[Content note: sex/BDSM]
One trope I often hear about women’s sexuality is that “women just want men to take control.”1 I encounter this everywhere–in pickup artist how-to’s, in pop psychology articles, in Cosmo magazines, in Sigmund Freud’s theories. At its best, it’s a harmless meme that simply reflects the gender roles that our society has. But at its worst, it’s rape apologetics.
In a rather old Newsweek piece, Katie Roiphe (she who claims that date rape is just bad sex that you regret) uses the 50 Shades of Grey series and the TV show Girls as evidence that, well, women just want men to take control. She also goes on to make a terrible argument that the reason women just want men to take control is that they have too much power in the workplace now, or something. (She also seems to think that the reason people are ashamed of these fantasies is because Feminism Has Gone Too Far, not because, newsflash: non-vanilla sexuality is really stigmatized, and so is all sexuality, actually.)
Anyway, I could write multiple articles about why this piece by Roiphe pissed me off so much a year ago and continues to piss me off, but for now I will focus on one reason: her implicit assertion that women ultimately just want to be dominated.
Some women want men to take control. Some women don’t want men to take control. Some women want men to take control, but only under certain circumstances. Some women want men to take control, but only in their fantasies. And some women aren’t interested in having sex with men at all. And that’s important to point out, because when you say things like “women want men to be X/do Y in bed,” you’re completely ignoring the fact that some women don’t give a single flying fuck about what men do in bed.
First of all, statements like “Women just want men to take control” are wrong because, well, plenty of women don’t. I don’t have the statistics on me, but any cursory conversation with women who trust you enough to talk about their sex lives will reveal plenty of these mythical women. And no, don’t say that they’re “not being honest with themselves” or “just don’t realize what they really want.”2 Yes, people are, at best, mediocre judges of their own selves. But they sure know themselves better than you do!
Second, now that we’ve established that some unspecified percentage of women don’t want to be dominated: even if there are many women who want men to be dominant in bed, that still doesn’t excuse not asking. Many women also like oral sex, but that doesn’t mean they want it ALL THE TIME AT EVERY MOMENT THEY’RE WITH YOU. Ask! And it doesn’t have to be something like “Do you grant me permission to forcibly hold you against the wall while I remove your clothing without your aid and perform acts of my own choosing upon your sexual organs?” It can be, “I really want to take control tonight. Is there anything you don’t want me to do? Just say [safeword] if you want me to stop.” Better yet, though, would be to talk about this beforehand, at some point when you’re not naked or about to be, and ask your partner if they’re interested in this and what boundaries they have about it.
The reason this is important, aside from the consent part, is that we use the words “dominant” or “take control” to mean many different things. For some people, “take control” may just mean initiating everything that happens that night, choosing what stuff you do, being on top, etc. For some people, “take control” may mean tying their partner up and shackling them to the bed and doing whatever they want to/with them unless and until they say the safeword. And for some people, “take control” means that your partner is your 24/7 slave who does absolutely anything, sexual or otherwise, that you demand. If you’re someone who uses the former definition while your partner uses one of the other definitions, you might find yourself having an unpleasant miscommunication unless you talk about these things.
And that brings me to my third point: even if you’re 100% sure that your partner wants you to “take control,” you don’t know what they want that to look like until you ask. If you don’t ask and just do and happen to do something they want, good for you. But most likely you’ll do something they don’t want, which means they’ll be bored, annoyed, or even upset and violated.
Fourth, even if your partner wants you to take control, and even if you do happen to be on the same page about what you want, getting explicit consent is still a really good idea. Why? Because it sends the message that you care about your partner’s comfort and agency.
As one of those infamous women who want their male partners to be dominant almost all of the time, I’ll tell you this: I would be appalled, disgusted, and turned off if a partner just assumed that I want them to be in control and started doing it without having asked me or heard from me that this is what I want. Of course, it’s different with long-term partners because they know each other’s quirks and desires, but if we’re just starting out, you’d fucking better ask first. If you don’t, I might enjoy it at the time, but I’ll be left with the really uncomfortable feeling that you actually didn’t really care whether I wanted to do that or not. These tend to be the people I do not see again, because I can’t trust them not to cross my boundaries in the future.
Sure, they got lucky: they didn’t get explicit consent, but it turns out I wanted to do that anyway. But what about when they fail to get explicit consent for something I don’t want to do? How are they going to know what I want to do and what I don’t? Why should it be my responsibility to stop them from doing things I don’t want once they start to do them, rather than their responsibility to ask first?
Fifth, what Katie Roiphe and others who try to understand Women’s Sexuality from romance stories fail to grasp is that sometimes fantasies are just fantasies. Many people think that if you fantasize and get off to something, that must mean that that is Who You Really Are Sexually and you must want to act out that fantasy ASAP. Actually, no. (Sometimes I hesitate to tell partners about fantasies because then they’re immediately like OH OKAY LET’S DO THAT I’LL GO TO THE SEX STORE AND BUY THAT THING when I might not actually want to.) But there are plenty of valid reasons you might choose not to do something no matter how hot it is to think about: it’s unsafe, you have physical limitations or disabilities that make it impossible, you’re worried about how it’ll make you feel, you can’t afford to buy something that you’d need for it, you don’t really want to do it with any of the partners you currently have, you don’t want to go through the hassle of negotiating it, you don’t think it would be as fun in real life and you’d rather just keep it as a nice thing to think about, and so on.
Finally, another thing that Katie Roiphe et al. don’t get is that women who have fantasies about submission aren’t necessarily having them for some reason like Men These Days Aren’t Aggressive Enough or Women Have Too Much Power In The Workplace And Feel Too Powerful. I can think of many reasons fantasies about submission might be fun. Submitting to someone requires a degree of trust that many find sexy. The idea of being so into someone that you’re willing to let them control you is a powerful idea to many people. Submitting means being vulnerable, exposing yourself, and some people find that hot. There’s also something about relinquishing control that’s comforting–especially, I might add, to women, who often find themselves stigmatized for being dominant and upfront about their sexuality. Being dominated is a way to enjoy sex without having to open yourself up to the possibility of being shamed for expressing your desires.
On that note, it’s important to recognize that the reason we’re seeing all these stories about female submission but not male submission is not an accident. It is extremely taboo for men to express a desire to submit to a female partner–perhaps even more taboo than it is for women to want to dominate. If someone wrote Fifty Shades of Grey with the gender roles reversed, would any man want to be caught reading that book?
But men who want to be submissive, sometimes or all of the time, are not rare. If you date men and you’re open-minded and supportive of your partners’ sexualities, you have probably met them. If you are Katie Roiphe and you spew outdated gender stereotypes like a broken toilet spews…you-know-what, then men are very unlikely to “come out” as submissive to you.
I think that the dismantling of gender roles would bring about an increase in the number of men who are openly submissive, and an increase in the number of women who are openly dominant. But dominant men and submissive women would obviously still exist, because playing with power can be fun.
The science of sexual desire is still quite nascent, so we don’t really know what actually causes people to like what they like in bed. But, honestly, I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to figure out, and that doesn’t really bother me. The most important thing is to not make assumptions about what someone likes based on their gender, or based on anything else. As humans, we have been gifted with the ability to communicate our desires clearly rather than relying on clumsy guesswork. Let’s use that ability.
1 When I typed this phrase into my phone at like 3 AM one night to remind myself to write this blog post, I initially typed “men just want women to take control” by accident. HMMM.
2 Remind me to write another piece about why people who claim that others are “not being honest with themselves” or “just don’t realize what they really want” really creep me out and raise a bunch of red flags.
64 thoughts on “"Women Just Want Men To Take Control."”
Thank you for writing the blog post I tried to write a couple weeks ago but couldn’t be coherent about.
I’m just LOLing at the idea that there are no men who are submissive.
LOLing because I can remember how many subby guys I saw at the last play party I went to, and the one before that, and the one before that, and so on, and so on. The invisibility of subby guys is almost total, but there are LOTS of them out there.
I LOL at this too, because every time people feed me some dumb line about MEN ARE DOMINANT all I hear is, “Did you know! The sex you have had does not actually exist! This has been a PSA.”
I read the complete article by Ms. Roiphie and I’m LOLing because people seem to forget that Christian Grey starts out as a submissive guy to this older lady and he seemed to enjoy it and be fucked up about it at the same time… Just like Anastasia. I also had the feeling throughout her whole article that she really didn’t understand that fantasy and real life are not the same
Is this Grey fellow in the 50 Shades book? I’ve not read it, all my other kinky friends who read it said it’s strictly bedtime stories, nothing as outré as you can see at any play party ever: “kink for the suburban vanilla wanting a night on the wild side”, one of my friends called it. If you’ve read it, is it any good?
I should point out that @lologies read it so that we don’t have to.
No no no. 50 Shades is misogynistic as hell, plus it glorifies abuse (and not at all because of the sex, which is fairly mild BDSM). Christian Grey is an abusive dude who hides his abuse behind “BDSM” and his apparently troubled childhood. He is a terrible example of a dom, and Anastasia Steele is an insipid, frankly stupid character who never decides anything on her own. On top of all this, despite being a book about BDSM sex, it treats BDSM as some sort of deep character flaw and spiritual darkness that needs to be eradicated and purified (by their LOVE!) and that Christian is really fucked up BECAUSE he’s into BDSM….not because he’s, well, an abusive asshole.
That’s my good deed for the day.
Thanks – I doubt I’d have gotten very far into it, then, before it reached my BCL. 🙂
* BCL – Book Chucking Limit.
I was going to say something similar, yeah. There are people of every imaginable gender who like every variety of dominance and/or submission, and if you don’t come across as a judgmental jerk, you might well realize how many of them you’ve met (that’s a generic you, obviously; clearly, the commenters above don’t fall into this category.
Eh, I’m a switch, but someone’s got to take control.
Basically I just hate democracy.
Nice essay. Very cogent. And absolutely spot-on about asking before assuming even in D/s situations. Done the other way around and you’re likely to get a knee in the groin (at best) or a permanent place on the sex offender’s list.
I’ll confess to being a “top” (fantasy version only). Like you, some things I leave for the inside of my head that I wouldn’t even begin to think of trying to execute in real life. Way easier and way less dangerous (and more effective for the intended purpose).
But the thing that puzzles me is why people assume that one’s sexual identity or one’s sexual preferences or one’s kink or anything else having to do with matters of sexual pleasure has anything at all to do with the rest of the world outside the confines of where sex is taking place.
Makes no sense whatsoever. And in this instance, it’s saying, fundamentally, “whatever level of success you have in business equates to the opposite level of dominance-submission you prefer in the bedroom.”
The movie trope, of course, is the powerful businessman who likes to be spanked. Maybe, but maybe not. One thing does not correlate with the other. At all. Not correlated.
And most certainly it’s positively mind-numbingly stupid to declare that “women are SOOOO powerful economically, therefore want to be dominated in bed.”
First, you’d have to prove the first contention, which you can’t, because they aren’t. And then you have to correlate a specific woman’s success with her bedroom preferences. So, a junior account executive would be fine holding the whip while the executive VP only wants to be a bottom? By that thinking, some middle manager only wants to do missionary style because she hasn’t been promoted, yet.
And FWIW and probably TMI: I found the male-submission scene in Anne Rice’s Beauty series to be incredibly hot. So, even tops (fantasy version only) occasionally like to switch (fantasy version only).
Wow, skimming 50 Shades of Grey and viewing a few episodes of “Girls” counts as systematic research into human sexuality? I ought to tell a few people in the local psychology department that they can close up shop and go home now.
I get a bit irritated when BDSM/kink type ‘dominance’ and ‘submission’ (which takes place within a framework of carefully obtained and unambiguous consent) is taken to mean that people who want dominance or submission within that scene want that dynamic all the time. It’s just wrong, the way that a person who does martial arts as a hobby isn’t necessarily into fighting people in real life outside the gym. In this I’m kind of repeating what Kevin said above.
Another problem is this erases non-hetero women from the equation.
And too much power in the workplace? Shit, what workplaces is she looking at? Last I checked, men were still pretty much dominant in the corporate world. Sure, we get a few female CEOs and maybe a few female shift managers, but even managers of Wal Marts are overwhelmingly male.
@ Miri, who writes:
It can be, “I really want to take control tonight. Is there anything you don’t want me to do? Just say [safeword] if you want me to stop.” Better yet, though, would be to talk about this beforehand, at some point when you’re not naked or about to be, and ask your partner if they’re interested in this and what boundaries they have about it.
Talk about stereotypical baloney! Wow! There are at least two howlers in that quote.
First, why “tonight”? Are you really convinced that sexual activity occurs only during the hours of darkness?
Second, you treat us to the abysmal knee-jerk ignorance for which textiles are famous. WTF does being nude or not nude have to do with whether sexual activity is imminent? Can you conceive of people living nude without experiencing continual sexual excitement? Can you accept that routinely unclothed cultures manage to accomplish a whole lot of mundane stuff that has nothing to do with sex, that they aren’t having sex all the time?
Can you imagine that for most people most of the time, possibly even including you, sexual activity is about mutual affection, mutual desire, and mutual agreement that the time is now?
Can you possibly accept that cloth or no cloth has nothing whatever to do with it?
Your premise reduces sexual activity to “See taboo skin, become instantly excited, and start doing it immediately.”
Nudity does NOT equate to sex.
You have a reputation for coming on here and leaving dismissive, pointless comments that make it clear that you’re just looking for stuff to pick apart. Frankly, I’m tired of it. This is your last warning and if you do it again you will be banned.
Someone on FtB, Ed Brayton I think, recently blogged on the damage done by so-called ‘jokes’ that teach or reinforce nasty and thoroughly false notions about various minorities: blacks, Jews, women, gays, etc. There are many such jokes floating around the web and far too few rebuttals.
Although you weren’t joking, or even pretending to, you certainly did that to nudists. You reinforced the pervasive textile myth that nudity equates to sex.
Your inclusion of ‘tonight’ reinforced another American myth, was unnecessary to your point, and thus distracted from it. Put another way, it was a failure of the self-editing that good writing requires. You could better have said, ‘I really want to take control next time. Is there anything you don’t want me to do?’
Have a nice cloth-constricted day. 🙂
You’re not even a good troll. Couldn’t you at least be entertaining?
Why is it we get such a fucking poor quality of trolls here? Have all the good ones already been banned?
This one doesn’t rise to the level of fuckmuppetry. Sad, really.
I’m afraid to say she is totally serious, since troll implies bad faith. Jenny is someone I recognise from many a comment section, she is a nudist herself (From what I remember) and extremely keen on policing mentions of nudity. She’ll appear in any blog comments that vaguely mentions it to jump down your throat.
Based on the broken link in her handle, she is a nudist, yes. I wonder if she thinks her approach is going to get people to support nudism. “Have a nice cloth-constricted day”? Seriously?
And it’s silly, too, because of stupid assumptions.
I’m nude right now. I’m nude most of the time at home. And I work at home, so that’s a LOT of the time. I put clothes on when someone’s coming, if they’re not one of my friends who’s cool with nudity, but otherwise, nuh-uh. I taught my kids the same values (though I did wear slightly more clothing when they were living with me, because they had a habit of bringing friends home without saying, and a couple of uncomfortable phone calls happened between me and their folks).
But I don’t care whether anyone else does it or not at their home, and I don’t care if someone’s being nude on the street. No one has ever been inflicted with damage by seeing a nude person.
What I don’t get it, what does that have to do with anything we’re talking about?
If anything, it’s the unthinking conflation of nudity and sexuality that she’s doing that’s inappropriate in this thread. Just because we’re talking about sexuality,this does not necessarily imply nudity, nor should nudity necessarily imply sexuality. They’re two only somewhat-related topics, in that many people only really get nude with another person when they’re about to have sex.
To me, coming onto a blog post about one thing and angrily insisting that everyone must instead talk about your particular hobbyhorse, is a terrifically rude act, not to call it out-and-out trolling.
Jenny, that’s ridiculous. See the speech marks around the sentence that contains the word tonight which offends you so?
That’s an imagined person talking. Get how that works? An imagined person talking about an imagined situation where they are going to have sex tonight. It is not in any way saying that sex only happens at night.
Now I feel silly even typing that out, because it’s so obvious and you must surely be trolling. But jeez, you do it stupidly.
Seriously. You just can’t get the quality of trolls these days. You’d think, with so many out of work, that there’d be plenty around just looking for a good opportunity to give a good, solid trolling, the kind where you’re not quite sure until about six comment exchanges in that they are probably just JAQing off.
I guess they all got elected with the Tea Party, and are busy trolling Congress.
Ms Cat says, “Jenny, that’s ridiculous. See the speech marks around the sentence that contains the word tonight which offends you so? That’s an imagined person talking.”
Yes, it’s a person imagined by Mari. Mari chose the words..
At least spell my name right. At least. It’s right there. At the top of every post and in every comment.
Maybe she finds spelling constrictive too.
Wait, you mean Jenny was being serious? That post wasn’t a joke?
That is Jenny’s modus operandi. Some examples:
And, my personal favorite: http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2012/12/11/why-homosexuality-is-not-analogous-to-murder/#comment-3547
Needless to say, I’ve about had enough of this pointless tripe.
I think she’s simply talking to the other 99.5%.
I have no opinion on the female end of this, but I’ve seen similar speculation for men that submission and humiliation fantasies are more common among men that are highly educated, high income, and in positions of power (or some combination thereof). I don’t know that there’s any data on this, but it seems anecdotally true to me. Any speculation as to why would be pure speculation, but I’d guess that people are more likely to enjoy the sensation of feeling powerless and playing pretend at powerlessness when their “real life” is not actually powerless.
Extending this into the realm of declaring the professional women must want to be controlled is pure dumbassery though.
Well, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that people might like to explore things sexually that they do not experience in the rest of their life, which obviously includes their professional life. This can include things like power dynamics. But even if that bit about women is true, that doesn’t mean that women have “too much” power at work. It just means that sometimes it’s fun to come home and have an experience that’s the total opposite of what you have at work.
Agreed, completely. That’s what I was shooting to say!
An addendum might be that people like to experience things that they’re not already traumatized by on some level. A life of feeling powerless and oppressed wouldn’t be conducive to wanting to feel that way in bed too, I wouldn’t think.
From what I’ve read, that idea originated with some research on the demographics of the clientele at a particular set of professional dominatrix establishments. Pricey ones. Big confounding factor there.
There’s another big reason for a lot of women to enjoy being submissive – religion. They’re taught that sex is generally bad, that they aren’t supposed to want sex, that they’re bad if they enjoy sex. Then, the only way they can enjoy it is to have some semblance of it not being their “fault”, that he did it and they didn’t have any choice.
I’m not sure this squares with women’s enormous entitlement (made possible by their female privilege) when it comes to dating, though, is the thing. Their pickiness indicates a very “active” mentality toward sex… which isn’t consistent with the general attitude of passivity that you’re trying to ascribe to them.
So while I see what you’re saying, I’m not so sure.
*psst* there’s no such thing as female privilege
*another psst* while women are certainly welcome to disagree with me and to state that they’ve had different experiences, I do know more about being female than you do
Whatever you want to call it, then. Let’s call it “giant female advantage, which leads to entitlement”. Therefore, taking into account giant female advantage and the ways in which it induces active entitlement in the dating world (also known as the “male evaluation for acceptable hotness” industry), I can’t agree with carlie’s analysis, since it requires passivity.
Dude, why do you come in here dumping this MRA bullshit? Go to some MRA site, they’ll cover you in chocolate sauce and lick you all over for this crap, and all we’re going to do is tell you what a pile of shit you’re talking.
I thought you were truly naive and ignorant, but now I see it was disingenuous crap so you could hang around long enough to get What-About-the-Mensy on yet another thread that isn’t about men. Notice the subject line of the post? Notice the agent, the grammatical subject, if you will, of the title?
Is it “Men”? No. It is not.
So when you want to talk about how awful and sad it is to be a man in this world with its big meanypie women, why not do it alone, as wanking should be? Gah. Vile, pointless waste of fucking pixels.
I’m not talking about men, I’m explaining why I’m not sure I can accept carlie’s analysis, though it an interesting hypothetical.
You’re a man and you can’t “accept” a woman’s view of women’s sexuality? That’s not cute.
And yes, you’re talking about men and how disadvantaged they are when it comes to dating. You know, compared to women, who have to carry pepper spray and install special apps on their phones that they can use to alert their friends and the police if they’re in danger.
Thanks, Miri – I was out of coherency. It was either silence or a 2000-word screed riddled with profanity. Y’can thank me later. 🙂
You’re a man and you can’t “accept” a woman’s view of women’s sexuality? That’s not cute.
It was a proposed view for all women, not just her. Which okay, and it’s an interesting idea, but I thought about it and decided that it doesn’t make sense. This is where GFA comes in, but only because it’s necessary in order explain why I can’t agree with her. In modern society, most women are still submissive sexually, and yet it’s these same “submissive” women who take an active (“dominant”?) role in picking out the 10s to dominante them in bed. So therefore, general “passivity” can’t be an answer.
Citations please. You won’t get away without them here.
Also, no, getting to choose which domineering, pompous asshole gets to have sex with me is not being “dominant,” especially since I’d rather keep myself safe and choose none of them.
I thought you were truly naive and ignorant
I’m not naive and ignorant, I’m right. Also, I’m awesome and smart. I bet I could get on this blog network if I wanted to.
You could just as easily have typed “I CAN’T GET LAID D:”* and it would have just as much substantive content but have allowed us all to move on much more quickly.
*possibly with the parenthetical of “by the women who meet my minimum standards of conventional attractiveness and/or compliance that I think I’m entitled to and thus find unremarkable while whining about women daring to fuck guys they like more than me.”
Citations please. You won’t get away without them here.
Citations? Is it really controversial? LOL. I guess it is to people with GFA and have never been treated like garbage on a regular basis for not looking like the pinnacle of attractiveness for your gender.
And also, as said, I have a great personality and I don’t date, leaving looks as the only variable.
as said, I have a great personality
Assumes facts not in evidence. Prove it. Stop being a jackass here. If you can’t or won’t, then I think you’re proving your assertion to be clearly mistaken.
Never mind food or the internet, how do you get enough AIR under the rock you’d have to be living under to not notice the patriarchal consensus on non-conventionally-attractive women?
Indeed. Hey queequack, did you ever read any of the books and blogs I suggested to you? Maybe you should do that before you leave any more comments here about unattractiveness and how difficult it is for men.
I’ve been meaning to, but I’m taking summer classes and I’ve been busy. I read some of the blog posts, though.
Actually, whatever, forget it. I’m tired of this shit day. I’m going to bed.
I have been kind of a dick in this thread. I apologize. I was mostly just trolling. Feel free to delete.
Thanks for your apology. However, trolling is against my comment policy. Disagreeing in good faith is obviously okay. We have serious discussions here and it’s unfair for you to expect us to take time and effort responding to your comments if you’re not actually being serious. Please don’t do it again. There are countless forums and websites out there where you can troll to your heart’s content, but I will not allow it here.
“Entitlement when it comes to dating” – you mean a woman actually deciding who she will or will not have sex with or have a relationship with? I don’t know what solution you’re proposing, but you see this as a *problem?**?
I’m also not sure if being highly selective about potential partners says anything about whether a person is dominant or submissive sexually. A lot of factors go into partner selection beyond a persons taste for sub or dom, and sub or dom doesn’t necessarily say much about a person beyond the sexual preference, and its clearly possible for a person to be active and assertive but submissive sexually. If sexuality were singled out as one area where desire was taboo, it would be plausible that a person, male or female, who got that message might prefer a submissive role.
Stuff like this makes me want to make potentially sex-negative comments like “some people just aren’t having sex correctly”… I’m going to refrain from that. On the other hand, in my statistically-improbable sexual experience, it is fair to say that all women don’t want the same thing, any one woman can want different things on different days and even during the same encounter, and that my own wants and needs shift and flow depending on the occasion and the partner.
So while it is unfair of me to speculate on the sexual experience of people who would claim “all X want Y”, it does strike me as improbable that a person would both have an amazingly narrow sexual response, and that they wouldn’t be aware that other people experience their sexuality in different ways.
WELL, STRICTLY SPEAKING, YOU CAN’T DISPROVE THAT WOMEN JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY WANT, SO CLEARLY YOU ARE WRONG AND ALSO GOD EXISTS AND I HAVE AN ELLIPTICALLY ORBITING TEAPOT I LIKE TO SELL YOU!
Nothing wrong with this in principle, but in practice … oh my. You wrote yourself about the taboos prohibiting the expression of certain desires. In practice only too often it’s a no win situation: since you will end up as a jerk whatever you do, you do nothing (and say nothing). Sounds familiar to anyone?
Brandon #7, I remember reading quite a while ago about a research showing that both genders preferred fantasies putting them in a submissive role rather than in an aggressive one. It seems to me that this research showed also a very scant interest among women in playing a dominant role. But I remember it only vaguely; no time now to search for this properly.
(Only this quick remark from me at the moment. My students have invented a particularly vile way to dominate me: they decided to bury me under tons of papers. I was unwise enough to give them consent some time ago. It’s far worse than whips and chains, believe me! What should I do now? Heeeelp!!!)
It is extremely difficult for me to talk and write (and up till recently even read in fiction!) about sex stuff. This is due to many factors, including childhood sexual abuse and extremely fundamental religious sex negative and misogynistic, upbringing but I’ll give it a go since I’ve actually thought about this very issue recently and how the fact that I really, really like the submission stuff (up to a point! I don’t like the being controlled aspect of it all) can be reconciled with both my past trauma, ridiculously stubborn and independent nature and my feminism.
What I like about the *fantasy* of submission is the idea that you don’t have to DO anything or be responsible for the other party’s pleasure, and that they receive their pleasure from your pleasure.
I don’t know, I sometimes feel like a lot of sexual pressure is put on women to be “good” in bed (whatever the hell that means) and that, together with the socialization and pressure to always do the caretaking combined with the cultural kinda apathy regarding the woman’s pleasure during sex (it’s not *necessary* for a woman to orgasm, rite, sex ends when the man orgasms, rite?) and obsession with the men’s pleasure and how you as woman need to make it REAL GOOD OR ELSE sometimes feels like a LOT of pressure.
That leads to feeling, at least in my case, constant responsibility and constantly having to be considerate and self-sacrificing, even in terms of sex. Especially to someone as repressed as I am. I mean, it’s later not even something you really think about or decide about, it just *is*.
So just not to have to *worry* about being “good enough” with someone you trust whose “job” is kind of pleasuring you and following your body’s cues and who is enjoying your pleasure so your pleasure is really pleasurable for them and not just another stop to the ejaculation, is just really… attractive.
At least, that’s it for me. I’ll end the TMI now.
If one likes being dominated, how might these sorts of partners compare?
Someone who’s domineering, belligerent, inconsiderate, and disrespectful. Domination without requesting permission.
Someone who’s conciliatory, cooperative, helpful, generous, and seemingly not very assertive. Lack of domination and insisting on asking permission.
Or is that a false dilemma? Is it possible for the second type of partner to make one feel dominated?
You can read about this on any number of BDSM-related resources easily found online.
The short answer is that being conciliatory, cooperative, helpful, and generous have nothing to do with assertiveness. I can think of plenty of conciliatory, cooperative, helpful, and generous people who are nonetheless assertive.
Furthermore, people who aren’t assertive can nonetheless be sexually dominant.
So yeah, false dilemma.
I personally think that in a BDSM relationship the important thing is for both (or all) partners to be communicative about desires and limits. If that stuff is worked out before-hand then asking permission every step of the way isn’t always necessary anyway.
What Dan L. said. But also, I’m really tired of hearing asking for consent interpreted as “asking for permission.” I want “asking for permission” to be stricken from everyone’s sexual vocabulary. This isn’t about “mommy may I please have some dessert after dinner” or “may I have permission to take a day off work please,” this is about “Hey, do you want me to fuck you now? Is this what you want, too?”
I have felt dominated plenty of times by that second “type” of partner, except that, as Dan mentioned, they were quite assertive. The former type is someone I would not touch with a ten-foot pole.
I like the idea of getting partner’s consent or be damn good at reading their mind if they want to be dominated or otherwise.
There is a not-often-mentioned negative consequence of “just wanting someone to take control” : Nobody knows where you stand. Definitely *not* an attractive quality, in anyone.
At first I almost rolled my eyes at your blog post, anticipating an extreme feminist stance that all women are empowered and don’t want to be controlled etc, then I noted your point that only SOME women do and I thought… BLOODY WELL SAID!
You made me think.As a blogger (coincidentally also about mental health and BDSM) myself, you made me sit back and think “have I ever made that assumption?” I don’t think that I have because I do my damnest to make sure that I don’t make assumptions, but I will be double-checking my work.
What’s more, I will also be linking your blog post to my husband and Dom because some of the issues you’ve raised (particularly about oral sex) are particularly key in our relationship. I mean, don’t get me wrong, oral is amazeballs but it also leaves me completely physically, and sometimes even emotionally drained. Not emotional because of the act itself, but because I’ve been holding in a tonne of emotions about the other crap going on (like, at the moment, my Dad himself is battling cancer) and with release comes all of those funky feelings. My husband is an amazing man, but some of the key issues you’ve touched upon here I just don’t quite think he meets and understands in our relationship. Sometimes, having a point of reference can help to demonstrate that I’m not just being a nag.
Thankyou, again, bloody well said 🙂