Ceara Lynch: Feminist

Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.” – George Carlin

Ceara Lynch once mentioned to me that she thought modern feminism had misguided priorities. At the time, I thought I knew what she meant. Turns out, I didn’t.

My Perception …

Funny thing about perception. A person’s perception is usually incomplete; many facets of reality go unobserved, discounted, or outright ignored. And so it was with my perception of feminism. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, I saw the Women’s Lib movement. Feminism was about female autonomy, equality of opportunity, and the right to self-actualize. By the late 1980’s, feminism had become more nuanced The emphasis shifted from equality of opportunity to equality of outcome. Feminism was a zero sum game is which women won and men lost. Then in the 2000’s, I saw feminism become less adversarial, less political, and more personalized. The emphasis shifted from women in the aggregate to the individual. The story of feminism was told in terms of individual endeavors and achievements. Feminism celebrated the success and contributions of specific women, and shined its social justice spotlight on crimes, such as sexual assault and sexual harassment, perpetrated against the individual person.

At least, that’s what I thought I saw. The fact is, what I thought I saw was not what I was seeing at all. I was missing the big picture.

The Arc of Feminism …

Some thinkers have sought to locate the roots of feminism in ancient Greece with Sappho, or the medieval world with Hildegard of Bingen or Christine de Pisan. Certainly Olympes de Gouge, Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen are predecessors to the modern women’s movement. All of these people advocated for the dignity, intelligence, and basic human potential of the female sex. However, it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the efforts for women’s equal rights coalesced into a clearly identifiable and self-conscious series of movements.

The first wave of feminism took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, emerging out of an environment of urban industrialism and liberal, socialist politics. The goal of this wave was to open up opportunities for women, with a focus on suffrage. The wave formally began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 when three hundred men and women rallied to the cause of equality for women. That Convention produced a Declaration that outlined the new movement’s ideology and political strategies.

In its early stages, feminism was interrelated with the temperance and abolitionist movements. Discussions about the vote and women’s participation in politics led to an examination of the differences between men and women with claims that women were morally superior to men and their presence in the civic sphere would improve public behavior and the political process.

The second wave began in the 1960s and continued into the 90s. This wave unfolded in the context of the anti-war and civil rights movements and the growing self-consciousness of a variety of minority groups around the world. The New Left was on the rise, and the voice of the second wave was increasingly radical. In this phase, sexuality and reproductive rights were dominant issues, and much of the movement’s energy was focused on passing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

Because the second wave of feminism found voice amid so many other social movements, it was easily marginalized and viewed as less pressing than, for example, Black Power or efforts to end the war in Vietnam. Feminists reacted by forming women-only organizations and “consciousness raising” groups. Over time,. the second wave became increasingly theoretical, based on a fusion of neo-Marxism and psycho-analytical theory, and began to associate the subjugation of women with broader critiques of patriarchy, capitalism, normative heterosexuality, and the woman’s role as wife and mother.

Whereas the first wave of feminism was generally propelled by middle class western white women, the second phase drew in women of color and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity. Feminists spoke of women as a social class and coined phrases such as “the personal is political” and “identity politics” in an effort to demonstrate that race, class, and gender oppression are all related. They initiated a concentrated effort to rid society top-to-bottom of sexism, from children’s cartoons to the highest levels of government. One of the strains of this complex and diverse wave was the development of women-only spaces and the notion that women working together create a special dynamic that is not possible in mixed-groups, which would ultimately work for the betterment of the entire planet. Women, whether due to their long “subjugation” or to their biology, were thought by some to be more humane, collaborative, inclusive, peaceful, nurturing, democratic, and holistic in their approach to problem solving than men.

How successful was the second wave? Many goals of the second wave were met: more women in positions of leadership in higher education, business and politics; abortion rights; access to the pill that increased women’s control over their bodies; more expression and acceptance of female sexuality; general public awareness of the concept of and need for the “rights of women”; a solid academic field in feminism, gender and sexuality studies; greater access to education; organizations and legislation for the protection of battered women; women’s support groups and organizations; an industry in the publication of books by and about women/feminism; public forums for the discussion of women’s rights; and a societal discourse at the popular level about women’s suppression, efforts for reform, and a critique of patriarchy. With these successes, there was a a sense that many women’s needs have been met. The movement didn’t end, however. Rather, a third wave evolved.

The third wave of feminism began in the mid-90’s and focused less on laws and politics and more on individual identity and choices. Realizing there are many different backgrounds and many different ways to be a woman, it challenged the assumption there is a universal way to be a ‘good woman.’ The third wave allowed women to define feminism for themselves by incorporating their own identities into their belief system of what feminism is and what it could become. The third wave challenged stereotypes in the media, words used to describe gender, rape culture, gender expectations, body image issues, institutionalized patriarchy, etc. This wave also tried to avoid the “us-vs.-them mentalities” of the preceding waves; men weren’t the enemy, and women didn’t have some ‘better’ nature that set them apart from men. Rather, men and women were just people. Third wavers tended to think the genders had achieved parity or that society was well on its way to delivering it to them

The women of the third wave stepped onto the stage as strong and empowered, eschewing victimization and defining feminine beauty for themselves. They re-adopted the very lipstick, high heels, and low cut necklines that the first two phases of the movement identified with male oppression. Most third-wavers refused to identify as feminists and rejected the word that they find limiting and exclusionary. Third wavers tended to be global, multi-cultural, and shun simple answers or artificial categories of identity, gender, and sexuality; differences such as those of ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, etc. were celebrated and recognized as dynamic, situational, and provisional. For third wavers, struggles were more individual orientated rather than as a collective group with common grievances. Reality is conceived not so much in terms of fixed structures and power relations, but in terms of performance within contingencies. Third wave feminism broke down or did not recognize boundaries.

The fourth wave of feminism is still a captivating silhouette. Fourth-wave feminism is often associated with online feminism, especially using social media to discuss, uplift, and activate gender equality and social justice. According to the National Organization of Women, the internet has created a “call-out” culture in which sexism can be called out and challenged immediately with relative ease. Fourth wavers more readily presume a point of view that believes a persons’ social position influences their knowledge (called “standpoint theory”) and argue that the feminist movement should address global issues (such as rape, incest, and prostitution) and culturally specific issues (such as female genital mutilation in some parts of Africa and the Middle East, as well as glass ceiling practices that impede women’s advancement in developed economies) in order to understand how gender inequality interacts with racism, homophobia, and classism in a “matrix of domination.” The emerging fourth wavers are not just reincarnations of their second wave predecessors; they bring to the discussion important perspectives taught by third wave feminism. Among the third wave’s bequests is the importance of inclusion, an acceptance of the sexualized human body as non-threatening, and the role the internet can play in leveling hierarchies.

FEMDOM, Feminism, and Empowerment …

FEMDOM is a very nuanced activity.  To the novice or uninitiated, FEMDOM can easily be mistaken as a type of sexual extension for radical Second Wave feminism; i.e., it’s an incredible form of female empowerment whereby a woman asserts her will over a man. Interestingly, Ceara Lynch doesn’t see herself that way at all. She doesn’t think she is inherently better than a man just because she’s a woman. As she says, “It’s just a role I’m playing to cater to men’s fantasies. It’s sex work. I have pretty good self-esteem, but I try not to take this whole ‘princess’ or ‘goddess’ thing too seriously because that would be loony tunes. At the end of the day, I’m just helping guys jerk off, and that’s okay. It’s neither extraordinary nor degrading.”

Clearly Ceara Lynch doesn’t identify with Second Wave feminism. For that matter, she probably doesn’t even consider herself a feminist. Most Third Wavers don’t. And let’s face it, whether a woman calls herself a feminist or not is just an exercise in semiotics. The whole point of feminism is that women have the right to be whoever they want to be. That means they can decide how they dress, talk, act, and (yes) even who they have sex with. Ceara Lynch is a Third Waver. She isn’t threatened by sexuality, avoids the Second Waves “us-versus-them” mentality, and takes a more inclusive global Fourth Wave view towards what she thinks are higher priority female issues.

But as Oscar Wilde pointed out, defining Ceara Lynch is “to limit.” And Ceara Lynch doesn’t allow others to limit her. She personifies feminism not because she’s a dominatrix, but because she’s her own person. She’s an empowered woman.

You Don’t Have to be a White Whale. Be Charlie the Tuna and Be Good Enough.

How To …

A few days ago, Ceara Lynch posted a much praised blog entry about How to Make Money as a Financial Dominatrix. In a way, it’s a companion piece to her blog 10 Steps to Becoming a Humiliatrix. As advice goes, these two blogs comprise the most cogent I’ve seen for women aspiring to make a living in the online FEMDOM/FINDOM industry.

But Ceara’s blogs tell only half the story. Her success is really the result of two factors – the work she puts in executing her business model, and the quality of the products and services she provides. You can have the best business model, put in the hours and the sweat, and still not succeed. Because if you’ve got a flawed product no one will buy it repeatedly. And, as all businesses learn, loyal repeat customers are worth exponentially more than single-time buyers. Repeat customers are the key to success.

Previously in this blog, I’ve tried to examine those aspects of Ceara Lynch’s business that lead to repeat customers. I’ve discussed her business acumen (Ceara Lynch: A Head for Business) as well as some of those traits that make her so appealing (Ceara Lynch: The Psychological Aspects of Her Business, Ceara Lynch: Playing with Men, Ceara Lynch: Dignity and Humiliation.) When taken together, Ceara’s entries and mine offer insight into methods, techniques and perspective which may lead to a successful online FINDOM business.

But I digress.

What I want to write about is not aimed at the aspiring FINDOM. Rather, it’s meant as advice for those men aspiring to be “White Whales.”

Thar’ She Blows …

If you haven’t read Ceara’s How To Make Money as a Financial Dominatrix blog, you should. The blog centers around a graph of a FINDOM’S Effort/Time versus Money. Below is my version of Ceara’s graph.

Chart 1

The Fair Market line is the dark line running diagonally 45 degrees up and to the right from the graph’s origin. It’s the line in which the financial domme’s return on her time and effort is rewarded at a rate established by the fair market. Any transaction above and to the left of that line (the green zone) provides a greater return. Any transaction to the right and below the line provides a return less than fair market rates.

I’ve categorized customer type by where their transactions usually fall. Above the fair market value line are (1) “white whales” whose transactions provide astounding return for relatively little effort, (2) “preferred’ customers who provide excellent return for effort, and (3) “good” customers who provide better than average return for a financial dominatrix’s effort. Below the fair market line are (1) “poor” customer transactions in which the FINDOM loses money but which she may still accept in order to cultivate a fair market relationship, and (2) “time wasters” which neither are, nor offer potential for, fair market transactions.

Clearly if you’re a client or customer seeking to establish a more enduring client/provider relationship with FINDOM, the vast majority of you’re transactions must occur in the green zone of the graph. The more your transactions tend upward and to the left, the more favorable the financial domme will view the relationship. I mean, that’s obvious, right?

Which brings me to the pie chart below.

Graph 2 (2)

 

The above chart shows the relative distribution of customer types that FINDOMS deal with on a daily basis. Well over two-thirds of all transactions proffer less than fair market return for effort, about one half offer no return at all. About one in eight clients are “preferred” (e.g., financial slaves) offering excellent return for effort, and far less than one half percent of all transactions are of the “white whale” type.

What this means is that for a potential financial slave, or a submissive seeking a more enduring relationship with a FINDOM, it’s fairly easy to break out of the pack since, for the most part, the pack is made up of clients and customers the FINDOM doesn’t want.

Breaking Out of the Pack …

So how do you break out of the pack? It’s actually quite easy. Here’s just a couple ideas.

  1. As Miz Lindsay says, “Cash over compliments.” Words are cheap. Compliments are a dime a dozen. Cash, on the other hand, speaks volumes. If you want to move into the “good” client category, give the FINDOM more than her time and effort are worth on the free market. Don’t be stingy. And don’t send the tribute and expect something in return. Remember, what you’re getting with your tributes is separation from the pack. You’re getting noticed by the FINDOM. And that, after all, is what you probably want most.
  2. Credibility is valuable, so don’t lose it. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Even if you can’t do it right away, do it as soon as you can.
  3. Provide positive feedback. A FINDOM’s marketing lifeline is social media word- of-mouth. Don’t tell the FINDOM she’s awesome … TELL OTHER PEOPLE she’s awesome! Positive reviews and positive comments generate internet traffic and web page hits. And that’s what online marketing is all about.
  4. You don’t have to a “white whale. Sometimes being a “tuna” is good enough. Moderate to small tributes done often are sufficient to be noticed and perhaps move you into the “preferred’ category. Many a FINDOM has said they prefer the sub who sacrifices over the sub who doesn’t. I don’t believe that … not in a heartbeat. Sacrifice is nice, but a college kid living on noodles so that he can scrape together a few nickels for his FINDOM can hardly make the same impact as a well-heeled sub sending hundreds of dollars every time he plays. Just remember, this isn’t a competition among subs. What your trying to do is break out of the pack .. a pack mainly composed of “time-wasters” and “poor” customers. Frequent tributes, no matter how small, are sufficient to do that.
  5. Don’t make or take things personally. Remember your FINDOM is in the fantasy-fulfilling business. You should only be seeking what the FINDOM can provide … temporary moments of submissiveness; not a lifestyle devoted to it.
  6. Along those lines, don’t make the mistake of thinking being an “online slave” is the same as being a real BDSM slave. For the most part, the relationship between you and your FINDOM is pretty shallow. For her, you’re a client. For you, she’s mainly someone to masturbate to. Sacrificing is almost always optional.
  7. Respect her privacy. Don’t be a wanker and solicit interaction at odd hours of the day or outside of her regular business hours. Remember, the key is to make your interactions more valuable to her than what she could get on the free market. You want to be an asset to her business, not a burden.
  8. Tip. When ordering custom videos, provide a little bit extra than the going rate. It’ll go a long way towards moving up and to the left on the graph.

Reality Check …

Be honest with yourself and with the FINDOM. Financial domination is not for everybody. No credible FINDOM wants to ruin you, and you shouldn’t ruin yourself. It’s just play after all.

Finally, don’t delude yourself into thinking your online relationship with the FINDOM will evolve into something more real and fulfilling. It almost certainly won’t. The reality is that it’s rare for an online FINDOM and an online submissive to become real time friends. And even if that happens, it’s even more rare for their relationship moves beyond that.

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As always, thoughts, ideas and comments are appreciated.

Ceara Lynch: Kissing Done Right

The research is pretty clear.  Kissing counts.  Kissing, and not speaking or smiling, is the key to finding love.  Kiss well and you may find a partner for life (or at least for the evening).  Kiss poorly, and you won’t get a second chance.

One of my favorite, most detailed studies of kissing behavior was conducted in 2007 by Hughes, Harrison, and Gallup.  The group surveyed a total of 1,041 male and female experts (i.e., undergraduate students) on numerous aspects of kissing behavior.  Here’s what they found.

Kissing is Persuasive.  Both men and women use kissing to decide on a potential partner. Good kissers are more likely to get chosen.  Bad kissing, in contrast, can be a deal-breaker. Good kissing creates and maintains a feeling of bonding and attachment, which is important both early in a relationship and over time.  Good kissing can also lead to arousal and sex.  Passionate make-outs are effective (and often necessary) precursors to further intimacy.

Elements of a Good Kiss.  Attractive kissing partners were found to have good hygiene, including fresh breath and clean teeth.  Grooming had an effect overall as well.  Both men and women found assertiveness attractive in a kisser.  Partners who committed to a kiss, rather than making out half-heartedly, were viewed as better kissers.  Touching, caressing, and general physical contact while kissing was also key to a successful smooch. Finally, kissing with a new partner was evaluated as best when closed-mouth initially, with minimal saliva exchange (especially for women).  Soft, moist lips were preferable; a drooling, tongue-down approach was not.  Over time, kissing could work up to greater “passion” and “intimacy,” with increased open-mouth, tongue, and saliva exchange.

Gender Differences.  Overall, a good kiss appeared more important to women than to men.  The study indicated that women use kissing to judge a date or mate more than men. They are also more likely to use kissing as a way to bond—and to look for kisses throughout a relationship.  In addition, they are less likely to kiss when they feel a partner only wants sex and nothing more.  By contrast, men were found to be somewhat less picky with their kissing partners.  However, they were also found to be more passionate.  Men prefer open-mouthed, tongue-included, wet kissing more than women.  They also seemed to prefer that their partner makes pleasurable noises while kissing.

When and How to Kiss.  Given the research, there would appear to be three main times one should kiss a partner for persuasive effect.

To prove yourself and test a partner – that first kiss.   A first kiss can be anxiety-provoking, but that doesn’t mean one should put it off for too long.  Remember, assertiveness is attractive.  Commit to the kiss.  And don’t forget about hygiene … the smell and taste of your mouth are key to success.  Brush your teeth, avoid smelly food, or use breath mints. Soft lips are helpful, as well, so don’t skimp on the lip balm.

From there, it’s all about the mechanics.  Wet your lips slightly, as nicely lubricated lips are more welcome.  When you lean in to begin a (closed-mouth) kiss, be sure to touch as well.  Hold your partner’s cheek, brush their hair away from their face, and embrace or cuddle as you kiss.  Also, let your partner “lead” the kiss a bit. (You’re judging them and their “style” as much as they are yours.)

A first kiss isn’t the time for a heavy “make-out” session.  It may be heartfelt and passionate, perhaps with a bit of playful flirting.  Only kiss for a few moments (be sure to leave them wanting more) but, continue to touch, cuddle, and look in your partner’s eyes afterward, too.

To connect and bond.  Kissing can make a partner feel noticed, loved, and connected.  This is especially true in long-term relationships, in which kissing can often be forgotten.  When you want your partner to feel good and “like” you, remember to give them a smooch.  The mechanics of a “bonding” kiss are similar to that of the “testing” kiss (hygiene, soft lips, a loving caress, etc.).  Bonding kisses can be lengthy and include a cuddly make-out session, but they can be equally persuasive if they are very short, even just a peck or a caring kiss on the forehead.  In this case, it is literally the thought that counts, because this is about “bonding”—building a feeling of comfort and attachment here, and not necessarily sexual arousal.  These kisses are ideal during “spontaneous” moments, as part of a larger effort to build connection and rapport.  This type of bonding kissing is also important after sex to make sure a partner feels loved and attended to.

To arouse and seduce.  Kissing, of course, often leads to passionate feelings and sexual activity, especially more “intimate” open-mouth, tongue-involved kisses.  If you are “in the mood,” you’ll likely seek to persuade your partner’s libido with a kiss.  Passionate kissing is essentially a progression of the other two types.  All of the hygiene and touching rules apply.  The intensity gets turned up a bit with greater assertiveness.  Slowly, the touching and embracing gets a bit more intense, as open mouths and tongues get involved.  Arousal kissing also lasts longer; we escalate the intensity when we feel our partner reciprocate.  As they become more assertive, we may proceed to kissing other areas (like the neck) and to foreplay.  If they slow it down, we may go back to another type of kissing until they are on the same page.

Still Confused?  Not Sure?

Kissing is not complicated.  If you’re still confused and not sure as to how and when to kiss, then I suggest you buy and watch the below Ceara Lynch video clips.  Pay close attention to how the kiss progresses through the testing phase to the arousal and seduction phase.  As a general rule, pornography is NOT a good way to learn how to kiss and/or make love with a partner.  However, I think it’s safe to say that Ceara Lynch does kissing right … and her clips can be very instructive for men (and women) who lack confidence or technique in the common, but important, art of kissing.

“Get a Room” featuring Mistress T

mistresstkissing
Ceara and Mistress T

“Raunchy Rene” featuring Princess Rene

renekissing
Ceara and Rene

“Dreams Do Come True” featuring Alexandra Snow

snowkissing
Ceara and Alexandra Snow

How I Came to Orbit Around Ceara Lynch

What follows is not the complete me; it’s not the totality of the person writing these words. Rather, it’s simply just one of many dimensions of my psyche and personality.

It’s the story of the addicted2ceara persona. Who he is. And how he got to be this way.

How did this happen?

Some of you may be wondering how much input Ceara Lynch has into this blog. Fact is, she has very little. Before writing each entry I run the proposed subject pass her, more as a courtesy than for approval. Other than that, she doesn’t know what I’ve written until it’s posted. She gets no advanced draft copies, makes no pre-post edits. Occasionally after reading, she may offer a short comment or two, but that’s about the extent of her input and feedback.

Following my last posting, I mentioned that unless she had some other ideas, I was thinking of doing a futurecast piece speculating about what her persona might be like fifteen or twenty years from now. I hadn’t put much thought into that subject and, in retrospect, it probably was just another one of my frequent brain farts. Anyway, she replied that I might want to write about something a little more personal, like the separate lives I lead – everyday me versus financial slave me. Or more specifically, I should write a bit about my persona.

Well that suggestion was a bolt from the blue. First, it’s not in keeping with the main theme of this blog. Second, I really don’t think I’m all that interesting. And third, a persona is how other people perceive you and how could I possibly know that?! Still, I guess I could write about how I wanted other people to perceive me, which is probably the closest I could get to answering the “What is your persona?” question. And who knows, maybe someone might find my story interesting enough to read through the crap I’m about to write. I mean, if Ceara thought it might be something worth writing about, who am I to argue.

So here goes.

But First

Did you ever notice how men describe themselves in terms of what they do or what they’ve accomplished? An extreme manifestation of this phenomenon is the military. If you’ve ever been in the military, you learn to quickly surmise a person’s career and accomplishments by “reading their chest” (those rows of ribbons over the left pocket on their uniform.) Each one of those ribbons means something – campaigns participated in, medals received, awards conferred. These ribbons, along with other uniform devices, insignia, patches, shoulder tabs, and accouterments tell a story. To the lay person, these things are meaningless. To the service member, they tell the tale of a person’s career. Read a person’s chest and the sum of a person’s military experience and accomplishments can pretty much be taken at a glance.

But a person’s experiences and accomplishments are only one dimension of their identity, and a fairly shallow dimension at that. A list of awards, a curricula vitae or resume, the size of their bank account, what kind of car they drive – these things miss the deeper more interesting dimensions that make a person who they are. Things like their motivation, their values, how they think and express themselves, what they fear and what they’ve overcome, their character, their dignity, their compassion, their selflessness, the things that give them joy, and the joy they bring to others. None of these things can be inferred from a listing of accomplishments. None of these things can be deduced from a string of experiences. And yet, the default way for men to describe themselves is by their job, their career, and their achievements. I guess it’s a way of measuring success or, more idiomatically, a way of competing in the dick-measuring contest that pretty much defines male competitiveness.

So, except for a few relevant facts, I’m going to dispense with the list of significant accomplishments and life experiences. Not only are those things not particularly important, but by not disclosing them, I am able to retain a modicum of anonymity. What remains is this attempt to flesh out my online persona using as few uniquely identifiable traits as practical.

Who Am I? (The Short Answer)

I’m retired. Over 60 years old. Have an annual income well into six figures. Not married. No children.

That’s probably enough information for you to stereotype me; to begin to make some judgments. For some, you’re probably not going to read further. You’ve already got me figured out. And that’s fine.

But for those others, I’d like to round out my persona a bit. To tell you a little bit about who I am, how I got here, and what my relationship with Ceara Lynch is all about.

A Moment of Clarity

I can go as far back as you want. Even as far back to my Catholic grade and high school years. I mean, it’s all part of a life’s trajectory, right? Still, maybe the best place to begin is after college. It was 1976. The economy was just beginning to recover from the stagnation of the mid-1970’s, but it was still near impossible to find a job in the profession I educated myself for. I was young, single, and strong, so eventually found work roll-slitting steel on the second shift at one of the few steel mills left in the region. Aside from work, I was mostly bored. I had a few dollars in my pocket every now and then, which was okay because when I wasn’t working I was just wasting time and partying. I lived on Chicago’s south side. It was blues and bars, and the bars didn’t close until 4 AM. Bottom line: I was just another fearless kid too drunk and stupid to see that I headed down a long path to a crappy life. “Loser” wasn’t my name but it could have been.

Late one night I was sitting in my usual spot at the end of the bar, nursing a 12-ounce draft of Old Style and listening to the jukebox. I happened to gaze at the old man sitting a couple stools away and I realized that guy was always there. Every time I came in, he was there. Sitting alone. Drinking. Nursing his beer. And in that moment of clarity, I saw my future. If I didn’t do something, that was going to be me 25 years from now. I had to get away from the booze. I had to shake things up and try something … anything … different. I had to get off that dead-end track to Crapsville. So I up and joined the military.

Pay for Play

My first duty station was Guam. Where America’s day begins. In the middle of the Pacific ocean. 5000 miles and 10 hours by air from anywhere close to familiar. And what could a young man with a few dollars in his pocket do on Guam during his off duty time back in 1977? Well, aside from snorkeling and sports, the main entertainment option was … drum roll please …. drinking. Bars and booze. And blues on the jukebox. Yeap. I ran right smack dab into what I running away from. Funny as hell, and just a little ironic!

And, lest I forget, there were the Guam strip clubs. For a dollar tip or two (or twenty) you could drink and have some female company for a couple of hours. The more money you spent, the more money you tipped the dancers, the better their company. Sometimes I wouldn’t have enough tip money for after hours companionship, so I’d masturbate when I got back to the base. But sometimes I did. Payday was lay day. And I’d get laid. Money and sex were linked. That link was reinforced by alcohol.

I probably should have gotten a girlfriend, but it was Guam, and I was only going to be there for a 18 months before being assigned to another overseas location. Getting serious (or even semi-serious in some sort of dysfunctional relationship) wasn’t something I wanted – I rationalized it by thinking such a relationship wouldn’t be fair to either of us. But more important, I liked playing. I was sowing my wild oats. I was that guy – the one good girls would never dream of bringing home to meet the family.

Though it may have started on Guam, it didn’t end there. During the next 28 years of military service, I moved 15 times. I had addresses in the United States and addresses in foreign countries. The longest I was ever in one place was 27 months. I deployed; I traveled. And I got my shit together. My arrogance-filled youth gave way to humility; humility enabled by the cultures I experienced and the people I met. I met women that I fell in love with, and I met women that fell in love with me. I went to graduate school; earned two advanced degrees; got promoted regularly; adopted the military’s code of ethics, honor, and behavior; strengthened and refined my character; matured; became dependable; and, in short, stopped loathing myself and became proud and sure of who I had become. I gave the military my life, and they saved it.

Somewhere along the line I throttled back the drinking so it no longer contributed to the mental and emotional anguish I had when I was so much younger. I still hadn’t married. (Through all those years there was only one woman I ever wanted to marry but the circumstances of life kept getting in the way.) But the link between casual sex and money endured. There were still strip clubs and, though I found myself in them less often than before, old habits are hard to break. Besides, giving an attractive woman money in exchange for their company and time is much more certain than trying to meet women in bars, clubs, and other traditional venues. It’s not a lifestyle I would recommend for most men, but given my circumstances, it worked for me. As it has worked for countless of other men throughout the ages.

Then came the 90’s and the AIDS epidemic. Casual sex became riskier. ELISA tests became part of my annual physical exam. With each negative test, I sighed relief and vowed to curtail my sexual activities; vowed to find a safer way. That safer way turned out to be pornography and masturbation. The internet explosion was still 10 years away, but video cassette tapes were popular, and adult pornography shops could still be found if you wanted to find one. And I found them.

I gravitated to FEMDOM magazines and tapes. The images and idea of beautiful women with attitude aroused me. So much so that I booked several real-time sessions with now familiar and well-known Dominatrices. In a way it was a different form of the same paradigm I had gotten accustomed to (cash for company.) It was safe in that bodily fluids weren’t exchanged, and it was different. But as things turned out, it wasn’t for me. The fantasy proved more erotic than the experience as I was neither submissive or masochistic enough to let myself completely revel in those roles.

After retiring, I treated myself to a couple of extended travel adventures. When I returned home in 2007 , the internet was exploding. Porn was rampant and I was intrigued. I wasn’t obsessed or addicted to pornography, but I still masturbated when I needed sexual relief. And the internet was like having a porn shop on my desktop. One evening, while looking for FEMDOM images, I stumbled across Niteflirt. The site had a category called “Financial Domination.” I had never heard of financial domination before, but it sparked a line of thought so deeply embedded within my consciousness it wasn’t until years later that I was able to recognize it for what it was. Anyway, financial domination resonated. It was a new twist on an old paradigm, one in which “cash for company” took main stage. As I had grown older, my sexual tastes had changed. In some ways, they became more mature. Financial domination was a perfect storm of appeal for me – it was where money, arousal, dominance/submission play, and virtual companionship collided with all my old sexual habits and desires. As it happened, one of the most striking financial dommes listed on the Niteflirt site was a young woman calling herself Ceara Lynch.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Ceara was cute. And she definitely had that oh-so-sexy-brat-domme attitude I like. But Niteflirt was a phone sex website and I really wasn’t into phone sex with strangers. Sure the photos on the website were compelling enough. The problem was that most of those photos were of professional models. Who knew what the girl on the other end of the phone looked like? Now I know it shouldn’t matter, but somehow it did. I mean, dishonesty is a turnoff and the website was filled with fake profiles. So I didn’t call. In fact, even though I trolled the website often because I found the images arousing, I never called any of the financial domination listings. As I said, anonymous phone sex with strangers just isn’t my thing.

What I did do was purchase a couple of Ceara’s clips from her Clips4Sale studio. I loved how she looked and how she moved. I loved the POV perspective. But the words she spoke, well, they were so far out of my erotica sweet zone that rather than arouse me, they left me flaccid and completely turned off. Turns out that humiliation wasn’t my thing either. Not even close. So I masturbated to the videos with the sound turned off, and ordered some customs from her that catered to a couple of my relatively mild fetishes (edging and tease and denial.) Ceara Lynch was now on my radar. But she was just a blip. I was looking for something more personal, someone more attuned with my emerging financial servitude values which, for lack of a better description, were service with dignity and mutual respect.

So I began in earnest my search online for real financial dommes. The internet was the perfect venue for me. All the elements were there. It was relatively anonymous, easily accessible, I retained control of the frequency and duration of contact, and the time required to establish a masturbation-based relationship with a beautiful woman could be established with generous and consistent transfers of cash. It was my strip club experience (minus the alcohol) with a FEMDOM twist. And it was on my desk top computer and available pretty much whenever I wanted it.

Back in the early years, financial dommes were relatively scarce. The craze hadn’t caught on yet. The traditional BDSM community was skeptical of financial domination at best and outright hostile to it at worst. After some searching, I found another young attractive financial domme whose notion of online financial domination appeared close to my own. It was just play. Edgy but still just play. I decided to give it a go. What followed was a year or two of genuinely trying to establish a relationship. Soon, however, the shortcomings and pitfalls of online financial domination raised their ugly heads. Financial domination was the primary source of the domme’s income, and as her lifestyle evolved, so did her need and her view of the relationship. It had moved from play to a different arena. She wanted a slave, I wanted something much less. Her demands became more persistent. The money I was spending on her was no longer part of my recreational and discretionary income; rather, it was cutting into the income I needed to live on and pay my bills. This was strange and new territory for me and I didn’t like it. I had gained a valuable insight; leaned a valuable lesson. Financial domination may be at the nexus of my sexual play dynamics, but it was also, at its core, wrong for me. As I mentioned earlier, actual submission and masochism aren’t my thing. I’ve no desire to be a slave. I’m a human being with dignity and worthy of respect. So I throttled back and moved on.

For the next two or three years I was in FINDOM limbo. I was still following what was going on in the community (reading Domme Dose postings, following certain blogs and Twitter accounts, etc.) but not really seeking a FINDOM relationship anymore. I joined a couple of Sugar Daddy web sites but they proved a waste of time. While I was only looking for a casual online “pay and fetish play” relationship, the women I found attractive were interested in something much more substantial. After two successive incidents of credit card fraud associated with the sites, I let the whole Sugar Daddy thing fall to the wayside.

Ceara Lynch Re-Found

As mentioned previously, Ceara Lynch was on my radar ever since I first stumbled across her on Niteflirt. I read her blog and infrequently checked her online activities. It was shortly after my Sugar Daddy excursion that Ceara Lynch took her blog in a new direction. No longer was her persona going to be simply another vapid one-dimensional Princess; she was going to reveal more of herself. She was about to become more complex, more nuanced. Her persona was going to have a personality. It was exciting. And I was instantly attracted. Ceara Lynch was no longer a blip on my radar; she had moved herself front and center. I was about to be slowly drawn into her solar system, about to become another lost planet captured by her pull.

I had learned a bit about myself those past few years of online play. Most notably, in addition to my few fairly vanilla fetishes, I liked to be seduced into not very deep and temporary sub-space. Now Ceara’s forte’ is humiliation and degradation which, you may recall, is not my thing. Fortunately, if anything, Ceara is a pro’s pro. She’s versatile and talented. Her tease and denial and hypnosis clips were in my sexual proclivity sweet spot. So I ordered several custom clips during the next 12-18 months. I usually provided a generous tip with each order so that, hopefully, I would make a sufficiently positive impression to stand out from the pack.

As I read more of Ceara’s blog and watched more of her videos, I began to see something more than just pixels on my computer screen. With her “self-outing” in 2014 on Joe Rogan, at the Mystery Box, and online articles, Ceara’s notoriety exploded. She had transformed herself from the earthbound caterpillar to a beautiful, intriguing butterfly. She had taken wing and was flying free. It was exciting to watch the metamorphoses. And I knew then and there that this wonderfully interesting and so-exotic-yet-so-normal woman had captured me. I may not have been thinking of her constantly, but I was thinking of her often.

So I did what I always do when I want a woman’s attention and time. I showered her with money and gifts. I didn’t ask for anything in return. There was no explicit transaction. The money was given freely with no conditions. I was pretty sure once I was noticed and remembered that my innate charm and good humor would endear me to her. By which I mean she would like me.

My Relationship with Ceara

Some of you will find it surprising when I say that, in all these past years to the present, I’ve only spoken to Ceara on the phone once or twice, and then for what was brief polite and non-sexual conversation. I have never Skyped or cam’ed with her. Aside from the infrequent email, we communicate exclusively by Twitter and DM. Any sexually charged communication between us is one way via custom videos. And, to be honest, I haven’t really ordered a custom from her in quite a while (once again, there was credit card fraud associated with the intermediate website that forced me to curtail my activities there.) What I do is promote her videos and business on Twitter, discuss my observations of her  in this website. And I send her money because money has always been part of the dynamic for me.

I’m over 60 years old. Sexually, I’m hardly the man I was even ten years ago. My libido didn’t slow down so much as it ran smack dab into a brick wall. For those who read my blog, I don’t think it’s too hard to read between the lines and find as many observations about myself as about Ceara Lynch. What you don’t know is that health issues, both for myself and for loved ones, now tend to dominate my life. As they say, cancer is a bitch. So for now, until those things are resolved, I write this blog, and nurture my mostly platonic online friendship with Ceara Lynch. Because, even if it’s just an illusion, it’s a pleasant one.

And she makes me smile.

Ceara Lynch: The Ethics of Financial Domination

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Consequentialism and Deontology …

In two recent blog posts, I’ve lightly touched on some narrow and specific moral dimensions of Ceara Lycnh’s profession. Ceara is part of a generation which often defines right and wrong in terms of consequences. Consequence-based morality maintains that if something doesn’t hurt yourself or others, it’s not wrong. When asked, most financial dominatrices morally justify their actions by pointing out that they aren’t hurting anyone.

Consequence-based morality is usually contrasted with deontology. Deontology judges the morality of an action based on rules. It is sometimes described as “duty-” or “obligation-” or “rule-” based ethics. In deontology, rightness or wrongness is derived from one’s actions rather than outcomes. Critics of financial domination usually take a more deontological view. To them, taking another person’s money by intentionally exploiting  weakness is against the rules and just plain wrong.

As a matter of practicality, however, consequentialism and deontology are not mutually exclusive. Unless you’re a pure “ends justify the means” kind of person, most consequentialists incorporate some sort of inviolable side-constraints which restrict the actions they permit themselves to do. They impose limits.

Ceara Lynch is no Girl Scout. She’s not big on rules-based morality. Ceara Lynch wrote to me, “I don’t think of morality as ‘what is proper’ (as you wrote) rather, to act morally is to act in a way that inflicts the least amount of suffering.” Hers is largely a consequence-based approach to morality.

Unintended Consequences …

Evil is wanting and planning for bad consequences. But what if the bad consequences are unintended? Is the person making that particular decision evil? Bad? Amoral? Of course not. As a practical matter, even in a consequence-based moral system,.intentions count for something. At the very least, good intentions mitigate actions when things turn out bad.

Unintended consequences are a fact of life. Sometimes the unintended consequences can be beneficial, sometimes there may be unexpected detrimental side effects, and sometimes the consequence may backfire and be contrary to what was originally intended.

In the case of financial domination, the most likely unintended consequence are detrimental side effects. In addition to the usual mental health risks associated with Dominance/submission play (such as tops disease, outing, emotional vampirism, etc.), financial domination poses the unique risk of financial harm and hardship for the submissive player. Although little to no public information is available about how often and to what extent financial hardship results from financial domination play, it’s probably safe to assume that it does occur.

For a consequentialist like Ceara Lynch, what then is the moral burden when results of the financial domination cause harm and undo financial hardship to her client? In her own words, her moral road map is about imposing the least amount of suffering. Yet the play she encourages and facilitates may unintentionally create harm and suffering. Clearly, she never wanted to hurt her client, so when harm occurs, her motives mitigate her moral culpability to a certain extent. But even though the actions and decisions leading to harm are not solely hers, she must bear some moral responsibility for the consequences of those joint actions. The moral price to pay ( in other words, justice) is predicated upon how much harm is done.

And there’s the problem. Because no one other than the harmed submissive knows the full extent of how much damage is being done. And he’s not saying. Not even to the financial dominatrix.

In the strawman postulated above, the dominatrix is able to avoid facing the moral dilemma posed by overlooking the consequences entirely. In the case of financial domination, ignorance is truly bliss.

An Ethereal Thing …

Discussions of ethics and morality are ethereal. They just seem too perfect for the workings of the real world. People are complex, situations are more often ambiguous than clear. Financial domination play is one of those situations. It’s on the edge – morally, ethically, psychologically. There’s an unspoken trust between play partners that boundaries won’t be crossed. Unfortunately those boundaries are often ill-defined or, in the worse cases (those devoid of any ethical considerations at all), there are no boundaries.

For Ceara Lynch, the boundaries are defined better than most. In that way, she is easier to trust. Still, the potential for harm is always present. How she addresses the potential moral dilemma embedded within her consequentialist perspective is dependent on how she makes sense of those boundaries and the ambiguous nature of internet social-sexual play.  Perhaps a more thorough reading of her past blog entries would give me more insight; for now, however, her approach to the ethics of financial domination remains a bit opaque to me.

I’m no moral absolutist and in no position to judge anyone – so will leave this blog open for comments, thoughts, and other insights into the contentious arena of ethics and financial domination.  Feel free to add your comments and replies.

Thanks.

Ceara Lynch: Humiliation Videos as Art

An essay in which I trace the artistic roots of Ceara Lynch’s humiliation and degradation videos.

Indifference …

In 1971, 25 year old performance artist Chris Burden stood against the wall of a California art gallery and ordered a friend to shoot him through the arm. It was performance art designed to unnerve.

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Shoot” by Chris Burden (1971)

45 years later, a class of students at Williams College viewed the grainy footage of Burden’s shooting.  No one expressed any sense of shock or revulsion. No one took offense that a taboo had been broken. Instead, there was tolerance. Or perhaps more accurately, indifference.

Has society and culture changed so much that what once was shocking is now commonplace? Has art evolved so that the values and social mores of the past are no longer applicable to art’s relevance? And does Ceara Lynch, and her video clips, have a place on this trajectory of art’s evolution?  If so, where?

This essay will explore some of the answers to those questions.

Art Is …

I remember the first time I understood art. It was 1986 at the University of Chicago. I was 34 years old, well established in my career, and headed down a path towards inevitable success. Adding a few more graduate-level courses to my curricula vitae would accelerate my progress. I was brimming with confidence – to the point of being downright unlikable. You know the kind of person I was back then. The one with a comment for everything; judgmental, critical, and just plain obnoxious. The asshole in the crowd. That was me. Humility hadn’t yet found a very favorable place in my character.

There was an exhibit of Jeff Koons’s work in a lobby of one of the University’s buildings. This particular work , two basketballs floating in a half-filled tank of water, caught my eye.

eq24_sm“Two Ball 50/50 Tank” by Jeff Koons (1985)

Being a full-throttled asshole, I offered a snide comment to no one in particular. “This is art?! It’s just a couple of basketballs floating in a half-filled aquarium.” Fortunately, there was someone much wiser and enlightened nearby who, upon hearing my comment, replied, “It has to do with shapes.” I looked again. And I saw something different. That was my epiphany moment. That was the moment I began to understand art (and, coincidentally, it was also the moment that genuine humility began to take on a larger role in my life.)

Art was about perspective. Art was seeing the unexpected in the familiar. And, in a larger sense, art was about a willingness to view things differently. This is where artists make their mark, by implanting pictures in the underwater processing that is upstream from conscious cognition. Art smashes through some of the warped lenses through which we’ve been taught to see. And what we see is a different way of seeing things; a new perspective from which to view truth. Art shapes in meaningful ways our image of ourselves or define our collective values. As society’s values and culture has changed and evolved, so has art.

Art Evolves …

For most of human history, works of visual art were the direct expression of the society that made them. The artist was not an autonomous creator; he worked at the behest of his patron, making objects that expressed in visible form that patron’s beliefs and aspirations. As society changed, its chief patrons changed and art changed along with it. Such is patronage, the mechanism by which the hopes, values, and fears of a society make themselves visible in art.

When World War I broke out in 1914, that mechanism was delivered a blow from which it never quite recovered. If human experience is the raw material of art, here was material aplenty but of the sort that few patrons would choose to look upon. The human body—dynamic, beautiful, created in God’s image—had long been the central subject of Western art. It was now depicted in the most tormented and fragmented manner, every coil of innards laid bare with obscenely morbid imagination. Ernst Kirchner and Otto Dix depicted the gore. George Grosz, who refrained from showing actual injuries, was even more disturbing. He made collages of faces out of awkwardly assembled parts, like a jigsaw puzzle assembled with the wrong pieces, suggesting those sad prosthetics that would have been a ubiquitous presence in 1918.

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Remember Uncle August, the Unhappy Inventor” by George Grosz (1919)

Christianity had introduced the motif of beautiful suffering, in which even the most agonizing of deaths could be shown to have a tragic dignity. But things had now been done to the human body that were unprecedented, and on an unprecedented scale. The cruel savagery of this art can be understood only as the product of collective trauma, like the babble of absurd free associations that tumble from our mouths when in a state of shock. That kind of irrational expression was the guiding principle of Dada, the movement that came about at the end of the war and that was made famous by Marcel Duchamp’s celebrated urinal turned upside down and named Fountain.

fountain

“Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp (1917)

The absurdity of Dada applied unserious means to a serious end: the search for an artistic language capable of expressing the monstrous scale and nature of the war. But the absurdist moment was short-lived and quickly superseded. The toppling of Europe’s three principal empires and the Russian Revolution seemed to confirm that the West had entered into a radical new phase of cultural history, the most consequential since the rise of Renaissance humanism half a millennium ago. There was a general sense that a world radically transformed by war required an equally radical new art—an art of urgent gravity. While modern art had certainly existed before the war, there now came into being a comprehensive “modern movement” that was active in all spheres of human action, not only in art but in politics and science as well. In its wake, Pablo Picasso rose from being a mere painter with a quirky personal style to a world-historical figure whose work was as important to the future of mankind as Einstein’s or Freud’s.

All this gave the modernism of the 1920s its tone of moral seriousness, which became even more serious once the Great Depression began. Artists of that period assumed their role was to express the human condition, and in so expressing, make efforts to improve it. To accomplish this, they did not require the traditional patron. The prestige and power of those patrons had been diminished by the war, and with that diminution went their ability to dictate to artists. A half century of robust artistic patronage by the industrialists who had ruled American life since the Gilded Age was written off with a sneer. The making of art was considered far too serious to be left to sentimental clients.

After World War II and the introduction of the atom bomb, it seemed pointless to try to preserve the confused traditions of a civilization that had brought the world to the ledge of oblivion. Instead, the artists came to believe they had to dispense with the entire accumulated storehouse of artistic memory and the history of the benighted West in order to begin anew. The 1950s painter Barnett Newman summarized this line of thought pretentiously but accurately: “We are freeing ourselves of the impediments of memory, association, nostalgia, legend, myth, or what have you, that have been the devices of western European painting. Instead of making “cathedrals” out of Christ, man, or “life,” we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings.’” “We are making it out of ourselves” is a fair summary of the revolution in patronage the modern movement had brought about, in which the artist himself had now been transformed into his own patron. And yet, radical as this new art had become, it remained traditional in one key respect: It still existed in a recognizable moral universe. For all its portentous grandiloquence, the new art still spoke of that ancient durable strand in the Western tradition, a belief in the tragic dignity of man.

But in the early 1960’s, art’s belief in man started to decline, and the age of postmodernism began. It was not so much a change in style or philosophy as in sensibility. Although the condition of the world seemed ever more serious, a younger generation in the Western democracies had determined that the proper response was to be even less serious, to throw up one’s hands and confront the world with irony. That new sensibility was being reflected in painting (Andy Warhol), sculpture (Claes Oldenburg), and architecture (Robert Venturi.) Common to all was a shared posture of irreverence and ironic detachment. The burden art had carried since the end of World War I—the obligation to express ponderous things in ponderous ways, the burden to be on perpetual guard duty in the avant-garde, ever alert to any reactionary tendency—had been cast off.

With the Vietnam War, seriousness returned to the art – a seriousness tinged with fury, indignation, and, increasingly, politics. A whole spectrum of other political causes soon found expression in art—environmentalism, feminism, Chicano rights. This new seriousness differed sharply from the old. If modernism had understood itself to be upholding and developing the culture from within, revolutionizing Western art in order to save it, its postmodern successors offered a critique from without. This was the counterculture that emerged after the collapse of the postwar liberal consensus, and its stance was essentially adversarial, distinguished by hostility to the existing order. It viewed the advanced industrial society of the West not as the highest development of human civilization but rather as a corrupt enterprise whose shameful legacy was slavery, colonialism, and exploitation.

Most of this slipped under the radar of the American public, which had by the 1970s established a kind of concordat with the art world. Whatever art had to offer—minimalism, conceptualism, photorealism—was a zany precinct where anything might happen, a source of entertainment, a zone that might be safely regarded with benign neglect. This concordat fell apart spectacularly in the late 1980s, and when it did, artists were just as shocked as the public.

Disgust, Rage, and Obscenity …

From time to time, so-called conceptual artists had looked to find new ways to use the human body artistically. Their agenda was by no means to express humanist values or even beautiful suffering—quite the contrary. In 1961, Piero Manzoni offered for sale 90 tin cans purportedly containing the Merda d’artista (to this day it is uncertain whether or not the cans actually contain his excrement, since to open one would cost on the order of $100,000).

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Merda d’artista” by Piero Manzoni (1961)

Manzoni’s foray into scatology was a prophecy of things to come. Ten years later, Vito Acconci became a minor celebrity with his performance of Seedbed, which involved his hiding under a platform in a gallery and speaking to visitors above while masturbating.

If these acts had any political agenda at all, it was anarchy. And in the wake of Roe vs Wade and then the AIDS epidemic, there poured forth a great deal of body-centered art. Its one great constant was a high quotient of rage—as furious as any statue-smashing interlude in the long history of iconoclasm. Here was an anguish and loathing not seen since the days of Grosz and Dix, both of the self-hating variety expressed through masochistic acts and generalized rage against society (Ron Athey’s now notorious Four Scenes from a Harsh Life, for which he incised patterns into the back of a collaborator with a scalpel, dabbing up the blood with paper towels that were affixed to a clothesline and swung out over the wincing audience.) Such art, unlike that of Grosz, offered no coordinates from which society could navigate to find a higher purpose. It was purposely disgusting and subhuman. It’s emotional response was unreasonable, animal, and something to be distrusted. And it fulfilled the definition of what the late Philip Rieff called a “deathwork,” a work of art that poses “an all-out assault upon something vital to the established culture.”

Then came 1990 and four artists whose grants were withdrawn by the National Endowment for the Arts because of the obscene content of their work. Their names were Tim Miller, John Fleck, Holly Hughes, and Karen Finley—the latter especially famous because her most notable work largely involved smearing her own body with chocolate. As it happened, their work was rather less offensive than that of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe, who had been the subject of NEA-funded exhibitions the year before. Serrano’s photograph of a crucifix immersed in a jar of his own urine was called “Piss Christ.” Mapplethorpe’s notorious self portrait featured a bullwhip thrust into his fundamental aperture.

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“Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano (1987)

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“Self Portrait with Whip” by Robert Maplethorpe (1978)

That controversy ended with a double defeat. In a case that was heard by the Supreme Court, the NEA Four failed to have their grants restored. But Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Newt Gingrich likewise failed in their determined effort to defund the NEA. And the American public—left with an impressionistic vision in which urine, bullwhips, and a naked but chocolate-streaked Karen Finley figured largely—drew the fatal conclusion that contemporary art had nothing to offer them.

Given this arts’ flagrantly, deliberately transgressive nature, it is remarkable how surprised and bewildered its creators were when they felt the full measure of public disapproval. After all, having been properly vetted and celebrated at every step by curators and journalists, academics and bureaucrats, these artists quite reasonably assumed that they were beyond reproach. That there was yet another actor out there in the mists, a public upon whose judgment their fate might depend—a public that might act to withdraw state funding of projects that were expressly intended to transgress its values—seems not to have crossed their minds. One Harvard scholar suggested that Serrano erred because while he knew “his photograph to be provocative, he did not count on such a broad audience outside the art world.”

Art and Degradation of the Body …

But what to make of an artist who does not wish to have a broad audience or speak to his own society? At a minimum, it is not even political art—art that seeks to persuade or focus attention—if it exists only within the silo of its own echo chamber.

Although the body-art movement lost its incandescent fury as the AIDS crisis subsided, there lingered a fascination with the degraded human body. This reconfigured itself in the 1990s as the movement known as “abject art,” which the website of London’s Tate Gallery tactfully defines as “artworks which explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions.” The most notorious example came seven years ago when a Yale art student presented a performance of “repeated self-induced miscarriages.” According to her own account, she inseminated herself with sperm from voluntary donors, “from the 9th to the 15th day of my menstrual cycle…so as to insure the possibility of fertilization,” afterwards using “an herbal abortifacient” to induce the desired miscarriage. Here was indeed a deathwork, proud and unashamed. Such projects returned the spotlight to the human body. But this was hardly the body that was, as Hamlet put it, “like a god in apprehension.” Rather, it was a ravaged and wounded thing, degraded and defenseless. One can almost understand the popularity of the ghastly flayed and preserved bodies exhibited by Günther von Hagen, the notorious corpse artist, in his traveling “Body Worlds” exhibition. Unlike the degraded victimhood on display in most examples of abject art, his figures evoked dynamic action and freedom, and at least a shard of hope.

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One of many “Body Worlds” exhibit by Gunther von Hagen

Art as Experience …

Even as the public was flinching from the excesses of performance art and abject art, it was embracing museums as never before. If one compares the performance of museums to other entertainment facilities in the United States in terms of box office, the museums come off splendidly. According to the American Association of Museums, annual attendance hovers at about 700 or 800 million, and it did not even suffer declines during the recession of 2008. These figures far exceed the combined attendance at major-league sporting events and amusement parks. This is not by accident, for museums have been assiduously cultivating their attendance for quite some time. The process began with the “Treasures of Tutankhamen” exhibition that opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1978 and drew a record 1.8 million visitors. Startled museum trustees, previously accustomed to covering the annual deficit with a discreet check, took notice of the lines stretching around the block. The temptation proved irresistible, and the culture of the museum reoriented itself toward the regular production of a reliable blockbuster.

By any measure, there is hardly an institution in the Western world so healthy as the museum today. By any measure—there’s the rub. For some things cannot be measured but are important nevertheless. In 1998, exactly 20 years after the Tutankhamen exhibition, the Guggenheim brought forth “The Art of the Motorcycle,” an exhibition widely panned as without educational merit. Yet it, too, was a crowd-pleasing sensation, and it, too, broke attendance records. There may be a considerable difference between the gold mask of King Tut and a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle, but not in the calculus of quantifiable data by which museums gauge their success. Still, it did not seem to trouble the general public that art museums now sported motorcycles and helicopters (in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art), for they no longer expected museums to offer objects but an experience. The temple of the arts had been transformed into what the critic Jerry Saltz has called “a revved-up showcase of the new, the now, the next, an always-activated market of events and experiences.”

Art and Technology …

Art, then, is the product of a particular cultural moment. Painting, sculpture and architecture (the “big three” genres of traditional art) are being diminished in their importance by new art genres enabled through technological innovation, such as photography, the motion picture, and perhaps digital art. These new art technologies add to (and in some cases supplant) the repertoire of existing genres, expanding choice for the art consumer (as entertainment) and the art producer (as means of expression).

A new technology can change the cultural moment with shocking speed. America’s culture of vaudeville, vibrant for a half century, sank into oblivion after the introduction of sound in film in 1927. The big bands of the Swing Era and their culture of nightclubs and ballrooms could not survive television. Now it is literary culture that is on the chopping block. According to Publishers Weekly, the greatest sales of nonfiction books was achieved in 2007—the same year that Apple introduced the iPhone. Since then, book sales have been declining steadily, up to 10 percent a year.

Art Evolved …

But technology alone cannot explain what has happened to the arts in the past few generations. The same period has witnessed a catastrophic breakdown of the belief systems that sustained Western civilization. The belief in its goodness and fundamental virtue, once the unspoken premise on which society operated, is something that any high school student, properly instructed, knows how to debunk.

Those beliefs have been largely swept away; their place has been taken by the institutions of mass media, commerce, and advertising. The human experience has been redefined in this new culture. And just as that experience has adapted to this new sociocultural environment, so has art.

And the humiliation videos of Ceara Lynch are part of that evolving art.

The Art of Ceara Lynch …

Art enlightens the mind, affects the imagination, and recodes the mental maps people project into the world. For countless numbers of men, Ceara Lynch has recoded, redefined, or brought into sharper focus a dark side previously denied from, or hidden within, an individual’s self-image. In that sense, her work is art; an art that reflects a modern media driven socioculture of loose one-dimensional affiliations where avatars replace faces, and emoticons replace expression and body-language. Her art did not spontaneously occur. Rather, its roots may be found in a century of avant-garde tradition; a tradition that has both reflected and contributed to sociocultural changes.

The young male ego is a marvelously fragile thing. Feminism, and particularly feminism as a political movement, upended a centuries-old male-dominated social order. Modern males often find themselves in a sort of psycho-sexual angst grappling with the tumult, disorder and uncertainty of gender roles in modern society. And like 1920’s Dada, the humiliation videos of Ceara Lynch use unserious means to a serious end; i.e., they provide an outlet for submissiveness not found elsewhere. Ceara Lynch and her videos offer certain men a glimpse of clarity and order among the internalized confusion brought forth by the demands of more fluid gender roles in today’s culture. Like pop art of the 1960’s, her videos are irreverent, often absurd. Produced for individual patrons, the point-of-view videos usually takes a personalized adversarial stance. Like the art of the 1970’s (which took a similar adversarial stance against society-at-large), her videos depict man as corrupt, unworthy, and without dignity. Her degradation is sexual, perverse, and beyond cultural norms. She is deliberately transgressive; reminiscent of the taboo-breaking art of the 70’s, 80’s and, most particularly, the abject art of the 90’s. In fact, her art is a sort of abject art focused more on the mind rather than the body. In her art, the mind is a ravaged and wounded thing, degraded and defenseless. And of course, like most art today, it’s more about entertainment and visual experience than it is about social merit.

Ceara Lynch’s video art is as much a product of her patrons as it is a product of herself. Art is said to refract the world back to people in some meaningful way; to illuminate human nature with sympathy and insight. In that regard, her art reflects the sociocultural sexual angst of today’s male. It’s on the edge in pushing abject art into the mental realm. It’s absurd. It’s serious. It’s taboo-breaking. And it’s uniquely 21st century.

Sharing some thoughts about Ceara Lynch for “Ruin Me”

Recently, Director Julian Shaw, “Ruin Me” asked my opinion regarding Ceara Lynch, her persona, her profession, and her business. Below are some of the thoughts I provided.

Why did you choose to start a blog about Ceara?

I originally was going to do a blog about my findom experiences; thought it would be a good way to make sense of some of the nuances and complexities of online FINDOM I’ve thought about over the years. But soon realized that I really wasn’t ready to (1) reveal that sort of intimate introspection to the public, (2) the blog would quickly become one-dimensional, and (3) it probably wouldn’t appeal to a large audience. So the thought struck me that examining various aspects of Ceara’s online persona … the persona she projected intertwined with the frequent insights she offered of her personal thoughts and life … would allow me to express and examine my thoughts and experiences about FINDOM within the context of an infinitely more interesting person than myself.

Comment on how Ceara has deliberately constructed her online persona.

Well, I think if you go back and look at her web presence (and clips) over the years, you can discern an evolution and maturity in her persona. Whereas the early persona had a lot of ‘fuck you, pay me’ tinge to it; her presence today is more refined. Personally, I find her current persona much more appealing. Less brat; more femme fatale. I think she has discovered that seducing men is financially and psychologically rewarding; more so than say a one-dimensional bitch that simply demands money and submission from “losers.”

You say the Ceara Lynch persona is apolitical, but she has certainly inspired some politically minded discourse (you mention the Breitbart article for instance). Please discuss this phenomenon.

Well, within two days of posting my “Politics, Morality, and Sin” blog (the blog in which I say her persona is apolitical) she tweeted a picture of her marked up U.S. presidential ballot … with the comment … “Repeat after me. That’s an order.” So I was pretty much wrong about her persona being ‘apolitical’.

That said, aside from that one tweet, any other political (or judgmental) comment is rare. Social media have turned into a vehicle for people to voice their unsolicited opinion about a variety of topics; with politics being among the more passionate arena. Political comments (and sport comments, for that matter) often turn toxic and venom filled; people both offend and become offended. Commenters exploit the “Three A’s” of internet interaction … anonymity, accessibility, affordability (i.e., there are no repercussions for comments, no matter how vile or hate filled.) Two of those “A’s” can’t be exploited by Ceara … anonymity and affordability. Disagreeable political comments will impact both her market image and her bottom line. So I think she wisely keeps her web presence apolitical.

What do you perceive as the difference between Ceara the character and the real person behind the character?

I like to think the real Ceara is more of a romantic than her persona; someone not as cynical or as uncaring as the character she plays. Although I don’t know Ceara the person, I imagine her with many of the traits her persona displays … grounded, secure, confident (but not arrogant), intelligent. I also see her with weaknesses never displayed by her persona … the usual human weaknesses … unsure, confused, and emotionally befuddled at times. I don’t see her as greedy or hurtful. She is compassionate, loving, and willing to forgive. She knows hurting is part of living, so she doesn’t dwell on things that disrupt her life. She’s not bored; living life interests her. She’s not extravagant, in dress or lifestyle, but has a mind that’s just a little quirky and twisted. She likes horror movies; is not big on romantic comedy. In some ways, she’s both the “son” her father always wanted, and the little Princess he adores.

Briefly place the Ceara Lynch character into an American historical context.

As an entrepreneur and business person, she is the embodiment of America; i.e., exploiting new technology, inventing new markets, where hard work meets opportunity to create success. That said, she is the antitheses of the norm; an independent woman succeeding on a path usually reserved (or at least expected to be followed) only for men. She not a legacy of 1980’s feminism, more it’s step-child. She could be a standard bearer for gender equality if she wasn’t working so hard at being better than equal. That “can-do, damn-the-torpedoes, got-new-frontiers-to-explore” competitiveness is the essence of what America perceives itself to be.

She’s Huck Finn in a dress.

You mention the Ancient Greeks in your blog – describe the antecedents to the Ceara Lynch persona.

The Ceara Lynch persona is the quintessential femme fatale. She charms and ensnare men, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. Her ability to entrance and hypnotize her victim with a spell was in the earliest days seen as being literally supernatural; hence, the femme fatale today is still often described as having a power akin to an enchantress, seductress, vampire, witch, or demon, having power over men. She achieves her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure. Her traits include promiscuity and the “rejection of motherhood,” seen as “one of her most threatening qualities since by denying his immortality and his posterity it leads to the ultimate destruction of the male.” She is morally ambiguous, and evokes a sense of mystification and unease. Ancient mythical or legendary examples include Mohini, Lilith, the Sirens, Aphrodite, Circe, Medea, Lesbia and Helen of Troy. Historical examples from Classical times include Cleopatra as the Biblical figures Delilah, Jezebel and Salome. The femme fatale is everywhere in American literature, film and television.

Please expand on the idea of ‘play/fantasy vs reality’ in her work. Does Ceara ever blur the lines?

With regards to the “Ceara Lynch Experience”, I think the best way to differentiate ‘play’ from ‘reality’ is to by understanding the role suffering plays when she interacts with her clients. During absolute play, there is no suffering. It is a completely enjoyable experience with no harmful consequences. For those infrequent times when play might cross over into reality, some suffering for the client might ensue; be it physically, mentally, or financially. Ceara Lynch’s talent is that she is able to get close to the edge between play and reality without crossing it. She shies away from causing suffering, routinely rejecting appeals from masochists to cause on inflict it on them.

Does Ceara in fact offer a psychological/therapeutic service to some customers?

If you’re asking if there is any socially redeeming qualities to Ceara Lynch’s service, I suppose she provides an outlet for men to play out some of their less traditional erotic fantasies. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, she offers some men temporary relief from loneliness and boredom. I don’t really know if those have any psychologically therapeutic value, however.