Saturday, October 18, 2014

Asking The Right Questions

A Story

A hypnotist stands at the front of the class.
"Raise your hand if you've never been hypnotized," he says.
A woman in a corset and combat boots is the only person to raise her hand. She is sitting with her submissive at the back of the room.
"Wonderful," says the hypnotist. "Would you like to be hypnotized?"
"Uh. Sure." She goes to the front of the room and has a terrible experience that she didn't want in the first place. She's uncomfortable the entire time, and goes back to her sub afterwards unhappy and embarrassed.

What happened? He got consent. He asked if she wanted to be hypnotized, and she said yes. What went wrong?
No. It's not working.

Unfortunately, he asked the wrong question. He asked, "Would you like to be hypnotized?" As it so happens, this woman did want to be hypnotized. The questions he did not ask, however, were...

  • Would you like to be hypnotized by me?
  • Would you like to be hypnotized now?
  • Would you like to be hypnotized in front of all these people?
The answers for all three of those questions were no. The wrong question combined with the social pressure of a classroom of people and a hypnotist asking you to be hypnotized led to a failure of consent.

How do we improve our consent language?

Ask the right questions and ask them the right way. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Use neutral language
    Ask "can you tell me about what just happened?" when checking in. Or, "how would you feel about me hypnotizing you today?"Do not ask leading questions like "is this something that happened in your past life?" 
  • Be specific
    Ask all of the questions, even if the answer to one implies the answer to another. "So, you are interested in doing rope. I see that you're wearing a nice dress and doing rope on your torso or legs would require you to take off your dress. How do you feel about taking that off here? Would you like to do that, or just do rope on your wrists, or we can find something else to do?"
  • Ask questions with more than one option of equal weight
    Give more than one option. "Would you like to be hypnotized, or shall I see if I can find another volunteer." 
  • Hesitant "yes" means, "not today. Ask again next time."
    If you ask a question and someone says they need to think about it, or seems hesitant with their "yes," ask again another time and pick a different thing to do. Play with enthusiastic yes consent only. It is possible that the person just needed a minute to think about their response, but hesitance can be a lot of other things, too. Take it off the table and try again next time.
  • Don't require a "no" to decline.
    "No" can be hard, especially for people of a gender conditioned by society to be polite and obliging. Ask questions that don't require a "no" to decline. For example, "let me know if you want to play" works really well. All it requires for a decline is "thanks," and then silence, whereas a yes is still "ooh, sure! That sounds like fun!"
You are a star.

Bringing New People into the Hypnosis Community (Courtesy of XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare)

The following is a writeup of the notes and ideas from the XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare.  The XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare meets on the 2nd Sunday of the month at 3PM at Wicked Grounds cafe on 8th and Folsom in San Francisco. People who are new to hypnosis should come at 2PM to get the Hypnosis 101 language, terms, and practices.

The topic of the month (October):

 How do we incorporate new members into the hypnosis community?

  • What values should we impart?

    That shaddowy place is the land of stage hypnosis. You must never go there, Simba.
    • Negotiate ONLY before trance! If you forgot something in negotiation, do it next time. Your first scene will not be your only scene, so you don't have to do it all at once. In fact, if you do it all at once, it may be your last scene. 
    • Be confident but humble. Acknowledge to yourself what's not working in scene and try something else. Look for feedback from your partners and peers.
    • Create the ability for informed consent. Don't tell hypnotees that nothing can go wrong. Don't tell them that they won't do anything they don't want to do. Instead, suggest that they'll have a good time and remind them that you and they will be checking in frequently. Then do relevant safety suggestions.
    • You are never done learning. There are no masters in this community, only more experienced students. Keep learning.
    • Make your own decisions about every person you meet.  Never assume any leader in the community is always right or ethical or knows everything.

  • How should new people find partners to hypnotize?

    • Go to munches. Hypnosis munches are fine, but the BDSM community is excited about hypnosis right now and a lot of people would love for you to explain what hypnosis is to them.
    • Be passionate about hypnosis and explain it to people you meet. Usually telling someone that you're a hypnotist is enough to get them interested. If they're not interested, don't try to make them interested.
    • Get to know somebody a little before asking them to play. Don't be desperate. Desperation feels yucky to your potential subject and you may be inadvertently pressuring them (which invalidates the consent).
    • Get a Fetlife profile. Fill it out. Fill out the whole thing. Filling out the whole thing makes you look like a real person and not someone trolling the internet to get laid. Don't message people unless you've met them or they're the leader of a community and you have a question for them. Do not ask people you have not met if they want to play. Use Fetlife to find events and to communicate with people you've already met at events.
    • Bring your crystal or your pocket watch and mess around with it at bars and munches. It's a good conversation starter. 
    • Talk about hypnosis with your friends. Who knows? One of them may be interested!
    • If your existing partner or existing play partners are interested, try with them.

  • What should a first scene look like?

    Make sure they don't mind control you back.

    • Do a full negotiation. Consider following a Negotiation Guide to make sure you've remembered everything important. 
    • Playing with experienced subjects is a good idea because they go under more easily which will build your confidence, and can give you feedback.
    • Try something small first. Sensation, humor, small compulsions, etc. Don't go straight for the hands-free orgasm. See if it works. Go from there.
    • Try starting with non-erotic scenes. It may be less intimidating for everyone involved. Aim to explore, not to get off. If you like hypnosis, it should be interesting/hot anyway.
    • Check in early and often. Use neutral language like "How are you?" and "Tell me about that." Use the feedback.
    • Make sure to turn off your cell phone.

  • What is positive behavior for experienced members welcoming in new members (without being predatory)?

    Pass me the newbie and some sugar, please.

    • Leave "outs" in solicitations, or wait for others to solicit you. "Let me know if you want to do some hypnosis" is a lot easier to turn down than "So, do you want to be hypnotized?"
    • Use neutral language with equally weighted options. "Would you like to be hypnotized, or shall we continue our conversation?" "Are you interested in trance, or should we grab some food?"

  • How can new people determine their limits?

    • Go through a Negotiation Guide on your own. 
    • Write down your limits.
    • Talk about your limits with a friend. 
    • Think about things you really want to do, and do only those. An enthusiastic yes is the only answer that matters. 
    • Check in during scene if something feels weird. If you are the hypnotee, make sure your hypnotist checks in with you and that you feel like you can check in with them.

  • What are some practical hypnosis newbie tricks?

    • Do your first scene(s) with someone who's been in trance a lot. They'll go under easily for you, boosting your confidence, and then they'll probably be able to give you feedback, boosting your skills.
    • Practice with switches who can give you feedback from both perspectives.
    • Practice on yourself. Do auto-hypnosis to practice your "patter" and flow. Maybe try some self-therapy like for sleeping better or exercising more, or try some erotic hypnosis to see what your mind can do all on its own.
    • Try using a suggestion like "the pauses between my words will send you deeper" in order to make sure your subjects keep going deeper if you have to pause to think. This will make you more confident. "My speech patterns will seem perfectly natural in your mind."

Here are some items that we may explore in upcoming munches. 

  • Can someone hypnotize from the bottom? What does that look like? Is that safe?
  • Demonstrate and dissect a scene
  • Induction intensive--learn and practice a handful of inductions presented by the group
  • Theory of hypnosis and technical information
  • Hypno-duel
  • Pair off and practice
  • Rapport workshop
  • Receive homework assignments for the month and share what we learned next time

And we leave you with this hypnosis duel to tango theremin from the 1950's Dr. Seuss Musical, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. You should see the movie.