On Matters of Taste

Whips, chains, gags, restraints, and atmospheres of supposed cruelty and duress, these are the trappings of what is commonly referred to as “S&M”, or “kinky sex”. To the uninitiated, and to the naive, these are shocking, frightening things, invoked usually as some inevitable extension of “pornography addiction” (a final point of debauched chaos on the addict’s errant journey) and occasionally in the same breath as the most twisted, barbaric varieties of sexually infused murder and torture.

The bizarrities of some people’s sexual lives are held up to others, or perhaps it is better to say waved frantically in front of them, as a warning. Tread not this path, brothers and sisters, or like this you shall become; lost, debased, and capable of anything. I, for one, am sick of being referred to in that tone of voice.

I am sick of being equated with serial killers and psychopaths, or of having it even implied that they come from the same place as me. I am sick of the implication that only my personal brokenness and misguidedness could account for my affection and taste for these modes of erotic interaction. And I am sick of the idea that I slid into my current state, down a slippery slope of self-destructive, poisonous hedonism, and that I need to be redeemed.

What I can’t help feeling when these subjects are raised, as invariably they are when the topic is publicly discussed, is a sense not of defensiveness or guilt or embarrassment, but of anger, alienation, and disgust. I feel insulted, offended even, and deeply mischaracterized and misunderstood. I feel accosted and plagued by Philistine ignorance, and I feel too that those who make such equivalences and assumptions have no business commenting in the first place.

But since a large number of people seem to find these characterizations and assertions convincing, compelled as I think they must be by disorientation and fear, and because these attitudes are perennial, exhibited with unsurprising ghastliness whenever the prudes and Puritans deign to afford my ilk the time of day, I feel that I should take a minute or so to confront them. While I’m sure it will make little difference to the attitudes of those who would like to see the world subsist on the sexual equivalent of hard tack and gruel, I think that I can at least make the subject clear to those who might be willing to accept what other people do if they could be sure that those people weren’t withering or imploding before their very eyes. As distasteful as it is, I can believe that a great many people think and feel the way they do about the way people like me have sex because they are worried about us, and I would be more than glad to put their minds at rest.

To begin with, I really do believe it’s a matter of taste. Put simply, we all have to start taking for granted the assumption that some people are different than us, and that they might respond differently than we do to things that we perceive in different ways. This much, I think should be easy.

In other matters we are perfectly happy with this. “I don’t like spicy food,” we might say, but we hardly think of people who do as having a corrupt moral character. In matters such as these however, you can imagine someone driven to distraction by the concept. How on Earth, we can imagine them saying, can anyone subject themselves to that sort of thing? It hurts! Food is supposed to be lovely and sweet! It’s disgusting! In this, we neglect a number of things, important things, about the consideration of those who do.

To say first, I think we can all acknowledge that there is a difference between a person who likes eating a nice jalapeño or habanero, and a person who wants a diet that involves molten lava, or broken glass. The serial killer Albert Fish, for example, took frequently to hammering rust-covered nails and other unsavory objects into the area around his groin, and this habit is generally considered to indicate his masochism. I realize that, as yet, there may be no word or term to distinguish the sexualized pleasure he derived from the practice and what one gets out of being spanked or trampled by a loving partner, in the way that there certainly is for the fact that his urges also revolved around children rather than adults, but it should be clear that there is a distinction to be made.

I think we are safe in calling someone like Fish a pervert, in a way that we are not in describing sexual masochism itself as a perversion. What’s more, I don’t believe the two are even remotely similar except in ways that are ultimately meaningless. While there may be formal parallels between the sexualization of pain and distress, there is no extent to which I would find it adequate to describe the pain of an act like that and the “pain” of some forms of kink in the same way, and, importantly, I refuse to take for granted that the pleasure is similar as well. When dealing with a character like Fish, we are talking about extreme pathology that extends far beyond what enabled him to get his rocks off, and it is flippant simply to say that he “liked” or “needed” extreme pain in order to get to the same place as the rest of us when his needs came calling. It should be clear, and it’s safe to say, that someone like that needs things none of us would want or choose, even if they were offered to us on a silver platter.

Even Ghost Pepper aficionados and people who like experimenting with the famed Carolina Reaper or the Trinidad Scorpion (the world’s two hottest peppers, which are said to induce “thunderclap headaches” and cardiovascular distress in those who ingest even the smallest of doses), while perhaps a bit foolhardy, can’t usually be accused of a psychologically dysfunctional constitution. They may be causing themselves pain, yes, even, at the extreme levels, putting themselves in danger, but we concede that for them there is something worthwhile about the experience, and even if we call them crazy we don’t really mean it. We think of these people as perfectly capable of making what to us is an abundantly stupid decision, and I think at some level we also believe they must have gotten something out of it. We validate the experience itself, and we show respect to the ability of these people to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be involved. At worst, we tend to think, and say, something along the lines of, “That’s nuts. Must be a crazy experience. I certainly wouldn’t do something like that.”

The point is that we don’t think of these people as inherently disordered, least of all morally, and it’s also that we don’t accuse people who like spicy food in general of participating in Carolina Reaper-level behavior. In fact, I’d wager that most people don’t even know that such peppers even exist, in the same way they would be unacquainted with the many extreme acts and behaviors available to people of kinky persuasions. Those who are overwhelmed by a simple green chile are unlikely to comprehend how far what’s out there really goes.

But even at the fringes, we don’t consider the thrill-seeking, daredevil recklessness of the devotees of spicy food to be the result of some inevitable progress which began with the person’s first exposure to Tabasco sauce. We don’t think of people as being hopelessly addicted to spicy food, seeking out (as the accusation goes) greater and greater pain like a drug because they’re sick enough to like it.

To whatever extent they do it’s because they are curious and open, and willing to find their own limits and to explore the varieties available to their experience. Because what must be said of all of this is that eating and liking spicy food doesn’t just revolve around different levels of capsaicin and the accompanying endorphin rush that is produced upon consumption; there’s flavor too.

A jalapeño and a habanero don’t just burn differently, they taste different too, and there is a whole cuisine the world over that has evolved around the subtleties that separate serranos, poblanos, chipotles, Thai chilis, even paprika or cayennes. You have to concede that, in forgoing spicy food because you can’t take the heat, there’s something you are missing which not only involves the (often) comparatively minor sensation of pain but also a range of pleasures that have nothing whatsoever to do with the pain itself. You have to concede that to those who can stand it, these things might be more than a head rush; they might actually be delicious.

The point also raises another, which is that all of these peppers and their distinct qualities have connections to other, non-spicy foods, which have, again, encouraged the development of all manner of recipes in which the spice is indispensable. What would pico de gallo be if it was just chopped up tomatoes and onions? What would pho or pad thai be like without what most would say is the key ingredient? Fine, I’m sure, but to those who like it, something getting dangerously close to bland, or boring.

And there’s nothing wrong, of course, with liking bland and boring food. I’ve had many great meals that revolved around cabbage and potatoes, boiled this or that, and I’m not immune to the pleasures of a simple bowl of oatmeal on occasion. But that’s always been part of the confusion. No one says you must like or involve yourself in the eating of spicy food, just because other people relish it immensely. No one is forcing you to enjoy or even pretend to enjoy things you find aversive. But it’s important to stop pathologizing and insinuating nasty little things about those who do.

Which leads me, unfortunately, into the territory that contains my impetus to construct this piece in the first place. The next time you hear about the innocent victim of a murder who was hogtied and violated before being killed, be very careful before confusing the perpetrator of such a despicable act with a member of what might very loosely be described as the kink community.

Ted Bundy was not one of us, no matter what kind of porn he liked, and whatever may have thrilled the awful bastards that can do that sort of thing has nothing to do with kinky sex. Liking spicy food has nothing to do with what might prompt a monster to shove a Carolina Reaper down the throat of a 13 year old girl, and you won’t find anyone who approves of or relates to that impulse, not even amongst the weirdest in our rank. While we might all, ourselves, regularly tolerate a bit of indigestion, every one of us maintains the ability to have our stomachs turned, and don’t you dare suggest that that that kind of rot and filth is a part of our buffet.

Kink is an element of humanity, of culture, and if you’re confused by or uninterested in that aspect of our world you are more than within your rights to say so and act accordingly. But it is more than just unfair to suggest that, Man, those people will eat anything. It’s worse to say that someone who likes food you don’t is capable of chugging gasoline, and it’s terrible to suggest that, when someone found doing something evil had a twisted, perverted sexual side, they have anything in common with the legitimately sexually adventurous.

We don’t know, yet, what drives the despicable to do the horrible things they do, any more than we know what makes someone enjoy spicy food. But to grab a pile of festering shit and wave it in front of someone, saying, “How about it, pervert? You want some of that?!” is very nearly as disgusting as the act implied. And suggesting that it’s where we all might find ourselves if we stray beyond white rice and crackers is pathetic.

We need to stop using the kinky as scapegoats, just as we need to stop using them as bogeymen. Being kinky isn’t the same as being twisted, and it’s wrong to pretend that it is.

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PUBLIC PREVIEW – The Glass Half Full

PUBLIC PREVIEW – The Glass Half Full

This story is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon and Smashwords ($3.99) and FREE HERE to backers on Patreon who subscribe at the $10/month level or higher.  Current subscribers can click here to read the whole thing!

Synopsis: A dominant woman sets a difficult task for her slave, and enlists a helper to see that it gets done while she’s at work. (6,026 words)

This F (Femdom) story involves:
Cum Play, Punishment, Discipline, Orgasm Control, Ruined Orgasms, Spanking, Foot Fetish, Nylon/Pantyhose Fetish, Sock Fetish, Footdom in Nylons and Socks, Trampling, Facesitting, and Strapon Play.

“I really don’t know what else to do with you,” she said, her tone sweet, as always, but severe. “If you can’t follow my instructions and do as I say while I’m gone, then you’ll require supervision and that’s all there is to it.”

“So what, you’re saying you got me a… what, a sitter?”

She smiled at the word. “You can think of Audrey however you like. But she is an extension of my discipline and I expect you to do what she says and to treat her with respect. Now look,” she said, looking at her slim wristwatch, “she’s going to be here any minute and I’ve got to finish getting ready, so why don’t you just go and make yourself presentable.”

She turned back from the closet and sat down at her vanity, slipping on her black high heels and donning a few tasteful pieces of jewelry. I couldn’t believe how strict and unrelenting Sarah was being. Ever since we had moved in together she had grown more and more demanding, imposing arbitrary rules and exacting ridiculous punishments when they were broken. I couldn’t believe it had gotten this way.

She had told me pretty clearly as things started getting serious between us that she had found she was a “dominant woman,” but I had thought… I don’t know, I guess I had thought that would mean things like holding my hands down when she rode me and pushing me around. I hadn’t known she’d be so… bossy. And now this.  It was true, what she said about not following her instructions, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. There had been a couple slips and mistakes, I guess– loading the dishwasher the wrong way, incorrectly folding her laundry– but she hadn’t really been upset with me until the last couple of days.

Two mornings ago she had sat down at the breakfast table while I was having my coffee, and she produced a thick-walled shot glass that she had pulled off of the espresso machine. She let it clack to the table as she set it down, let me look at it and back to her, and then she rested her hand next to it and pointed to the thin white line above the text reading 1.5 oz.


© 2018

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Short story “Torture in the Tent” is complete!

Short story “Torture in the Tent” is complete!

TSP’s lastest short story, Torture in the Tent, is now complete and available to backers on Patreon who subscribe at the $10/month level or higher! AND there is a Kindle eBook available on Amazon for $3.99!

Synopsis: Lauren and two of her best friends have plans of their own when they invite an unsuspecting victim camping.

This F+ (Multiple Mistress Femdom) story features:
Bondage, Isolation, Foot Fetish, Sock Fetish, Footdom in Socks, Cunnilingus/Facesitting, Smoking, Trampling, and Cum Play.

Click here to read the FREE PREVIEW, or current Patreon subscribers can click here to read the whole thing!

On Gynocentrism and the “Male Gaze” in Erotic Fiction and Pornography

Yesterday I was in conversation with a domme about putting some work towards a project of hers, one that in principal I support, which revolves around providing erotic artwork and literature that caters specifically to the pleasures of dominant women.  It’s a noble effort, and one that I am considering being involved with, but our conversation raised some interesting points that I think are worth exploring further here.

She intoned that such a great deal of femdom’s representation is inauthentic, a sentiment with which I heartily agree, and she expressed the need for works that would address her desires and pleasures as a dominant heterosexual woman, specifically things that would focus on her foil and counterpart, the male sub.  She indicated that the audience she represents was deeply underserved at the moment, often relying on gay romance and porn because stories from within her genre have so little to offer in terms of this perspective.

Now of course, naturally, I want the femdoms of the world to have just as much access to stimulating content that arouses and enthralls them as anyone else, and I agree that too often so-called “female dominance” is just a subcategory of selfish male fantasy.  In short, most of the Philistines believe that femdom means “a woman’s gonna tie you down and give you the best blowjob of your life whether you like it or not, Mister!” I’m certainly aware too, and painfully so, that most of the consideration given to femdom is some contorted caricature that too closely parallels things like schoolgirl and naughty nurse fantasies.  But what she indicated was to blame for this unfortunate circumstance was the unconscious, conditioned artistic reliance on the “male gaze”, and that is where I think our ideas and beliefs parted company.

By way of a definition, the “male gaze” is a feminist philosophical concept, first put forward in the mid-70s, that contends that female representation in arts and literature is inherently objectified, inherently contorted, and that its entire exploration stems from a prevailing masculine narcissism on the part of its creators.

It’s a fair point that deserves consideration, and it’s a functional analysis, yes, but in my estimation it’s one that is ultimatly inadequate to accurately inform one’s perspective on this topic, and I would like to address some of the things the idea carries with it:

For starters, speaking as a man with what I believe is a refined and sophisticated humanistic consideration for the opposite sex, I object to the notion that a man’s perspective on women is categorically some million candlestrength spotlight that immediately subjects her to a harsh, glaring, and specifically unnatural appraisal.  It’s just not something I’m willing to be accused of.  It implies that my perspective is inherently incapable of apprehending reality in a realistic way and it does so solely on the basis of my gender. That’s sexist and it’s wrong.

Secondly, I reject the idea that as a man my prurient interests are defined by exaggeration, bombast, and hyperbole.  There’s a sense in these discussions, tacitly accepted by all, that somehow because of my gender I am drawn inexplicably to surreal misrepresentation and overstatement.  That implies that my being is inherently incapable of relating to reality in a realistic way, and that my senses and powers of reflection are too dull and befuddled to appreciate things as they are.  I find that an abhorrent insinuation, and I’m afraid I must point out againt that such is levied against me because of my sex.

In both of these points we’re not talking about the bizarre irregularities of culture, we’re talking about my systemic dysfunction as a human being, and that needs to be stamped out immediately.

But to turn back toward the point this domme was making, the idea that most of the work out there focuses one-sidedly on the female half of femdom, the first thing I have to take issue with is the idea that it’s society driven and that it’s some version of conditioned, unconcsious bias.

The things I write aren’t uncritical streams of masturbatory consciousness that serve as some Freudian release. I’m not playing out little scenes with paper dolls in my mind. I don’t emulate what I see in other media, I don’t write out tropes, and even for the cheap smut peddler that I am I’m not a hack. I write from my own abundant and unrelenting fascination with women and with female sexuality. I don’t write stick figures or sock puppets, and I don’t just write a story and tack on incidental features to give it color. I base my characters on real women I have known or amalgams thereof. I try to give my scenes, scenarios, and interactions verisimilitude based on the specific personalities and attitudes of those women, and I listen to my characters far more often than I speak for them.

And yes, those characters and the things I describe and meditate upon are unapologetically female.

You can say it’s just a function of my staunchly heterosexual male perspective, and perhaps that’s true, but I am, for better or worse, utterly enamored of the female human being– not just physically but metaphysically, psychologically, and spiritually. I truly believe there’s something special about women that men categorically do not possess, and it’s not something that comes from having been exposed to glamorous photos and advertising, it isn’t something I’ve been led to believe by lies and half-truths I’ve been told. It’s something innate that relates to my innermost values and beliefs.

And on the question of values, as a creator I’m also faced specifically with the question of what I believe is worth glorifying and enunciating, what is worth portraying and celebrating, and the question is important to me not just in terms of the characters I create but of what they do and how they do it because of the genre in which I write, and that is something I take very seriously. That is how I address the inauthenticity of kink and fetish literature– I do my best to write from my highest and most authentic place, and that involves being true both to my earnest fascination with women and to my sincere appreciation for the female touch and the female influence on what takes place in my stories.

Which leads me to the other criticism of gynocentricity: that it diminishes the male role to such an extent that any old sleazebag can insert themselves into the story, and more seriously that it allows a male passivity which is not only burdensome but actually lazy and exploitative. This is something I take seriously as well, and I don’t believe that any erotic effort should be produced with the kind of boys’ club, big-eyed spectator mentality that characterizes so much of what’s out there today.

For me the role of the narrator in my stories, the vessel of the “gaze” from which I write (whether it’s 1st or 3rd person and regardless of the perspective), is to observe, describe, and most importantly articulate not just what happens but how it happens, and the art of that is deciding how best to get that across. It isn’t the same as just pointing a lens at something and saying “here it is”. Building tone, giving emphasis, changing focus, all of these are specific to the way my narrator thinks and experiences and that is what personalizes the story. In other words, what’s specific to the male in my stories (whether or not they are actually a character) isn’t the minutiae of how they are involved in the story itself, it’s the minutiae of the way they tell it and how the experience relates to them.

I understand why that might not be such a thrill for a reader whose interests and pleasure lies in the observation of the observer I’m describing, and I sympathize, but I refuse to accept the idea that the self-abdicating nature of my gaze somehow removes myself, the universal male of my stories, from the equation.

And to put it simply, I find it hard to believe that the Philistines who want a cheap, easy thrill over some garish, inarticulate presentation find themselves at home reading my stuff. I’d like to imagine that they get bored and move on to the rest of the crap made for them.

In the end, I may or may not write something for the so-called “femdom gaze”. If I can find something in my consciousness that I can offer to the musings and thrill of dominant women who want stories focused on submissives and the experience of submission then I’ll be most pleased to facilitate that. But if I never venture in that direction I hope they’ll find something worthwhile in what I do produce, and I hope they’ll get the kicks they want from someone who is more destined to write it.

Click here for more essays from The SMUT Project!

Short Story “Stripped Tease” is complete!

Short Story “Stripped Tease” is complete!

TSP’s lastest short story, Stripped Tease, is now complete and available to backers on Patreon who subscribe at the $10/month level or higher!

Synopsis: Cruel Jordan can’t get enough of watching her poor roommate squirm.

This L (Lezdom) story features:
Tease and Denial, Bondage, Edging, Orgasm Control, Erotic Humiliation, Foot Fetish, Sock Fetish, Footdom in Socks, Strapon Play, Spit Fetish, Tickling, and Wrestling.

Click here to read the FREE PREVIEW, or current Patreon subscribers can click here to read the whole thing!

What’s Wrong with Porn?

Last night my partner and I came home, got cozy, and settled in with our toys and our lube to watch some porn together. Sounds hot, right?

It’s a fairly normal occurrence for us; we both like to watch it, and when we watch it together we like to mutually masturbate or have intercourse with each other once something gets us going. And most of the time it’s fun and it’s exciting, and oh yeah, it’s plenty hot. But last night we ran into something that in the past has been fairly easy to navigate around: the fact that, lamentably, most porn just flat-out sucks.

It didn’t ruin our night, but afterwards we got to talking about why that is and we arrived at a number of things that I think are worth sharing here:

We started off talking about how we felt like most porn isn’t made with us in mind, that it seems to cater (and really, to pander) to those without much sexual experience or sophistication, who don’t know, for example, that touching someone’s knee isn’t likely to evoke a heavy, gasping moan, or who can’t tell when two women aren’t actually all that thrilled about having sex with each other. It also, consistent with its reputation, either goes right into the deep end or it belabors itself with aimless buildup for buildup’s sake that doesn’t resemble real foreplay in any significant way. Put simply, most of the time it doesn’t feel like watching real sexual people having a real sexual experience, it feels like watching porn people do the porn thing.

And unfortunately, there’s more wrong with that than just my partner and I not being able to get off to that sort of thing. It also lies about sex to those people who don’t know any better, and it confuses real sex for those who are just starting out. Because after all, it’s not like we live in a world where porn exists in a common, relatable context that we all understand, and that’s one of the things that promotes such poor quality as well.

Porn is far enough outside of the mainstream that there’s no culture that holds producers accountable. They get away with churning out flat, half-assed, insincere content because they know no one is talking at all, let alone critically, about their work. They know it’s a ‘get in, get off, get out’ mentality, and mediocrity thrives in that climate.

We turn our response to flavor into cuisine, our response to noise into music, our need to be clothed into fashion, our love for narrative into stories and films, but while almost every other one of our natural instincts has been developed into a rich, complex, familiar world, full of character and criticism and humanity, our sexuality has been so repressed that it’s prevented us from treating its exploration and indulgence with the same respect.

So there isn’t a culture of appreciation for porn, but the other problem is that there isn’t a culture of creation for it either. What so many pieces exhibit is an obvious lack of discipline, and it’s hard to imagine an actor or director being interviewed thoughtfully about their method or their philosophy. It’s hard to imagine some pornstar equivalent of Inside the Actor’s Studio, or art school, or a master class. It’s hard to even imagine them rehearsing. There’s a congratulatory body that gives out awards, yes, but is there any equivalent of the AFI or BFI’s 100 Best Films lists? Or 1,001 Pornos You Must See Before You Die? Is there anything that would even start making the list and truly deserve a place there?

I’ve written before about the artificial distinction we make between art and porn, and about our willingness to settle for such substandard fare, but what’s salient about that to me is that nothing and no one enforces the current state of things; there’s no mandate in any form saying it must be this way.

Call me crazy, but I see the potential for a bright and glorious future for the pornographic form, and I’ve said before that I believe that the only way for that future to become a reality is for our attitudes and our level of esteem towards it to change. The only way we’ll have great porn that both shows us and validates us as human beings is for us to start treating it as an extension of our humanity. But the point is that that’s true for all of those it involves, from its creators to its audience to all of those who care one way or the other.

Failing that, we’ll be stuck not only with this hollow, inauthentic drivel, but also everything that it feeds back to our society. We’ll continue to have men, both young and old, to whom sex is something between a foreign language and garbled gibberish. We’ll continue having women who have to deal with those men, romantically or otherwise. And we’ll continue not being able to talk about sex because the image we promote shows something no one in their right minds would ever admit to participating in.

Erotic stimulation deserves a much fairer shake than we give it, and we deserve an awful lot more from it in return. For too long we’ve perpetuated an arms race between its denigration and its misrepresentation, and it’s time for both of those things to stop.

Click here for more essays from The SMUT Project!

‘Exposure Therapy’ is now FREE to access!

‘Exposure Therapy’ is now FREE to access!

Thanks to the voters who participated in a poll on our Twitter page, TSP’s erotic short story Exposure Therapy is now FREE to access!

Synopsis: A shy, embarrassed fetishist has an appointment with an understanding therapist who knows exactly what he needs.

This V (Vanilla) story features:
Foot Fetish, Foot Worship, and Nylon/Pantyhose Fetish.

Check it out on our Short Stories page!