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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Uncommon sense, Part 2

Told you I was going to get back to this, didn't I? I hadn't forgotten.

Today, I'm going to take on the neverending controversy about bratting. I certainly don't think I'll resolve the issue, but I'm exploring one specific angle of it. So many of the whens, wheres and hows of bratting come down to common sense, or at least it would seem so. And yet... well, you know. Hence the blog title.

I don't even like the word "bratting" all that much, because it has a negative connotation and it gets a bad reputation from those who take it too far. It conjures images of childish, obnoxious bottoms rather than clever ones. But because it's such a universal term, I'm using it anyway.

Because there are so many levels and types of bratting, and so many opinions about them, it's impossible to quantify what "too much bratting" is. After all, for example, to an Almighty Uber-Dom, a sub who dares to make eye contact is bratting. It's highly subjective. And it's also not for everyone. My prolific blogpal Lea has used the simple phrase, "Know your audience." Wouldn't you think that's obvious? Apparently not.

I'm not going to attempt to define "bratting" here, either. I think the best way to approach the subject is by providing stories and examples, of what I think is common-sense, measured bratting vs. the over-the-top variety.

Yes, it's no secret that I enjoy the practice of smartassery. But as with all humor, there are boundaries. In a perfect spanking world, a sassy, feisty bottom knows how to provoke a top without seriously angering him. (I'm going to use the M/F orientation in this blog, simply because it's easier than writing him/her and he/she over and over.) So how does one do that?

Obvious common sense rule #1: Don't follow what you see on spanking videos and read in spanking stories. These are fantasies, kids. The stunts that bottoms pull in these fantasies would, in reality, not get them a spanking. They'd get them anything from a punch in the mouth to a lawsuit.

For example, take Keith Jones. In Spanking Epics' Schoolmaster's Revenge, I slapped him in the face. In Trouble in Carson's Gap, I broke a liquor bottle over his head. In Shadow Lane's classic Blue Denim, Chelsea Pfeiffer shoved him over the side of a hill, sending him tumbling to the bottom. And in Spoiled Rotten, Tanya Foxx not only slapped him in the face, but she threw a glass filled with water in his face too. Why? Because it was Perrier instead of Evian. On video, these actions serve a purpose. They make the audience root for the top, so that when he finally loses it and lets her have it, he doesn't look like a brute. But in reality? Come on. It's just not cool to do things like that.

In the very first spanking story I ever wrote, I had an obnoxious brat provoke a fellow shopper to the point where he spanked her in a parking lot in front of several others, including some cops. Reality? She probably would have been reported to those cops. Or she'd come back to her car and find it keyed. Or worse.

That face-slapping thing? Yeah, women have been slapping men in the face on screen since film began. My advice? Unless it's scripted, don't do it. I remember one bottom who posted about how she slapped her boyfriend in the face, and was shocked at how forcefully he responded; he tied her down and walloped her until she blistered. OK, that was a bit much. But so was slapping him in the face.

In other words, know the difference between fantasy scenarios and the real world. "Don't try this at home."

Obvious common sense rule #2: Tread very cautiously when it comes to pranks. Again, this is a "know your audience" thing. Some bottoms like to play tricks on their tops, as a way to earn their spankings. Personally? I'm not into pranks. I don't like to play them, and I don't like them played on me. But I can see how they would be funny under the right circumstances.

However, was it cool when a particularly moronic woman, several years ago, brought cans of Silly String to a Shadow Lane party and relentlessly sprayed everyone who came within a few feet of her? No. She didn't choose her audience; she just indiscriminately pranked everyone. Tony Elka said she sprayed so much of that crap on him that his shirt was ruined. This is not appropriate.

And yet, after the fact, a major flame war erupted on the SL bulletin board. Why? Because this woman couldn't understand for the life of her why people didn't like what she did, and her comments got nastier and nastier as more people called her on it. Repeat after me, boys and girls -- CLUELESS.

Here's another story from a Shadow Lane party, which I think illustrates both good bratting and bad. Several years ago, a woman brought a squirt gun to the party, and was squirting various tops in the face in the ballroom and in the suites. Finally, a mutual friend of ours got so fed up, he took the gun away from her and would not give it back. Enough was enough already.

He then went off to play with someone privately, and left the water gun with someone else, asking her to watch over it. Well, she didn't. I came back to the table and found her gone, with the water gun sitting on her chair. I then slipped it into my purse.

When this top (we'll call him D, and no, it wasn't Danny) came back, he noticed the woman he'd asked to guard his gun was gone, and wondered aloud where the water gun could have gone. I said nothing, and he mused that it really didn't matter, as long as it wasn't back in the hands of the original owner.

Cut to a couple of hours later -- D and I were playing in his suite. I was over his lap on the bed, and he was absolutely whaling on me. Slowly, carefully, I pulled the squirt gun out of my purse, put my finger on the trigger, then looked up over my shoulder at him. He caught my eye, paused what he was doing and looked at me.

And I shot him full in the face with the water gun. :-)

He sputtered, laughed and hollered, "So THAT'S where it went!" Oh yes, I paid for that stunt. But it was classic. And I knew it would be OK with him. Would I have done that to just anyone? Hell, no! I'd be too worried about seriously upsetting/angering someone.

Obvious common sense rule #3: When in doubt, be subtle. Actually, subtlety is a good practice overall. Hammering a top over the head with relentless bratting may very well not get a bottom much more than a hearty dislike or the cold shoulder. I had to learn this one too, folks.

It's hard for many bottoms (myself included) to ask a top directly to play. I'm not sure why, but it is what it is. So, some of us employ bratting as an indirect way of letting the top know we want to play. That can work, and often does. But it must be done carefully, and yet again, with full awareness of one's audience. Because some tops simply will not respond to bratting. They avoid it like the plague.

Once at a private party, I had my sights set on a man I really wanted to play with. He seemed interested in me; he smiled at me a lot, watched me as I interacted with others, laughed at my smart-ass remarks. But he absolutely did not nibble at any of the bait I was so obviously dangling. I grew frustrated and escalated my efforts, pushing, pushing. He kept smiling, but remained where he was.

Finally, I got so flummoxed, I snapped, "OK, look. I've done everything I can think of except stick my ass in your face. Are we going to play, or what??"

He just grinned at me, and took my hand. "Come with me," he said. He was thoroughly enjoying how hard I was trying to brat him into playing. OK, lesson learned. The next time I saw this man, it was at a BDSM party where I wasn't feeling very comfortable, especially when one guy had his wife take off her shirt so he could show off the scars on her breasts and back -- which he had inflicted. So I simply walked up to my friend and whispered, "Please, take me away from this and spank me!" And he did.

At the last Shadow Lane party, I asked four different men to play with me. Oh, don't worry. I haven't given up bratting. But again, common (or uncommon) sense should dictate when the direct approach is preferable.

I know I've used these descriptions before, but for the sake of wrapping up this blog, I'll use them again. Clever bratting (or teasing, or banter, if you like) should make a top want to spank you, not wring your neck. And subtle, provocative bratting is more of a tickle from a feather, not an anvil slamming down on a top's foot. Really, is it even necessary to make these statements? Doesn't it all go without saying?

Apparently not. Because common sense is still too damned uncommon. (my readers excepted, of course!)


  1. I'm not much of a physical prank practitioner. If a top asks me to hand over an implement, I MAY push it out of reach for a brief period. :)

    Most of my behavior is very mouthy, edgy for role play scenarios. But my favorite partners and I have built up pretty solid relationships over the last few years and they welcome my style and often reciprocate the mouthing off. We share alot of laughs. I get ALOT of pain, too! :)

  2. Know your audience is certainly the #1 observation of bratting, IMO.

    We had an incident at the 2007 SSC where one girl brought water guns and she, and several of the other younger girls, were having water gun fights in the middle of the living space where people were having conversations. They were finally yelled at by someone to knock it off - no one involved in serious conversation wants to get caught in the middle of your childish game with one another. Not to mention (which I did, to them) the issue of the premises being in MY name, and I was responsible for any damages that might be done to the place. I let them know that straight away. Water being thrown around inside -- NOT COOL! >:(

    But knowing your audience is the best advice to follow.


  3. Who said just because we're your readers mean we have common sense? I love hearing your stories about spanking parties. Thanks for posting this. Makes me more excited about going to my first one, except I bet there won't be anyone there with quite the wit you have, because I don't think anyone else can compare!

  4. "Because common sense is still too damned uncommon" Oh yes, I noticed that too. :-)

    For me, I don't brat much, I tease a bit. You know, the kind of friendly teasing one does when he likes someone. But I had rather the opposite problem then the one you describe. Doms who will find all kind of stupid excuses to spank me, even if it doesn't make sens. I even had one who very severely spanked me for stupid reasons. That made me furious and resentful. The punishment must fit the crime. Some almighty Uber-Doms, like you say, don't understand that. It comes back to common sens again.

    Very good article Erica, I enjoyed it a lot.

  5. I'm not big on bratting. However, in my every day, vanilla life, I can be a bit sarcastic or teasing. Why? Because I have a sense of humor. My best friend and I often gripe about how playful banter is sometimes automatically thought by some tops to be bratting. It's not.

    Perhaps it's because I've seen bottoms cross the line but watching people brat makes me nervous. It's always awkward when the bratting isn't well received or someone is going over the top. So, thanks for sharing some tips!

  6. Kelly -- exactly. Your partners enjoy it too.

    There's no denying that I'm known for pushing/tossing away implements. What would be over the top? Probably deliberately breaking one. Or throwing it out the window. :-)

    Sarah -- good grief. That would have pissed me off, too. That's the sort of thing that brings the negative connotation to "brat."

    SS -- flatterer. :-) Well, I'm *assuming* my readers have common sense. Am I assuming erroneously? Are you saying you don't? (grinning)

    Nathalie -- nice to see you here! :-) I agree, the punishment should fit the crime. Tops who go overboard...well, that's a whole 'nuther subject. And as usual, that one's subjective too. (sigh)

    Beth -- when I was little and in my teens, my humor was typically heavy-handed and over the top. I can still remember my father raising an eyebrow at me whenever I ran a joke or some teasing into the ground and saying, "One step beyond." That's all he had to say. I think I learned a lot about subtlety from him!

  7. Hi Erica -- Thank's for sharing these wonderful tip's they are very helpful :-)As for bratting when i am moody i can be very insulting and naughty,I like to tease the top's at the right moment.OMG i can't stop laughing,when you said you squirted the top in the face with the water gun,hehehe LOL WAY TO GO ERICA.Much Love and hug's from your naughty girl Jade

  8. Jade -- just remember, though, I only did that with one specific man. I knew it would be OK with him. But I don't recommend it with others. :-)

  9. Know your audience, and pick your moments! There's nothing worse than someone who has a preconceived plan to brat and executes it at the wrong moment! Not sexy at all!

  10. I love your stories of the parties and all your encounters. There's some very good advice here but just reading about it makes me nervous. It can go so wrong and can't be undone. Great post as always.

  11. SC -- very true. Timing is essential.

    Emen -- please don't be nervous. Remember, there are degrees. There's a wide span between innocent newbie errors and just plain cluelessness. Considering your audience and thinking carefully before you act go a long way. And yes, some mistakes can be undone; apologies go a long way too.

  12. I don't envy the Tops who don't care for the childish, outrageous bratting. Almost any reaction from a Top provides the brat with some kind of attention - and some are fine with negative attention. I feel for a Top when I know he's annoyed but is still trying to be a nice guy.

    From my personal perspective...I'm not a physical brat and, personally, I think pranks lack style. I'm a fan of banter or the direct approach.

    But I don't have a problem with the overt brats doing their thing if that's how they get their needs met and the Top is OK with it. My biggest complaint is that most of the women I've met who squeal and wrestle and pinch and use water guns is this...most of them don't know when to quit.

    I'm willing to sit back while you do your thing. But once you get spanked, give it a rest so I can get my needs met. The more subtle dance generally takes a little conversation, and a Top can't engage with me if you are shooting elastic bands at his head, relentlessly.

    Acting like a 5-year-old is fine, but an adult should know to be considerate, be aware of the people around you and show a little consideration.

    I'm willing to be considerate of others play styles if they show me the same courtesy.


  13. Cindy -- well said, as always. Thank you.

  14. Great points, Erica. One of the nice things about fantasy is that we get to do whatever we want. That is of course not the case in everyday life. Knowing your audience is a big thing. Some people would say that anything you wouldn't dare do to someone in vanilla life shouldn't be done in spanko world either. I think that can be a gray area because a lot of what we do is a bit ramped up from everyday interactions. But I agree to a point.

    I'm naturally a verbal banter type and very sarcastic. This is true in all areas of my life. I once had a scene friend hanging out with me and another friend. We were talking and teasing and later on, she asked me if he tops me. I said oh no, he knows nothing about all that. But she witnessed it as that kind of interaction. That's just how I tend to be with everyone that I know well.

    I've always been terrible at directly asking for play. That makes my local BDSM events even more difficult for me because they just don't work how spanko world does. I'm sure some that know each other well have their own signals but as a new person trying to get into things, it's a bit harder to not have those little things that spankos pick up on. I love being around my friends who I can just exchange a look with or make a comment that I know pushes a button (but a good button) and we're off.

    One point you've mentioned before, but not in this particular post, is the "Monkey see monkey do" logic. It's always best to not assume that just because Person A did such and such with Person B, it's okay for you to do. After observing me interacting with a particular top, I had someone say to me "Wow, I can't believe you get away with that with so-and-so, I could never do that with him!" I just shrugged. Everyone has their own dynamics.

  15. A great primer, Erica. Many girls should be taking notes...

  16. Lea -- very true; our spanking behavior often tends to be a bit ramped up. I think the hard part is determining just far to ramp! And, like you (what a surprise!), I'm naturally a tease and love to banter in the vanilla world too. If I can banter with someone, it means I like them and I'm comfortable with them.

    Craig -- as with everything else, the ones who should be taking notes are the ones who won't! LOL

  17. I am very late for this, but I still would like to throw in my two cents' worth. Bratting is indeed a complicated topic. Ludwig, for example, isn't a huge fan of bratting and neither am I. I love intelligent banter and I very much enjoy watching your videos. But some of the more clich├ęd forms of bratting aren't really my cup of tea. In my opinion, bratting can work great and be a lot of fun if the people involved know each other well.

    As a way of starting a scene with someone one isn't familiar with, bratting has its downsides, though. It makes it more difficult for a top who doesn't want to play to express that. And it can also cause problems for some bottoms. At least that is true for me. I already wrote a post about it a while ago. The thing is, I am not so keen on playing with people whom I don't know very well. And I am not always in the mood for playing with anyone else than Ludwig, either. But I love light-hearted banter with people whom I like. I also do that with my vanilla friends. In kinky environments it means that sometimes I have the feeling that I have to restrain myself, though, because otherwise a teasing comment might be misinterpreted as a play request. That's a bit sad for me because it means that sometimes I can't relax completely in a kinky environment and that I can't be just me.

  18. Kaelah -- yes, there's a whole different controversy in the scene about bratting; some tops insist that it equals consent. I don't think it does, but that's why I'm careful NOT to brat people with whom I have no desire to play.

    Sometimes, at parties, there is something very thrilling about playing with someone I barely know, or even just met. That's part of the fun, the unexpected. But I guess I feel safer in that realm.