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Why do women eroticise subordination (and how to stop it)?

(217 Posts)
MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 17:15:49

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AGnu Wed 17-Jun-15 17:23:28

I think the psychology behind enjoying being dominated (for men as well as women) is to do with letting someone else be in charge. If you're the sort of person who has a lot of responsibility in your life then I imagine it can be a bit of a release to have someone come & take over like that, like your brain just needs a bit of down time from trying to control everything.

Have you tried talking to your DP about your preferences? I'm not sure there's any need to change yourself, necessarily. I'm sure they said on a programme I watched a while ago that it's not uncommon for high-powered businessmen to enjoy being the subordinate in the bedroom because they want someone else to be in charge for a while.

MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 18:08:25

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RepeatAdNauseum Wed 17-Jun-15 18:14:31

I'm definitely not comfortable with being dominated sexually by my DP who is my equal in everything else.

That's an interesting statement. Do you know why you're uncomfortable with that? Is he a new DP - is it a trust thing? Embarrassment?

Amethyst24 Wed 17-Jun-15 18:16:04

I think women eroticise domination because we're socialised to believe that there's something wrong and "dirty" about our sexual desire. By ceding control to a man, we can enjoy the sexual experience without having to "own" it.

Have you read Nancy Friday's My Secret Garden? There's loads in there about rape fantasies. Obviously they don't bear much relation to the horror of actual rape - they're about being forced into a sexual experience that turns out to be highly pleasurable.

Mide7 Wed 17-Jun-15 18:18:30

I agree with AG, I think if you are a person with quite a lot of responsibility in "real" life then it can be a good change of gears.

For me personality I don't think it's at odds with your feminist ideals. Perhaps I'm massively wrong but I think the submissive in those types of relationships has a fair amount of influence/input. I don't want to say control.
Sexuality is only one part of what makes you you anyway

MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 18:20:40

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MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 18:23:44

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WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Wed 17-Jun-15 20:33:46

It's a tricky one isn't it.

OTone hand we like what we like and all sorts of people like all sorts of stuff and as long as you aren't hurting anyone etc

OTOH we express concern as adults & parents & humans about the effect that porn is / might be having on our young people in terms of presenting sex as something where the male is dominant the female is passive and it's all about his pleasure and actually it might hurt her but that's OK in fact good. So we worry that their sexualities are being warped.

So I dunno. Yes sure maybe it was formed by stuff when you were young, maybe it's just what you like, maybe it's a reaction to your responsibilities at work. But, it's fantasy isn't it, it's not real, actually you are in an equal relationship, it's pretend.

I am sure that humans have the capacity to be into all sorts it's just how we're built isn't it? I saw a documentary about people with unusual tastes and there was a man who had a thing for paperclips.

Anyway. Did you enjoy it with DP before this power struggle thing started? Is it more to do with him than the politics do you think?

almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 21:16:12

I would google rolequeer and see if anything written about that helps you shift your interests.

almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 21:26:22

I mean, we can all hum and ha about why people might be sexually interested in the subordination of women. Surely the most likely reason is that women are subordinated and we all grow up and see that every day. People are also often interested in the subordination of black people.

So it could be quite difficult to suddenly become the dominant person in bed when that is totally at odds with the group you are in in society, and why would you want to pretend to be part of the dominant group or play at equality if it isn't real to you?

You are currently eroticising the power and oppression that exists in society. If you are now thinking about liberation in society, can you eroticise liberation from subordination instead?

And read up on role queer for a far better explanation.

minkGrundy Wed 17-Jun-15 21:31:07

I don't think it is fair to say 'women eroticise subordination'
Some women.
Some men too.
Probably for different reasons tbf but it is a bit of a sweeping generalisation to make.

BertieBotts Wed 17-Jun-15 21:37:10

Yes. I think that the "losing control when you have to be in control in your normal life" thing is a bit of a misnomer too. It's often trotted out but it's just somebody's idea, and it's pretty simplistic at that.

Almondcakes' posts are closer to the mark, I think, though I haven't heard of rolequeer before.

AlsoaNCforthisone Wed 17-Jun-15 21:52:03

I relate to what you're saying OP and also felt the need to NC! Like you I strongly identify as feminist and many of my beliefs would also be more rad fem than anything.
I have a good career, am the main earner and although there are no doubt some niggles my relationship is basically an equal one.
However both DP and I like BDSM and my preferences are very much as the sub. DP is happy enough in either role but I dont get turned on by the dominant role at all.
I have a real difficulty squaring the contrast between my political beliefs and my sexual tastes.
Like you I think my feelings were set young and I also dont buy the idea its about release from a high powered or stressful job.
My conclusion is that it probably is as a result of socialisation - just as I also like many other 'female role' things and am not terribly interested in many traditionally 'male' activities. My liking for sewing and pink is not so jarring as they are minor aspects of female socialisation. To find I may have internalised an idea that women should enjoy rape is intellectually extremely disturbing to me - but I do feel that is what it is.
My other thought is that I would say I'm becoming more and more strongly feminist in my views and I have noticed that I am finding the cognitive dissonance more and more difficult - DP and I are considerably more vanilla than we were as a result.

MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 22:34:49

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MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 22:37:55

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uneasysub Wed 17-Jun-15 22:43:07


uneasysub Wed 17-Jun-15 22:47:55

Hello that worked! I found this article helpful.

I strongly think that you have to keep politics out of sex otherwise nobody will enjoy themselves. That means that if you don't feel likebeing submissive because you're secretly annoyed, you have to be completely honest about it and clear the air - especially if you actually can't be aroused otherwise.

I too would prefer not to find submissiveness sexy but I reckon sexual identity is created by conditioning so early on that it's almost impossible to alter and trying to will make you unhappy. Better to acknowledge that what turns people on is weird, and is separate from their everyday selves. And find a way to find that ok.

Yops Wed 17-Jun-15 23:31:19

I can't help but think this is a more subtle form of trolling FWR. The OP seems to be saying that feminism should seek to control and alter the sexual feelings and acts conducted in private between two consenting adults.

MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 23:35:26

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MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 23:36:09

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almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 23:40:49

I don't think the OP is saying that.

She is saying she is uncomfortable in her sexual relationship and is there a way of changing that.

She is asking for advice.

It doesn't mean feminists are advising women who don't want to change that they have to.

Yops Wed 17-Jun-15 23:43:37

Well, it happens on here, a lot. Unknown posters pop up all the time. You seem to be insinuating that these sorts of sexual desires are things to be condemned and prevented. And I reiterate - we are talking about legal acts, in private, between two consenting adults. Who on earth's business is it?

It's a bit more subtle that 'Wah wah, feminists are anti-sex, anti-pleasure harridans...'. But not much.

MyNameIsReddish Wed 17-Jun-15 23:47:00

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almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 23:48:02

Who is saying these acts are to be prevented or condemned?

Nobody has said that.

Yops Wed 17-Jun-15 23:53:36

I'll just repeat the thread title - 'Why do women eroticise subordination (and how to stop it) ?"

Not 'me, not 'I' - women. As in plural. As in all of them? I don't know, I didn't write it. If you had said 'Why do I...and how do I stop?' then it would make more sense. This seems like a diktat to be imposed on the entire gender.

almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 23:54:28

All that aside Reddish, I probably can't advise you particularly well because

a. I'm not a sub
b. I think it depends on the specifics of exactly what you and enjoy and why, so that you can change it slightly.

But I spent some time reading around role queer to understand why I like certain ideas like hurt/comfort (massively popular with women) and how that worked in relation to power. I was also struck by the role queer idea that it is not that subs should stop being subs, but we should stop telling them they need doms.

almondcakes Wed 17-Jun-15 23:56:01

I didn't think she meant all women.

I personally don't eroticise subordination.

It was clear she meant herself in the OP.

MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 00:12:39

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SolasEile Thu 18-Jun-15 00:23:58

Some psychological theories suggest that people who enjoy submissive roles sexually, whether male or female, have a lot of guilt about sex. They may have been brought up in a strict, religious environment or just brought up to feel that having desires or being desirable is not a good thing and is something they should be ashamed of. So they gravitate towards seeking out a dominant partner or role play of that nature because it lets them offload the guilt onto the partner 'forcing' them to be sexual rather than having to accept their own needs.

Does this line up with any of your experiences? It's a little pop-psychology but it is certainly true that in our usual social context women are made to feel more ashamed of their sexual desires than men are. As a result of that social conditioning, rather than the wider political status of women, some women may gravitate towards the submissive role sexually.

minkGrundy Thu 18-Jun-15 00:49:58

myname the title just jars out even if the OP clarifies it. Would have preferred something like are submissive desires contrary to feminist beliefs because i don't like to be told what I like. Society makes enough assumptions on my behalf.

It does risk, yet again stepping into that feminists have an issue with sex territory again. (NAFALT)

However, addressing your specific issue, it sounds like you are not prepared to have the sex you enjoy and you don't enjoy the sex you are prepared to have.

My guiding rule for sex is always it is something you do with someone not to them. Do you feel like it is being done to you? And more or less when you are submissive? Or do you feel your domestic power struggles are the real issue?

LassUnparalleled Thu 18-Jun-15 00:54:49

Did I really need to put NAWALT on everything?

Using why do some women or why do I might have been a better title.

To answer your question I don't know why some women and some men are into BDSM and I really don't care either.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Thu 18-Jun-15 01:07:00

I think your current lack of sex, and lack of enjoyable sex has much more to do with your relationship problems and far less to do with any political reason.

I'd love to have great sex between equals, or where I confidently and happily initiate, but...it doesn't do much for me

Has it ever done much for you?

I'm really curious about this. I quite like to be dominated in bed, but I also have plenty of sex like you describe above. I also don't have a power struggle in my relationship, I feel completely equal to DH in all respects.

So my first instinct is to feel that it is your relationship that is lacking, because it isn't allowing you to express yourself freely either in or out of the bedroom, rather than that you are somehow having 'wrong' sexual feelings that need to be changed.

It's very late and I'm not very articulate at 1am smile I hope I've made some sense.

AlsoaNCforthisone Thu 18-Jun-15 02:00:50

I wouldnt say that is accurate of my personal background Solas. My family had a fairly healthy attitude to sex and relationships I would say, relaxed and sensible.
I'll be interested to read about role queer too, thanks almondcakes.
The other reason why it is important to me to work out my thoughts on this is because I was in an abusive relationship when I was in my 20s. My feelings about taking a submissive role were already definitely present though not particularly well thought through even to myself and I hadnt had any relationships where it had been a feature. It was not something that this ex was interested in at all so we did not do anything along those lines either. He was emotionally and sexually abusive and it was a difficult and unpleasant time. Obviously the sexual stuff was the horrible reality of sexual violence rather than anything like the fantasy stuff I engage in now where I have complete control over what happens. I think there are a number of reasons why I ended up in that relationship but I do partly blame what I view as my conditioned attraction to domineering types. I also feel that the fact I hadnt explicitly and consciously considered the nature and boundaries of that attraction and that this contributed to me ending up with an abusive man. I don' t feel its a mistake I would make now. For me, i think, the conscious discussion and exploration of those feelings has meant I am clearer about their limits and feel they are more contained to the very specific context of one particular aspect of my sexual relationship with DP. I cant see it seeping out of that to cause me problems now.
In some senses this feels like a reasonably positive way to view it, or perhaps to minimise the potential harm of it? Intellectually I still find it hard to rationalise but perhaps over analysing any aspect of sexuality is not likely to feel particularly sexy. confused

Mide7 Thu 18-Jun-15 06:32:44

I agree with Alibabs, I think there are some deeper issues in your relationship. I don't know a lot about the sub/Dom thing but in my eyes it should be about complete trust and you shouldn't have to fight it.

darkness Thu 18-Jun-15 06:54:37

Excuse if this has been said as I have skimmed through this..but I didnt spot it. It seems to have not been mentioned that in a consenting dom sub sexual relationship the sub is the one with the power / control.
I know it seems counter intuative But this is not about violence.

FeijoaSundae Thu 18-Jun-15 07:10:32

The thread title jars, and it automatically puts me, for example, on the defensive, because I don't find the sub thing remotely erotic, and I find the whole 50 Shades thing deeply annoying and insidious.

I can't even bring myself to read the book because I know enough of what it's about to be completely put off by the woman-as-sub-man-as-dom story line.

I know this ^^ isn't what your threads about, but I don't recognise the 'why do women eroticise subordination' question at all.

Is it a widespread problem for women? Do loads and loads of women really eroticise it? And if they do, do they find it problematic? I don't know. I assumed some women enjoyed it, and they were happy to do it.

It's not a case of 'not all women are like that', but more, are even that many women like that? I didn't think so (outside second-rate novels), but happy to accept I'm wrong.

YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 07:57:28

The title didn't bother me but I can see the point. However, OP's posts are very clearly "I have this relationship issue which is also a feminist issue" - many FWR posters have done similarly and so I think OP is in good faith.

YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 08:03:25

OP, I think the only way to make other sex appealing is to try to have other kinds of sex. Is there something else - locations, textures etc - that could be an alternative to subdom even if not so immediately thrilling?

Yops Thu 18-Jun-15 08:11:28

Okay then, let's take the OP in good faith. She wants to change herself, not women everywhere. But, in an ideal world, where we are all equal, a woman could choose to be anything she wanted - brash, outgoing, outspoken, dominant, or mild, meek, submissive, subordinate. Isn't a good, loving relationship a bubble within which you live in an ideal world? It is somewhere where you are loved, respected, considered, supported, understood and listened to.

And within such an environment, if you want to take on a bit of role-playing with a certain characteristic, in privacy, with an understanding, consenting partner, from which you both take pleasure, why would that bother you? You understand your feelings and your limits, and so does your partner. The OP seems to feel as if there is only one way to behave, regardless of the situation. As if her politics has to permeate every aspect of her life, 24 x 7. That is what I don't understand. Nobody is going to take your 'good feminist' badge off you.

YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 08:33:12

Yops, I do not have the same interpretation of her post as you. But I also have to run!

RepeatAdNauseum Thu 18-Jun-15 09:18:49

I think the problem is in your relationship, not your fantasies. This would be a non-event if you had a relationship that was not already a power struggle, that didn't leave you feeling that you cannot let your guard down and be less than equal in any way.

I don't know that you'll ever "lose" something that is a big part of your sexuality without forcing the change. I also think you're uncomfortableness with it could be a reflection on your life in general - does that unwillingness to falter and let someone else take control incase it undermines your feminist values spread into other areas of your life?

MagicBacon Thu 18-Jun-15 09:33:42

Something that I have found which has helped me put things into context is a book called The Chimp Paradox. It's a 'mind management' book about overcoming anxiety and anger issues, but actually, the premise of the whole system is that we are made up of 3 different parts of our brains: the chimp, the human and the computer.

The chimp is responsible for all the kneejerk reactions and emotional responses we have to a situation, our natural desires (sleep, eat, fuck) and the 'animal' side of us. This can be in conflict with the human side of us, who is more socially conditioned and less impulsive, knows what is 'the right thing to do' etc.

So while my human is appalled at porn and doesn't like the idea of being dominated or in any way humiliated in normal everyday life, my chimp enjoys the animal side of sex and has a thing for a very alpha male! It means that the things I fantasise about and which we talk about during sex I would never actually want to do if I thought about it in the cold light of day, because my human doesn't like it, but my chimp finds it a turn on.

Mide7 Thu 18-Jun-15 10:02:04

Obviously people's sexuality is very complex so I could be completely off the mark but

OP could your feminist stuff be adding to your excitement with the submissive stuff? Some people like the feeling of being naughty or wrong. Your belief in feminism and the sub stuff go against each so maybe that adds to the feeling of it being taboo.

Like I said I could be very wrong but it's just something that occurred to me.

FeijoaSundae Thu 18-Jun-15 10:14:57

That chimp / human thing is really interesting.

Apologies in advance for the mass generalization, but it's the first thought that popped into my head... I wonder if, on the whole, women's human side is more finely developed than men's. Sort of explains men's penchant for violence, sex, sexual violence, etc, in way that far, far outstrips women's involvement in same (except for sex, arguably).

Are women more evolved, or just more socialised?

Yops Thu 18-Jun-15 11:12:18

The Chimp Paradox is by Dr Steve Peters. He has been well publicised in sporting circles these last few years. He worked with the GB Olympic squad, Ronnie O'Sullivan (snooker player) and some big football teams.

I know he helped some of the cycling team, men and women, and they achieved huge success in 2012. I don't know if he plays much on gender, and I haven't read the book. But from what I do know, the chimp is the bit of your brain that houses the negativity - why you can't do things, why you won't achieve top mark/ a gold medal. Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton spoke about the need to put the chimp back in his box, to shut his relentless chatter up, and to leave your mind free to concentrate on your goals. From the results of both women's and men's teams, there may not be much difference between our chimps grin

Holowiwi Thu 18-Jun-15 11:34:30

People often forget we are animals there are thoughts and desires which cannot necessarily be rationalised. We are obviously capable of rational thought which helps limit impulsive behaviour but when you think about our basic behaviours and emotional responses are really any different to many other animals.

As for women being more evolved (how can a member of the same species be more evolved?) I don't think that is the case. Personally I believe that there are factors such as hormones and the general biochemical make up of the human body which influence behaviours it is very complex and we are learning new things all the time. However in pretty much all the great apes species males have increased aggression especially when the males are on average bigger than the females.

I do think socialisation has an affect too, but don't think you can truly socialise all violence away

YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 11:41:11

I think subdom is a human concept not an animal concept.

BreakingDad77 Thu 18-Jun-15 11:50:10

I think you are beating yourself up to much over this and need to de-link what you and your partner get up to. Why cant it be framed as what it is, a fantasy?

And in any case if your doing it right - the sub is in control anyway wink

Branleuse Thu 18-Jun-15 11:53:08

i find the subdom thing hugely erotic, and i identify as a feminist, but I just enjoy the sex thing as a seperate from real life, and try not to bring politics into my sex life, enjoy what i enjoy. To do otherwise is being dishonest to myself. This is the conclusion i have come to after having many emotional freakouts about whether I really "should" be enjoying this so much.

almondcakes Thu 18-Jun-15 13:48:51

The whole point of subdom is that it is political. That is entirely what it is.

Politics is about how power operates in society.

Sub dom is the eroticisation of power, and it is a specific form of the eroticisation of power in that it recreates oppressive situations without eroticising liberation from them.

Very many people are to some extent submissive and subordinate, and there is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with that.

The problem is that our society, and BDSM culture in particular, has put together a set of cultural conventions about what people with sub tendencies should and should not be doing to be emotionally and sexually satisfied, and what dominant people should be doing to them.

So there are all these sayings put out there about how in BDSM the power is all with the sub, that a sub needs a dom, that subs' boundaries should be pushed and so on. Many subs disagree with all of this.

I would say that anyone who is a sub and is uncomfortable with the kind of sex they are having should go and get/read advice written by subs who have exited BDSM and found ways of exploring being a sub in other ways. And that involves thinking about the precise specifics of what you like and just making tiny shifts in the dynamic so that you are comfortable with yourself.

And you can't get that from people who are invested in that BDSM mindset, particularly if they are doms, because they have a vested interest in making you believe there is only one way of being a sub - acting out BDSM scenarios that mimic abuse.

BertieBotts Thu 18-Jun-15 15:49:51

Almondcakes thank you for posting about rolequeer. I've been having conflicted thoughts about the BDSM scene for some time and this has really helped me articulate them. flowers

TeiTetua Thu 18-Jun-15 15:51:19

Well, "The personal is political" and vice versa. Get a whole bunch of people doing something, and it becomes a social trend. Say what you like about "Fifty Shades of Grey" (and plenty has been said here) we can't deny that it appealed in some way to a large number of women.

I'm happy to say that in our household, what we find mutually erotic is an enthusiastic partner, and we'd hate the idea of one of us dominating the other, even as a game. But I can't deny that we've had times of being annoyed with each other, and then the erotic gets suppressed for a while, in fact it's been a reminder that things aren't going well.

Having said that stuff, I'd hate to tell anyone what to do in the bedroom. If you've got a good relationship in other ways, maybe playing at something you'd normally think is awful could be enjoyable. Or can one say explicitly to a partner, "I want to have sex with you, I want half the responsibility for it, I want to see you enjoy it, and I plan to enjoy it just as much myself". Can one eroticise consent and respect? Maybe we could even say it's extra sexy for transgressing society's rules!

FeijoaSundae Thu 18-Jun-15 17:54:47

but don't think you can truly socialise all violence away

Women are a lot better at it than men, though.

almondcakes Thu 18-Jun-15 18:11:25

Bertie, it has a lot of that postmodern stuff and online fighting around it that is not my cup of tea.

But I do think there is some really useful stuff in there, and I've applied it to how I think about things like femininity, personality, and people who are quite passive or submissive in every day life.

InnocentWhenYouDream Thu 18-Jun-15 18:24:02

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:00:10

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almondcakes Thu 18-Jun-15 20:07:59

If he is in control and you are submitting to him, that is sub dom. I know there are degrees, but I read it as you are submitting and he is dominating. I'm not reading anything more into it than the information you gave in your OP.

MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:11:00

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:12:11

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Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Thu 18-Jun-15 20:12:43

The other thing to clarify is that I'm not talking about sub-dom, BDSM, role play or anything like that. I have never seen 50 Shades or been into any of that shite. I'm talking about just ordinary sex, as vanilla as you like - I still seem to experience it as submission. Which is fine in my fantasies, not so fine with my real life partner to whom I do not want to submit.

So you aren't actually talking about submission, you are talking about trust. Do you trust your partner enough to let down your barriers, be vulnerable with them? If not, then that is absolutely something to do with your relationship rather than 'women eroticising submission'.
Your perception seems to be, and correct me if I'm wrong, that if he sees you let go in bed then you've somehow lost a point in this power struggle you have going on?

That is massively unhealthy.

jamaisjedors Thu 18-Jun-15 20:18:08

OP, I think the debate was interesting - thanks for raising it.

Have you thought about reading some erotic fiction which doesn't portray submissive sex and see if it turns you on and gives you some different fantasies?

MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:23:54

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:26:26

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:27:59

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jamaisjedors Thu 18-Jun-15 20:32:43

Actually I kind of identify with what you say about the control thing.

You probably need permission to not be in control and let go, as someone said upthread.

jamaisjedors Thu 18-Jun-15 20:35:18

Crash Course (Black Lace) Juliet Hastings (Author) was pretty good, something for everyone without being degrading (although there is some submission in there too).

Muddymits Thu 18-Jun-15 20:36:54

I feel like I don't want to indulge my sub urges with my partner, well rarely anyway. For me it is because I see that they were generated partly/mainly by my early sexual experiences which were unfortunately abusive and in my childhood.
Over the years I have had a good sex life and have variously engaged and disengaged with sub themes but ultimately I can't reclaim them, can't square them with my politics or let go of the idea that they would never have been my fantasies without the abuse. Anyway am going off thread aren't I they are problematic for me too.

MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 20:46:11

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Muddymits Thu 18-Jun-15 21:02:48

I know I have a friend who feels the same too, I think that there is little discussion about how out early experiences affect our later ones despite so many girls and women having difficult introductions to sex that very often are initiated or controlled by the male involved. That's a sweeping generalisation and of course often won't apply too but still it's an area that doesn't often seen to be talked about.

YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 21:09:58

I don't understand why people's sexual choices should be deemed better kept separate from their politics? If I'm an ethical vegetarian but like the feeling of real fur against my skin, do I just go ahead and shag on a mink coat? Nope.

And if politics has no place in sex, where does that leave arguments about the use of porn or the use of prostitutes?

If OP cannot comfortably either marry her sexual views and her political views and doesn't want to isolate one from the other, then she needs to find a way to integrate the two which will probably involve changing one, the other, or both.

Wackadoodle Thu 18-Jun-15 21:28:02

I think the truth is that in sex we very often feel, and express, the opposite of our everyday persona.

Power works in complex and manifold ways in most lives. Obviously the struggle to overcome male power over women in society is important, but it's not like it's just going to magically make all those other feelings about power go away.

Sex comes from the body, which is much more fundamental and more honest than the intellect. I don't think you can ultimately control it by sheer ideological will. That just screws people up, like gay Christians trying to convince themselves they can be straight it they only try hard enough. Better to get used to it.

InnocentWhenYouDream Thu 18-Jun-15 21:30:40

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YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 21:32:51

"which is much more fundamental and more honest than the intellect."

I disagree with this statement.

InnocentWhenYouDream Thu 18-Jun-15 21:35:17

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YonicScrewdriver Thu 18-Jun-15 21:36:41

And - a feeling of submission is an acutely intellectual thing (unless it is literally pack-type submissiveness which is for safety in animal groups, not arousal) .

It's not like OP likes the bodily sensation of hot wax or firm muscles or harp music or sex on a gently rocking waterbed or something. Sexual submission is a thought process.

InnocentWhenYouDream Thu 18-Jun-15 21:38:09

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 21:42:48

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MyNameIsReddish Thu 18-Jun-15 21:44:45

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Mide7 Thu 18-Jun-15 21:51:30

But reddish and yonic that's assuming your politic beliefs are stronger than your sexual likes/ urges/ kinks ( not sure which is the word). What happens if it's the other way around?

I find the idea of suppressing ones sexuality really unhealthy.

This debate is confusing me haha very conflicting

minkGrundy Thu 18-Jun-15 21:54:13

I think it is a mix of both the physical and the mental, mostly the latter, so if you are not mentally comfortable with something you aren't going to enjoy it (even if mechanically it pushes the right buttons)

But I do think this is also mixed up with a societal attitude that women give in to sex or need to be persuaded, subjugated etc. The woman as gatekeeper idea. And I don't like that idea. I think it is very unhealthy and yy it not only plays into the culture of sexual violence but also sets up antipathy in rs if that makes sense. I.e. the idea that nen have to get a woman to allow them to do sex to them. That makes it combatative and about winning.
Rather than it being something that 2 people choose to do together, on an equal basis, to each other.

InnocentWhenYouDream Thu 18-Jun-15 21:57:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

almondcakes Thu 18-Jun-15 22:13:21

"I think the truth is that in sex we very often feel, and express, the opposite of our everyday persona."

I disagree with this and the whole of the post that follows it. I think if your sexual imagination is totally at odds with who you are as a person, that is an issue.

Wackadoodle Thu 18-Jun-15 23:25:10

You know that rapists often tell their victims they "must like it really" because they have a physical response to the stimulation? Bodily response is definitely not how you ascertain what someone really enjoys.

Sure, of course. But in this case the OP herself said that she does enjoy it (submissive sex that is, not rape, obviously).

There's a big difference between somebody saying they like something but feel guilty about the fact, and being told by somebody else that they must like it.

spillyobeans Thu 18-Jun-15 23:34:05

Maybe a fantasy is a turn on because its the opposite of your day to day role and in that way its an escape?

Alot of common fantasies are based on polar opposites or extreme differences - just look at porn categories (milf or teen, interacial...all that kind of thing)

Wackadoodle Thu 18-Jun-15 23:35:13

Wackadoodle - I don't think power-based turn-ons such as submission come from the body - they are mental rather than physical. They stem from a complex mix of factors imo (including early experiences, role models, messages from society, and maybe some innate stuff too).

I'm sure there's some truth in that, although I don't think we can ever fully separate the mental and physical when it comes to such things. But it's precisely because they stem from such a complex mix of factors, many rooted in deep early experiences, that they can't be tamed by sheer act of will.

I dunno, I think a lot of people think of this stuff in terms of a vaguely Freudian worldview in which the ego can control the id if it only finds out enough about it. That's not been my experience of myself or people I've known is all I'm saying. YMMV, of course.

Wackadoodle Thu 18-Jun-15 23:39:50

"I think the truth is that in sex we very often feel, and express, the opposite of our everyday persona."

I disagree with this and the whole of the post that follows it. I think if your sexual imagination is totally at odds with who you are as a person, that is an issue.

Well that depends, upon other things, on the extent to which your "everyday persona" is synonomous with "who you are as a person". I would say it's only a part of it, though perhaps I didn't make myself clear. I meant "persona" in the sense of the outward appearance that we project to other people.

MagicBacon Thu 18-Jun-15 23:42:59

So you aren't actually talking about submission, you are talking about trust. Do you trust your partner enough to let down your barriers, be vulnerable with them?...Your perception seems to be, and correct me if I'm wrong, that if he sees you let go in bed then you've somehow lost a point in this power struggle you have going on?

This is really interesting. DP and I had a big argument last night. We eventually made it up after much soul searching and went to bed but I felt a lot less comfortable doing some of the things we normally do (him grabbing my head and hair, a bit of light suffocation etc) as I had lost the trust a bit. I needed him to just be really gentle and respectful.

spillyobeans Thu 18-Jun-15 23:43:20

I dont think its a case of an everyday persona vs an erotic or secret persona - i think we have one persona but choose to keep some parts private and some public. Therefore i dont think by being dominant in say a work environment and then submissive in a sexual environment would make you at odds with yourself

MagicBacon Thu 18-Jun-15 23:44:08

And I'm not some hard nosed ball breaking business woman, I'm a sahm who is very quiet and reserved, so defnitely not going against my public persona in the bedroom!

margaritasbythesea Thu 18-Jun-15 23:47:35


Wackadoodle Thu 18-Jun-15 23:47:44

Just to be clear, I did say that the two are "very often" opposite to each other (as they clearly are in the OP's case), not that they necessarily always are.

Nameforsexboard Thu 18-Jun-15 23:53:22

I identify as a submissive and have done now for about a year. It's something I've always been drawn to but similarly couldn't square it both with my ideology and my control freak er part of my brain. What helped in my case was a lot of very late night conversations with a friend of ,one who I knew was in that world.

I'm still not entirely sure where my desires come from (psychological? Difficult childhood? Innate?) but they just are, so I've stood back and accepted them. I think it must have been so much harder to know oneself to be gays in a climate where gays was considered wrong.

I can, e to my husband with the desire for more experimentation in sub Do and it's been such a fantastic year. The need for a lot of talking has developed our trust and communication and also th best sex we've had. I would now very strongly say this is me. Howe er I've had to trust him bit by bit and learn together.

I think if I were to say all women should be submissive or are designed to be etc that's where the political alarm bells ring. However to say I personally enjoy that dynamic is fine for me.

It took a few months of soul searching to be okay with it. I wish I could articulate what a used the mind shift but other than a lot of talking I can only say Imy now completely the other side. I do find what some submissive say hard to stomach and firmly belive our relationship is of two equals who have chosen these roles. I'm giving the power over to my DOM rather than him taking it.

Nameforsexboard Thu 18-Jun-15 23:55:06

Apologies for the glaring typos. I'm adjusting to predictive text on a tablet badly!

CrispyFern Fri 19-Jun-15 00:05:24

What an interesting thread.

Maybe this is why women in their forties are meant to have better sex. We rethink and work to improve the way the physical fits with the political and mental somehow.

AlsoaNCforthisone Fri 19-Jun-15 08:27:32

I read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman which talks about the idea of two systems operating in our thinking. The first slow, effortful but logical and conscious. The second being quick, instinctive, emotional, subconscious in the way it works things out. The second system learns what judgements to make by repetitivebut unanalysed experience and the first by conscious effortful thinking ammenable to logic, statistics and intellectual argument. The two systems can be in conflict because we cant control what we are exposed to in many respects. So if we are exposed in society to repetitive negative stereotypes then system 2 expects that and believes it even if system 1 vehemently disagrees. To me it is the explanation why porn is so harmful and a further reason why we should have diverse non stereotyped images on TV and role models for women in STEM etc
My view is that we are repeatedly exposed to the image and idea of women as submissive and enjoying that submissio. For some people, system 2 has learnt this even if their system 1 is feminist and puzzled by it.

CoteDAzur Fri 19-Jun-15 09:05:03

"Why do we eroticise domination?"

I doubt if this has to do with socialisation. It's probably more about the millions of years of evolution whereby we find strong & powerful men attractive to increase the chances of survival for our offspring.

It is no longer necessarily the tall, broad-shouldered, physically strong types who provide best for their children and "attractive men" stereotypes are shifting. I wonder how many generations it will take for women's domination fantasy to fade.

Waitingfordolly Fri 19-Jun-15 09:09:27

There was a poster on a thread a few months ago now who was very eloquent about why she didn't feel bad about her involvement in BDSM, I think it was along the lines of having felt shame for a long time about her sexuality and trying to repress it, which was some secret that she kept that made her feel bad, but by being able to express it with someone she trusted it made her feel better about herself. I think we can tie ourselves up in knots trying to live a perfect feminist life, and actually what might be important is what we do to ensure that women in the future are not subject to harmful sexual stereotypes rather than trying to deny something that's already in ourselves. I experienced the end of the 1980s when feminism had declined into identity politics and who was most oppressed and having to live a "perfect" life that wasn't true to ourselves and it was hideous.

I think there are some parallels with being LGB (and I say that from experience of BDSM and being bi), and consent and doing what you want as long as it's not harming anyone, but there is obviously a line to be drawn around sexual behaviour - age is the obvious example, but what about the more "extreme" elements of BDSM where people can cause permanent damage to themselves or others?

Being sexually submissive to my DP doesn't mean that I am generally submissive, in fact I am probably the more dominant person in the relationship. It might not feel right with someone that I didn't completely trust, so I think that sexual power play does need to be differentiated from the relationship as a whole. As for why some of us like this, I don't know, I'm interested in that. It does make me feel slightly uncomfortable that it might have come from childhood experiences, but maybe I'll never know.

mrstweefromtweesville Fri 19-Jun-15 09:11:58


MajesticWhine Fri 19-Jun-15 09:15:13

I fantasise about and get turned on by the idea of subordination. I don't want it all the time and it's not a huge thing and I just accept it and enjoy. I personally don't find it a contradiction to feminism. But if you want to change it, you need to think about where it comes from. This is probably idiosyncratic rather than a one size fits all answer;.

Most sexual fantasies are about creating the conditions where it is safe to be aroused and to let go. So it would be useful to reverse the fantasy and have a think about what is so unsafe about it? What are the fears about being dominant or predatory. Do we fear being out of control or aggressive? What part of ourselves might be lost if we were like that? Would we become unfeminine? Unloveable? This is difficult to unravel as it will be largely unconscious. It's a bit heavy going but if this really bothers you the explore it with a good psychoanalytic therapist.

More practically, you could stop reinforcing it, i.e. don't masturbate to those kind of fantasies, discuss the "problem" with your partner and experiment with other ways to get aroused.

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