Monday, August 22, 2011

Keyword Monday: The Dungeon

I’m so intrigued by some of the keywords people follow to arrive at my blog, I’ve decided to write a weekly post based on the most interesting keyword(s) from the past week. I figure a Google search is a plea for help, and if a googler is sent to my blog, I would be serving a worthy educational purpose if I had written something relevant about the subject. It’s a public service of sorts, and given some of the topics I’ve written about this summer, I think I owe it to the googlers to give them their money’s worth.

The long list of choices included the following possibilities: bike shorts 'position junk,' cheesecake dildo riding, frosting vagina, virgin tries sybian saddle, and cow butt. But the lucky winner found my blog this week by googling the these keywords: “what is going to happen to me when i go to the torture dungeon.”

Well, now. I don’t really remember writing anything that would bring a tenderfoot subbie here to Reticulated Writer. I mean nipples and pasties and vaginas, sure, but torture dungeons? I think I’d remember that. I followed the trail back to learn that Google pulled words from two of my posts, one about getting a mammogram and the other about a little boy whose daddy told him he was a bad boy, and sent the poor, anxious subbie to my blog. Probably not the information she* was looking for. Nothing about nipple clamps or Boy Scout knots or even whips....yet.

I’m hardly an expert on torture dungeons, but after listening to an interview on NPR with Melissa Febos, I did read her memoir Whipsmart to learn how she put herself through Sarah Lawrence and supported a heroin habit by working in a NYC dungeon as a dominatrix. Since I somehow combined words that led a neophyte submissive to my blog, I feel a certain responsibility to respond with whatever bullshit wisdom I can about how the submissive dungeon experience might compare more favorably to situations that cause real-life pain and humiliation, an encouraging and uplifting post to ease those torture dungeon anxieties. Here is my answer to the googler’s question: “what is going to happen to me when i go to the torture dungeon.”

First, take all necessary precautions** to ensure your personal safety in the dungeon. Seriously. I’ve heard people can get hurt in places like that, so listen to the professionals. My advice focuses more on the emotional and social aspects of the dungeon experience and how it compares to real life. This is important so pay attention. You may answer, “Yes, ma’am” …. That wasn’t good enough. Try it again. Better. Lower your eyes…..As soon as you are on your knees, we can continue.

What happens in the dungeon is a game. It’s theater. You know someone is going to humiliate you, order you around, cause you physical pain, maybe all three if you’re lucky, but your dom doesn’t really mean any of it. It's not about you personally, but about your experience there. In fact, your dom  gets paid enough cares enough about you to provide this piece of theater to serve your needs, and will maybe even wear sexy black leather while doing it. This game, this play, is all for you. For example, you might want to lick your dom’s boots, but they aren’t really that dirty. Nevertheless, your dom will act like they are filthy…may in fact accuse you of getting them dirty and will then order you to lick them clean. That’s acting, and you will be happy because you want to lick her shiny boots and she lets makes you do it. Or you may want to be tied up tight with ropes and nipple clamps and a ball gag and….well, use your imagination. Whatever you want, your dom will do it only to the point that you don’t sustain permanent damage. You control the play. Listen, you may even be the type who wants to wear diapers. I can assure you nobody really wants so see you in diapers. Anybody who acts like you’re really a baby is….well, acting. You’re being quite silly and we all know it, but sometimes theater is silly. If that’s what you want, that’s what you get. You are the beloved of the dungeon, contrary to all outward appearances.

Real life isn’t a game nor does it take place on a stage. In real life, people who humiliate, manipulate, hurt and use you don’t let you know they’re coming. They may act like nice people at first or at times, but nobody, especially self-centered, selfish users, can keep that up forever. Once you’ve been played into their scam, you’re trapped, and it’s not for your pleasure. You aren’t walking into the situation willingly, and you won’t know the real person is only acting like she or he cares, so you won’t take the necessary precautions to protect yourself—like running as fast and as far as you can. Unfortunately, if you get caught in this play that’s not play, you probably won’t realize it’s happening until you’re trapped in a relationship that requires your continued humiliation and pain to continue. The stakes will be emotionally high, but only for you.

In real life, although there are people who might play with you because you’re so fun to play with and maybe you have cool toys or friends, and they might even act like they care about you just enough to keep you sufficiently happy, it’s not theater. You’ve got on a collar and leash sure, just like you might choose to in the dungeon, but it’s metaphorical and it’s staying on whether you like it or not. This is not about you at all. It’s about someone else’s selfish motivations and desires. You might be emotionally tied up for years—for life-- without even a “get out of jail free” card to end the game. Believe it or not, you are less likely to get hurt in the dungeon than you are in real life.

Because unlike real life, in the dungeon you will choose a safe word. You may use your safe word any time you don’t feel safe or you just want whatever is happening to end or change. As soon as you utter the word, the game will stop, and you can renegotiate or move on to something you’re more comfortable doing. For example, let’s say your bum is getting sore from so much spanking. Utter your safe word and the spanking will stop. Or let’s say your circulation is cut off from tight bindings. Ouch! Say your safe word and your dom will take care of you. It’s that simple. You are in control.

In real life, you don’t get a safe word. People, even those who act like they care about you, might be mean to you, and nothing you say or do will make them stop. You might use many safe, or even kind and conciliatory words, words that work with other people but mean people will continue to be cruel and unforgiving, often humiliating you in public and in private. Personally, I think a safe word for real life would be useful, but those who would use one probably aren’t suffering at the hands of those who would honor one. You’re safer in the dungeon. Don’t forget your safe word and you’ll have fun.

And finally, still on the topic of words, in the dungeon you can expect to hear words that are intended to humiliate you and shove you into your lowly place on the bottom. You may be told you’re worthless in many ways, unlovable, failing at being a human. You will have to work hard to earn praise from your dom. You might be sent to time out away from your dom as a punishment, to teach you a lesson. Your dom may also call you by possessive names that start with “my,” and pet names, like toy, pet, little boy or little girl or little friend, or any number of diminutive names that are intended to humiliate and control you, but your dom doesn’t really feel contempt for you. You have chosen to play this game.

In real life, people should not humiliate the people they claim to care about. They should not put other people in time out by being emotionally unavailable or withholding love to get their way or keep someone else under control. If they aren’t capable of love, I assure you they are capable of humiliation—yours. In real life, people should not use diminutive names as terms of endearment I have to say it? Those funny little nicknames are intended to debase and belittle you. They aren’t cute or endearing; they show contempt. If you didn’t sign on for that, a trip to the dungeon would be less humiliating because you know it’s play there. A dom doesn’t mean it; people who do it in real life really do feel disdain for you--if they feel anything for you at all. Again, in the dungeon these issues are negotiated, expected, and stay in the dungeon when you leave. In real life….well, if you’re being subjected to these things in real life, you don’t need a dungeon. You’re already in one that goes everywhere you go, my little friend.

So there you have it: a short primer on what you can expect in the dungeon compared to something similar, but oh so wrong, you might experience in real life. When you realize how many sociopaths amateur doms there are out there playing games with nice, innocent people, the dungeon almost seems like a safer place to be, doesn’t it?

Go forth to the dungeon and have fun, little subbie. I wish you could report back and let us know how it all turns out....once you can sit comfortably at your computer again. 

*Or he. Pronouns are such an issue. Now I use she. Later I use he. Blogger’s choice. It’s up to you to keep up.
** I’m not an expert on torture dungeon preparedness. Lots of different games are played in a dungeon, so I recommend reading everything ever written by Dan Savage and following his advice to the letter.


  1. Oh, that Kevin Costner is such a pussy. His safe word is ... oh wait, wrong topic...

  2. Now you've got me thinking about spanking Kevin Costner. I won't sleep tonight.

  3. You should publish this. The NYT runs a feature called "Modern Love." This piece is perfect fit though it might need to be pared down a bit. Read some of the Modern Love essays at:

    Seriously, girl. Do it.

  4. Thanks, Leslie. I'll look into that. And thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting.