More Thoughts On Projecting And Roleplay

[This is a follow up on the previous post.]

So, when I think about how I am in this, I end up with several questions. First, I wonder if roleplay is the right word for what I mean. Because, it and the ‘pretending to be someone else in particular’ roleplay are different enough that I’m not sure they should be sharing a word. But I don’t actually know a better word, and that’s what seems the closest. And anyway, when I do put on a specific person, it feels about the same way to me, so I’m not sure exactly where the line is.

The other thing this leads me to is, do any other people do what I do/experience things like I do? And, in order to properly think about that question, I first had to think of something else I do. My kind of roleplay is the only time I put on someone I’m not. But, it’s not the only time I put on someone. Quite frequently, I, in a rather similar way, put on aspects of myself.

When I stop at a bagel place for lunch, and the cashier asks me if I want anything else, I say ‘no thank you, I’m good’, and I’m using a very specific voice and demeanor, and I might be thinking about work or the news or people or anything, but outside I’m all the same. When store employees ask me if I’m finding everything fine, inside I’m having my anxiousness and wishing they would leave me alone, but I get that same voice and demeanor, and say that I’m good and I’m finding everything OK and thank you very much. And, that’s an aspect of me, interacting-with-helpful-people!me if I had to name her, and I’m putting her on, projecting her out, not like dropping into it but like sculpting a clay castle on my hand and then turning it around so no one can see it, because they see the other side of my hand. Actions and reactions. And I’ve got me’s that draw more on real!me (good-student!me is like this), and me’s that I like being (responsible-good-citizen!me is a reason I happen to really like airports, including security), and sometimes the boundaries kind of blur, but I know the feeling, and it’s not quite like my roleplay feeling, but I think it has things in common.

And then I’ve got mind-states, which are all real!me and not aspects, but share the bit where I feel and function differently – when I’m immersed in work, the steady-focus-with-intensity that service topping something is for me, etc. And then the lines blur again, really badly, with that and mood, and that and situation, and that and other things, and I’m not sure.

And there’s another inbetween. The one time I did ageplay, it almost felt like a cross between the two things. I projected (though the projection felt a bit different, and none of the other metaphors feel like they quite apply), and I wasn’t an aspect of me, but it felt more like I drew the character out of myself than quite like I made her. (Now, as I talked about here, the group dynamic of ageplay is rather different, so that might have also influenced things. But either way, the feeling was what it was).

And, this brings me back to the question of, how does all this work for other people. And of course, given that I’m me and not them, I can’t actually know. But I can try to think of things, at least.

Some people, people in certain kinds of power exchange relationships, don’t have my problem to begin with, because real!them can and does do the things they want to do. Some people are into the physical side of the interaction, and therefore what real!them does is fine with them. And then after this I’m not sure.

I think, from what I’ve heard, that for some people it is like my aspects-of-me – they have aspects of them that can react like what they’re looking for. And I think, from what I’ve heard, that some people share my ageplay experience of pulling something out of yourself. And I think some people have other things, also sharing some similarities with all of this, but not quite any of the things I have. (In a story I read once, a couple who spends their weekends in a D/s dynamic have an in-dynamic moment where he tells her he’s disappointed in her. And I read this and I thought, this is interesting, because he’s not being the-rest-of-the-time!him, who would ask her what happened and they’d discuss it and figure things out. But it’s not like it is for me in roleplay either, because here and now, he means it, and it’s true, and it’s true for both of them. And in the story a lot of attention is paid to how their ‘on’ and ‘off’ times feel different for them, on both sides. And it seems that the best way I could describe that is this is drawing up or immersing yourself in different parts/states/beings, all of which are you).

And this is kind of a rambly blog post, given that I’m not sure if I can quite put my finger on what I’m talking about. Does anyone have any ideas?

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On What I Mean When I Say Roleplay

A few times now, I’ve run into a miscommunication about what I mean when I say that the thing I want to do for my kink is roleplay. People hear it and think I mean ‘I’m King Arthur and you’re Sir Lancelot”, or “cop and person guilty of a traffic violation”, or something like that. And, it’s true that I’ve done basically all my roleplay in the category of the second type – I’ve played a prisoner, and a mad scientist supervillain, and a revolutionary, etc. But that isn’t what I mean.

When I say roleplay, I don’t necessarily mean that I’m being someone else in particular. I simply mean that I’m not being me. Or, specifically, I’m not acting and reacting as me.

If I’m playing with someone, and I’m being real!me, and they tell me to kneel, I’ll do it. I’ll do it and I’ll smile inside if not outside, and I’ll like it, and it’ll be fun and a nice part of the scene. And if someone says ‘well, you’re in trouble for XYZ, I’m going to hit you with things’, in my head it’s something like ‘damn right I am!’, and I’ll giggle and get in position and banter with them, and I’ll like it, and I want to do it.

But it won’t be my kink.

It won’t be my kink, because I don’t have a kink for people in enjoyable scenes getting on their knees or getting hit with things. I have a kink for felt power dynamics, for someone who kneels because of power, in respect or fear or pride-despite-nothing. I have a kink for looking down and saying ‘yes, miss’, and being serious and anticipating pain like I don’t want it. And real!me can’t do that. Real!me doesn’t fit there, it doesn’t work.

So, I’m not real me. I take a character in my mind, who can react the way I want, and I project them out of myself, I drop into them, I put them on, I look out of their eyes. I do that so that they can do what real!me can’t, and behind their eyes and realizations, I can get that feeling like my breath catches, like something strikes me to the core and fills me up and is exactly right.

Yes, I play out scenarios, give my characters names and stories. I do that because that’s the way of playing that occurs to me, and I like it. But I like it like a piece of dungeon furniture or a toy. It’s awesome, and things can happen with it that couldn’t without it, and I want to use it – but I don’t absolutely need it. It’s wonderful, but it’s not the core.

The core, for me, is that when I’m looking for a character, I don’t mean ‘am I pretending to be a galley slave or someone arrested for shoplifting?’ What I mean is, what am I going to be like. If there’s a threat, am I going to shiver in fear, or gaze back steadily, or look at the ground and take a breath, or give a snappy retort? (And real!me can’t do any of these things, because to real!me, the threat isn’t real. I either want something, or I’m willing to try it, or I know it’s not going to happen but I’m fine talking about it, or I’m going to call a stop to things. I want the threat, but to get it, I have to be in its universe, and that’s not real!me’s universe). I want this other, so I drop into this other.

That’s what I mean.

Specific Narrative Kinks: Being ‘of’ someone

What do I mean by this:

So this, for once, is a positive dynamic kink, and what it refers to is a positive power dynamic as it gets related to people outside of it. ‘Of’ here shares some meaning with (and comes from) the ‘of’ in things like ‘Robin of Locksley’ – ‘X of Y’ means ‘X is being thought of in relation to Y’. There’s a non-symmterical line running between two points, and this line is being acknowledged.

What hits this kink for me:

Introductions – “Hi, I’m X, this is my Master.” Referencing someone – “oh, I see my slave over there by the table”. Multiple lieges having a conversation about their respective authorities. References to the authority/responsibility dynamic part of a power dynamic – “I can’t do that, it’s against the rules my Captain has for me”. “That’s my liege lord over there, take it up with them if you have a problem”. “I’m going to call your owner and report your behavior” (or this actually happening). The other side of this – “I’m here for my servant”, “I’ll deal with this, it’s mine”. The protection aspect of a power dynamic – “go away, my Lady wouldn’t like you doing this”, “Why have you been bothering my property?”.

Etc.

Just using an honorific in any context but addressing the person whose honorific it is has aspects of this, which I think is one of the reasons I like honorifics a lot.

Actionable counterpart:

I had a rather bad experience the one time I tried to roleplay a positive power dynamic. This was entirely my fault for not thinking some things through properly, but now I have this negative association.

However, the thing with this particular kink is that it doesn’t work one-on-one – there have to be other people around. And, if I think about it in that specific context, then I can kind of sneak around the negative association, and there definitely is a lot of appeal.

I’m not sure how much of a chance there is of it happening – I don’t think many people do roleplays like this, so the group aspect, which is the central part of this kink, is also the main barrier. In particular there’s an issue where people who actually have power dynamics have positive power dynamics, but interacting with these people while I’m roleplaying would be, to me, incredibly disrespectful. My best bet would probably be a situation where a roleplay is more generally acknowledged (in fact, come to think of it, I think this is a big part of how ageplay works for me). But anyway, the desire is definitely there. (and, somewhat on a different level, I also think this is one of the big things contributing to my fantasy of going to a high protocol event).

It also seems to have an interesting distinction of being something I want to do as a bottom, but in some cases without anyone being my top.

More words!

So, as I noted way back here, my terms ‘principal’ and ‘constrict’ don’t feel right to me when I’m talking about positive power dynamics – which, given that I specifically came up with the word ‘constrict’ to mean ‘someone who is constrained by a power outside of themselves against their will’, makes sense.  But, I’d like to talk about positive power dynamics too, sometimes. So, new words:

The top of a positive narrative power dynamic is the authority. This isn’t perfect, but it’s the term I found that best keeps the connotation for someone who has power due to it being vested in them.

The bottom of a positive narrative power dynamic is the liege. This is really less than ideal, given that it actually means both the top and bottom of a power dynamic, and is used more often for the former (as in, ‘my liege’). But, I haven’t yet found another word with the connotation of someone giving power over them to someone else, as opposed to having power exerted on them. (If anyone knows any better words, please tell me).

The difference in it’s simplest form is the presence or absence of good consent. A constrict is made the bottom of a power dynamic nonconsensually (by a principal, by social forces, etc). Therefore, a principal, even a well intentioned one or one who was not the one who forced the dynamic, is party to a nonconsensual relationship. A liege makes themselves the bottom of a power dynamic, because they want to, and the relationship between the authority and them is consensual.

A Difficulty

Sometimes, there are things that give you badfeelings, and the answer to that is not to do those things.

Sometimes, there are things that give you badfeelings, and the answer to that is to find ways to handle and deal with the badfeelings, so that you can do those things.

The difficulty is telling the difference.

My morality is very clear on this – each person decides this line for themselves. No one else gets to decide it for them.

The not-always-clear part is – how do I figure out where the line runs for me?