Being Submissive Can Be Empowering [Sexy Time]

Someone left a comment on my post about facials from a few weeks ago that really struck a nerve with me. In response to me saying that facials are just ejaculation on the face and don’t inherently have meaning, this commenter pointed out that actions that come from porn have never been empowering to women – the subtext being that consenting to being degraded is ultimately bad for women. I definitely believe there’s a worthwhile dialogue to be had about how society conditions our sexual preferences and proclivities. And that, especially as women, a lot of the way we perceive sex is influenced by what men want, and that often comes at the expense of stripping women of our dignity.

Sex has, without a doubt, been warped in a way that prioritizes the pleasure of men over the pleasure of women. This manifests itself in dudes only focusing on their own orgasms and neglecting to finish off their partners, in dudes refusing to go down on women, on women’s magazines printing article after article about “how to pleasure your man” and, of course, the massive proliferation of porn that reduces women to their skin colors, ages and the size of their boobs and butts and normalizes acts like facials and rough sex. To pretend that we aren’t shaped by cultural norms and societal narratives around sex would be clueless and kind of dumb of me, and I absolutely believe that a lot of us, both men and women, only like the things we like because of the larger cultural forces at work here. That maybe, if we had grown up in a more egalitarian society that talked openly about sex, where popular porn featured themes that went beyond “let’s see how much c*ck his woman’s mouth, vagina, or anus can take” and there wasn’t so much emphasis on women being submissive, I’m sure sexual dynamics would be different.

However, I also feel like it’s patronizing to insinuate that women only perform their sexuality in a way that is pleasing for men and that we don’t derive pleasure from things like giving BJs or receiving facials or whatever. We have agency and the ability to think for ourselves, and if we get off on humiliation, that doesn’t mean that we’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy. Sexual submissiveness, degradation and humiliation are not practiced exclusively by women. There are dudes who would be over the moon if a girl squirted in their faces, would love nothing more than to go down on a woman for hours and would totally appreciate a woman taking the dominant role. Maybe instead of criticizing individuals for making certain choices, we should criticize the cultural narratives that shape and inform them. Would a facial be considered gross and un-empowering if women weren’t constantly subjugated and objectified outside of the bedroom? Doubtful.

If anything, playing out degrading and submissive themes in a safe space, where you have control over the things that are done to you, is a way of exercising power. It’s a mantra in kink communities that the submissive is ultimately more powerful than the dominant, because their boundaries are the final word. And really, what’s more empowering than doing something you like, that brings you pleasure? Even if it’s something that reinforces certain social dynamics. No one, even the most socially conscientious of us, lives their life in a way that always challenges the status quo, and that’s okay. Abstaining from certain sex acts isn’t going to eradicate misogyny, and just because you prefer certain acts in the bedroom doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect the utmost respect and dignity outside of the bedroom.

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  1. rosesformeg says:

    I personally find nothing wrong with submissive bedroom behaviour. Some woman want to be cummed on and that's great for them. I think the majority get off on the fact they are doing something considered taboo and not so much as themselves being submissive.

    It would be empowering for women to embrace whatever sex they want. If its not degrading to them then no one has the right to say it is.

    That being said. If I want a man to cum on me and call me a dirty slut in bed, hes going to do it and get me off. But you bet if he said that outside the bedroom he would be in a world full of hurt.

  2. Kay says:

    I am so glad you posted this. I would like to consider myself to be a strong, empowered, independent woman, but I have to say I get off being more submissive in the bedroom. It's like being able to be the opposite of who I am in the workplace, ya know? Like roseformeg said, if he said any of that stuff outside the bedroom I would get hurt feelings, but inside? The raunchier the better. Sex can be primitive and we say stuff we might be embarrassed about if we think about it during the daytime, but that's ok. Taking a sub role doesn't mean you give up the power either. You can think of it as LETTING him take the more dominant role, if you're a person who's not comfortable with giving up the reigns. I find it exciting, though, to have someone who is capable of challenging and topping me.

    When it comes to facials I think it depends on the situation again. I certainly am not going to be offended by it if we do it now and then when we're naughty, but I wouldn't do it every time either. I also think it's important, like you said, that your partner gives just as much as they receive. I'd get a little miffed if I agreed to getting facialized if he doesn't even finish me off. That's just rude.

  3. Lynn says:

    I am bosy, OCD, and quite competitive… and I love when my bf gets all dominant in the bedroom, to me is a good way to loose control within my boundaries. Yes, I've played dominatrix and has been great too, but I rather have him beeing the one calling the shots.

    The thing about facials is the same about the rest of sex kinks out there: if you want to try, do it. If you liked it, keep doing it. When you have sex (please, with a consenting partner), he/she/they/your sex toy's batteries and you are the ones who must establish how far you want to take something, not social dynamics.

  4. Lila says:

    My problem with a certain amount of submission is that it tries to justify people degrading each other; it attempts to justify women getting spit on, choked until they vomit, called cum dumps, called worthless whores and stupid dumb sluts, told "anal is supposed to hurt" (looking at you, "empowered" Sasha Grey), and a number of other acts. My question is this, why is it suddenly okay for a man to desire to degrade a woman in bed but it's not okay for a man to degrade a woman on the street? Merely because of consent? Both have the same motivation, to degrade, and as far as I'm considered wanting to degrade another human being is bad in all circumstances, never justifiable, and an insult to humanity. What does it say about character? Unfortunately, some feminists aren't willing to read up on psychology, Freudian studies and sexuality studies done onwards, that have found links between personality traits, positive/negative emotions and fantasy.

    People are trying to make this behavior okay, but if you get to the heart of the matter, do you believe men who seek porn marketed as "degradation" against women respect them? In fact, when I commented on a porn video I got responses from men saying they would never do it to a "real woman." Because porn stars aren't real women?! It sickens me individuals so direly want to see every choice they make as empowerment, because clearly we live in a bubble and wanting to be degraded or to degrade says nothing about our mental states and internal conflicts.

    It's like the schoolyard bully all over again. A bully wants to degrade a weaker person to make themselves feel stronger and less inferior instead of dealing with their insecurities and problems. It's depressing in that circumstances, and it's depressing in this one. Power does not have to be used to lessen the worth of another being.

  5. Yummy_Prosciutto says:

    The ideal is to do whatever turns you on, without judgment. People are attracted to all kinds of kinky, non-PC stuff. Their sexual desires in and of themselves should be no reflection of their moral content otherwise.
    Pro-tip: Most women love being submissive in bed. Having the skill-set to be a good Dom is a lot of work and harder to find.

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