Feminist in the Streets, Submissive in the Sheets

Photo: Mercedes Bleth

I have a complicated relationship with sex. I lost my virginity when I was 15, which was probably too early for me. Once the virginity card had been played, the invisible barrier between kissing and sex was no longer allowed to exist, and when I became that person who ‘had sex’, I always felt like I had to go all the way.

Due to this heightened pressure to ‘put out’ as they say, the more prudish I felt towards sex. The more I acted like it wasn’t a big deal, the more emotionally detached I became. I didn’t like lights being on, or trying anything that wasn’t standard for fear of doing it wrong and breaking the sexy, serious spell.

It wasn’t until I was 25 and sleeping with a friend who was off limits, that I rediscovered (or possibly even truly discovered for the first time) how amazing sex could be. Maybe because what we were doing wasn’t allowed, maybe it’s because I was casually sleeping with someone instead of a partner, my normal self-conscious barriers weren’t up. So when he grabbed my wrists with one hand and held them above my head while using his other hand to pull my hair and kiss my neck, I surprised myself by being incredibly turned on.

Once I made this discovery that I was really starting to get into slightly aggressive acts of passion, my natural progression of thought started to spiral out of control. Since I am a classic overthinker and perpetually plagued by feelings of guilt whenever I start to enjoy myself, I wondered if I had the right to identify as a feminist now that I found my kink of being sexually dominated by a man.

I mulled over this for months, thinking of it as my dirty little secret that I was embarrassed to chat with my friends about.

“It’s degrading.” I would think to myself, “you let them use you as their little play thing for their pleasure.”

I began to despair at my guilt, wondering if I was doomed to a volatile relationship later in life until one day a light bulb went off in my head (or possibly my nether regions) wasn’t I also deriving pleasure from this type of foreplay and sex? Weren’t my orgasms suddenly and brilliantly intensified and genuine?

I’ve been single and living alone for quite some time now, this comes with countless perks which I cherish! But then there are days that go something like this: I’ve worked all day, gone for a run, done some food shopping, investigated that weird light on my cars dashboard, put on a load of laundry, paid all my rent and bills, give my apartment a clean before I drive into the city for my friends’ birthday drinks BUT not too many drinks because I’m driving as a taxi is a luxury I can ill afford. I get home and make myself dinner because duh, no one else is going to make it; so by the time my buddy rolls around with a bottle of wine and an insincere intent to watch netflix, then he wants to take charge of my naked body as we’re making out on the couch, not only will I let him tell me where he wants me but I will fucking relish in it because for once I am not the one making a decision or taking charge of a situation. I relish in the pleasure of letting go.

That, coupled with the fact that perhaps as my relationship with sex has been fraught with guilt, I may have overlooked the simplest factor of all: sex feels great! It feels good to give and to get. My convictions on equality have not weakened since discovering what positions in the bedroom I prefer. My drive for seeking knowledge around women’s triumphs and struggles have not diminished because I like being bossed around when it comes to sex. My disdain for ignorance when it comes to sexist remarks and actions has not lessened! I don’t shy away from calling out crappy, sexist behavior when I see it! Why can’t I be a feminist in the streets and submissive in the sheets?

I am so hard on myself in so many unnecessary ways, do I really need to add sex to the list? I spent a couple of years and relationships resigned to the idea of what sex might be and the moment I discover what works for me I tell myself I’m not a good enough feminist anymore? No! Sex is not a dirty little secret that I have to keep hidden away in the dark, unexplored and performed the same way every time.

Discovering the kind of sex I liked was almost like discovering I could just buy a whole jar of Nutella–suddenly I was limitless! Why would I continue dipping a little biscuit stick into a small tub of delicious chocolate when I can buy a 400gram jar and eat it with a spoon? Why would I revert back to sex I wasn’t into when I now know what I like? I’m not sure if this Nutella analogy is the best way to end this essay, but my point is; if you, dear reader, have a kink that you’re worried about, ask yourself this; does it feel good? Does it feel great? Am I hurting anyone? Am I hurting myself? Am I achieving orgasm? If you answered: yes,yes, no, no, yes; then you’re good to go, grab a spoon and eat the Nutella.