Monday, September 20, 2010

Whoa, Nelly!

Note: I wrote this, almost trashed it, and then decided to go ahead and let you see it. This might be an uncomfortable read. It wasn't all that fun to write.

About seven years ago, I stumbled upon the Erotica Readers and Writers Association website and their wonderful writer’s lists. I can’t remember what drew me to it, but within weeks, I submitted a story to their workshopping list, Storytime.  While the community is generous with help and overall very friendly (to this day, it remains the best writer’s list on the internet in any genre) I was a bit surprised at some of the reactions to my story. I thought fans of erotica would be open-minded.

*rueful chuckle*

The story wasn’t terribly graphic. Just a little masturbation. What the readers objected to was the kink and the sexuality. It’s my fault as a writer that I wasn’t able to connect the readers emotionally to the fetish element. It wasn’t a mainstream kink with recognizable trope - no black leather, no submission, no spanking – so it was a hard sell to begin with. My main character got off on the sight of a woman’s calves positioned just so. But the obscurity of the kink (some readers called it creepy) and my inability to help readers identify with it on some level wasn’t what brought out the terse critiques. You see, my main character was female. People were horrified that I’d tricked them into reading a lesbian story when I failed to post flashing red warnings at the beginning of the story.

Lesson learned.  Even erotica writers have limits. I have several, so I understand.

Humiliation is my biggest squick. It’s a personal thing, which I'll elaborate on later. When I was finally old enough to stay up at night to watch TV before bedtime, I would grow increasingly queasy during the sitcoms. Everyone else loved those shows, so I thought I could learn to love them too. Sometimes, I paced the room until I was ordered to leave. Other times, I left on my own. I had no problems with dramas. It took me several years to realize that most humor on sitcoms was about humiliation, and I couldn’t bear to watch that happen to another person. Once I figured that out, I rarely forced myself to watch comedies.  If I see humiliation in an erotic story, that same queasiness creeps up on me. Guessing from how often I see it, some people find humiliation powerfully sexy. Nothing kills my libido faster.

So I suppose the question is: can I write it? Yes, but carefully, and not comfortably.  I’ve written only one story that featured humiliation as an erotic element. When the characters in this continuation of my Chaos Magic series (written as Jay Lygon) first met, Sam told his Sir, Hector, that being spanked in public was his biggest fantasy and deepest fear. Fans of Chaos Magic know that humiliation was a hard limit for Sam. In the third book, it tears them apart (for a while). But their relationship is always evolving. At the point where this story takes place, five years into their relationship, Hector knows that Sam wants to push that limit and can handle the situation.  The difference is consent, and control.

Here's your red flashing light– this is gay BDSM with humiliation, domestic discipline, age play, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and a filthy public restroom, just in case any of that squicks you out.

Released this week

Hector shoved me into the bathroom. Overhead, insects fluttered around bare florescent bulbs. The place stank of stale toilet water and piss. There were five stalls without doors against one wall and three rusty sinks on the other. The grungy floor probably hadn't been cleaned since the rest stop was built.

For a moment, I hoped that Hector would take me into one of the stalls, but he said, "Put your hands on the sink. Boy."

Trembling, I bent down to grip the rust-stained sink. It jutted from the wall at waist height, so I had to bend way over to hold onto it. I couldn't bear to meet my eyes in the cheap mirror over the sink.

"Open your mouth."

Thanks the Gods that Hector unwrapped a bar of soap he’d brought from home rather than using the pink powdery stuff in the dispenser on the wall.

"You know better than to swear, Boy," he said.

One of the truckers came into the bathroom. He paused by the door to watch Hector push the bar of soap into my mouth. A tight grin spread over his lips. Heat spread across my face. Another man came in to watch my punishment.

"Keep that soap in your mouth, Boy."

As soon as there was a small crowd, Hector stepped back. He reached for my jeans, unbuttoned the fly, and yanked them down to my knees. My bared butt brought a murmur of appreciation from the gathered truckers. I closed my eyes and swallowed hard. That was a mistake. The soap coated my mouth.

I heard Hector undo his belt buckle and slide it out of his pant loops. He knew how much I loved to be whipped with that belt.

Freed from my pants, my cock brushed against the sink.

"You're a spoiled brat, and I've had enough of your lip today, Boy. It's time I taught you a lesson." Hector gripped my hair and forced me to turn my head toward the door. "Open your eyes, and don't you dare close them."

Some of the truckers gripped their cocks through their jeans. Rest stops were legendary for roadside sex, but I bet they'd never seen a boy get his ass whipped there before. Lust rolled off them in heady waves. The humiliation was almost more than I could bear. My legs trembled.

Hector leaned close to my ear. "Let me know if this is too much for you," he whispered.

One part of me wanted to turn around and bury my face against his chest. He'd stop immediately, wrap those big arms around me, and take me away from the scene. There was no getting out of the punishment, but he'd finish it somewhere private and safe if I couldn't handle my shame. Another part of me was so fucking turned on that I couldn't bear the idea of stopping, no matter how red my face was. It was up to me.

And an even bigger red flashing warning over the rest of this post if the reality of emotional abuse is more than you can bear. I wouldn't blame you for escaping. I sure as fuck wished I could have.

My mother loved to humiliate her children. I can still picture that sadistic smile on her face as she made us stand before her coffee klatch while she told ‘cute little stories’ about us until her guests grew uncomfortably quiet and started casting horrified glances at each other or making excuses to leave. For years, I thought they were disgusted by me. Not one of them ever tried to make her stop though.

If writing is the best revenge, then I suppose my blow for justice is putting the power to halt the torment into the sub’s hands in Brat. If only I’d had that much control over my fate, instead staring at my shoes and praying so hard that my knuckles turned white. Please, god, just please, open up the ground below my feet and let me fall into the burning core of the earth, even if it’s hell and I have to spend eternity there, please god, shove your fist into my chest and squeeze my heart until it stops beating, please god, please, if you love me, let me die, so I don’t have to hear my mother’s laughter another second. Amen.


  1. Hi Kathleen

    wow, that is raw. There's a difference in fiction between pretend humiliation ("Bend over you naughty little slut while I humiliate you.") and the real thing ("You'll never guess what I caught little Kathy doing with herself last night, when she was pretending to be asleep. I pulled back the covers and I swear she had this little cucumber and . . ") Jesus. Its amazing we don;t grow up into maniacs instead of writers. Its like that with violence too, which I was exposed to as a child. There's a difference between the fun spanky violence in BDSM and the kind of violence in my story "Miss Julia's Cake Club" where a wife is brutally battered and raped by her husband. But I think when something is hard to write that's when we should write it, to find out what's going on in there.

    Really good post.


  2. Wow, was that ever fascinating! I never thought of humiliation as something someone could be squicked by, but then that's purely because I actually find it one of the easiest kinks to write about! I find it amazing, the differences between things people can and can't write about. Thanks for sharing, Kathleen!

  3. Garce - Someone once told me that "all writers are depressives." Any sweeping generalization like that strikes me as hyperbole (even though he was a psychiatrist), so I asked him if he meant artists in general. He said, "Nope. Writers." So there you go - we're doomed ;)

  4. Charlotte - Which only goes to prove how different we are. I can't imagine the color pink being a squick. Okay, well, yes I can, because I don't like that color.

    We come through the door with some weird scabs. Some we can peel away to reveal new skin. Others only leave scars.

  5. Kathleen,

    Humiliation as a squick. Good point. I'm impressed with the fact that you can still write these scenes, even though they tick your squick box.

    Excellent post.


  6. Thanks, Ash.
    I can't wait to reaed about yours. Somehow, I don't think vampire slayers made the list.

  7. "We come through the door with some weird scabs. Some we can peel away to reveal new skin. Others only leave scars."

    Absolutely. Couldn't have put it more beautifully!

  8. Hello, Kathleen,

    I hadn't thought of humiliation, but it makes me uncomfortable too. Not enough to be a "limit", but it generally doesn't turn me on.

    It's a testimony to your delicacy that when I read that scene, the heat more than overwhelmed any qualms about the humiliation aspect. (Another factor might be that I find the notion of public sex arousing enough to balance the emotional content.)


  9. Lisabet - yeah, the public part of it was the saving grace for me, and a huge part of the turn-on for Sam.


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