Thursday, August 1, 2013

Emotional and Financial Dependency

Emotional Degradation and Emotional Subjection

Emotional degradation is a form of emotional SM that goes beyond embarrassment or humiliation into the realm of stripping the bottom of self-esteem or inner resources. For many people being embarrassed, humiliated, or even degraded can be very hot. Where to draw the line, and how to be sure that the loss of self-esteem stays under control and does not pervade aspects of life where it is unwanted can be very difficult to assess.

The heavier and riskier forms of this kind of play bring up questions about potentially damaging someone's self-respect both in and out of scene. While many males find it very hot to be told their cocks are small and unsatisfying in scene, and many females and males alike find it very hot to be told they are dirty, disgusting, or too ugly to desire, it would potentially be damaging to reinforce someone's negative self-image. To tell someone that he is stupid, useless, or undesirable may be hot for the person at the time, but it carries a lot of risk if it is repeated daily. It is the responsibility of the partners to consider the long-term self-esteem issues involved and to be sure that this kind of play does not lead into nonconsensual areas that sneak up on the partners over time.

More than most kinds of risky play, emotional degradation seems to risk a relationship's crossing the line into abuse. If the submissive or bottom is constantly told he or she is useless or subject to the top/dom's every whim, told to stay home doing the only lowly tasks he or she is good for, devoid of an outside job, school, or independent friends, and otherwise made dependent financially and emotionally on the top/dom for any kind of support or approval, how do the partners know if consent is still being given of free will? Even though such a model of abject subjection and extreme dependency on one's dom or top is appealing to many people, top and bottom alike, there is a substantial long-run risk of entrapment involved. Such relationships can start off with freely given and informed consent, but risk long-run emotional damage as well as the loss of opportunities in life.

Not all such relationships go down such a sad road! But to not think about the risks in advance and periodically reevaluate the situation is foolish.

Blackmail and Financial Subjection

Some people fantasize about being blackmailed. After all, blackmail is a form of control. While this is an extreme form of play that is rarely talked about in public, it does occur consensually. In one variant, the bottom consensually gives the top control over financial resources like bank accounts. If the bottom does not do the top's bidding or maintain whatever agreement was made, the top takes away the resources or reduces the bottom's allotment. In another variant, the top investigates the bottom's life and threatens to reveal unacceptable details to family or an employer unless payment or acquiescent behavior are forthcoming. Obviously, smaller amounts of resources afford less risk. But most of the time I have heard of this kind of play, it involves astonishingly large sums, even a person's entire savings.

Clearly this sort of play risks the top's not returning the resources or using them inappropriately. Disputes, particularly between unmarried lovers, can be hard to resolve. Under ordinary social mores, many would doubt that anyone can possibly give fully informed consent to something so extreme. But it is a fact that people do play this way. For some it is successful play.

Successful forms of this play sometimes entail specific goals for the bottom, such as studying harder at school, losing weight, or more frivolous goals such as the bottom's learning to kneel each night before bed. The palpable reality of actually losing money can be highly motivating as well as erotic. Complete financial dependency or vulnerability can also be a form of erotic control.

There are instances of people losing a lot of money this way. You are very foolish if you think it can't possibly happen to you because your dom or top would never do that to you or because you will never have a dispute with your partner. The person you have negotiated with may be completely serious when it comes to the financial threats involved in whatever contractual arrangements you agree to. In fact, for many, the appeal of this kind of play is inherently intertwined with the top's "badness," seriousness, or unpredictability. On the other hand, there are people in long-term relationships whose subjection or jeopardy does consensually and erotically involve the handing over of such financial reins. After all, many traditional marriages throughout the world involve similar arrangements, with the female having no independent resources. Such arrangements, while they may not appeal to feminists, do not innately preclude happiness or love in life.

If you are considering such an extreme form of play, it makes sense to consider getting a good lawyer to go over any contract you sign. You should also consider the long-term situation you may be putting yourself or your dependents in if you cannot reclaim resources in the event of a broken relationship or contract. I don't know of any court cases to date of anyone suing to reclaim resources surrendered to a dom in such circumstances, but I won't be surprised to hear it come up eventually.Tops and doms can get used as well as bottom and subs, if the negotiations are not clear and mutually acceptable. For the top to provide financial support for the bottom with nothing commensurate granted in return is also unlikely to be tenable in a long-term relationship.