Bondage. Discipline. Dominance. Submission. Sadism. Masochism. BDSM intrigues me to no end. Who wouldn’t be curious about this underground lifestyle? With a background in psychology and a love for both deviant behavior and premeditated aggression, the day a friend first introduced me to kink was one of the highlights of my undergrad career.
BDSM practitioners follow a “safe, sane, consensual” creed. As both a sex-positivist and a feminist, I wholeheartedly believe that consent is one of the most important aspects of any sexually intimate relationship. (Safety and sanity don’t hurt, either.)
Color me shocked when I was told — by a kinky feminist, no less — that some feminists are horrified at the idea of kink. I will admit, the thought of women wanting to be sexually dominated by men rubbed me the wrong way at first. I later realized that’s exactly how heterosexual women have been socialized to view and express their sexuality in this country. Obviously, the attraction didn’t spark for all of us, but kudos to the women (and their partners) who can and do enjoy getting off on exactly what society expects of them. For those individuals, it ends up being a bit of a win-win situation.
Besides, kink is so much more than that.
Yes, some women enjoy being dominated by men. But, other women enjoy being dominated by women, and many men enjoy being dominated by women or other men, too. And, that doesn’t even begin to include the people who identify outside of, or in between, the dichotomous man-woman labels.
How many outlets are there for gender fluidity nowadays? Although the tide is slowly turning, there still aren’t many. BDSM allows practitioners to transcend traditional gender roles, if they choose to do so.
Kink is about power, both borrowing and lending. It’s about choosing what roles you want to play, and with who(m). It’s about knowing your limits, and making sure your partner(s) do, too. It’s about enthusiastic consent, even when fantasies revolve around pretend force. It’s about the thrill of challenging your creativity as well as your physical and emotional boundaries.
How many vanilla relationships have you ever had with that quality of intimate communication, where you knew explicitly what thrills both you and your partner(s) were dying to experience, before any pants came off?
Despite the power exchanges, kink and feminism are both about equality. The equality is in the open negotiation, the consensual and enthusiastic participation, the nurturing aftercare, and the mutual pleasure though the entirety of play sessions.
That’s what makes BDSM truly beautiful.