank you again for your thoughtful comment.

- xPx

Jz said...

Well, I also didn't mean to downplay the pertinacity of gender conditioning. Anything that makes me accept "slut" more easily than "bitch" is a force to be reckoned with, indeed.
I just meant that when definitions collide, we should trust the truth that we feel within.

I also think you should start "Pygar's Bitches" - I have a sneaking feeling you can sweet-talk women into particpation, even if they *don't* like the title! :-p

(And if you see one called "The Reluctant Bitch", it miiiight just be me...)

Anonymous said...

My lover directed me to this article; thank you.

I'm predisposed to count BDSM as violence simply because I move in subcultures that tend to overapply the word "violence" (to speech acts, etc.)

But I hope you'll check out my recent post, which is similarly themed:

Pygar said...

Thanks Jz. I like your comment, "I just meant that when definitions collide, we should trust the truth that we feel within." It seems very sound.

As for being able to sweet-talk women into becoming Pygar's bitches - I wish I shared your confidence! I will though look out for "The Reluctant Bitch".


Pygar said...

Thank you Orlando. It is good too to have a contribution from a male sub for once.Thanks also for the link to your own post. My regards to your Domme.

- P