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.