One of the exercises at the event was "Graydancer’s Fishbowl, aka Asshole’s Roundtable". That "aka" part was due to the nature of the exercise, which involved a group of Doms and a group of Subs writing down questions for each other. I suspected that one of the questions might be (sub to dom) "Why are you such an Asshole?"
The reason it’s called "fishbowl" is because each group sits in a circle and discusses the questions posed by the other group…while the other group observes. And only observes; they are not allowed to make a sound, so that the inner circle can be uninterrupted.
Some interesting things were learned. Here’s the questions that the subs asked the doms:
- When have you felt guilty? Have you ever truly regretted a scene?
- What does it feel like when you let your bottom play with other tops? Jealousy, or frubble?
- What is it with the competition between Doms, and what do you actually admire in other Doms?
- What makes a good submissive? What makes a bad one?
- (bonus question) Improv vs. planning: discuss
I can’t go into the full details of the answers (the whole workshop lasted almost two hours) but there were some surprises. For one, there was the "guilty" question. While some tops said that they felt bad when they "screwed up", I found myself realizing that only one thing had ever made me feel guilty: when I found out that the bottom had gotten to the point where they should have safeworded, but they didn’t. It’s happened twice, both times with long-term partners, and both times I felt incredibly guilty because I should have known. Which is silly, of course, but there it is: I felt guilty.
Another really cool thing (that I wish I’d recorded) was the list of attributes that Doms admire in other Doms. Here’s an incomplete list that I made by asking some participants afterwards:
- Abandonment (of the self into the scene, not of the sub)
- Skills that I don’t have
- Wisdom – knowing what to do in unexpected situations
- Complimenting others
And worth noting is what was pretty much universal agreement on what makes a good sub: feedback. Reaction. Communicating to the dom, whether during the scene (which seemed to be the preference of most) or after how the scene felt, what was good, what may need tweaking. Reaction.
And what did the Doms ask the submissives?
- Is aftercare as important as we’re told it is?
- Why do you give us your power?
- Why do I have to do all the work?
- What do you get out of playing with others besides your primary partner?
- (bonus question) Why wouldn’t you want to learn new skills?
Again, there was too much said to do it justice here. But some of the answers that were surprising to me: What do you get out of others? Variety. That was the consensus. I found it amusing, because I think it’s the last thing the Dom is insecure about. The brain weasels in my head tend to say "She likes him/her better, because they’re faster/younger/stronger/richer/have a bigger flogger than you do. There’s more connection with him. After this she’ll never want to play with you again." Note, that’s not what I really think, it’s just what the brainweasels say. But none of the subs mentioned looking for other connections, or other feelings; just variety as in other types of play, needles, canes, etc.
The "Why do you give us your power" was a good one, too, as the answer boiled down to: We don’t. We loan it to you, because it’s fun. And we’ll take it back when it’s not.
It was a good exercise, and one I’d recommend as a workshop in any event. A lot was learned, on both sides, and by all the participants.