Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts on Collars

In BDSM, wearing a collar can mean many things.  Often, it implies ownership or control of one person to another, for a lifetime commitment, socially, or just in the bedroom or a scene.  It is a complex symbol with a lot of social history and it also carries personal meaning to each individual. I have been thinking about collars and what they mean to me a lot lately.

I started thinking about this recently because I am planning on going to a kinky class tomorrow with Wolfe on spanking.  While I love being spanked and am excited to learn and play more with him in the company of my friends in the kinky group, the instructor of the class is someone who makes me a little uncomfortable.  He has never done anything specific to make me feel this way, I just get that creepy feeling from him, and I have been hesitant to be in a vulnerable position in his presence.  Well, actually, he was camped out next to me at the spanking bench while I played with Hedo at one of the recent parties, so he has seen me vulnerable already.  It may have something to do with that interaction that leaves me skeeved out.  Perhaps it will fade as I get to know him and hear him speak in class, but I have been so hesitant that I have almost not wanted to go for that sole reason.  I bring all of this up because it brings me to another role of the collar in the BDSM world which is the symbol of protection.  I already asked Wolfe to play the role of the protective Dom for me in class if I was feeling vulnerable, even though we are still finding out how we relate with our D/s dynamics, which has been strictly in the bedroom so far.  

Something I learned from Modu when we were first starting to play with BDSM concepts was that he would often have his wife or girlfriend wear a collar at public events, especially if they didn't want too much attention that night.  It implied an unspoken ownership or protection that helped keep the creepers away, even if he did not have that sort of ownership relationship with them, it was a symbol to others. It was something I had planned to wear the first time I went to such an event with him, because I figured I would be scared and would want that additional idea of protection, but alas, we never got around to attending a public party together. (BTW, it is kind of fucking awesome that while for years I dreamed about going to a play party with him, the first time we actually played at a play party was at my OWN!  I really like that idea for some reason) 

I did wear a collar for Modu during a few early private scenes we did together and it has made me think a lot about what that meant to me.  Those first scenes were sort of scary, as I felt new sensations and experienced a loss of control to him.  I trusted him very much, but in those moments of pain mingling with pleasure and fear and lust, it was easy to get lost in my head.  Feeling his collar around my neck snapped me back to reality a few times, when I started to feel too scared or too much pain.  I remember thinking, is this real? How did I get here? What the fuck am I doing?  What is HE doing?  and feeling the collar and remembering that I chose this and I could stop it at any point with a single word.  It also reminded me that this was just a game, a role, and I remembered this was the same man that I trust who put the collar on me, and it was that little reminder that made me able to continue.  It was like a touchstone to reality, a safety net that reminded me I was safe and loved.  I also liked to think of him seeing the collar and having it be a touchstone for him as well... a reminder to him that I am under his care and a symbol of my trust in him not to harm me or push me beyond our negotiated agreements.

As I start to explore new Dom/sub dynamics in my new relationships, I think about the role of the collar again.  Clearly, I would consider wearing one for a feeling or protection, in a public setting, like a bigger public play party or the class that makes me nervous, as it gives me a sense of comfort. And as I am starting to talk about planning more intense experiences with Hedo, I think about the second function that I mentioned of the collar as touchstone.  I can see myself wanting to wear a collar for more intense scenes as we start to play privately and venture into areas that excite me like fear play and poking around at the boundaries of consensual non-consent and roleplay involving being overpowered and controlled.

But these positive experiences and thoughts about collars stand in some opposition to the more common ideas of collars symbolizing ownership to me, and that gives me pause for thought.  The idea of transfer of ownership is one that does not interest me.  While I could possibly stretch the idea and accept morphing it into one of  turning over some ownership of some minor aspects of myself for a scene, I still don't like that terminology and concept.  I have written a little bit about not being a traditionally subby sub and this is one area where this really shows.  This is beyond playing a brat and having fun with power exchange, this is about a fundamental refusal to even consider letting someone feel like they own me, even for a moment.  I dealt with that in my marriage and I refuse to feel that way again.  But yet, there is an aspect of roleplay where this could be cathartic, but it is rather triggery and difficult, which brings me back to wanting to wear the collar in the second manner as a touchstone.

And so I am both attracted and repelled by this idea of wearing a collar and what that means (or what it is perceived to mean to others).  I see the benefits of a collar in play and in social settings, but it needs to be clear to me exactly what a collar might mean to me and to my partners. It represents seemingly opposed  ideas that cycle around in my head... wanting to not feel owned by a collar and yet wearing a collar so as to be reminded to not be triggered into feeling owned.  Hah!  It's so confusing!

And here is where I start to get very unconventional... What if the collar I wore was my own?  In my twisted way of reclaiming my own power through playing with exchanging power with others in a Dom/sub dynamic, who is really the one in charge?  Perhaps I am my own Dom and I turn over aspects of myself to another in a role of submissive in order to regain my control by losing control. Does that even make sense?  I have heard it said to not trust a sub who buys her own collar.  Well, why the fuck not?  To me that could be a show of true trust and devotion to oneself... consciously choosing to own and this loaded symbol and give it to another in order to be able to lose control and find oneself. Hell, I would go one step further and craft my own collar, taking the time and energy and part of myself to actually create this object so full of meaning, making it clearly and unquestionably an object of the strength, courage, and trust that I am willing to put forth to allow another to Dominate me.

I am not sure any of this even makes sense.  It feels so backwards and inside out. Maybe my ideal collar should be backwards and inside out to reflect these complexities of my submissive personality. I am very curious if others think this way about their roles, or do I just overthink everything?  I suspect the latter is true, but at this point, I am making no apologies for it.  The main thing I have learned in the BDSM world is that you can make it whatever you want and need it to be.  And I need to go on these convoluted journeys of sexuality and the psyche and I appreciate those who walk alongside me and challenge me as I explore.

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