(This note is inspired by a brief comment of Louise Culmerâ€™s in the thread of When rape is a gift: “Try and adopt the philosophy of the immortal Mrs Patrick Campbell, you know “I don't care what people do as long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.””)
I have been blessed, mixedly, over recent years in intimate relationship with two strong, willful, resistant women with deep but largely unacknowledged desires to be taken in hand by a strong, loving man. Such women are so very hard to read that the issue of consensual non-consent is troublingly problematic. In both cases these were women capable of profound connection with animals, specifically horses and dogs. I wish to suggest that a womanâ€™s “guard dog” can provide a useful objective correlative for the ongoing state of openness, trust, and loving attachment in the romantic relation of man and woman; if you will, a rather reliable barometric reading of the intimate atmosphere.
Years ago I was fond of telling outrageous, frightening campfire stories to a warm, extended community of folks, dog lovers all, on a rural pond in New Hampshire. My niece in particular loved to be scared be-jeebers. A sweet little mongrel dog named Brutus, who would howl when talk got animated—his way of asserting his role in the family pack—was in attendance on special story-telling evening. As I reached the thrilling climax to the story, approaching my niece all the while, arm extended in mock menacing manner, she let out a classic Lois Lane scream, and gentle Brutus, suddenly fiercely protective of her, chomped down on my wrist—biting but not biting.
Children and dogs have rather exquisite intuition of the human heart and its intentions. Other than the evidence of the loving trust of a good woman, there are few experiences that surpass the feeling of so being seen, known, and understood than to be the playmate-uncle to a mischievous, energy-filled child or alpha to a spirited dog. I ride very high on the loving teasing and the mock-fighting. Is consensual non-consent any different from these implicit arrangements where nothing is stated and all is understood?
Iâ€™ve great admiration for the many women whose disclosures Iâ€™ve read on this site. Privacy, delicacy, modesty militate against exposure of the personal intimacies revealed in such pieces as When rape is a gift—these are matters that are the exclusive domain of the shared world of loving man and woman. “Like freedom feels where wild horses run” sings Elton John. When we let our own wild horses run and then talk about it we do indeed risk stampeding the rest of the herd. I feel gratitude that folks are willing to share their deepest heart publicly—it is deeply inspiring and encouraging to know that there are others who share our needs for full intimacy, passionate intensity, and release of our animal-human powers and energies—but there is as well a sense of shame, particularly for a man, and in the name of strong, loving, aggressive men, that women should feel so deeply unfulfilled in certain desires that they must so explicitly open themselves to dopey public censure in giving away the keys to the candy store.
“An it harm none, do as ye will” summarizes well my own pagan, libertarian convictions. Clearly, many who participate on this site hold similar views. With this qualifier, perhaps.“Harm” is not given primacy. We want the good stuff and we are more willing than some to assume certain risks in order to get it. Perhaps more shyly than football players or wrestlers, some women are proud to wear the inexplicable and certainly unintended bruises of strenuous, passionate bouts. One grows weary of insisting that this is not about harm or hurting. The overarching objection to this site is, I suspect, not so much the envy, spite, and malice of those with the puritan fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying illicit delight, but that we talk about it in ways that cast aside the modern commandment of bullying, tame, egalitarian mediocrity that demands above all else that one shall not give offense and hurt anotherâ€™s feelings. To adapt common currency, why should taken in hand couples have 90% of the fun?
Though we may frighten some of the nanny-staters riding their ginned up panting and ranting hobby-horses I think we need not be concerned with their grievance mongering. There will always be those totalitarian mentalities to draw momentous metaphysical implications and “messages” from evidence of unconventional, private, consensual behavior. The personal and intimate is decidedly not the political; indeed, at its best, it is largely primal, animal, carnal (oh yuck) and spontaneously pre-rational and non-discursive. It goes largely to explain why some of us with deep needs for intuitive, emotional connection so often have a sense of mammalian family that far outweighs phony-baloney family-of-man pieties.
Call me goofy but I love having a womanâ€™s protective dog in attendance at the primal scene. They do indeed get stirred up, but they do not bite. And nothing is more telling than a woman in the throes of passionate resistance (when she is, so to speak, the piece de resistance of a lovely encounter) who reassures her dog that all is well. Thus, children fully absorbed in playing street stickball, using eyes in the back of their head, unfailingly dodge the cars.
To deny that we can know against knowing and consent without consenting is to ignore important dimensions of full, rich, living human reality.
I'd like to close with a kind of friendly toast to both the more traditional taken in hand women, those whose male counterpart both insists they keep after the household chores and sees to their erotic gratification (one might say, he makes you both mop and glow), and to all those radiantly willful, resistant, tempting, spitfires: To those blissful moments when men get hard and women melt (and with a nod to Nina Simone), here's to some steam on your clothes and a little sugar in your bowl.
Have you seen the following articles?
Happy living in fear of a man?!
Moving into a Taken In Hand relationship
Equality isn't all it's cracked up to be
Don't forget your whip
Give new love a chance
My life, my choice
The submissive alpha female
He isn't interested in or capable of taking you in hand?
Keeping the lines of communication open
Resistance is futile