Sunday, February 22, 2015

Let's Talk About Me & BDSM

Hi Readers!

Thanks for checking in!

I'm soooooo sorry that I haven't been posting regularly. My schedule is still pretty chaotic, as always.

So, last quarter, I was fortunate enough to take the AH-mazing class Communication Studies 1: Principles of Oral Communication with Professor Marde Gregory, who's a phenomenon herself! She's an opinionated and experienced 66 year old lady who dresses eccentrically vibrant with gaudy, loud colors and tons of jewelry and accessories (arms covered with watches and bracelets and a neck layered in necklaces) and lives to the beat of her own drum. The woman is a GENIUS!

Anyways, she had us do 2 speeches in her class. The first one was to be 2 minutes long and it had to be about what makes us "Ordinary." Not "Different" or "Unique" or "Original", but what makes us "Ordinary" and like everyone else. All of the speeches ended up being autobiographical but still had to achieve the prompt. (this one is basically like the abridged version of my life story) Here is mine:

Sky Lea Ross
November 6th, 2014
(Date Delivered)
Communication Studies 1

Speech: What’s Ordinary About Me?

Hi everyone. My name is Sky Lea Ross and I’m a 4th year Gender Studies Major.

I think what’s ordinary about me are my emotions. As humans, we all have them. But I feel that many of us choose to ignore them. We numb ourselves with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, heck, even work. But I didn’t do any of those. Though, what I did was probably just as bad.

I decided to bottle my emotions inside and hide them from everyone else as well as myself.

Let’s just say, the early stages of my life weren’t easy. As far as a childhood goes, mine never existed.

I was raised by very verbally and physically abusive as well as emotionally and financially neglectful parents.

I’m talking about getting burned with cigarettes, having nails dug into my flesh, being slapped in the face repeatedly, not being able to visit friends and family, not being able to go on field trips, not being able to go outside, you name it.

And to add to the pain, kids at school were ridiculously cruel. They called me ugly every day. They called me a bitch. They put anything they could find off of the floor in my hair. Pencil shavings, pencil lead, staples, candy wrappers, balled up paper, broken pieces of eraser, anything they could find.

And I still bottled up all of my feelings. And what happens when you bottle up something that’s under immense pressure and stress? It explodes. And that’s exactly what I did. I exploded.

I was suicidal starting from the age of 9 all the way through middle school and even into high school when I got put into foster care.

And it didn’t help that I was later diagnosed with PTSD and Bipolar Disorder.

But now that I’m older and I’ve had all of these experiences, I’ve become more in tune with my emotions. I have learned to release them and express them. I go to therapy regularly and I vent to my friends and family.

I’ve even learned how to channel my feelings into creative energy. I’ve written over 70 songs, 30 of which are finished, they just need to be recorded. Over 90 poems, over 20 short stories and I’m currently working on 4 novels, one of which will be my autobiography.

So, I challenge you all to express yourselves! Release your emotions! Don’t ignore them, distract yourself from them or hide from them. Just be open to embracing them.

As my awesome mentor, Ariel Penn, who is also a UCLA alumnus, always says, “Feel your feelings. They can become a catalyst for positive action.”

Thank you.


I never knew I had a knack for public speaking, but my first speech in this class was really well received and Professor Gregory immediately named me among the top 3 speakers in the class. I got tons of praise and constructive feedback from my classmates and was ready to go on to the final stage. 

Right before that, however, I came down with a fever of 101.6 degrees for 4 consecutive days and was worried, so I went to the nearest Urgent Care and they diagnosed me with Bronchitis. This came from out of the blue, I was not expecting to be sick at all, but it's no surprise. I grew up with heavy second hand smoking that severely damaged my immune system and I was actually grateful to have received this diagnosis since I feel that this is something I have always had to deal with. I've always had lung problems and I was glad that someone finally recognized this and gave me an inhaler to help resolve it. 

Anyways, because of the Bronchitis, I was out for 2 weeks straight! I missed all of my classes and I wouldn't have eaten if it weren't for my lovely staff of RAs who came to my room to deliver food and kind words. Thank goodness they exist!

After I was well enough to go back to class, I came back on the final day to present my last speech. The prompt this time was to discuss something controversial or not really well known, and we had 5 mins this time, so I decided to talk about BDSM. Here's how that went:


Sky Lea Ross
December 17th, 2014
(Date Delivered)
Communication Studies 1
Final Speech: BDSM; It’s Not What You Think

For the last two weeks as I was suffering with Bronchitis, I emailed both Marde and Arash and asked them to fill me in on what I missed and to tell me what exactly the final entailed. They both pretty much told me that the prompt was to discuss something controversial, provocative or to teach everyone something new.

Well, when I think of something that’s controversial, that most people don’t know anything about or that is commonly misunderstood, I think of the BDSM scene.

Now, a lot of people tend to think that members of the BDSM community are perverts, freaks, murderers, rapists, serial killers or psychologically damaged, and none of these are actually true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

For those of you who don’t know what BDSM is, it stands for Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. We’ll go through this step by step.

Bondage is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the act of tying up or being tied up. This can be done with rope, chains, sheets, hand-cuffs, or anything you have handy.

Discipline is also self-explanatory. It’s the necessity of practicing restraint, which is very important in the practice of BDSM because those who do must avoid self-harm or harming others.

Sadism and Masochism are where it gets a little more complex.

The word “Sadistic” tends to have a very negative connotation. People use it when they're referring to Hitler and they might say things like “oh, that person is sadistic, they’re evil, they enjoy causing others pain and making them miserable.”

Again, when it comes to BDSM this is not true. Of course, the word can be used that way and it does hold some truth that, yes, Sadists are those who enjoy inflicting pain on others, but it’s not done to make them miserable. It’s done to give others pleasure, and that’s where Masochists come in.

As some of you may already know, Masochists are those who enjoy receiving pain.

Some of the activities done within BDSM include:

Flogging or Whipping,

Skin Piercing with needles or other sharp objects,

Asphyxiation or what they like to call “breath play” in which suffocation is done but in a safe way

Electric shocks, which are rare

And Body Branding, which may be done with hot candle wax or other hot objects.

Most people tend to think these activities are not usually done by the general public, but this is, in fact, also incorrect. According to a recent survey done, over 43% of respondents claimed to participate in BDSM activities either half of the time or all of the time within their sexual encounters.

Other studies done on the market of BDSM items and toys have shown that there has been a 50% increase in the sales of Whips, an 80% in the purchase of Blindfolds, and a 100% increase in the sales of Handcuffs. There are many other statistics on other items that are more X-rated, but I won’t mention them because you get the idea.

But basically, BDSM is a culture that requires much trust and compassion and it involves romance because it’s all about exercising limits and making sure that you don’t hurt the other person.

It’s not all about leather either. When most people imagine BDSM they think about a person decked out in all leather with a face mask on, but it’s not centered around leather, although many individuals within the BDSM scene may be fond of the style.

The Professional Dominatrix does exist, and these are people who are paid to inflict pain on a willing recipient. And it tends to be mostly politicians who purchase these services due to the reverse of power balance. Politicians are authority figures with much power and influence, and therefore some of them really appreciate being dominated.

Like the gay/queer scene has Tops and Bottoms, BDSM is focused on Doms and Subs, or those who are dominant or submissive.

And BDSM is a very stigmatized community. Many members are closeted in fear that they may be ostracized by their friends and family since it’s so taboo to talk about. And that’s exactly why I’m talking about it now.

You’re probably wondering, “Why does Sky care about this? Who gives a crap?” But I care for 2 reasons:

1) As I’ve said before, I am an adamant Gender Studies Major and a Feminist, and I feel that people should be free to express themselves sexually in healthy ways.

And 2) As an avid writer, I do like to dabble in writing Romance novels as well as light Erotica, and though I don’t belong to the BDSM community myself, I want to represent various communities in ways that are fair, accurate and respectful.

The media has made representations of BDSM, like Rihanna’s song “S&M” and the book Fifty Shades of Grey, but both of these are problematic in that they can be either beneficial or detrimental to society.

Many argue that Fifty Shades of Grey has made a positive influence because it has introduced newcomers to the BDSM scene, and that’s great. It’s awesome that people are discovering this and opening their minds and expanding their horizons.

But a lot of people read this and think BDSM is new when it’s not. It’s been around for ages.

And Fifty Shades of Grey, as many critiques have argued, is poorly written and distasteful and is an inaccurate representation of BDSM.

So, my main point here is that humans are so quick to judge, and find fear, hate, or become disgusted by things that we don’t understand or aren’t knowledgeable about.

That’s why I urge you to be curious and explore the unknown and learn about things you don’t understand because things like BDSM aren’t what you initially think.

Thank you.  


After I gave this speech, the room was filled with a loud applause and my Professor was in utter shock. She was speechless for a few minutes (ironically) and then gave me an earful about how much she loved it! 

And I passed that class (along with the rest) with flying colors!

Thanks for reading. <3