Transgression, Transcendence, and The Edge

Going Deep: Topspace, Bottomspace, and Sado-Erotic Ecstacy Part Six

Author: Chris M © 1998-2002

Used With Author(s) Permission


Remember when you were a kid, and grown-ups warned you not to touch the hot stove? You wanted to do it more, right? That's transgression, the joy of doing forbidden things. Like moths to the flame, we are drawn to danger and risk. It feels liberating, scary, exciting to break the rules, flirt with the edge, cheat, and be bad. Jaywalking is the most fun you can have walking across a street. Cookies stolen from the cookie jar always taste better.

Mythology is rife with tales presenting transgression as a path towards knowledge and growth - Eve and the apple, Jonah and the whale, Pandora and her box, the prodigal son, the picaresque adventures of Jacob, God's favorite in spite of his endless sinning. The impulse towards transgression can feel like a delicious blow struck against repression. America - a revolutionary culture from its foundation- cherishes the rebel archetype: the tricolor patriots of 1776, the gun-slinging outlaws of the frontier, the Marlon Brando motorcycle thug, the hip shaking rock star, the longhaired, hippy radicals of the 1960's, even contemporary film anti-heroes like Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood. Within reason, we revere people who live by their own defiant code. America and God alike love a hot sinner.

Transgression also plays a key developmental role in learning and innovation. By challenging a rule we learn either its value or irrelevance (we see a lot of this in young people, no?). As we move from dependence on external codes of conduct to a mature, internalized sense of judgment, we blossom as independent, thinking, feeling creatures. Blake wrote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom". Transgression often leads to transcendence.

True, transgression can be a costly delicacy if not pursued with care. People go to extreme, even insane lengths to feel its hot rush, engaging in all sorts of lethal pursuits: shop lifting, rock climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, aggressive driving, use and abuse of chemical enhancements, stockpiling high power weaponry, vandalism, bar room brawling, chronic gambling, etc. While playing with danger and risk can be extremely hot, it can also be, well, dangerous and risky. The trick, of course, is practicing acts of transgression that are wicked, delectable and manageable in terms of risk and morality.

And that's one of SM's great strengths. As hot of a transgression as it is, SM is comparatively affordable in terms of risk when you consider the alternatives. SM provides a safe outlet for channeling aggressive energy into the exploration of immoral or high-risk fantasy. Morally unthinkable acts such as rape, confinement, and torture can be enacted with consenting partners in a controlled environment creating bliss where the 'real' act would wreak only devastation. This is an enormous societal contribution. Sylvia Plath was onto something when she said "all women love a fascist". But so do a lot of men. Or think they do. But as men and women have learned - too late, at times - real villains can't compare with the fantasies we have of them. Fantasy villains are suave, debonair, witty, free, in love with beauty, life and its many choices. They are at peace with themselves and their flaws. Think Hannibal Lector, Richard III, or Alex of "A Clockwork Orange." Real evil is colorless, self-pitying, self-righteous, paranoid, riven by insecurity. Consider how physically ugly many of the world's great villains have been. Think Eichman, Pol Pot, Mbutu, Adolf Hitler, Ferdinand Marcos, Charles Manson. Our goal in SM is fantasy villainy, that can be switched on and off at will and to suit the occasion. In terms of sex appeal and artistry, it far surpasses the authentic variety.

But, rule breaking remains a touchstone. We attack taboos against defiling the temple of the human body by taking pleasure in bodily functions, sex during menstruation, the ass as an erogenous zone. We attack the taboos of physical immodesty by distilling the forbidden roles of peeping tom and flasher into voyeurism and exhibitionism. We wear jewelry for adornment of the vagina, cock, scrotum and tits. We embrace forbidden sexual roles: women with women, men with men, and men submitting to the will of dominant women. We perform acts of worship, not at the feet of Popes, employers, or politicians, but at the feet of Gods and Goddesses of our own choosing, thus directing our allegiance and faith outside of societal power structures. We subvert traditional imagery and tools of oppression - whips shackles, black uniforms - and use them to create liberation and wicked joy. We perform whipping and bondage as acts of affection and love. We use words like "slut", "cunt", "slave", "bitch", and "perverted" and as gender neutral terms of endearment, and "dirty", "nasty" "wicked" "naughty" or "bad" as positive affirmations. In the spirit of transgression and inversion, we mix pleasure and pain, private intimacy and quasi-public spectacle, masculine and feminine, where and when it pleases us. Wearing leather is a transgression. The message of a leather jacket is that an animal was slain to adorn your body.

Perhaps the principal symbol of transgression in the scene is what we call the "edge." The edge is what separates the known and unknown, fear and comfort, pain and relief. Approaching that line, or crossing it, creates anxiety, fear, sometimes, even terror, but also often creates excitement, euphoria and a sense of liberation and transcendence. The geography of the edge, the shape it creates and the territory it defines is different for everyone. And what is edgy for John may be a mere warm up activity for Jane. Some think of temporary piercing as edgy, until they've done it a few times. Then it feels gentle, a smooth, slow trip, similar to the meditative stillness you feel during a saran wrapping. That is, unless you are claustrophobic. So, it's different for everyone. For some, simply disrobing before strangers is a mind-blowing challenge.

Transgression in the scene takes many forms.

Sexual Transgressions

This may be as simple as donning a sexy outfit, allowing people to see you naked, or doing some wonderful/terrible thing for the first time. It can mean violating the sexual mores of monogamy, heterosexuality, or the puritanical prudery against physical pleasure. Anal play with combination of dirtiness, pleasure and power is a classic transgression.

Transgressions of Discovery

When asked about peak scene experiences, many recall 'firsts': the first caning, first anal play, first time brought to blood. The excitement and mystery of changing from virgin to acolyte is a powerful, even soul altering enterprise. The fact that the scene provides so many 'firsts' is one of its great strengths. This may also explain why we enjoy playing with new people. You get to do all the 'firsts' again.

Personal Transgressions

By doing things we are personally afraid or ashamed of, we can create tremendous feelings of power and liberation. Some men get a huge liberating rush violating taboos about wearing women's clothes.

Social Transgressions

Fantasies of violence, cruelty, and humanities great failings provide the fuel for many scenes. A lot of scene imagery is borrowed from marauding biker clubs, the uniforms of the Third Reich, the tools and implements of the inquisition.

According to Carl Jung every human soul contains what he calls the Shadow, the combined parts of the personality the ego is ashamed or afraid of. Transgression means exploring, embracing, and honoring our dark side. Phrased theologically, embracing the shadow means realizing and accepting that God created all of you, not just the good parts. So whether it is a child wallowing in mud, a woman shamelessly devouring a pint of gourmet ice cream, or a player getting their first anal probe before a beaming crowd, pleasurable transgression provides the prickly rewards for exploring and expanding ones own limits.


Return: Bodyplay And The Spirit

Next: Ritual

Back to: Going Deep; Topspace, Bottomspace, and Sado-erotic Ecstacy Introduction

Return to: Domination

Return to: Submission

Return to: General BDSM





E-mail Site Owner
Back To Home Page


Page by: Raven Shadowborne © 2001

Graphics & Buttons by: Aylissa Cair & Raven Shadowborne © 1999 & 2001





LnR Toy Store

Site Map


To hear of changes to the web site, or events taking place in the chat room, enter your e-mail address and click on the button below to join the LnRannounce mailing list. This is an announcement list only and is of very low volume. Or if you prefer, e-mail Raven ( ) to be added to the list, be sure to include your e-mail address and the name of the list within the e-mail.

Subscribe to LnRannounce
Powered by
Link To Domination