It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I still read Nerve.com. Not that it’s a bad website–it’s a fun little place doing its very best to be sex-positive for young people–but it’s definitely catering to the Cosmo crowd, doesn’t want to talk about important sexual issues, and definitely isn’t about to endorse anything far from the mainstream.
But I do still read it. I read the advice columns and the articles and the confessions (dear God, the confessions. It’s like PostSecret without images or a moderator to filter out the dull ones. Yet strangely captivating.) And today I read this: a “true story” by a woman who describes being forced to be a domme for her husband. I don’t want to get into the reasons I suspect the story to be untrue, because even though it’s six kinds of ridiculous the truth/falsehood of it is irrelevant. I’m not going to start explaining that what it describes is not BDSM, it’s abuse, because that discussion deserves a more nuanced approach than the story allows for.
I read it, and sat here thinking about it for twenty minutes, because despite not being about BDSM and despite being 50 shades of crazy, it struck a nerve. I read it and thought, this is the special hell of femdoms in pornography. I thought, this is what I was afraid of, when I was so young and new to BDSM.
Rewind too many years. I had already had my first D/s relationship, heady and exciting despite all the mistakes and stupidity that come with teenaged relationships. I can’t remember if this was while that first Dom and I were on a break, or after he was out of the picture entirely. I was definitely single, too young to have yet realized that monogamy was not the only option. There was a boy, a good friend, around whom I had no filter. (Hell, I still have no filter with this boy.) Some combination of a hope to catch his interest and a desire to shock him, added to the fact that he was a long-term crush, led me to tell him about it, the ropes and the collar and all the rest. I’m pretty sure I bragged about how awesome it was to be a submissive (I was a TERRIBLE submissive), because that’s exactly the sort of thing teenaged Nicole would do. I don’t really remember what I said at all, though. What I remember is my friend confessing his own fantasies about being submissive.
Teenage Nicole had never heard of such a thing. It was glossed over, if mentioned at all, in the battered copy of Screw the Roses that my first Dom treated like a holy book. I was intrigued. Partly because this boy, as I’ve mentioned, was a long-term crush; if he’d said he was interested in gladiatorial combat in a pit full of snakes and poison spikes, I probably would have started looking into it. Partly, though, I just liked the idea of taking charge.
So I looked into it. I read some femdom erotica, and was thoroughly put off by the anger and hatred of men in just about every story, baffled by the prevalence of chastity devices (why would these women lock their men up instead of using them?), and the men just made me sad: they hated themselves just as much as their dommes did. I didn’t see anything that depicted the excitement and mutual pleasure I’d experienced as a sub.
Well, okay. That’s fiction. I couldn’t find any books locally on the subject, and certainly wasn’t going to order any to my parents’ house. That left the Internet. I found a BDSM related IRC channel and joined with a name like MistressSomethingRidiculous, just to ask some questions, just to try to feel a little less out of my depth.
Within five minutes I had a private message from a purported submissive man telling me he was worthless and demanding that I verbally abuse him.
I left quickly. I was disappointed, but I couldn’t see any way around it. The entire visible narrative of F/m relationships was unattractive to me, so I wrote it off.
I know better now. I know actual real-world dominant women who have fantastic, enviable relationships. I read blogs by women who can articulate beautifully what D/s dynamics mean to them. But I feel like I spent years ignoring something amazing and wonderful and happy-making just because there was this image of what female domination was and nothing easily found to counter it.