Why do we love be­ing sub­mis­sive in the bed­room?

In of­fice hours we’re all ‘power to the woman!’ So why are so many fem­i­nists happy to hand over the reins be­hind closed doors?

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

THE CLOCK STRIKES 5pm and Mimi*, 32, be­gins pack­ing up her desk. She’s had an­other sat­is­fy­ing day at her work, The Syd­ney Fem­i­nists Inc, ed­u­cat­ing and in­creas­ing peo­ple’s aware­ness about gen­der equal­ity and f ight­ing for women’s rights. As she leaves the of­fice, she gets a tin­gle of ex­cite­ment think­ing about the night ahead with her man. She’s try­ing to de­cide whether she wants to role play a rape sce­nario with him, or be chained up and spanked. If you haven’t f ig­ured it out al­ready, Mimi iden­ti­fies as sex­u­ally sub­mis­sive. And she’s not alone; many strong­willed women who hold po­si­tions of power in their daily life hap­pily re­lin­quish con­trol when it comes to the boudoir.

Hang on a minute! You may

be think­ing. Why would such an avid fem­i­nist be will­ing to de­grade her­self like that and be treated as in­fe­rior to her part­ner? But re­lin­quish­ing au­thor­ity and choos­ing to be sex­u­ally sub­mis­sive can ac­tu­ally be an act of power, says Mimi. And if we’re hon­est, many women en­joy be­ing dom­i­nated in the bed­room to some ex­tent.

The Sub­mis­sive Fem­i­nist MIMI, 32, SYD­NEY

‘ You can cer­tainly be both a pas­sion­ate, strong, loud, proud fem­i­nist while also be­ing a soft, sweet, de­light­ful sub­mis­sive in bed – and I know this be­cause it’s me. Sex­ual power play is not a pref­er­ence; it’s ac­tu­ally a ne­ces­sity for my plea­sure. I can’t fully en­joy sex if the power dy­namic isn’t im­posed upon me to some de­gree. I love be­ing smacked on the thighs or across the face, whether it’s with a ruler or a pad­dle, and chok­ing is ex­tremely en­joy­able to me. Even some­thing as sim­ple as him say­ing, “This is all you’re good for,” “I own you,” or “You mean noth­ing to me” turns me on. It’s these “de­grad­ing” com­ments that I ac­tu­ally f ind em­pow­er­ing and plea­sur­able.

The two char­ac­ter­is­tics – me as a fem­i­nist ac­tivist and as a sex­ual sub­mis­sive – don’t con­flict with each other. I feel it’s a bal­ance and they ac­tu­ally com­ple­ment each other. I’m reg­u­larly told by peo­ple that I’m in­tim­i­dat­ing or that I have a pow­er­ful pres­ence in my ev­ery­day life, so that’s pre­cisely why in my sex­ual life I rel­ish be­ing able to f in­ally, in one bliss­ful as­pect of my life, be able to let go and have some­one else take charge, make the de­ci­sions and call the shots. It al­lows me to leave be­hind who I am and ac­cess this hid­den facet of my­self. In the bed­room I get to be meek, obe­di­ent,


vul­ner­a­ble and pow­er­less – all of the things I am not in my ev­ery­day life.

But I need to be in a longterm re­la­tion­ship to be able to trust some­one whole­heart­edly with my body and my safety. The core prin­ci­ple of BDSM is sex that’s con­sen­sual, so as a sub­mis­sive, you com­mu­ni­cate to a dom­i­nant what you want them to do to you in advance. To me there’s noth­ing more em­pow­er­ing than, as a woman, let­ting your part­ner know what you need them to do in or­der to ex­pe­ri­ence in­tense plea­sure. As a fem­i­nist, I be­lieve I have the right to choose what I want in my sex life – and my choice is to be sub­mis­sive.’

What the ex­perts say

‘ Want­ing to be dom­i­nated does not mean you are weak or lesser; it means that you un­der­stand your bound­aries and your wants,’ ex­plains sex­ol­o­gist Chantelle Ot­ten. ‘ Be­ing a fem­i­nist and be­ing sub­mis­sive has re­ceived back­lash, but the fe­male sub­mis­sive who par­tic­i­pates in BDSM con­sen­su­ally is em­pow­ered.’

She says an au­thor­i­ta­tive woman’s de­sire to be treated as a sub­mis­sive in a sex­ual con­text of­ten comes down to two rea­sons, one be­ing that a woman may f ind power in ask­ing a part­ner to ful­fil her sex­ual wishes.

‘How em­pow­er­ing to know that you can be in a sit­u­a­tion that you can con­trol, that is con­sen­sual, to have the abil­ity to give in to your fan­tasies. You can be as naughty as you want with­out be­ing shamed. Fe­male sub­mis­sion does not mean op­pres­sion,’ says Ot­ten.

‘ Be­ing a con­fi­dent, se­cure and sex­ual woman is be­ing a woman who is in touch with her sex­u­al­ity, feels un­in­hib­ited to ex­press it and feels con­fi­dent to ex­press her de­sires and needs and to ask for what she likes and wants,’ adds sex ther­a­pist De­siree Spier­ings.

Ot­ten be­lieves the sec­ond rea­son women are at­tracted to sub­mis­sion is their de­sire to re­lin­quish con­trol to some­one they trust so that they can take a break from their day­to­day.

‘Hand­ing over charge once in a while is a form of sel­f­re­spect – not hav­ing to an­a­lyse and make de­ci­sions, but just en­joy­ing the ride,’ she says. ‘For many women who are used to run­ning the world and work­places and home, they like to just hand the re­spon­si­bil­ity to some­one else. It can be a form of self­care – know­ing to let go and be looked af­ter.’


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