Copyright (c) Molly Devon 1997, all rights reserved.
Published March 1997 in Eden's Gate Magazine

Roleplay, Eros Cloaked in Fantasy

The other day found me online in a chat room chattering with friends about BDSM. Despite the work piled high on my desk I can justify my hours online as research. This is one of the perks of being a writer. Our discussion meandered over a range of topics including fantasy and roleplay. This particular discussion was in a cyber arena, but I've heard similar sentiments at parties and clubs, in fact everywhere black leather-clad folk gather.

A frequent visitor to this fetish forum, MasterLordHighSir, staunchly insisted that he never took on a role. He also objected to the terms play and fantasy when referring to his function as a dom. With unwavering conviction he maintained that he was a TRUE MASTER, born to dominate. Furthermore, he asserted, "any partner of his was a true slave."

MLHSir saw his himself as a man with a mission in life. It was his job was to reveal to some very fortunate woman her true nature and function in life; which was to serve (him). Whether MLHSir's lofty position was a fate decreed by some unspecified deity with a kinky nature or was a result of some unique genetic condition was not divulged. A tiny but vehement minority agreed with him, sub as well as dom. Dominant or submissive they rejected the notion that something so emotionally powerful to them could be categorized as a role, or still worse as a fantasy. This could not be a role, it was their identity.

Homo Dominsubicus, a new species? Alas, gentle reader, no matter how people might desire it, we remain the same naked apes as the rest of homo sapiens. We are governed by the identical needs and subject to the same limitations. Revealed in the online exchange was that enmeshed in a powerful fantasy, a dose of reality has the same appeal as kryptonite to superman. Denial as an art-form. Also evident is a misunderstanding of what roles are.

Assuming a role is not playing a part as does an actor. Even the most vanilla of us plays many roles in life. They may be mommy, daddy, sister, brother, friend, lover, husband, wife, boss, employee, teacher, student, taxpayer, voter, athlete, partier, host, hostess, policeman, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief and so on. Each of these roles has associated with it a set of behaviors and attitudes to be assumed. Seamlessly we move from role to role without being aware of doing so, as the situation dictates. When we take a role wrong for the situation the results can vary from trivial to tragic. When a gal acts the professor at a party she will merely bore people. To behave as a lover when in the boss role is to court a sexual harassment suit.

Let us assume for the moment our friend MLHSir wasn't dropped in full leathers from an alien craft. He undoubted joined the other tykes in the sandbox playing daddy, teacher, and doctor rehearsing for these same possible real life roles as adults. Kids in their play create a mental snapshot of what these words mean.

Our little denizens of the playground don't distinguish between the real life models they see and fantasy gleamed from books, movies and TV. To a very young child the princess locked in the tower is as real as the guy pumping gas at the corner.

As we grew the image creating process becomes internal as we cogitate, daydream and fantasize. Hormones have kicked in and fantasies turn in an erotic direction. Juvenile chimps must engage in sex play to function well as adults, but cultural restrictions dictate that our sexual roles develop in our minds rather than through play. This gives us something to do while the algebra teacher is droning on about quadratic equations.
Reality is like gravity, it sucks but it is hard to escape. Out in the world of adults there are widgets that must be made, garbage to be collected, junk-bonds to sell, and campaign contributions to launder. Kids learn to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Dragon-slayer is not a viable career option.

Into the shackles of reality go the children. To make this bondage acceptable fantasy is scorned as trivial. Likewise, play is mocked as inconsequential. If something is fun it can't be important, right?

Poor MasterLordHighSir, having overcome societal norms on sex he can't get past the misconceptions about whimsy. What a dilemma, a large part of his emotional life is invested in fantasy and yet to identify it as such would seem to trivialize it. Instead of embracing his inner child, he has spanked the kid and sent it to its room.

BDSM is magical. We take the invisible and make it appear. While most people move without cognizance though their roles, we are aware enough to play and manipulate our many guises. We create our personas with great care grabbing the elements we want and discarding the parts with less appeal. We return to the childhood cosmos where the fantastic and the real co-existed harmoniously. Kids play cowboys, Indians, pirates or warriors. Us big kids do too. More often, of course, we play slave, master, mistress and the like.

This is not to say we must always package our erotic desires in elaborate scenarios. The plain old lover role is just fine too. Mary tying up her darling John for a much desired beating is every bit as legit a part of BSM as Lord Blueblood training his kajira. Fantasy roleplay in BDSM draws from movies, TV, literature, and bits of history highly romanticized. We get ideas from life and from our peers as well. Within each of the roles we play is something real and significant to us. Within the role of mom is a core of real love for a child. While the role of slave is fantasy, within lies a kernel of real submissive feeling.

With all power of a breaking dam, a long suppressed fantasy or yearning gains its release. It may feel as if our "truest" self has finally been discovered. So it is understandable why some people become infatuated with a particular persona especially in the rapturous early honeymoon with BDSM. And like Pygmalion the sculptor, its easy to fall in love with our own creations; especially those born of Eros. A role though, however delightful, is but one facet of a person. To identify too strongly with a single fragment of ones personality is to deny oneself the richness of life.

This infatuation with a role may also be another part of what leads some people to tack "true" and "real" to the tags for their erotic inclinations. The implication, of course, is that there is a right and wrong way to assume these roles. To call oneself a true sub implies that another form of submission is false or less. In this highly personal expression of carnal desires the only true one can be is to oneself. Having fun is getting it right.

Copyright (c) Molly Devon 1997, all rights reserved.
Published March 1997 in Eden's Gate Magazine