SM and Sex, and Ending a Scene

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by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

November 1995

Copyright © 1995 by William A. Henkin

<Q> At what point in the scene do you have sex?

<A> Me? Or you? I'm going to assume your query is not a proposition, and that you're asking about the presence of sex in SM scenes in general. In that context, sex may happen at the end of a scene, at the beginning of a scene, anywhere in the middle of a scene, or not at all, depending on the players and the scene itself.

For some people SM is really an elaborate foreplay; for them the scene will end in frustration without intercourse or some other form of genital release. For others, such as those who play primarily for the exchange of erotic energy, genital release may be of little consequence: if it happens, it happens; if it doesn't it's no matter. For yet other people, including those who play with people who are not their usual orientation partners (e.g., a gay woman playing with a gay man) it might be important to avoid genital contact in a scene. For some folks overt sex may be too distracting; or it may recall experiences they want to avoid remembering; or it may contravene agreements they have with their primary partners about the ways they will experience erotic play. For still others, the matter of having or not having sex may be contained in the scene itself: Mistress may or may not permit her slave the release with which she's enticed him, depending on his behavior, on her needs, or perhaps just on her whim. And for yet others, whether or when to have sex is one of many points to be negotiated before any scene begins.

Although people often define a successful SM scene by saying that it's hot, sexy, or erotic, none of these terms necessarily means that a scene is sexual. Each can refer equally to a scene's energy, its choreography, its artistic features, the quality of the play, or other characteristics. More important than knowing at what point in the scene someone else has sex is the question of when in a scene you want to have sex. Once you know that, actualizing your desires is a matter for discussion and negotiation with your play partner(s).

* * *

<Q> How do you get out of a role after a scene?

<A> The best way I've found to define the boundaries of a scene has been to contain it through some form of ritual that describes the process of moving out of ordinary reality at the beginning, and a parallel ritual that describes the process of returning to ordinary reality at the end. Providing the scene with "bookends" in this way usually makes it easier for people to shift into and out of their scene roles or personas, so they don't carry their workaday selves into the scene, or carry their scenes into their day-to-day lives.

Perhaps by dint of my own training, and perhaps because my interests lie more clearly in the psychological direction of DS than the physical direction of SM, I've grown fond of putting on and taking off a collar to symbolize the beginning and end of a scene. For some people who use them, collaring rituals can be quite elaborate: the bottom repeats a kind of credo about the purpose of the collar and her relationships to it and to the top, she may be required to kiss the collar, and otherwise to perform some obeisance acknowledging that for the duration of the scene the bottom and the top are, by mutual consent, unequal. At the end of the scene a related uncollaring acknowledges that the scene is over and the two people are once again, by mutual consent, equal.

If you're a novice and you have questions about how to structure a scene altogether, not just to get out of role, Lady Green's The Sexually Dominant Woman: A Workbook for Nervous Beginners is especially useful for all tops regardless of sex, gender, or orientation. It's available for $15 + shipping through QSM, P.O. Box 880154, San Francisco, CA 94188-00154, or from Greenery Press, 3739 Balboa Street, #195, San Francisco, CA 94121.

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