Like most of us, the first time I read about a submissive and dominant relationship was in none other than The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I remember the books being circulated amongst the girls in my classroom, tightly wrapped in newspaper so that the teachers wouldn’t see what we were reading.
My friends, who were the only source of my sexual knowledge then said that the books scarred them deeply; chains, whips, and beatings is abuse- not pleasure. Well, I don’t blame them: living within the four walls of a girls’ boarding school hidden snugly in the Himalayas, cut off from the world, their view of sexuality and gender (among other things) was very myopic. I remember even at the age of 15, reading those books and feeling alien from everyone around me for liking the idea of being handcuffed to the bedpost.
The first time I asked my partner to spank me he got excited and gave me a tiny flick on the bum. I told him to hit me harder and that’s when his playful demeanour changed to confusion and almost disgust he asked, “Why would you want that?”
“I like it”, I told him.
“Why would you like To be hit?”
Having no answer to give him and no understanding of it myself I shut the topic down and went back to the life of vanilla sex, pretending to enjoy it.
After going to college and understanding the basic concepts of feminism I realized that I identified as a feminist and advocated strongly for the equality of all genders. I believed men and women should be equal in all aspects of social life: politics, opportunities, and sexuality. I believed that no man has the right to dominate a woman in any area of her existence. That had become my core identity.
In my second year of college, I joined a dating app and instantly hit it off with a man eight years older than me. Over a game of ‘getting to know each other better’, he asked me about my biggest sexual fantasy, I sheepishly told him it was BDSM. He asked if I identify more with a submissive or a dominant role, and I told him my preference was submission to another. He then went on to tell me about his past experiences in the world of kink and how I could try it under his guidance.
I mustered up all the courage I had and decided to meet him. There was definite, immediate electricity between the two of us and it felt like we had to be together. Over the next few months, I went from being a shy, little girl who said, ‘I like to be spanked sometimes’ to a fiery woman in synch with her sexuality.
It wasn’t sudden and in no way was it easy but the change did take place. There were nights I spent wincing in pain from the bruises and welts left on my body and there were nights that I felt completely liberated, free to cry out all the baggage I had been carrying for all these years.
Though all this while my sex life had taken a leap for the better, I had one thing running through my mind: what about the feminist in me? Where would she go? How is she feeling about being associated with all the things she detests- slut shaming and being controlled by a man? How is she feeling about being used by a man for his own pleasure?
Confused and ashamed of myself I started closing in, hiding and compartmentalising my life. I protested for sexual assault and marital rapes on the streets, but inside the four walls of a hotel room I became the perfect submissive, sitting with my arms folded, spoke when spoken to, said ‘yes sir’, even wrote ‘The Property of SC’ on my stomach with a permanent marker everyday. I read articles on ‘feminist BDSM’ trying to understand how this duality in my behavior existed and how both these identities, though poles apart lived in harmony within me.
After three years of being introduced into the world of kink I think I have finally found my answer:
I am a feminist.
I like to be treated like a slut in bed.
I understood that what I liked in bed and who I am outside of it are two different sides of my personality. What I like sexually doesn’t have to define every part of my being and nor does it in any way make me less of a feminist.
Moreover, knowing, understanding and acknowledging my sexuality only brought me closer to my feminist identity.