Category Archives: usenet

(Re)reading The Ethical Slut: Day 0

ethical-slut
On Twitter the other day a friend of mine asked for recommendations on books on polyamory.  I saw tweets giving several recommendations, including, several times, the book The Ethical Slut.  This intrigued me (as mention of the book always does) and I started following the exchanges, stating that I’d like to read along as a blog project.  In the course of the discussion, we found out there was a new (2009) edition.  I decided to order the new edition.

My reasons were complicated.

I first read The Ethical Slut in 1997 (I’ve used the original cover image), the year it came out, which was something of a watershed year for me.  It was the year I turned 30.  The year I left my then husband.  The year I found the newsgroup ASS. The year I began talking with my first play partner (though not actually playing).  The year Paul and I started first emailing then talking on the phone.

I was eager for information, eager for a different way to see the world.  One of the women I got to know on the newsgroup was Janet Hardy.  She’s one one of the authors of The Ethical Slut and always seemed to give good advice.  So I ordered the book and read it. Carefully. Making notes in the margin.

I’m about to crack the cover of the new edition.  But before I do, I want to remember what I took from my first reading of the book (or what I think I took from my reading of the book) some sixteen years ago.

What I remember it being about was negotiation.  About trying to know how I feel and communicating that to those I’m intimate with.  I remember reading about the idea of jealousy not being something that would kill me.  About it being something I could feel, understand where it was coming from and let pass. About the importance of honesty, even when what we have to tell our partners will hurt them.

I remembering the dizzying complexity of the calendaring discussed, my wondering how those involved ever got anything done or ever had any time to themselves.

I remember wondering if I could be polyamorous, if I wanted to be, if Paul did.  I remember the thrilling possibilities of if.

What I discovered is that I can play with other people and it doesn’t change how I feel about Paul or my relationship with him one way or the other.  This has always been true.  But I experienced fierce and painful jealousy when Paul first played with others, especially when we were still long distance, still only seeing each other one month in six.  This seemed unfair, because intellectually I wanted him to explore, to enjoy play partner friendships the way I did.  Still, I hurt when he had feelings for someone else, was not able to believe it didn’t diminish what we had together.

Now, I’m not very interested in finding other people for myself. I have good friends, people I play with when we’re able (which isn’t very often).  But on the other hand, it’s not painful when Paul plays with other people.  What I feel, when I don’t just feel happy about it, are stabs of insecurity, not a sense of being diminished, but a wondering if I can possibly be as wonderful as this other person.  I don’t like myself for feeling this way and try not to indulge it or give it too much space in my brain.  I don’t want these feelings to control my behavior or Paul’s.

So these are my thoughts as I’m about to crack the new edition.  I hear there’s homework in this one.

Want to read along?

People who are reading along:

Marie – Life, Lemons and Spanking

Discussion, Disagreement and Discord

I was raised in a family that was both loving and, at the same time, abusive.  There was physical abuse from my father which left its marks on me, most of which are long in the past and have been healed by the consensual play I've engaged in with Paul and others.  The ones that left the most lasting scars have been my mother's anger.  Disagreements with her were fraught events.  She never argued fairly and would say anything in moments of heated anger, expecting all would be forgotten and forgiven when the moment had passed.

I wasn't like that and would burn inside at the injustice, thinking of what I should have said long after, never feeling good about myself because of the personal attacks.  At the same time, politics and religion could be discussed civilly with disagreements encouraged and fair debate encouraged.  Needless to say, by the time I reached adulthood, disagreements left me feeling frightened.  Even though I would hide that fear and take on issues that mattered to me, I still felt inwardly vulnerable, wanting proof that disagreement wouldn't mean dislike or abuse.  For the first few years after I came out in the scene I avoided all disagreements with anyone in the scene, carefully sidestepping issues.  This was not easy as we were on Usenet, but I knew with regard to spanking I felt too vulnerable, would be too easily hurt.

Yes, I got past it, kind of.  But the discussion this week here and on Indy's site with Ludwig and especially Kaelah has reminded me my childhood is long past.  That one can disagree with passion and civility.  I appreciated their honesty and their thoughts, even while wishing I could convince them to side with me instead.  We're not close friends (really we're more friends of friends) but I didn't feel there was discord or dislike, rather that we were hashing out our positions, looking at the common ground and the disagreements, marking where each point lay and why it was there.

This isn't much of a blog post except to say that's a big deal for me. And I appreciate it.

It was raining in Los Angeles

It's rained for days.  Not a steady light rain, but downpour upon downpour.  It rained this morning as I went across the city to my therapist appointment (cancelled due to sick therapist). It rained as we went to Chinatown for Pho.  It rained as we drove home and as I cooked dinner. It rained as we watched news coverage about the rain and the coming storm, worse than any so far.

And now? It's raining.

Online Life

At what point did my online life become my real one?  Was it the first time I stayed up all night worrying about the pain of someone I knew only through a message board and email? Was it the day Paul (whom at that point I had never met and to whom I'd perhaps hadn't yet spoken to) wrote an email whispering he loved me and I realized I was in love with him too?  Was it when I traveled across the country to be sparkle and Chris's wedding? Was it the day my online friends outnumbered friends from all the other areas of my life put together? 

I have no idea when it happened, really.  But it happened such a long time ago now. And so today, reading that Casey had a happy moment, hearing that Natty had a good day, picking up a usenet friend at the train station and having her here with me, I know any attempt to separate "online" from "real" life is meaningless and incorrect.  The people I've gotten to know first through the internet know more of me better than any other people ever have.  It's wonderful to meet in person, but knowing someone online is enough for them to become important, to become that small part of me I think of as a friend.

This is all my real life. 

And mostly tonight I'm just glad to read about Casey and Natty.  

SSC10: Red Darn

This story was written for the 2010 SSC (Short Story Contest). It was inspired by the following picture.  Go on, play along.

ration-book
Copyright 2010 to mijita (AT) the treehouse (DOT) net . Please respect this copyright. Don’t distribute or archive this story in any way except for personal use without explicit permission. No, it’s not in the public domain. Ask first, okay? Thanks.

o0o

A shout startled the daydreaming girl from her novel.

“Fairfield, what are you about?”

Fiona (aka Fairfield) looked up, annoyed. A pair of navy wool knickers were being shaken in her face.

“I’m not sure what you mean, Miss” said the girl resentfully.

“These knickers, *your* knickers, are shredded. Clearly you took a shortcut on your run.”

“Only once. I–I got lost. I’ll write to my mother — she’ll send me a new pair by return post.”

The matron drew herself up as her annoyance visibly increased.

“No you won’t. Bad enough cheating, but as our headmistress made it quite clear at the start of the term, we are *all* were expected to conserve and ration as part of the war effort.”

“But I can’t do gym without knickers,” replied Fiona, sounding hopeful. Perhaps she would be excused gym.

“Right. And so,” said the older woman, thrusting out a sewing basket “you will give up your free time until each of the tears is properly darned. And remember you have gym class Monday morning.”

As the older woman sailed from the room, the sixteen-year-old eyed the basket with disdain. Fiona hated sewing and darning. Further, it was Friday evening and she’d looked forward all week to finishing her book. With a sigh she examined the long tears in her tattered knickers before opening the basket.

Inside were slim darning needles threaded with several rows of wool stitching, a perfect darn. Perfect save the color.

o0o

“Fairfield! What are you wearing?”

Fiona looked up at the games mistress, sulking.

“Matron had me mend my knickers, Miss.”

“I doubt she had you mend them in red, but be sure I will ask. Now stand forth and touch your toes.”

The girl felt the eyes of her classmates burning into her as she stepped forward and bent over. At least one classmate giggled. Her pleated games skirt rose. Tears pricked the corners of Fiona’s eyes as the slipper thudded into her darned knickers, once, twice…

…six times.

o0o

Fiona’s bottom still ached as she stood in Matron’s study. The woman’s face flushed as she examined the knickers.

“What a lazy sneak you are! Fairfield, these knickers are truly ruined; they’ll have to be replaced.”

Nervous as she was, Fairfield couldn’t help but feel pleased there’d be no more darning. Unfortunately she couldn’t keep the delight from her voice.

“Sorry Matron. I’ll write to my mother tonight.”

Matron eyed the girl grimly, making Fiona blush.

“Well you should be, and will be when I finish with you. Have you forgotten clothing is rationed, you horrible girl?”

Fiona felt hot with fear and embarrassment, anxiety rising. She was unable to say anything as the matron removed a heavy wooden hairbrush from her side table.

“If only your mother had spanked you longer and harder I dare say you’d be more responsible and considerate. Knickers down and across my knee, Fairfield.”

The matron raised the brush and continued.

“Think of this as me doing *my* part for the war effort.”

o0o

Category: A Picture is Worth 500 Words (Your Ration Book*)
Word Count: 500

(*Note: I didn’t notice until after I’d written the story that the ration book in the picture is for food rather than clothing. Doh!)

SSC10: The Adjustment

This story was written for the 2010 SSC (Short Story Contest). Go on, play along.

Copyright 2010 to <mijita (at) the treehouse (dot) net>. Please respect this copyright. Don’t distribute or archive this story in any way except for personal use without explicit permission. No, it’s not in the public domain. Ask first, okay? Thanks.

o0o

running-dog
The dog chased the tennis ball across the garden, then pelted back to Alice.  The girl watched, marveling at Dobbie’s focus.

She threw the ball harder, farther.  Time slowed as she threw and he fetched, the blue sky and green grass of June wrapping them in a perfect day–

— shattered by a shout of “Alice Michelle, you get in here right now.”

o0o

“Hey Mom.”

The house was dark after the bright sunshine.  Alice blinked.  Darker yes, but cleaner too.

“Don’t you ‘Hey Mom’ me, young lady. I told you not to leave this house until you cleaned your room.”

Did she really? Alice didn’t remember.  Wait, when did Mom wear a dress or apron?

While Alice was musing on this, noticing the much tidier house and her unusually tidy mother, her mother landed a ringing slap on the seat of her shorts.

“Pay attention!  I’m very cross with you, Alice Michelle. Your room’s still a disaster. Go in there right now and wait for me. You’re in big trouble.”

o0o

Alice slammed the bedroom door.  Her mother had *hit* her.

Double-take.  The bedroom…

Yes, it was messy with her papers and drawings everywhere. But the room was furnished in a completely different style.  No mis-matched IKEA and garage sale finds coupled with her mother’s art. Instead a white bed and desk set with pillows and matching bedspread.

This was not her room.

As that realization struck, her mother, her suddenly *taller* mother, open the door. She was holding a wooden hairbrush.

“Slamming doors Miss? And why aren’t you in the corner with your shorts down?”

Alice looked up and screamed as this woman who was clearly *not* her mother pulled her across her lap and pinned her arms behind her back.

“No! Get away from me you crazy bitch!”

She kicked helplessly as the brush briskly smacked her thinly clad bottom.

Fifteen minutes later, a sobbing, red-bottomed Alice let herself be led to a stool waiting in the corner.

“You stay there until you calm down.  Then get to work on this room. I want it spotless, do you hear me? Then you can stay in here and think about your behavior.  I wouldn’t want to be you when your father hears what you called me today.”

Unable to speak, Alice could only nod.

o0o

The Clerk’s eyes narrowed.

“Report, Agent D.”

“Unhappy, but cleaned her room and waited for her father. Cried on me.”

“Adjustments are never happy. Hers isn’t the worst.”

“Why the change?”

“They determined 2020 wasn’t working. Much as Alice needs creative space, she needs to develop self-discipline but wasn’t.  Or something.  1950 suburbia is the adjustment.”

“She’s not happy.”

“Happy doesn’t matter. Alice has to grow up creative but disciplined. That’s what *They* require. You’re required to watch and report… unless you want a new assignment.”

“No sir.”

Dobbie shrugged. He had no idea why They needed Alice to grow up creative and discipline but the Clerk was right. His job was to watch and report.

A dog’s life.

o0o

Word Count: 509

This story is inspired by — and very loosely based on — the much more brilliant story “The Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick (1954).  Like the original, this story’s intended genre is science fiction.

Hooray for research

quills No of course this isn’t about my dissertation (though no doubt that’s what I should be doing rather than writing to you, faithful and much neglected Reader). It’s about my first research love — which would be anything related to corporal punishment.

Last week I wrote about the startle in Marc Drogin’s book about medieval calligraphy, which included the mention of “palmers” described as “sticks with round, flattened heads with which to slap students palms.” This interested me enough that I became obsessed with finding a picture of a palmer. I knew I needed to see one to make sure my scribe fantasies were accurate.
ferule1 Sadly, googling “palmer” revealed that “Palmer” is an insanely common author last name.  Too common even when adding “medieval” or “middle ages” or “scribe.”  I’m sure you, Dear Reader, have experienced this frustration — not enough specificity and you get 1,000,000 results, add too many words and you get none at all. After several fruitless hours I had to accept my defeat.

Almost.

As Paul would no doubt tell you, I am not easily thwarted.

So I posted to soc.sexuality.spanking, both to tell about the startle and to ask if anyone knew where an image for a “palmer” might be found.  Usenet being usenet, of course someone knew.  A “palmer” is, according to the expert response, another word for “ferule” (an implement had previously only seen as a weighted leather strap (see London Tanner’s “Convent Strap for an example). The poster included a link to this image of a ferule described as the”Ferule of mason’s guild, 1721″ housed at the Vysoké Mýto Museum in the Czech Republic (thoughts for a  Lupus film now run riot).
ferule2As the newsgroup discussion progressed and after I had expressed my thrilled excitement at the picture, Tony Elka mentioned that this one “it doesn’t really look like a spanking implement.” Given the text, I think this one may have been a symbol of guild office. But armed with my new knowledge of the wooden ferule, I began searching Google afresh, this time with more success.

palmetaOn this obviously fascinating page (which I hadn’t visited before), dedicated to listing and defining instruments of flagellation, I found an image of a “palmeta” (Spanish), described as “A short flat slab of wood used for punish children by beating them in their hands” which fitted quite nicely with the image of a “palmer” I now had in my head, though the word can also be used to mean pretty much any paddle shaped object or even a flyswatter.

Do you think they’re the sort of thing the good Abelard might have used on his teenaged student Heloise? He certainly does in my version of the tale.
boy-getting-feruleThese images generally aren’t the greatest (and seem to have been passed around the web for years and years with no mention of their origins) but are the best I’ve been able to find. Their very sketchiness is evocative for me. Hope they are for some of you too. Meanwhile, back to my apprentice scribe imaginings and my “real” scribe practicing.

10 February 2010: A late addition.  The lovely Haron over at Spanking Writers wrote about the palmer only to have a reader respond with a link to a seventeenth century painting The Village School by artist Jan Steen (on display at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. According to the artist notes, in this scene Steen used his three children, Catherina, Cornelis and Johannes, as models for the little girl, the boy being punished and the boy holding a paper. I’m rather pleased to see the palmer used in the painting being smaller (perhaps because it was being used on children?) than the ones depicted in photographs.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/84299143@N00/ / CC BY 2.0

Archiving Ourselves

 

I include Niki and Amy’s anti-piracy video not because it’s entirely relevant, but because it’s my favorite YouTube video.

As many of you know, despite the blogging and online forums where I also play, I still read and post on usenet (yes, I’m that old) on soc.sexuality.spanking.  A recent discussion there prompted these thoughts.

Question: Why anyone (like me) would object to any free site archiving stories we’ve given away anyway. There are authors like John Benson that give their work to be reproduced and archive freely. Why won’t I do that?

It’s not about money. I’ve only written a couple of stories for profit and even then I was paid peanuts and the copyright reverted to me after 24 months. Those stories are also, with only a few exceptions, archived on The Treehouse and have been for more than ten years now. So why *would* I care if someone else puts them up on another free site? Is it as simple as a selfish “they’re mine”?

Not exactly, but sort of. They are mine. Moreover, they’re me. I post them, but I can’t and don’t let go.

These stories aren’t just closely linked or even the product of my explorations of my spanking fantasies — the act of writing them and they themselves were explorations. Some early ones are accounts of child abuse, remember and relived in fear, anger and pain. Some are accounts of scenes with other people or were written as gifts to them — statements of love and hope. Others are fantasies that were so secret I’d never dared write them down before this moment when I did. They were all written in part as a gesture of thanks to my beloved alt.sex.spanking and soc.sexuality.spanking for freeing me to embrace this part of myself.

It’s been a long time, but when I re-read them, I remember writing each one, sometimes crying, sometimes shaking and sometimes incredibly turned on, almost burning with a desire to tell someone what I was seeing and feeling behind my eyes. I remember my heart thudding as I wrote and then again as I tried to decide whether or not to delete the story, whether or not I could bear to post it. This is all just a long way of saying that my stories may or may not be very good (and some are worse than others) but for me and to me they’re all very important.

When I first started posting to the group, someone put some of my stories on their website along with some pictures and a bunch of other work. They didn’t ask, but when I found the site (or rather someone else did) I was stunned and flattered. It was a simple little site on a free server (Free Yellow? — can’t remember). Within a month the owner got dropped from their free server because of content and bandwidth (remember when we used to have to worry about that? Yeah? Then you’re old too!). They moved the site to another free server, but this one was an adult server. The site had xxx banners with very explicit sexual imagines of, well, sex.

This wasn’t what the stories I wrote were about. This isn’t what I’m about or turned on by. I didn’t want them to be somewhere I felt I had to avert my eyes from every time I surfed over. I was horrified and asked that they be taken down. The owner was annoyed with me, feeling I didn’t understand the effort involved in formatting my stories and the difficulties of finding free hosting. I pointed out I hadn’t asked him to do this, that, in fact, I hadn’t even given permission.

At the same time, a number of authors on ASS were struggling to get their stories off any number of pay-sites that were sprouting like mushrooms and using the stories as both content and to drive traffic. Those stories, hundreds of them, had to a significant extent been ripped off a free archive, created with good intentions but without the permission of the authors involved. This struggle went on for years. In fact, for all I know, it’s still going on.

In response to this, and so we could say to people who wanted our work archived that it already was, Paul built The Treehouse, registered the domain and gave it to me as what is still the absolute bestest Christmas present ever. Although the site could do with a facelift (do you know how long 10 years is in internet terms?), it was and is the way I imagined those stories being presented. Every part of the site was talked about between us both at the time and after. The space was supposed to be an expression of innocence. Not innocence shattered or parodies, but reclaimed. Not dark or sexual, but light and fun. Nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

We pay for the domain and the hosting — no ads or sponsors. The control of the space is important enough that even when we were broke the hosting fees for The Treehouse were always a priority. The control is that important. It’s why since then I’ve given permission for archiving only to good friends and only for a few stories here and there. I’m not alone in this — a number of story sites, both current and past, were started for the same reason. Others stopped posting stories altogether or only post them to their own sites — it was just too much work to explain Usenet isn’t public domain. I know at least one person who only sends out stories via email as PDF documents.

And yes, I do complain when my stories are on sites without permission. I won’t stop doing that — whatever the site’s intentions might be. But I am going to try and speak a little more softly when I do so remembering that there can be good intentions all around.

[edited 28/10/09]


A Short Story Entry: The Chesterfield

The Craigslist Ad

“86”lx36″dx27″h oxblood leather, excellent condition, $1000″

chesterfieldThe advertisement’s text looked simple.  But the delicious picture, combined with the word “Chesterfield” tipped Annie into a fantasy realm.   Paul, noticing her distraction, asked what she was thinking.

She sent him a link, pointing him to the Craigslist ad.

Then Annie told the story.

A.’s Memory

I remember reading something about a Chesterfield sofa when I was 12 or 13.  I’m not sure where, an anon book, probably one of the BlueMoons.  I didn’t own it – I read it standing in a bookshop, trying to look like I wasn’t reading porn.

There was a scene in the book where a man, an artist I think, punishes a woman, maybe his model.  The man made her bend over the Chesterfield in his study and began to strap her hard.  But the woman wouldn’t or couldn’t stay still.  Her moving distracted him — broke up the image of punishment and submission he wanted to create.  She made his strap fall in the wrong places and leave marks he didn’t intend.

Finally the man stopped.  He left her there, crying and man came back with some of his old ties, tying her down so tightly she couldn’t even lift a foot, let alone get out of position.  Then, when she was utterly helpless, he told her he was beginning the strapping again.  I remember feeling of horror at the strapping starting all over, only this time with her tied so completely.

I loved that.  His beginning again.  Loved that she had to be still, totally and completely controlled.  His lack of mercy a strange mercy in itself.

Their Conversation

A: It’s a beautiful sofa.  The oxblood leather is the color of tramlines.  It reminds me something from a headmaster’s study.

P:  And you as a naughty girl?  You’d definitely be bent over it, gymslip lifted high up, almost over your head.

A:  I could bend over it without a stool, but my bottom wouldn’t be the highest point, unless I was standing on something or my feet were off the floor.

P: Yes, your hands would be tied in front and you’d stand on a stool.

A: So I’d be all stretched out and up on my toes?

P: Yes.  It looks like it would be comfortable enough to live with too.  That’s an important, if secondary, consideration.

A: Yes.  We’ll definitely need to be able to live with it as our sofa.

A: Sorry.   I’m actually still imagining I’m bent over the back of it, wearing my new gymslip, hands tied so I’m all stretched, bottom very high.  I can almost feel you lifting the skirt waaay up on my back, the front riding up too.  Finally feeling you tug my knickers down for a thrashing.  Right?

P: Goodness, what a naughty girl you must have been.  Of course, that’s a good position for inserting a nice big plug, too.

A: ::stunned, embarrassed silence::

Final Nagging Question

Will the seller take less than $1000?

Details

[Once upon a time in the summer of 2000, for a very brief couple of months, the usenet provider Newsguy paid me to write some articles on spanking. It was great fun being paid for writing about something I write about for free and I really enjoyed it. Sadly, they never found a way to do the age protection they felt the “adult” writing needed so my gig ended after only four articles. Still, I did love doing it. This is one of the pieces I produced.]

“A fetish is nothing if not specific.”

Pablo Stubbs made this wise remark to me at some point when I joked, with some amazement, at the effort and expense he had put into finding just the right gymslip and knickers for me (grey pleated and bottle green respectively). When one is dealing with something which has the power traditional school uniforms have for my partner, expense and inconvenience – not to mention my own physical discomfort, British school uniforms being somewhat less than seasonal in my desert clime – seem trivially unimportant.

“A fetish is nothing if not specific.”

My brain echoed the phrase again as we sat the other night admiring a friend’s canes. He’s got quite a few – all with distinct (and distinctly painful) qualities based on their length and the density of the rattan they’re made from. They are sanded and varnished to precise silky smoothness. All but one has the crook handle of a traditional English cane. Each cane has specific value to our friend for its own sake. As he flexed the canes, and swished them through the air, their number (six, I believe) obviously didn’t seem excessive to him. Choosing the right one to impart the right message was an important part of the ritual discipline h would be administering.

For me, sitting nervously watching and listening, which cane he would use seemed unimportant. Had he owned but one or two that would have been enough to make me shift nervously in my chair. The swishing of one would have made me cringe slightly, probably visibly. For me, the detail that was important – specific – was that I was to be caned in the specific and traditional manner of a very strict English school. The caning would be slow and exceptionally painful, yet I would be expected to remain as still and quiet as possible during it. Since for me restraints tend to make scenes easier, the authenticity of this caning was what would make it possible for me to restrain myself.

Our friend knew this about me, knew that how and why I was being caned was as important (or more important) than the caning itself. So beforehand we carefully discussed what I’d done which merited this level of punishment. As we talked, I became a disobedient schoolgirl who deserved the sort of strict, harsh punishment I imagined would be meted out by a traditional (and perhaps sadistic?) headmaster at a strict school sometime in the past. I felt guilty and nervous, my hand finally shaking as it tapped gently on his “office” door.

This is the power of specificity for me. My friend, knowing his role, scolded me and slowly manoeuvred me into position. In the past this part has been extended by conversation, time in the corner, essay and line writing. By the time I’m bent over, standing on tip-toe, blushing and dying of shame as my knickers are slowly lowered to my knees, I’m generally already in tears. Some might think (and sadly have thought) that the caning itself is irrelevant at this point, that the strokes don’t need to be very severe. But for me anyway this isn’t the case. Our friend didn’t disappoint; each stroke was delivered with full force, in straight lines, with a great deal of time between each. I thanked him for each one and willed myself to stay in position for “twelve of the best”, as befits a girl receiving such a traditional punishment.

In the morning I could see where each stroke had left the distinctive double marks or “tram-lines” that are the evidence of a traditional caning. I couldn’t help smiling at the proof of my “punishment” as I admired it in the mirror. It’s all about details, you know.

After all, a fetish is nothing if not specific.