Tag Archives: F/x

On Female Dominance. (by a switch)

This was going to be a comment on Ferns‘ recent post about the barriers young dominant women experience in coming into their sexuality, but it got out of hand and turned into a whole gender thing so it’s here now. All the disclaimers: floating around seemingly at random in terms of sexual identity as I do (switch/poly/queer/oy vey), dominance is a thing that I may experience very differently than most women who identify as dominant. I suspect there’s still enough overlap that I can talk about it, but maybe not. Anyway. Her early experience is undoubtedly a common one:

From my perspective as a young woman out in the world, I was never free to exercise any sexual initiative in the way I wanted. So I stifled it.

What I mean by that is that in NO environment was I safe or encouraged to behave in the way I wanted (predatory, aggressive, running the fuck) with men.



As soon as I showed the slightest interest in any man, I was put on the defensive by THEIR aggressive behaviour and there was no way to manage that except to step back and become the gatekeeper.

I can’t even imagine how frustrating this would be. Obviously it’s happened; I’ve made advances and the response has been off-putting and over the top. It’s like when you go to scratch a dog behind the ears and he just can’t handle the excitement, he’s sure you’re best friends now and he wants to lick your face and knock you down with his crazy whip-tail and really all you can do is try to calm him down before you fall over. It’s not all that surprising. Heterosexual men are under overwhelming social pressure to be the aggressor in relationships, even if that’s not their personal preference. It definitely adds to the difficulty so many women have in being the aggressive/assertive partner. A lot of our perceptions about aggression and assertiveness are tied up in the idea of masculinity, which is going to make the process of forming an F/m relationship subversive to some degree. Some folks like being subversive, some find it frustrating that it has to be, but ultimately, it goes against the grain. It’s just harder.

For the most part, I was lucky. With a very few exceptions, I don’t date traditionally masculine men. Some are genderfluid, Most are queer to some degree, one was completely asexual*, and a couple were deeply, oppressively religious. Most of the rest of my partners have been women.  They’ve generally been perfectly happy to let me be a mean, egotistical maniac outspoken, aggressive, and downright bossy. (Well, minus the bossy part when dating a D-type.) Whatever power dynamic formed in each of those relationships formed independently over time to match what worked for us. I really can’t stress enough that I have been lucky as hell in this regard.

I started dating at fifteen. By eighteen I was consistently the more assertive partner in every relationship and the initiator of every one night stand. I didn’t think of it in D/s terms at the time, not because BDSM was unfamiliar but because the mix-n-match of behaviors I indulged didn’t properly fit D/s roles as I understood them. Hell, I still don’t know how to describe a relationship with a terribly conflicted Catholic man that consisted almost entirely of theological debate and ordering him to hurt me. Dominant masochist and evil temptress? Who knows. The point is, even though I had the freedom to be as aggressive as I liked most of the time within a relationship, doing so openly was still incredibly challenging.

There’s a social perception that comes with assertiveness, and it is decidedly masculine. I’m not remotely butch. I can dress the part, and have on occasion, but my default look is long curls and high heels. One of my many objections to cold weather is that it prevents me wearing skirts. But because I’m aggressive–because I reach for the check first, because I make the first move, because in some subtle way it’s typically assumed that I’m going to at least voice if not make joint decisions in a relationship–I’m called the “guy” or the “man” of the relationship. This started way back in undergrad, when I was dating a very butch but rather meek young woman. Over and over friends would laugh that “Nic is so the boy, it’s so cute!” (which pissed us both the hell off because no, actually, we were both women; there is no “boy” in a lesbian relationship**). It continues today with Spouse: a good chunk of our social group have taken to calling him my wife and I frequently have to correct people who assume ours is an F/m relationship. The former we don’t mind. Spouse is genderqueer and mostly indifferent to which gendered nouns and pronouns people use to refer to him. The latter is more problematic. One domme assumed that Spouse was submissive to me because he came to a party in high heels–that is, clearly I had feminized him, and feminine=submissive. One of the reasons he wears heels is to annoy me: I like being taller than he is. It’s ridiculous, and especially hard to understand given that in 90% of my public scenes, I bottom, and in all but one of his public scenes, he’s topped. But he’s not masculine. Must be submissive, right?

It is problematic that emasculation is synonymous with weakness. It is problematic that empowerment is in conflict with traditional femininity (apparently there’s not an accepted word. I looked.) This discourages women from being assertive, aggressive, or dominant: those of us who embrace female identity are told that we can’t keep it if we want to be dominant. For some, that’s a barrier that can be overcome. I have changed Spouse’s car battery in bright red stilettos while threatening the poor Southern gentleman who said “let me just get that for you, darlin’.” My automatic response to anyone who says “you can’t…” is to immediately and with complete disregard for personal safety or social consequences do exactly the thing I “can’t” do. For others, I imagine it’s just tiring. Simply expressing oneself authentically shouldn’t be a constant struggle, but norms being what they are, it is. For some women, the frustration of expressing dominance may just not be worth it, especially for those women who don’t know that there’s a kink community out there and that many men are dissatisfied with the power dynamics assigned to traditional gender roles.

It’s not just that men are raised and expected to behave this way, it’s that this behavior is synonymous with masculinity. If women are going to be comfortable with dominance, assertiveness, aggression, we need at minimum social acceptance to be these things without being denied femininity.

*Yeah. Ask me how well that worked.

**By which I mean: when referring to a relationship between two female-identifying persons who are not interested in queering their gender, it is inappropriate for an outsider to declare one of them the “boy/man/guy/dude/&c. It’s homophobic to force homosexual relationships to fit a heterosexual paradigm. If someone in a lesbian relationship identifies as a boy (or really anything else. Tiger. Shark. Martian. Level 13 doppelganger rogue) that’s great, no problem. Well, unless you go the doppelganger route: I’m not giving you a pass on the level adjustment, sorry.

A Long, Hard Fall

I could say he dropped. More accurate to say I dropped him.

I was nervous. He’s shy of electricity, and had never showed any interest in CBT before. Yet there I was, attaching electrodes while he whimpered and clutched his hands into fists underneath me. I couldn’t help laughing: “I haven’t even turned it on yet!” Of course that didn’t last long, I started shocking, biting, taunting while he tried not to cover his face. I moved his hands, too roughly, surprised that he didn’t resist at all.

“So. . . I guess I like electricity.” His voice was steady but his eyes were shy.  I’m used to seeing his face confident and almost haughty, sure that he can take control back from me any second. This vulnerability is new. The vicious part of me wants to laugh, but I force it into a toothy grin. “Oh? Then you won’t mind if we try a higher setting.” He whimpers, closes his eyes. I’m sitting on his chest, I feel him tense up even as his breathing becomes steady and slow.

“I think I need to be tied up if you’re going to keep doing this.”  I hesitate. I hate rope. I could use zip ties–but no, he’s very strong. If he fights against 1/4 inch plastic he will cut himself. I plan to make him fight. Rope it is.  I tie his wrists to the headboard with a nameless, ugly knot. He gives it a look, pulling at it, testing its strength. The knots hold but he’s dragged us both a foot up the bed. That won’t do. I drag him back down by his feet and tie his ankles. He’s looking at me, wide-eyes and silent. “You okay?” I ask. He nods. I say “good.” I think Let’s see if we can’t change that.

I can’t say what happened when. I set the TENS unit to a 15-minute cycle. After that? There was pinching, slapping, mocking. He tried to speak, turned shy instead. I told him to repeat himself and thrust my fingers into his throat when he tried. I smothered him with my body, dialed the electricity slowly higher, smacked his thighs to keep them apart. There was a moment–he said “please” and buried his face in his shoulder without finishing the thought. “Please what?” He didn’t answer. “If you’re smart, you’ll beg me not to leave you tied up here all night when I’m done with you.” He jerked so hard then that I worried my ugly knots would slip, but they held. The TENS unit read one minute left. I picked it up. “Let’s see if you can handle the highest setting.” He was thrashing, trying grab hold of me. I turned the dial. He shouted then. “Less than a minute, you can do it.” I spoke softly. I’m not sure whether he heard.

The timer ran out. I found myself sitting on his thighs thinking oy, what next? Was that too much? Not enough?  He wasn’t looking at me, and I couldn’t read anything in his face. So I asked “Do you want–” and paused, stupidly, caught between “to stop” and “to keep going.” In hindsight it’s obvious I should have called the scene as soon as I got paranoid. He crumpled visibly, twisted himself small and away from me as much as he could.

I untied him quickly, and he rolled onto his side, away from me. And I screwed up. If I did this, curled up and turned my back on him, it would mean “don’t talk to me, don’t touch me, I need stillness and silence right now.” So I started coiling rope and wire, organizing and clearing up, trying to give him space. I did this for about three minutes before he started shouting that I was worse than Hitler for not holding him.

Obviously I dropped everything and dove in to cuddle and comfort. Too late: he didn’t want me to touch him because he was too angry at me for not touching him. Two seconds later he clung to me like a koala to a tree and started crying. Thirty seconds after that he kissed me more intensely than he had in years. Then inexplicable laughter. Through the whole of this I sat bewildered, wondering what the hell was going on and when Godwin’s Law had jumped off the Internet and into my sex life.

After he’d stabilized, I tried to ask about it. Meaning I started with “Did I break you?”

“No, I think that’s what sub drop is like though. You were asking what I wanted, and it jerked me out of my mental space.” He took a deep breath. “Please don’t ever do it again.”

“Pull you out of your headspace, or hurt you?”

“The headspace thing. Hurting is good.”

It could have ended worse. I keep telling myself that. But clearly I still have a lot to learn here.