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One of the ideas I have been exploring in my writing over the last few years is that of penetration - namely the importance of being able to affect and be affected (i.e., penetrated) by our BDSM partners.

While it's probably quite apparent that a top needs to be able to affect their bottom such as by causing them to jump, cry out in agony, or be completely unable to move or speak, and that a dominant needs to be able to affect or control their submissive through orders or by putting them to use, it's less obvious that this ability or openness to being affected must work both ways.

It has long been possible to automate many typical BDSM activities. Whipping and caning, for example, are simple mechanical actions easily amenable to being performed indefatigably by a machine, yet we never see such machines at parties or see them advertised in magazines when, at first thought, these would seem ideal for pain sluts and discipline aficionados.

Likewise, why should a top be burdened by needing to tie up a real person when a life-sized, plastic mannequin would do just as well? A mannequin wouldn't be subject to cramps and wouldn't need to be monitored to make sure they are OK healthwise.

We actually have real, flesh-and-blood partners because we need to experience them and their reactions to us. Without a flesh-and-blood partner and without their responses any BDSM activity seems hollow. The more we are affected by our partner, the more intense the experience is for us.

Interestingly, it is often this readiness to be affected which determines whether someone - dominant or submissive, top or bottom - is in it for a relationship with a partner or is in it just for some quick jollies.

Another word for describing readiness to be affected is vulnerability.

We are all vulnerable to some extent. Some people choose to protect themselves from pain and hurt by building a wall around themselves. A wall, however, does not discriminate - it will protect you just as much from good times and good experiences as it will protect you from bad times and bad experiences. The only way to make sure that you fully receive the benefits of the many opportunities, relationships and experiences which come your way is not to block them with a wall or to filter them in some way. It is to be as open to as many things as possible, to accept that sometimes there will be duds and that there will sometimes be fleeting hurt.

If you build up your internal strength then you can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune[1] with only the risk of occasional hurt and still be open to the deepest and most satisfying shared experiences with your partner or partners.

Building up this strength involves deliberately letting down your walls and exposing yourself. It takes time and persistence. Indeed, it can be very hard, as The Bible says, "to turn the other cheek" after being hurt, or to get back on that horse straight after falling off, but this is the way it is done.

It is worth reflecting on your own walls. Regardless of whether you are a master or a slave, a dominant or a submissive, a top or a bottom, what walls do you have? What purpose do your walls serve? And what are they really protecting you from?


  1. Thanks, William Shakespeare!