Thursday, July 9, 2009

Negotiation vs. Communication

The spanking scene is mostly a casual one, with quick how-do-you-dos followed by an OTK for a few minutes. Rarely do scenes seem to last longer than half an hour. (Disclaimer: this entry is only based on my personal experience at two spanking parties, so argue away people!) In the BDSM world, scenes can be equally short, or can go on for up to four hours or more. In the spanking world, the discussion in advance is typically, “Can I spank you?” In the BDSM world, there’s a pre-scene interview known typically as a negotiation. (And if I’m oversimplifying all this, so? It’s my blog.)

I hate that term: “negotiation.” It implies that if the bottom doesn’t like something being discussed for the scene, the Top could negotiate something similar. For example:

Top: “I want to flog your breasts ‘till they bleed.”
Bottm: “Ew. I don’t like that. NO.”
Top: “Okay. I’ll just flog them ‘till their abraded then.”

That’s negotiation IMHO. It’s like that in business:

Businessperson 1: “I’ll sell that to you for $100.”
Businessperson 2: “I won’t pay more than $70.”
Businessperson 1: “How’s $85?”
Businessperson 2: “Okay.”

See? Negotiation. It implies decisions can be swayed, opinions can be shifted, issues marginalized and altered into the grey. I don’t like this. I don’t believe in pre-scene negotiation. Instead, I like this crazy thing called communication. You know, talking. Discussing. Finding out likes and dislikes. Determining what the bottom wants or needs. Discussing medical issues, hot topics, buttons, issues, concerns. Then, modifying play to accommodate those things.

Now, some Tops/Doms will say, “Well, that’s not being very Toppy, is it? You go in, you give ‘em what you got and that’s that.” Really? Seems like a prescription for a short-lived scene or playmate relationship to me.

It’s not just “Safe, Sane, Consensual” to me. It’s also “Respect, Trust, Honesty, Compassion and Communication.” (RTHCC just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?) I think any real Top or Dom would agree that these things are not only paramount to a good scene or play relationship, they’re requirements.

So, if you’re actively negotiating a scene, you’re in a tit for tat haggling situation, not an open, respectful, trusting, compassionate communication.

And that’s where I am. I Communicate. I don't Negotiate.


  1. Interesting topic! OK, my thoughts.

    First, since you posted the disclaimer and invited different opinions, I will say that spanking play isn't always as casual and spontaneous as it seems at spanking parties. There are introductions. There is small talk. With new people, there is usually some pre-discussion of preferences. When you see people at parties who are quickly and casually jumping into scenes, those are folks who usually have known each other a while. (with a few exceptions, of course, like the first time you and I played. :-D ) And of course, one-on-one spanking sessions are a whole different story.

    I like your differentiation between negotiation and communication. Negotiation does indeed sound like some sort of bartering and trade, compromising (well, if I can't do this, then can I do this?), etc. Communication has more depth and care. And yes, respect.

    What really ticks me off is when the Uber-Dom types spout some nonsense about "topping from the bottom." God forbid a bottom should state limits, preferences and needs. She has a safe word; that's all she should need. The rest is his decision, and she should shut up about it. Screw that.

    As play partners get to know one another, intuition and experience take over, and the need for pre-discussion lessens. But communication will always be important. What we're doing has a lot of power. To raise spirits, create euphoria, break down walls, forge trust. But also to damage, physically and emotionally, if care is not present.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful response. Appreciated. And for "topping from the bottom" re: spanking pre-scenes. Thanks!

    You've already given me an idea for a future post: safewords!

  3. I gotta agree with Erica. I've been to more spanking parties than BDSM parties, but I've been to a fair bit of both. At all of the spankings parties I've been to, there is a sort of casual vibe about it, but not for lack of communication, etc. but rather because a lot of people get to know each other via the online networking sites, or already do know each other.

    Random, spontaneous quick scenes have an appeal all on their own, but most I've known really don't go for them with complete strangers.

    At BDSM parties I've been to, there is actual little play between strangers, that I've ever seen. The first few I went to, I played with the dom I attended with, and so did everyone else. No one really mixed unless it was for the fire play demonstration, etc.

    At spanking parties I notice a pretty substantial mix, but also a lot of familiar faces and that may be the difference. I feel the smaller community that is spanking is much more...familial, than the wider BDSM community - although in NYC and other small parties, I've seen that same sense of "Well all know each other and we're family" sort of vibe.

    I think it depends on where you are really :) Well done btw, and welcome to blogging!

  4. Thanks, Marie. Appreciate your feedback. And welcome to the blog. Hopefully I'll have more interesting things worthy of your time.