Sub in the City

Does being submissive make me a bad feminist?

Does being a submissive make you a bad feminist?

I get a lot of questions regarding feminism and BDSM. In particular, whether it is possible to be a submissive and a feminist. The short answer is yes of course. And while it might sound like a total contradiction, there is something so incredibly liberating about submitting yourself to a man. 

When my submissive urges first came about, I didn’t know what to think. As a literature student, I was very interested in the representation of female sexuality, particularly from a feminist point of view.  My studies led me down a path of erotic fiction, including the likes of The Story of O, and the complete works of The Marquis De Sade. 

It’s not surprising that a lot of feminist writers have commented on these works, considering the time in which they were written BDSM was pretty much considered the devil’s work. The first time I read The Story of O, I felt confused. It depicts a very extreme story of submission, even to me now, having been exploring BDSM for ten years. And so when I found myself aroused by what I was reading, I felt a little confused. Did being submissive make me a bad feminist?

I began to research more about BDSM, but the internet can be a scary place, and not everything you find can be trusted. One of the first kinks I experienced in real life was choking, when a guy I had a one night stand with put his hands around my neck and I thought he might kill me, until I realised, nope, I was just going to cum. 

While I didn’t ask to be choked, this turned out to be some of the best sex I’d had at that point in my life, and it led me to explore my submissive side even further. But consent was still a grey area to me, something I would later come to learn through experience, both good and bad. 

Consent in the age of #MeToo

BDSM still divides feminists today, there are those who believe “my body, my choice”, and those who believe submissive women are everything that’s wrong with gender equality today. But consent is the keyword here. In the age of #MeToo, Domination and submission can feel a little scary, especially when you’re just starting to explore your kinks, or if you’re with a new partner. 

But surely, any kind of kink or sexual preference, no matter how degrading or obscene it may sound, should never be feared as long as it is practiced with consent from both adults? There’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding BDSM dynamics, largely regarding consent, whereby people still assume that in being dominated, you are allowing a man to just take what he wants, consent or no consent. 

The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon caused controversy and sparked fury amongst the feminist and BDSM community alike for its portrayal of a controlling, semi-abusive relationship. It wasn’t the fact that it was a BDSM themed movie, but more the fact that consent was the real grey area, as opposed to Christian’s kinks. 

I think it is understandable that many men are wary when their partner asks them to do unspeakable things to them in the bedroom. I have spoken to Dominants who struggle with the guilt of not wanting to disrespect their partner, and I have personally come across guys who, while they like the idea of it, could not bring themselves to “hurt” me when we got down to it. While the fantasy sounds sexy, the thought of an assault charge certainly does not. 

So how, as a feminist woman (or man), can you make sense of your submissive desires without feeling like you’re setting women’s rights back a couple hundred years? Here’s a few things to remember…

Your sexual preferences do not define who you are as a woman

Sex is a huge part of our lives, but it does not define us. Your role as a submissive can form as big or as little part of your identity as you want it to. For me, being submissive is a big part of who I am, but if you knew me in the “vanilla world”, you probably wouldn’t suspect it at all. 

While we shouldn’t stereotype, people often assume that a submissive is someone who is quite timid or shy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A woman’s characteristics and personality rarely correlates to who she is in the bedroom, because that person is reserved solely for her partner, and that is a choice made by her. 

You get to decide where the submissive identity starts and ends, and it is this choice that empowers you. 

BDSM is a power exchange

Submitting yourself to a man won’t make the entire women’s liberation movement all for nothing. In fact, while some first and second-wave feminists may have something to say about it, acknowledging your sexuality and allowing yourself to indulge in it is one of the most liberating things a woman can do today. 

We still have a long way to go in terms of being equal to men when it comes to sex, but in feeling ashamed of our own sexuality and sexual desires, we are only empowering society to continue to slut-shame us. 

In a healthy BDSM relationship, the submissive is giving the Dominant the power to empower them. They set their limits and their boundaries, and that is why a safe word is in place. The submissive should feel safe under their Dominant’s control, and feel comfortable with letting them push their limits. The best thing you can do is keep the line of communication open. Your Dominant needs to know how you are feeling and what’s working for you, because the minute you stop communicating and just letting things happen, that’s when the power exchange stops and it can become detrimental to your emotional wellbeing. 

Feminism isn’t just about equality, it’s about autonomy 

When it comes to kinks, anything goes. Some things may not be your cup of tea, but the point is you have the choice to indulge in whatever it is you enjoy with other consenting adults behind closed doors. 

As a submissive woman, you are choosing to submit and choosing to give that power to somebody else, and that is a hugely liberating thing to do. The person who has been given that power has been chosen to help you explore your wildest fantasies. It is always important to remember that you have a choice in everything you do, and you have the real control in every BDSM encounter. Once you see it this way, you can start to let go and allow your Dominant to take you places you’ve always wanted to go. 

Submission can create one of the strongest psychological bonds with another person. With someone who allows you to be whoever you want to be in that moment, without judgement and without shame. The world of BDSM is vast and has no rules but the ones you set together. Slut becomes a term of endearment, your body becomes his canvas, if and when you want it to. 

I personally feel there is no relationship stronger and built on more trust than that of a Dominant and submissive. So ladies, if you’re asking yourself “does being submissive make me a bad feminist?”, the answer is no. The definition of feminist and the definition of submissive will vary for everyone, the important thing is that you are choosing the path which is right for you and you alone, preferably a path that leads to lots of orgasms. The choice is yours. 

If you’re new to BDSM and want to know how to get started, check out my article BDSM 101: A beginner’s guide, or keep an eye out for my upcoming workshops.

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