I confess, before this weekend I knew nothing about James Deen, other than he appeared in porn films and had ripped off his stage name from a movie icon.
I’m not prudishly claiming never to watch porn, of course I do. I may well have seen him in something. But I don’t pay much attention to the names in porn, just whether the participants look good which seems more important to me.
But since his girlfriend, Stoya, who I’d also never heard of, called him out on Twitter for rape (no point pretending non-consensual sex is anything less) I’ve read a lot of opinions about both of them.
With regard to Deen, men and women seem conflicted. For many he’s been an icon, a lighthouse figure standing as a landmark guiding the way in awakenings. I’ve read several pieces by men saying they feel let down, that they’re questioning themselves, their behaviour, because if they’ve seen themselves, their tendencies in him before now, do they see in themselves the tendency Stoya has revealed: the misogyny, the disregard, the rapist?
This self analysis has to be a positive thing. To look at yourself and ask if you treat your sub with love and kindness even when (particularly when) your hand is around her throat, your belt is arcing through the air about to make a stinging contact, she’s bound helpless to your whim, or you’re fucking her so hard you’re knocking the breath from the body she’s yielded to you?
In short: Are you pushing her boundaries, or trampling all over them? Are you helping her grow, or crushing her spirit?
But for all the benefit men might gain from this introspection, there’s a greater opportunity for the girls here…
In recent years there’s been a huge growth in men calling themselves Doms. Men who like rough sex, and don’t much care for the girl(s) who’s bodies they’re using to satisfy their desires. Men like Deen has shown himself to be.
These men are not Dominants. They might claim they are, even believe they are, but there’s a difference between being dominant and being domineering. Or being an “alpha”, a control freak, a manipulator, or being bossy, aggressive, rough…
A Dominant cares for his sub’s needs, her safety, her wellbeing, her personal growth and fulfilment above his own needs. If for no other reason than the realisation and success of those things, through his guidance and support in achieving them, is where he finds his own fulfilment.
It’s often difficult to see the difference between a Dominant and a controlling, bossy cunt. And a sub’s need to please can be subverted by these misguided or deceitful Dim-Doms and Non-Doms (Yes, I realise I’m perilously close, @omnico_gent!) seeking to use a girl for his own selfish desires, simply by deceiving her into believing he deserves her submission.
Are there red flags submissives can look out for? Yes, there are. Many. Too many for a blog post to be anything more than an extensive list. There are just as many lists of these red flags, and I don’t propose to add to them.
But I do want to touch on three that are often overlooked.
If someone is seeking to gain your trust, they should be willing to be completely open so that you can find out about them, and to put in the effort to find out about you; your likes, dislikes, preferences. So if they do something that clashes with those, then you can know right away that they either didn’t bother finding out, or found out and don’t care.
Preferences and Boundaries
So how do they treat your preferences and boundaries? For instance in some D/s relationships it’s perfectly acceptable for one partner to call the other names. “Slut”, “Whore”, “Bitch”, and suchlike. In others, it’s not. If someone were to call you names associated with diminishing you, dehumanising you, humiliating you, and you’ve been vocal that those names are not acceptable in interactions with you, then were they not making any effort to find out about you, or did they not care? Either is a red flag. They’re revealing something about how they view the relationship dynamic. They feel that their desires are more important than your wishes. This isn’t the behaviour of a Dominant, but of someone who has no regard for you.
How then will they view your other boundaries? Just as James Deen didn’t care for Stoya’s boundaries. It may seem a big leap from calling someone a slut to raping them, but it’s only a matter of degree, the underlying disregard, violation of your boundaries is the same mindset.
If you’re communicating with someone do they become angry? Do they behave as if you’ll agree with them if only they keep saying the same thing over and over, louder and louder? This person is a bully, not a Dom, they’re not listening to you, merely trying to wear you down until you do what they want. Perhaps accompanied by phrases along the lines of “If you were a real submissive…”
I’d argue that a Dom should never be angry with a sub. At the very least should never speak or act in anger. Doing so reveals that the sub’s interests are not foremost in the Dom’s mind, but his own anger.
It’s quite normal for a Dominant to set tasks for a submissive. Either regular ones or ad hoc. It’s not unusual for those tasks to challenge boundaries. But a Dom should know their sub well enough o know if the task is achievable. Do they set you impossible tasks? Setting you tasks they either hadn’t bothered to ensure you could complete, or ones they know you can’t or won’t complete, is setting you up for failure. That’s designed to chip away at your sense of achievement, your self esteem. Becoming cross and questioning you or seeking to punish you (perhaps again with anger) is designed to make you want to make it up to them. This is classic abuse behaviour. It’s the hallmark not of a Dom, but of a control freak.
If someone is seeking to take a “protective control” over you, you should expect them to have put in the effort to know you. You should expect them to respect you and your boundaries. You should expect them to put your needs first.
If they don’t. Walk away. You’ll be doing them a favour, too. They should keep failing until they learn.
© Charles Rochester 2015