The BDSM community is packed with square pegs trying to squeeze themselves into round holes. Over the last week, I’ve received a digital fuckton of messages about the freedom to choose your own style of D/s. They all said the same thing: “I didn’t fit in. I needed permission to be myself.”
When I arrived at Fetlife, I felt pressure to conform to such an extent that I ran out of the site fast enough to leave my glass slipper behind. I was the Cinderella of kink—the one wearing rags who was terrified of being exposed as a fraud on the night of the ball. I felt I was not a real submissive because I didn’t fall in with protocols, I had no desire to serve in vanilla scenarios, and I wasn’t an altruistic sub. I was in it for the sex, so I knew that when the clock struck 12, my subby mask would disintegrate and you’d all find out I wasn’t a real kinkster.
My part of the consent deal didn’t come naturally to me. I’ve been absurdly lucky in that I’ve had highly intuitive doms who’ve paid close attention to my distress, but even with that high degree of sensitivity, I ended up pushing myself into things I was in no way ready for. I was not coerced by my tops, I was coerced by myself. That made me Unsafe to Play With™ because if there’s one thing worse than your own harm, it’s accidentally causing harm to someone you care about. And I made it well nigh impossible for my tops not to harm me.
I’m a people pleaser at the best of times. When I’m someone’s sub, that’s amplified by a hundred. I will race from one side of the world to the other barefoot in the snow for a dom who has my devotion, so there have been times when I haven’t educated myself about what I was agreeing to. I ended up harming myself and destroying a relationship that way. These days I try to be clear about what my limits are before I lose my mind to romance and all those other rainbows.
I have to know myself well enough to know at which point in a relationship I am clear headed enough to draft that list. Ideally, it would be made before I even got involved, but my limits change from relationship to relationship, so that wouldn’t work for me.
Dominance and submission are odd things. They require you to have traits that go against the grain of your role. Submissives need incredible strength, courage, and power. Dominants need extreme gentleness, humility, and compassion. It’s those traits that seem to be the opposite of our roles that allow us to dominate and submit with any real depth.
There’s a fine line between a dominant and a douche. There’s a fine line between a submissive and a doormat. A top accepts control. A douche demands control. A dominant earns control. The only way a dominant has ever earned the incredible power they’ve wielded over me is by showing me that they would never demand it. They expected to earn it using the softest parts of their natures.
Submission is not something I choose to give. I can choose to bottom, but if I’m to submit, it must come from a profounder place. It must come naturally. I must feel it’s being drawn out of me. I submit because you show me unconditional love and care. I submit because you prove to me that you can be trusted with my greatest vulnerability. Submission is intensely intimate, and I will not expose the part of me that is most likely to be judged and harmed until you prove to me that you will hold it gently.
I usually play with a certain degree of blanket consent. I don’t sit down to write out every last thing I’m willing to do. I let my Dom bring things to play that I’ve not explicitly agreed to, and when I make a list of limits, I don’t only leave behind those things that I *want* to do. I leave behind anything that is not a hard limit because I don’t want a service top. I feel no submission if he’s playing only with those things that I enjoy. Giving him enough free reign to approach types of play that I *don’t* like creates a dynamic that I very much *do* like—D/s.
*I* choose edgy play. That is what I enjoy. One day, given enough time, I hope my Dom will trust me enough to enter into a CNC dynamic. I hope that he will trust me enough to know that I will not wake up in the morning and blame him for the consequences of my having agreed to consensual nonconsent. I play with that dynamic because it’s hot. I play with it because that is what feels like submission to me.
Every time he raises a hand to me, he’s taking some enormous risks: will I turn my regret into anger? Will I accuse him of abuse? Will I judge the softest, most intimate part of his sexuality? Will I take the vulnerability he showed me when he dominated me and piss all over it?
The amount of blanket consent we work with is 100% reliant on how much he trusts me and how vulnerable he’s willing to make himself with me.
In many ways, kink asks you to have the kind of body image that would make Giselle Bündchen jealous. It’s not as though we’re fucking in the missionary position in the dark, covered in blankets. If you’re a sub, you’re expected to hang out in whichever position your top chooses for you, in broad daylight with not a damned thing to cover up with. If you’re me, you land up with a Dom who’s a photographer who wants you in front of a lens.
And as an anorexic, that’s intimidating. Regardless of my number of years in recovery, I still have as much love for my body as Misery Chastain has for Paul Sheldon in the book, Misery: obsessive, toxic, and destructive as all hell.
If there’s one thing the internet does with any degree of regularity, it’s to eviscerate rape survivors over how they deal with their rapes. I’ve seen consent activists come down on a survivor for saying her rape was less traumatic than most. I’ve seen members cry ‘drama’ when survivors try their best to deal with their rapists. I’ve seen people put incredible pressure on victims to ‘tell the police or shut the fuck up.’
It all makes me a little bit sick.
Drama, Drama, Drama
Rape is not drama. Drama is an overreaction. It’s a play for attention, a performance. It isn’t possible to overreact to rape because I can’t think of a damn thing in this life that is harder to cope with. When you tell a survivor that they’re attention-seeking, you’re saying, “Rape is not so bad. Shut the fuck up and get over it.” And that makes you the one in this scenario who is perpetuating drama because *you* are the only one who is bringing overreaction and vitriol to the table.
Dealing with rape is one of the most gut-wrenching, confusing things this life has to throw at you, and if you’re a fallible human being, as we all are, your responses are not always going to look elegant, selfless, and wise. There is no perfect response to rape because rape is just too damned hard to do ‘right’. A rape survivor’s way of coping is always correct because they are responding normally to an abnormal situation. Crying “bad victim” reveals your fallibility, selfishness, and inability to deal elegantly and wisely with a situation that’s not even close to as traumatic as that of the person you’re pointing a finger at. That makes you a hypocrite.
Your idea of a hot time might be Spartacus. Muscles, muscles, every damned where. Me? I’m a West Wing girl, not only for the dialogue, which is fucking genius, but for the hot factor. All those wise eyes, those receding hairlines and crow’s feet are my idea of a gladiator pit.
“My name is Maximus Decimus Nerdius, commander of the brainy people of the North, General of legendary vocabulary and loyal domly dom of the sub, SpanishRed. And I will have my sexual gratification, in this life or the next.”
West Wing is my man-porn. When I need to be cock blocked by a photograph, I look at a Men’s Health magazine cover. Those biceps and abs are enough to turn me off for an entire hour. I need spectacles, not Ray Bans. I need good hugs, and all that hard body just doesn’t snuggle well. Lemme tell you about a man who snuggles well. He’s addictive. I wake up on Monday morning feeling his skin against mine even though he left 10 hours ago. I wake up wanting because when a man who has intellect and strength touches you, it feels as though he’s leaving electric pathways on your skin.
I need personality. The more classically good looking a man becomes, the more character his face loses. I want to see an evil grin, and that just ain’t possible if you don’t have crow’s feet. Sorry, young-uns, but you’re not all that. ‘All that’ is the man with the silver in his beard whose kisses feel like sex.