Review: Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission

Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission
Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by Gloria G. Brame

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Different loving is a rather innocuous title. Why did I not know of this book when I was first getting into BDSM? Had I read this book when I was 18, when the book came out in ’93, life would have been less confusing for me in a sexual manner. Many of the questions I’ve had over the years are all listed and explained very well in this book. While this 1996 version is dated with some of the terminology as far as transgenderism, the others terms are still used prevalently throughout the BDSM subculture.

This book is laid out in a format easy to read. Each chapter highlight the history of the specific fetish or topic. There are explanations, safety factors and popular misconceptions dispelled. Then there are interviews with give a practical personal side of each topic. The groupings of the book make a lot of sense too. There are seven sections:

1. Different Loving
2. Imagination and Desire
3. The Pleasures of Discomfort
4. Individualizing the Body
5. Translocations of Desire
6. Masculine and Feminine
7. Fluid Mysteries
The twenty six chapters will provide a very good foundation for new to BDSM as far as common fetishes, terminology and popular desires. There are some things that even those who have been around BDSM for a while may find benefit in reviewing.

From an educational standpoint, this book is very good and I wished I had read it close to 20 years ago. I wonder how my sexual fumbling would have been different. I think the most reassuring part of this book is that I’m not alone and there are others who are like me and they won’t judge. From an entertainment or “wow” value, this book is rather dull. It’s not meant for titillating discourse for shock value. Nor does it have pictures. It definitely isn’t a book used as a how to manual. Instead, it’s more of a “how did this come about” and “what it is that we do” (WIITWD).

Nonetheless, there were certain things in the book which called out to me. In Chapter 2 - Victorian Genesis and the Modern Scene, William Hammond, U.S. Surgeon General, said that nine tenths of the time decent women had no pleasure from intercourse and the famous Swiss gynecologist, Dr. Fehling, called sexual desire in young women pathological - Arno Karlen (p. 22). All I can say to this is that these men are terrible lovers if their women don’t experience pleasure from intercourse. The Victorian error highlights “Modesty and restraint were unquestioned virtues. Proper gentlemen and ladies of the period eschewed strong emotion...The appearance of respectability was paramount. To appear otherwise was to be common, and to be common was to be spiritually flawed, economically hopeless, and socially repugnant.”

This is a very key concept to realize. In the society we live now, we are still very concerned about how we are perceived. Social status is incredibly important to many people. If we are to understand that sexuality, passion and a joie de vie is considered lower status, it makes sense to have all these sexually repressed people afraid to buck society norms. Rather depressing, is it not?

One interviewee stated “I started suppressing my S/m fantasies. I found that it's like a bubble in water. You suppress it, the bubble pops up; you push the bubble down, it stays down a little longer, [then] comes up about twice as fast.” (p. 39). This I have experienced firsthand to my chagrin.

Moving to Chapter 3 with ABCs of D&S, S/M is not a matter of activity nor of degree: It's a matter of intention (p. 68). I believe this is a quote I’m going to need to add. It is so very true for me. I find that so many times, even outside of BDSM, it’s the intention which makes all the difference in the world. This leads us directly into Chapter 5 with Head Trips and Roleplaying. When you're involved in S&M, it opens your eyes to a lot of differences. [S&M] makes you a more tolerant person (p. 121). I can not say this is true for all BDSM lifestylers. I can attest this is true for me. I’m positive this is true for me because when I was younger, people never confided in me or if they did, I may have been their last resort.

My world was black and white. I saw very few colours and shades of grey only caused me to curl my lip in scorn. As I entered my late teens and early twenties, my exploration into the alternative lifestyle changed my attitudes which rippled out to the rest of my life. I’m sure it would be a shock to my extremely religious parents to find out my attitude improvement stemmed from my sexual freedom.

This is a random note, but did you know there used to be whipping brothels (p. 257)? Dedicated brothels to whipping and flogging which were very lucrative. There were professional dominatrixes for centuries. It’s interesting to note that many of the religious sects which require celibacy, these members would subvert their sexual desires with floggings and self flagellations. So many comment, so unprofessional so I will keep quiet.

In Chapter 13 with Intense Stimulation, one of the items mentioned is the cock ring. Of course, since I’m Chinese, this had to be mentioned. Cock rings are descendent of the ancient Chinese silver penis claspe whose "purpose was to prolong erection by preventing hte blood from leaving the engorged organ." (p. 281) Seriously? The Chinese? What else did we invent??

The body modification chapters were interesting in the history and the societal impacts. In Chapter 16 Tattooing is covered. On Easter Island genital tattooing of a woman once denoted that she had been seen copulating with a man by another man. Others were rite of passage. Women w/o genital tattooing giving birth, the children were put to death (p 322). Let this be a lesson – never assume what the tattoo or lack of tattoo means.

As I’m finishing up this very long review, I had to comment on Chapter 23 Erotic Combat and Gender Heroics. Male wrestling - and particularly the nude male wrestling of ancient Greece - has often been asserted to have homoerotic appeal (p. 469) Seriously? They have to call this out specifically? I thought everyone knew this.

We finally come to my favourite end, Chapter 26 Enemas. Klismaphilia is the eroticization of enemas. Who knew enemas were considered part of the water sports family. It’s a sub-fetish, if you will. I guess I need to clarify my hard and soft limits again. This book is recommended to those just starting out, exploring the BDSM subculture and want validation that they are not alone.

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