NOTICE: The article below deals with adult and fetish-related topics and fantasies. If you are offended by this sort of thing or are not a legal adult, I suggest you leave this instant.
Of the many forms that D/s can take, the most commonly encountered one in Second Life is BDSM. An overlooked fact, though, is that many forms of D/s have very little to do with BDSM; the example I will discuss today is the one that has appealed to me from the days of my earliest fetishistic fantasies, and it has also been favoured by Exotix (Inara Pey) for a long time (actually, today’s post is inspired by an essay She had published on Her D/s blog in 2011). This example is called Sensual D/s.
As its name might imply, Sensual D/s (frequently called SD/s – and, for reasons of brevity, in this post and from now on, the terms “Sensual D/s” and “SD/s” will be interchangeable) is a very genteel form of D/s. While it can be said to be an integral part of typical D/s relationships, as elements of it exist in all loving relationships, it may also exist entirely on its own as an individual style of play; therefore, I believe it is worth discussing in its own right. In this essay, I am going to reiterate what Exotix has written and pointed out and I am also going to try to address some questions She has raised.
A little background
SD/s is not a term I or Exotix have coined; as Exotix points out, the credit for this should go to Sir Tom, whose (now apparently departed) web writings She considers required reading. SD/s can be summed up as a form of D/s that encompasses many of the “expected” and “typical” aspects of D/s (control, respect, training) but avoids aspects such as physical punishment or harsh forms and methods of control and restraint.
SD/s is quite demanding as per its prerequisites: it is not something that just “happens” out of the blue; it grows out of a deep understanding between Dominant and submissive, a sort of “spiritual connection” if you like. It encompasses a collaboration between the two parties where the submissive is – as strange as it might sound – something of an “equal” to the Dominant w.r.t. “managing” the relationship.
Similarly with “conventional” D/s relationships, in SD/s the submissive entrusts their being and self-identity into the care of the Dominant, who guides and enlightens them to understand and accept their submissive nature. However, it does not stop there; SD/s moves forward from “traditional” D/s by being an empathic union between two persons, in which both can identify and respond to each other’s needs on an instinctive, loving level that does not necessarily require direct communication (verbal or otherwise).
A connection and understanding of this level takes time to grow. It requires commitment from both the Dominant and the submissive; a commitment that can only be the product of close contact. In this, SD/s is very similar to the feelings of union and connection that we feel in the early days of a love affair, in the days it is still blossoming, feelings that gradually grow through courtship and coexistence (perhaps even marriage) and through living through the happy moments and the hardships of life, feelings that enable a couple to spend their lives in relative (allowing for the foibles of human nature) harmony for years to come.
As mentioned before, SD/s tends to eschew the harsher forms of restraint and does not rely on physical punishment. It is far more gentle and far more subtle. Cue again to Exotix who rescued from the memory hole the words of Sir Tom in his definition of SD/s:
“The very nature of the parties involved leans toward less intense forms of discipline. For the sensual sub, a few words conveying the disappointment of the Dominant in their behavior or conduct is enough to bring the desired change. The types of submissives who engage in this kind of relationship are usually highly sensitive to pleasing their Dominant. The knowledge that they have erred is often sufficient stimulus in itself to make a change for the better”
Similarly, although bondage may very well be part of SD/s play, it is usually a lot more gentle than one might expect from the D/s realm: whereas people usually connect D/s with heavy chains and cuffs, SD/s often relies on restraints made from silk scarves; the bondage positions in SD/s are usually less stringent; spanking and flogging are used for teasing rather than disciplining. Once again, Exotix has conveniently provided us with Sir Tom’s poignant words:
“Much can be accomplished by requiring the submissive to lie still with closed eyes as a deerskin flogger is drawn in feather-gentle motions along the outlines of the body. The anticipation factor is tremendous.”
This sort of play may not seem D/s-like at all to a casual observer (in fact, perhaps even to people in the fetish lifestyle) who has learned to expect harshness and a play area that looks like a replica of a medieval interrogation/torture chamber. It is not uncommon for practitioners of SD/s to not own any implements for harsh bondage or torture; and the way the D/s toys are used in SD/s focuses on gentleness, sensuality and tenderness. For instance, floggers and paddles are not used to bring pain or to punish, but to tenderise the submissive’s flesh and make it sensitive to tactile and other stimuli. Accordingly, the techniques used are more often than not caresses and strokes along the skin rather than overhand or sidearm motions.
SD/s and me
Throughout my sexually active life, I have tried to engage in as many aspects of D/s and BDSM as I could, both in RL and SL (you can see my post on my fetish background for more information). Much like Exotix, I have incorporated fetish elements in my RL style (I’ve worn leather wristcuffs as jewelry; one of my favourite accessories is an elegant, slim leather collar with a smallish O-ring in the front as a choker that I had bought from the now-defunct Sub Shop, and I frequently wear skin-tight leather pants and stretchy vinyl leggings) and I must say I really like the latex and fetish subculture of SL, as many of its items and themes excite my more bizarre and extreme desires and fantasies. Also, I very much enjoy strict, tight restraints, being tightly bound and helpless during BDSM play – and even being restricted in various ways (more or less thorough) afterwards.
However, despite my great enjoyment of tight restrictions, what appeals to me and engages me the most as a submissive is Sensual D/s. The way I use my hands, my lips and the toys around me to satisfy my Domme, the way She uses Her hands, Her lips and the gear around U/us to play with me, the outfits I wear, the outfits She wears – all these things She does to arouse, excite, tease, open me up and control me, all these things I do to arouse, excite, please and tease Her bring me far greater excitement, fulfillment, pleasure and satisfaction, and a far deeper connection with my Mistress than the “harsher” aspects of D/s (to be more exact, BDSM) that are staples of D/s play in Second Life.
Of course, it is not my intention to belittle or denigrate any of these aspects of D/s or BDSM. I know very well from personal experience that physical punishment, heavy bondage etc., enacted in an engaging RP session in SL, with well-imagined and written emoting and creative play can be very satisfying for everyone involved. But I enjoy SD/s more, as it grows from a deep connection and understanding between Dominant and submissive and harnesses the power of subtlety.
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