Hi, I’m Cat Grant. I’m an author of erotic romance, and I have also been involved in the San Francisco Bay Area leather scene off and on for the past decade.
BDSM’s become a popular subgenre in erotic fiction, especially since the advent of e-publishing. I can usually tell within the first few pages of a BDSM story if the author is in the lifestyle. This isn’t to say that non-kinky people can’t write good BDSM fiction, but more often than not, some small error will give them away. Most commonly, they don’t grasp the distinction between submission and masochism.
Submissives get off on the power exchange between themselves and their Dominants. Handing over all responsibility, all decisions to someone else can be an extremely deep and heady experience. It’s the ultimate demonstration of trust – and for some submissives, the only way they can truly let go.
I identified as a submissive for my first few years in the scene, until I realized that, outside of the dungeon, I’m not all that submissive. I’m not into kneeling at a Dominant’s feet (which I couldn’t do anymore even if I wanted to, thanks to my arthritic knees!), and I’m definitely not into service-oriented submission (ie., doing housework). All I really want is to get the crap beaten out of me. So, a couple of years ago, I finally admitted to myself that I’m a masochist.
Masochists tend to be people with jobs requiring a lot of brain power – writers, architects, engineers, high-powered executives, doctors, lawyers. We spend so much time inside our own heads, we need something to pull us out, help us reconnect with our physical being. The kiss of a flogger or a single-tailed whip releases us from the confines of our mundane daily lives, lets loose the endorphins and sends us soaring.
Unfortunately, this is the part about masochism that most non-kinky authors don’t understand. They see what appears to be a rather brutal infliction of pain, but the beauty – and yes, even the spirituality – of it flies right over their heads. Pain can be an incredible natural high, a doorway to a place in one’s consciousness where time simply stops. I’ve had scenes that went on for over two hours, but felt like five minutes. When you’re in that headspace, the rest of the world falls away.
Pain has proven an amazingly therapeutic tool for me. It’s helped me become more aware of my body, and, as a woman of size, helped me rid myself of some of society’s ridiculous hang-ups regarding my weight. When I soar, I feel like the most beautiful person on earth.
Pain also helps me break down my emotional barriers. It’s allowed me to access the types of feelings we’ve all been taught to keep under a tight rein – anger, grief, fear, etc. I’d been on prescription anti-depressants since I was twenty, but once I embraced my masochism, I discovered I no longer needed the drugs. For me, it has been not only a journey of self-discovery, but also a liberating and empowering experience.
Authors in the lifestyle understand this dynamic. I’ll admit, it was one of the most difficult things for me to come to terms with when I first realized I was a masochist. We’ve been programmed from childhood to view the infliction of pain as a punishment. What often appears to the uninitiated as an act of violence is, in actuality, an expression of tenderness, even love.
Cat Grant has been scribbling dirty stories since she was knee-high to a bug. TRIAD, the fifth book in her Courtland Chronicles series of bisexual romances, will be published on December 21, 2009 by Lyrical Press.