My pleasure at the pain of the cane
The best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey is a trashy sex tale of the whip -- something that Antonia Leslie enjoyed once in her wild youth
IASKED my very literary friend Doodle Kennelly, by text, if she had heard of or read the book Fifty Shades of Grey. She replied on Facebook, "I'll lend you my copy of Fifty Shades of Shite."
I told her that I kept hearing about it, and wanted to review it. "Well," she replied, "a couple of one-dimensional characters have sex, that's all."
The blurb on the back told me the book was "romantic, liberating and totally addictive, Fifty Shades of Grey is a novel that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you for ever".
I got reading. The book is about submission and the pleasure of pain. Personally I found it painful to read -- but that was because of the style of writing, not the subject.
But it got me thinking about the whole pleasure/pain thing -- the Dom/Sub scene --and fetishes. I'm all for it, if that's what gets you going.
Sadly, aul' wan that I am, I would get more turned on by the thought of a cup of Barry's Tea and a Silk Cut blue, than the idea of meeting a millionaire in a hotel room, waiting hours in a blindfold with instructions on how to behave -- until my master spanks me with his big bold cane because I'm gagging for him to dominate me. (That sort of thing happens in the book.)
I have to admit that -- despite all my wild adventures when young, and my experience of passion in all its forms -- I'm really a pretty boring lay.
I was never madly into all that fetish stuff, or exhibitionism, or S&M. I've tried a few things here and there, dressing up a little, and a bit of fantasy role playing, but mostly I'm a straight up, skin-to-skin, average woman.
But I do remember once -- and it was only once -- the pleasure of the pain of a cane. I won't bore you with the how and where, it was just a situation of "Feck it, let's try this." Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was scared it was really going to hurt. I hate pain, and waited with eyes tight shut and a "be a brave girl" inner voice reassuring me -- but there was no sexual thrill of anticipation.
Then came the first crack of the cane. It stung, but it wasn't too bad. Then the second, and I started feeling a small high. I guess it's like being tattooed: your body releases feelgood endorphins and you get slightly chemically high.
So I began to relax and was really surprised at how pleasurable the next few lashes were. And, as this was in a sexual environment, a feeling of arousal followed.
So, OK, I did it, but I could take it or leave it. But I certainly understood it. Sure, don't the religious self-flagellators claim ecstatic experiences too?
The pleasure and pain parts of the brain are side by side, and messages can be confused. Also the brain is the biggest sex organ in the body.
The same parts of the brain 'light up' when using a dopamine-producing drug like heroin or cocaine, as they do when a person feels a deep romantic or sexual desire. The same part of the brain also 'lights up' in someone with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Back in my London days, I had a very good friend who was a famous dominatrix: Miss Whiplash, whom BBC TV presenter Frank Bough got caught with. Remember that big scandal? Anyway, sometimes we'd stay in and watch movies and I'd ask her all about her job.
"It's very different from normal prostitution," she said, as most of her punters didn't actually want penetrative sex or to be brought to orgasm physically with any part of her body. It was all psychological. "You have to be a great actor," she told me, "and never smile or laugh or be kind in the middle of a session , not for even one second, as it breaks the client's concentration."
She joked that she couldn't watch parliamentary sessions on TV without laughing, as nearly half of the MPs sitting there were shifting round on their bums, sore from being whipped or spanked by her.
Most of the men who are into the submissive side of the domination game hold real power in their everyday lives. They want to relinquish this power every now and then, as it makes them feel secure -- as well as horny.
She described a typical session: the guy would arrive at her apartment, she'd be in her dominatrix gear. She'd take his coat and the money. Then she'd tell him the usual: "You've been very naughty, very bad, and I'm going to punish you..."
She'd order him to stay standing on one leg until she -- the mistress -- told him to stop, and then she'd leave him in the hall and go into her kitchen and pour herself a gin and tonic and have a smoke before coming back out and spanking or whipping him a few times. Then she'd tell him off again, and go back to the kitchen, make another drink, and watch an episode of East-Enders before going back out and repeating the process. She got paid thousands ...
But not all people have to pay for this lifestyle: this Sub/Dom scene exists in normal people with loving relationships too, and the whole thing doesn't just start and end in the bedroom. The dom will phone the sub throughout the day and tell them what to do and what to wear and where to go. I guess that's very soothing for the sub ... there is a sort of relief that comes with relinquishing all responsibility for everything, for a while. A sense of security. Maybe even a sense of being a baby in your mother's arms again?
I could be wrong. But it's always the quiet ones who are into the hanky spanky, isn't it? The big loud one at the bar, the one with all the tats and the big fake boobs (that'd be me), that's the one who's boring in bed. Oh well, I guess that's why I'm into the writing -- I'm all talk!