Subspace & Lightweights & Consenting When We Shouldn’t

Subspace & Lightweights & Consenting When We Shouldn’t

A pretty cocktail on a counter.

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


Let me ask you a question: Do you know a lightweight? Someone who gets drunk easily? Starts to feel the effects a few sips in, and is dancing on the tables after two frou-frou drinks?

Maybe you are the lightweight?

Either way, I’d like you to keep this in mind.

We’re coming back to it later.

On Monday, I wrote about the differences between BDSM and abuse. Thanks to Joyfulwish and Green-eyzz, the topic of subspace came up, and I made a note to write about it.

On Monday evening AppleP wrote Negotiations matter more than “what we’re doing” (FetLife link—which I read this morning), and in it, he said:

During play, any consent is far from sober, or at the very least properly informed. A YES IN PLAY IS EXTREMELY RISKY, AND IN MANY CASES BLATANT CONSENT VIOLATION.

Ok, universe, I get the point.

I’m slow, not stupid. LOL!

So, the play we do is awesome, amazing, wonderful, and it is a drug. Well, actually, it’s A LOT of drugs.

Play creates a chemical dump in our brains making all sorts of neurons fire and others not fire, and drugs do this, too, by activating these same natural processes in our bodies to release chemicals.

In kinky play, we’re doing these things on purpose.

We’re playing with our bodies physically and our minds emotionally to create specific effects.

And some people are more susceptible to these effects than others. They are lightweights when it comes to the feel-goods.

I bet you know people like this as well. Who fall hard and fast in love (or infatuation). Who seem perfectly normal and sane until they get struck by Cupid’s arrow.

The first stages of love act on the body as well, even without play. Infatuation is an amazing thing.

  • It makes us feel physically more energized
  • It heightens moods—happier happiness and sadder sadness
  • It gives us more patience with others
  • It makes us feel more connected to people in general
  • It makes us overlook undesirable traits in others
  • Sometimes, it makes us blind to undesirable traits in others, especially the object of our affection

And that is a lot like being in subspace.

We feel good. We want more good. Nothing is bad. What could go wrong…?

As I said in my writing:

people can THINK they are in a consensual kinky relationship, then suddenly one day realize they were lied to and emotionally abused into consenting.

That’s a part of life.

And those lightweights, well, all it takes is a small hit to start feeling the effects. They’re flying before anyone else is even really warming up.

Which can be a lot of fun to play with, when they have a compassionate partner who is ethical and responsible—and NOT also a lightweight OR at least aware of and able to control themselves more.

Because TWO lightweights can do some stupid shit, amiright?

I am.

Friends don’t let friends play drunk.

Well, duh.

More, though, a good friend is one who knows that their lightweight pal is prone to making questionable decisions, and is there to help as they can, like a designated driver.

Which honestly, may not be much.

Anyone who has wrangled a drunk friend knows that they often choose to do whatever is the exact opposite of what will be good for them, and there’s not a lot we can do about it.

In love and play, that’s true as well.

A friend will be there, though. Maybe they will be there to watch the scene to make sure boundaries that are set don’t get un-set. Maybe they are there to mention that “that pattern” is starting to play out again in the relationship.

And if they are ignored, when they are ignored, they will be there to help in the hangover stage.

Yes, a top/dominant partner is responsible for everything they do during play.

Make that everything they do, period.

But as Booker said in a comment on Apple’s writing:

The only acceptable renegotiations during a scene is that of adding new boundaries (ex “I forgot to mention, don’t hit my face”) or rescinding existing consent (ex “Actually, that meat tenderizer hammer I agreed to earlier is too much, no more of that”).

Absolutely agreed.

That’s ideal. A good top/dominant will adhere to this standard.

Not all tops or dominants are good. Some are predators. That’s a fact. They LOOK for this shit, because, well, it gives them wiggle room to do unethical stuff.

MOST tops or dominants are good. I think most people are good. But that doesn’t mean they are good at controlling themselves in the heat of the moment. Hell, they might be caught up in all the yummy goodness themselves, they might be lightweights, and buzzing with a high.

Because they are human, too.

And they can get drunk off the amazingness.

The bottom is also responsible.

As I like to say often and loudly, everyone’s first priority is to their own needs, regardless of the role they identify as, or what side of the slash they are on. This means bottoms, submissives, and slaves as well.

So, if a bottom is a lightweight on the love drugs or goes into subspace often or hard, that is something that needs to be taken into account by the bottom. If they are likely to lose their faculties, this should be discussed in negotiations.

Of course, the first time it happens is a surprise. Maybe the second.

Eventually, though, it’s a part of their experience of humanity that should be discussed. AND protected. Knowing that you are about to get high on endorphins should be handled as carefully as knowing you are a lightweight drinker or 420 enthusiast.

That means getting your safe call in place, designating your level-headed friend, being careful who you choose as your top, negotiating carefully, and doing your best to make sure your bases are covered.

NONE of this will matter if an unscrupulous top slips by you and intends harm—except maybe having someone looking out for you.

But all of it can matter in the cases of humans being human. Because spelling it out and taking that care will make it a focus for all within the scene and within your life.

And for the lightweights, sometimes the buddy system is the only thing standing between them and a really bad experience—whether they are topping or bottoming.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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