I’m deeply honored and pleased (and yeah, a little turned on) to re-post, with permission, a really remarkable essay on race play.
Shock #1, it isn’t by me.
Less shocking, it is about me, kinda.
Shockingest of all? It is an essay written from the top’s experience in doing race play. My friend Gray(dancer), who blogs here and podcasts here, was gracious enough to write about how the scenes we’ve done have been for him.
I am glad he chose to share this, as it is less typical to read about scenes from a top’s perspective, and I personally haven’t seen anyone else write on this particular role play from the “bad-guy” perspective. Sidebar: I’ve pulled together a bunch of my previous writings / interviews / media on this topic to be found and updated as needed here: mollena.com/race-play
So bit props to Gray, and I’m off to…um…(re)read it in the privacy of under my blanket. With a vibrator.
Posted by Graydancer, December 30th, 2011
Yesterday Mollena got a tweet asking if anyone had written about race play from the white or oppressor’s side. She tagged me as being someone who ought to, so, for better or worse, here it is:
Hi. I’m the oppressor.
I don’t feel like the oppressor. Seems to me that I don’t make enough money to be the oppressor. But I have a melanin deficit in my skin, so when I play with Mollena, sometimes, I’m the oppressor.
Not all the time. It’s strangely, vitally important that you know that. There are times when I’m playing with Mollena that there’s nothing about race involved in the play. It’s about making her mouth open in that silent scream, feeling her body shake with an orgasm, watching her eyes roll back as she tries to keep her body from betraying her the way it does, over and over, to my particular methods of inflicting pain and pleasure.
See how easy it is to talk about that? That’s my kind of pleasure, and if it’s oppression, it’s the oppression I’m comfortable with. The fact that we have different shades of skin is purely incidental.
The other kind of oppression also gets her off. The part that starts with the different shades of skin, and the long and horror-filled history of one color having power over another nonconsensually. She’s written a lot about why that turns her on, and I’m not going to even try to explain her point of view (see how non-oppressive I am?).
But it does turn her on, and a turned-on Mollena turns me on, and so I go to some of those places with her. Twice, actually, both times for demonstration purposes, as she taught classes on the subject of race play.
It’s actually a bit of an honor to be chosen to help her teach that class. Sometimes when she teaches it there is no “demo”, only lecture because she can’t find any of the elite cadre of doms that she trusts enough to do this with. I’ve watched other doms do it with her, and there is a special sense of fraternité amongst us (I use that word because the one woman in the group is French). Because where most people see the horror of some of our country’s deepest sins re-enacted, I see the awkwardness. I see how hard it is for those people to go there. I see them trying, valiantly, to put on that mantle of the oppressor and keep it in place long enough for Mo to suspend her disbelief and go to that happy place of terror.
It ain’t easy. My heart goes out to them.
The first time we tried it I didn’t have as much trouble. She’d sent me some “slaver erotica” that she’d written long ago, about a plantation owner and his slave and the raunchy love affair they had. Hot stuff, and it fed into my imagination so that I found a role within the milieu that I could be comfortable with. Not a plantation owner – I’m far from a landed gentleman. But I could do a fair ship’s captain, and so we concocted a scenario where I was a friend of her plantation owner, and was “taking her off his hands” since he’d discovered his wife was teaching her to read. I was able to work this story into a humiliation scene, playing on her love (possibly lesbian love? lesbian love is hot) for the wife, and the feeling of betrayal that she was putting the woman through. Mollena went to tears pretty quickly that evening, and it only got hotter, as I tore her nightgown and threw her against the stocks. I don’t remember if I tied her, I just remember that there was a very surreal moment as I stood behind her, in Victorian era clothing, pulling my whip hand back and about to strike.
It wasn’t the hot lover Mollena I was about to whip. It was a rebellious slave that needed to be put in her place, a piece of flesh that I was entitled to use just as much as I’m entitled to use this chair I’m sitting in. In that moment I felt connected with the oppressor, with the mindset that there is an “us” and a “them”. It’s a weird, skewed way to view the world for a liberal boy like me, and it’s not pleasant. It was dark and cold and yes, a bit seductive in that self-destructive way that I imagine heroin or meth is. You know that it’s going to destroy you eventually, but you do it anyway for the icy thrill of it…and maybe because there’s nothing else to do.
See, that was part of it, too. I was in the middle of a class, not even my class. I was in front of about 50 or so of my friends, peers, or people who had come to see this – exactly this, me as the oppressor oppressing the oppressed. So what was I going to do, stop and say “Y’know, I just don’t feel right about this.”
No, the educator ethics and the loyalty to my friend and yes, some domly hubris all stepped in and I did my duty. I whipped her back, I marked her ass, I growled and grabbed and took her down to her knees and reduced her to a quivering puddle.
Then we decided it had been enough, and she walked with a quiet, graceful dignity carrying her shredded nightgown over to where her other clothes were waiting. We had figured she might need some time to come down before she could answer questions, so I fielded some, as best I could.
The thing is, I needed time too. And at least somebody saw it, because just as Mollena was starting to join me, a black domme said “Honey, there were a few moments when I felt sorry for you. I just wanted to come out and pat you on the back and say ‘It’s gonna be alright.'”
Mollena smiled graciously and said “Well, thank you for that, but -”
The woman interrupted her. “I wasn’t talking to you, dear. I was talking to him.”
I don’t know if I really am qualified to write about race play, because I don’t get off on it. But I get off on getting off people who do get off on it, and perhaps I get something more. I think in some ways it reinforces my own knowledge that I am not that oppressor. Revisiting those evil places helps, in a way, remind me of where the good ones are as well.
Sometimes it doesn’t work so well, though. The second time I served in this role I decided to get creative, and instead of some kind of role-play with swashbuckling romance I decided to stay closer to home. In fact, she was teaching in my hometown of Madison, WI (the Bondage Capital of the World) and it was definitely going to be an interesting session – not the least because the organizer was one of the few POC’s (that’s People of Color, for all of you Lutherans) in the local community. My ex-girlfriend was also in the audience, a POC who I’d introduced to the community months before. She and I had never played this way together, and I wasn’t sure how she’d react to seeing me treat Mollena in this way. Still…I was part of that sacred cadre of assholes Mo trusted, so my duty was clear. Bring on the racist overtones for the sake of education!
Mollena had left the scene planning this time entirely to me. I decided to play on another story she’d told me, about a job interview that had gone south as she gradually discovered her potential boss using more and more racial epithets, expressing stereotypes, and basically acting appalling. What if that happened in a scene? I wondered, and decided to go ahead and give it a try.
As it started, I was simply Gray tying up Mollena – a simple chest harness up to a suspension point, tying her legs together. As I worked, I waxed eloquent about how beautiful her skin was, then started getting a little more specific about her lips, her hair. At one point I did a costume change, and my Standard Domwear of black jeans, black boots, and t-shirt was replaced by low-slung baggies, sneakers, and a sleeveless adidas shirt, with a baseball cap sideways on my head.
At about the point that I was tying her hands out to either side, so that she was sort of in a crucified pose, I started dropping the N-word into my conversation with her. I started calling her a “ho”, even to the point of trying to auction her off to the other people in the audience. Sounds kind of intense, right?
It wasn’t. Not even remotely. Why? Because I’d ignored all of my stage training, and the N-word was not flowing trippingly from my tongue. I hadn’t rehearsed it. Rather, I was having to force it out, past decades of conditioning to not say it, and it was obvious to everyone, breaking up my rhythm, blowing any semblance of a confident attitude. Bad enough in a scene, but this was also happening in front of a packed room (there were no other classes at this time) full of my home-town kinksters.
To say I felt awkward would be an understatement. And I could see from Mo’s face that she saw it, too. She’s a mouthy bitch in the best of times; this would have been a grand opportunity for her to really tear into me, to teach me quite a lesson about the White Man’s Burden.
Honestly, I suspect that if we had been doing a scene privately, she would have. And I would have deserved it. If you’re playing that deep in the realm of shadows, you have to be prepared to get as bad as you give. If she could manage to make me feel guilty for my racist slurs, make me feel ashamed of the way I was treating her, then she would have won, and in a way I would have too – because perhaps I would have given her a small way she to reclaim some of the power that was taken by people who said such things to her when she was not in a position to rebutt.
However, this was a class. More than that, it was not supposed to be about reclaiming power. It was supposed to be about pushing enough buttons in Mo to make her lose it, to make her crumple up into a tiny persecuted ball of perverted Negress so that she could rise up again after, stronger. My outfit was laughable, though, and the attempts to auction her off as a sex slave had been met with awkward silence and even more awkward bad jokes from the audience. None of it was actually going to get her there.
So I played my final card. I stopped trying to be “homeboy”. I stopped with the Vanilla Ice imitation, dropped it all, and just looked at her. I reached down inside for that cold, dehumanizing place, and let her see it in my eyes. I let some of the pain of humiliation at my sad attempts of verbiage come out as anger.
“No one even wants to pay a dollar for you to suck a cock,” I said, matter of factly. “Guess that means you’re only good for one thing.”
I reached in my bag, pulled out a can of lighter fluid. I squeezed, letting the jet of liquid cover her bare tits, her bound legs, her arms stretched out to each side. I came up behind her, grabbed her head, and growled in her ear “Burn, you N****bitch,” and lit my zippo.
She screamed and burst into tears.
I heard later from friends things like “Wow. I didn’t think you’d go there,” and “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” While I had managed to save my domly reputation, they had missed the point. We’d made a good show for them, but that key moment, that cathartic scream had very little to do with me and very much to do with Mollena’s own ability to reach in and pull the darkness out of the hiddenmost places.
Mollena knew it wasn’t lighter fluid. Water smells like water, especially when you’re squirting it out of a very-washed-out lighter fluid can. She also knew I wasn’t going to turn her into a flaming cross even in the Bondage Capital of the World.
No, there was no suspension of disbelief there for her. Rather, my actions had triggered for her a belief; a belief that there have been times, not in the too-distant past, when a woman like her would have been dowsed with fuel by a man like me and lit on fire for the edification of a crowd like that. And that just as in the demo we did – the demo where people could not smell that it wasn’t really lighter fluid – no one would have lifted a finger to stop me.
That would be enough to break anyone, I would think.
I still get scared when I think about it. It reminds me of how fickle, how close the mob mentality is. It reminds me of how that dark and icy part of me is all-to-easy to access, and how important it is to cultivate a habit of love and humanity and understanding to keep it at bay.
That’s part of the lesson of race play, for me. It is a reminder of what I’m not, of what we have been, and of what we have to constantly fight becoming.
The other part? My hand brushed Mollena’s pussy as I was taking her down from the tie. Sopping wet.