Her Power, Your Pleasure
What a dominatrix can teach us about communication, consent – and desire
Thirteen years ago, I was newly divorced and lonely, working days as a singer at Disneyland and spending nights with men from Craigslist. One time, I drove to a stranger’s house expecting a one-night stand. I wound up having my first experience with a “dominant”. I sought more information about BDSM (role-playing, bondage, domination and submission), first from books and then by making friends in the BDSM community. And through becoming a professional submissive, I learned about safety and graduated to dominatrix, or “domme”.
Today, as reports of abuse and harassment emerge in the #Metoo movement, I realise BDSM taught me vital skills: how to communicate desires and how to better read and understand the giving or withholding of consent. Some news stories – like the one about the New York attorney general who suggested his “role-playing” excused his violence against women – give consensual kink a bad name. But the answer isn’t abstinence or inhibition; it’s openness and honesty. Whether you’re traditional, kinky or somewhere in between, the basic consent principles of BDSM can lead to healthy conversations and better sex. Don’t bury your desires – communicate them.
TALK (AND WRITE)
Want hotter sex? Ask what turns her on. This is BDSM 101—talk first.1 The benefit for you: giving a partner permission to be emotionally vulnerable and to share deep desires creates a space for your confessions, too.2
For each of my clients, I make a kinky spreadsheet – it includes all the agreed-upon fantasies, turn-ons and hard limits. And I keep
words, right? In BDSM, they’re mandatory. Saying “stop” or “no” while playing can be confusing – those words might be part of your improvised script. For many people, saying “no” can be difficult, because we don’t want to hurt our partner’s feelings. Agreeing ahead of time on a word that will always mean “stop” allows you to say “no” even in the heat of the moment.3 I like the traffic-light system: red means “stop”; yellow means “slow down”; green means 4 “more, please.” Doing this builds trust, and trust means better sex.
In BDSM, we use the word play. It’s not necessarily sex; it’s adult playtime.5 Genital sex is optional.6 One fond memory involves a boyfriend and spaghetti. I loved being at his feet as he served my dinner in a bowl by his chair. I knelt eating (good puppy!), and he stroked my hair and kissed pasta sauce off my messy face.
You can art-direct your bedroom into a play space. Declutter. Set the mood with pillows, soft lighting, and a comfy room temp.
Soundtrack? Music can be nice if it’s instrumental; lyrics can pull away your focus. (Spotify is full of tantric beats.) But I also love blindfolded silence. In that quiet darkness, my other senses come alive. The smell of his skin. His breath on my neck. The anticipation of what might happen next is all the ambience I need.
STAY THE COURSE
So you’ve reviewed your safe words and your dos and don’ts and agreed on your roles. You’re playing out a scene and she’s super turned-on. But then she asks you to do something you didn’t agree to. She’s begging for it, in fact.
Stick to the script. You earn respect by standing your ground. Nothing makes me hotter than a man who controls his libido and follows the rules we set up. I’m putty in his hands.
The universal takeaway: slow down!7 A woman is like an oven: she needs time to warm up before she’s ready to cook. For all the emphasis on the physical, BDSM is really a mental game. For me, few things work better than tease and denial.8 A gradual, evolving intensity can be a huge turn-on.
DON’T JUST CLOCK OUT
Even the most willing masochist needs to reset. That’s why we have “aftercare”. It’s like stretching after a workout. In my business, we watch for the “sub drop”, meaning a post-play depression sometimes felt by submissives. The endorphin rush drops so fast that you both need some soothing.
Every couple should talk about what makes them feel good after playtime.9 It could be back rubs, hair caressing, cuddling or writing in a mutual diary. Just enjoy the post-sex bliss in each other’s arms. You can talk shop later.
The next day, talk about what worked and what didn’t. Calls and texts provide helpful feedback.10
WALK IN HER SHOES
You can do that literally if it’s your thing. But what I mean is to try to understand your partner’s position. I also enjoy being submissive, and that’s made me a thoughtful dominant.11 These days, it can only help you to learn to think like a woman. How? Submit to one. You may find submission freeing, a vacation from societal masculinity. I had a client once, a CEO, who called his weekly session with me his “spa visit”. He would call me Goddess, worship my feet and offer his back as a footstool. It gave him a much-needed break from being the boss.
To an outsider, the dominant may appear in control, but it’s the submissive who holds the power. The sub agrees to, or rejects, any new ideas, and either party can stop everything with the mere mention of a safe word. When a sub hands over power to a dom, he or she does so willingly. Mutual trust is key, and benefits you both.
If you want someone to submit to you, you have to show that person respect. That means you never push nonconsensual ideas. You give your partner what she wants, and to know what your partner wants, you have to ask.
Hudsy Hawn is a writer, sex educator, and BDSM coach in L.A. She founded fromvanillatokink.com