April 26, 2009

Public Play/Exposure

In my most recent story line post, Getting out of Town, I was challenged by a reader about the public nature of a scene or scenario I described. I was very happy to receive the challenge, the question:
I truly don't have a problem with the bondage in the car, but I draw the line at exposing myself in public, or any displays of a blatantly sexual nature such as inserting a bullet.
Can you explain how you determine what's healthy for the sub, as well as what you deem is acceptable for public viewing, and in the presence of whom?

"I suspect I draw the line very near where you do. You can imagine that not a lot is exposed pulling a pair of panties up over her legs, lifting her bottom slightly off the seat, and sliding them up under her dress. She is sitting down in the seat and the man is knelt down beside her."

"The simple and slight action of slipping a small vibrator down inside her panties is completely obscured by the car, the tinted windows, her hands, her clothing and such. I did not conceive of it as a blatantly sexual act, but rather a clandestine, private moment."

"Do I think it has potential for embarrassment or humiliation? I most certainly do, and counted on it for the energy between them, for the embarrassed excitement she would feel from it, and for him."

This has stuck in my mind and I have been thinking about public play. Not the kind of public play you encounter at a dungeon or BDSM play party, but the kind of interaction between people, that takes place out there in the world. There is a subtle, or not so subtle, intimacy between two people that can be enhanced by the potential for exposure, or discovery, or observation. A kind of play or interaction that is not blatantly obvious to others, but places the submissive in a situation where they are being treated in a very private way in a very public venue.

I recall a story of a girl who was being so obstinate, and so unwilling to disconnect from her upset about an event, that she could not be in the moment with her owner. He was wanting her to let go of the matter, set it aside, and to enjoy a lovely evening out on the town. Even though she knew she was acting that way, she chose to continue. She eventually earned herself a spanking, and it was administered then and there, on the sidewalk, in a mixed residential/restaurant neighborhood, and was observed by, others. At least one person actually was standing on their front porch, watching her get a fairly sound spanking, and I recall distinctly her humiliation and embarrassment that this would be carried out in front of "ordinary people". (I tried to go back and find the exact details, but I think my memory serves well enough).

Many months ago I wrote about an actual event, Hand Controls, where a girl exposed her breasts in a casino, in front of many people, controlled by a man near by. One comment suggested that it was inappropriate. I confess I certainly enjoyed the sight of that beautiful young Asian girl, but I would not conduct myself in that manner in real life. I have a high regard for public decency, and am quite conservative regarding what I would allow to be viewed in public.

But, these examples raise the question, Where are the boundaries? Certainly, there is excitement, arousal, titillation, pleasure, fun, any number of feelings and emotions to be explored by adding an element of casual observation by uninvolved onlookers. There is embarrassment, humility, Humiliation, and excitement that grows from that public exposure. But there is also risk of ridicule, censure, perhaps even arrest for indecent behavior in public.

There is a great opportunity for enhancing the experience of dominance and submission by taking it outside, into the public arena, or on the edge of the public arena. There are any number of small, or large, but still a subtlety of control/action a dominant can require of a girl in a semi-public way, but somewhere there is a line that can be crossed where you go beyond public decency, but where is that line? Who decides?


  1. I've given a great deal of thought to this discussion as well. and Daddy and I have discussed this subject a few times about different scenarios so that he could determine what is humiliating to me, and what is not.

    I've thought of so many things about this post that I'm working on one of my own. In essence, as so many have said in response to your other posts on humiliation, it is about context, perspective, and consent - the couple's consent, as well as the forced consent of the immediate public.

    And, imho, once you get involved in public humiliation, all bets are off. Once it goes bad or leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it's hard to "unring the bell." (This is a quote used often by the Supreme Court about choices whether to allow prejudicial testimony or evidence in the presence of a jury.)

    In public or private, the most humiliating thing Daddy will do is say something to make me blush. That's my limit on humiliation.

    Yet, like others, my activities with Daddy will be humiliating for some, yet do not humiliate me. And, those activities are not to humble me, as I am always aware of my choice to submit to Daddy, and I do so out of love and respect for him. With us, it is always about choice.

    thanks for such a provocative post.
    Daddy's cutesy pah

  2. Fascinating topic and one that is in reality quite foreign to me, but in fantasy quite challenging to me. I'm not quite sure what to think, just that it makes me think.

  3. Sometimes you have to be willing to let go just a bit of what you consider "proper" and just enjoy the moment and the feeling of over exposure. I would imagine that to most it only heightens the sensations. :)

  4. For me, a little "humiliation" in public, heightens my arousal, and is an opportunity to enjoy our D/s relationship. Here is one example: We go to an open air market. From the moment I get out of the car, I am on 'cunt reach'. I must not move away from him, reminding me every moment I am with him, that I am 'owned'. I make the suggestions..."let's get some salmon, and some marinara mix for a pasta". He chooses the pieces he likes, and he pays. When, we stop for coffee and share a panini, I find the table, he places the order. We do it the same way, every time. It's ever so subtle, but for us, sensual and playful, and a reminder of our relationship.

    Here's another example of "humiliation" in a public space. A friend of mine will be taken out for a meal by her man. Should she choose to be cheeky, he simply fetches the short leather strap from his briefcase and places it on the table. And, there it stays for the duration of the meal. She tells me she is appalled, but how come she is just as cheeky the next time?

    One time recently, my husband and I were out walking and in response to a comment, he gave me a hard smack on my bottom. At the time we thought we were alone, but along came a man on his bike, and he enjoyed watching the smack, evidenced by the huge grin on his face.

    "Humiliation" that actually confronts people in public isn't something that I am into. But, if the public is tittilated, then why not?

  5. Interesting question.

    For me in some ways it is simplistic. I don't believe ANYONE has the right to force their fantatsies on non-consenting individuals in the public. By that I mean soemthing that is blatant, can by normal standards be considered outside the norm.

    a subtle play such as you indicated in your stories is fine insofar as my standards exist - i.e. you're in a public venue, granted, BUT, as you pointed out (and I concluded that from the story itself)- the "play" was subtle and more suggestive than blatant, you were in an adult venue to begin with and nothing really was shown or exposed that could be construed as overtly salacious.

    To me, "public" play is all about subtley and sugestion rather than obviousness and plain crassness. That's what adolescents do - one woudl hope that maturity brings with it a balanced viewpoint and dignity!

    There are many 'safe' yet public venues as you point out in your story; cars with tinted window, actions obscured largely by sleight of hand, subtle but to discerning eyes overtures of possession (a quick cup of a bottom, a hand running down a thigh under a short skirt, a look, firm and commanding, a hand on the upper arm, implcable and slightly harsh)- there are many many ways to indulge one's personal delight in certain play without forcing those not inclined into the game.

    To me it is simple. Respect.

  6. i think we must also take into account our surroundings. there are communities in which passerby wouldn't look twice at a passing swat (like the one vesta's bicycler observed) and there are others in which it would become town gossip. i would definitely take that into consideration when deciding my comfort level with public play... but i think that decision is up to me and my partner and does not have to be based on some sort of responsibility to avoid "forced consent."

    personally i think responsibility needs to be placed on adults. if there are children around, things change, but adults are responsible for themselves. i don't think it's my right or responsibility to decide what other people might find offensive.

    i'm not advocating for all of us submissives walking around with leashes on, kneeling at our dominants' feet and the like. i just think that we can make those decisions based on ourselves (assessing questions like "will my boss walk by?" or "am i likely to get a response that will make me uncomfortable?") and not on trying to babysit people who are perfectly capable of refocusing their attention or otherwise taking responsibility for staying away from the things they don't want to be exposed to.

    a metaphor: i find cigarettes extremely offensive, and they make me ill to the point of requiring medication in order to continue functioning. and yet people smoke them all the time. sometimes i cannot avoid them, and this causes serious health and convenience issues, with sometimes having to cancel plans because of getting ill due to smoke. but i live in a world where my needs cannot be anticipated by the masses... i have to take responsibility for coping if a cigarette pops up when i wasn't expecting it. sometimes i speak to the smoker directly and sometimes i simply have to adjust.

    i find the act of smoking cigarettes in any place where others can inhale the second-hand smoke to be offensive and disrespectful. even dangerous. but there are no laws that keep cigarettes in private spaces only. i think there should be, but there aren't.

    witnessing a spanking doesn't have near the negative effect that second-hand cigarette smoke can. and yet nonsmokers and asthmatics everywhere are the ones with the responsibility for avoiding it. sometimes it's impossible but we deal. we're adults... if we never want to be exposed to something we might not like, we have the choice to isolate ourselves, order everything online and never leave our homes.

  7. Right. You have to consider the consent of innocent bystanders, so keep any BDSM in the vanilla world subtle. You don't want to be tacky or obnoxious, but sometimes it's cool to challenge people a little. For instance, my Dom calls me "slut" as a term of endearment, and he'll sometimes call me that in front of other adults at a party. It usually sparks a good conversation.

    I also love when he grabs me by the hair to kiss me in public - very sexy.

  8. Rubbing people's faces in a scene which should be privately between 2 people, is just wrong; I have no desire to be involved in the sexual escapades of
    strangers while I'm eating my lunch and minding my own business. Having said that, however, the subtle act of humiliation or exposure, with just-a-hint of the possibility of discovery is extremely erotic as it underlines the Dominant individual's control over his charge.

  9. I do like finding that edge... I have no problem with public displays of affection, and recently wearing my collar in public felt very good, although a little nerve-wracking (it wouldn't have felt good if anyone I knew had seen it). On the other hand, as soon as it intrudes into someone else's enjoyment, it's a problem.