“I am an independent, self-sufficient, and confident woman who is in control of her life and is a feminist. Yet I enjoy submissive sex with my partner. Can I really call myself a feminist?!”
You might be one of the many women doubting your own choices and loyalty to being a proud feminist because you like kinky activities like chocking, slapping, and biting during sex. And it’s normal due to the mixed messages we get from the media. However, you have to know that you’re not alone.
A study published in 2011 studied 1500+ women from the “kink community” to see what sort of activities women were taking part in. What researchers found was that “more than half (and in some cases nearly all) of the participants reported that they participated in the following activities, which could be described as “sadomasochism“: breast play (slap, clothespins, etc.), paddling, hickeys, flogging, genital play (slap, kick, clothespins, etc.), pinching, using clothespins/clamps, whipping, and caning.”
So, women enjoy their kinky, rough sex behind closed doors. Does that make them bad feminists?
People who find it problematic when a woman loves submissive sex and chooses to be submissive in the bedroom claim that the problem lies in traditional gender roles. Throughout history, women have been seen as the submissive gender, always allowing men to run the show and dominate the world. And feminism is here to fight this old-fashion notion of genders.
When a woman chooses to be submissive in the bedroom, when she asks a man to take the reins and be the one dominating her sexually, people believe that those women play into the social gender role stereotypes. And they also believe that doing so further hurts women in their day-to-day lives.
However, the real issue comes not from women wanting to be submissive in the bedroom but from people trying to force them into having sex they’re not enjoying. Because doing so completely disregards the values the feminism movement was built on.
Critiquing women for wanting to be dominated in the bedroom and enjoying activities that might be deemed as violent or degrading when they fully consented to it is being anti-feminist because it means participating in the old-fashioned behavior of shaming women for their choices, especially their sexuality.
Another argument people often have when it comes to women having rough sex is that by asking for it consensually, they encourage men to continue having abusive sex with their partners. Unfortunately, abusive sex is a problem that many women face, with having sexual partners spit and choke them without asking first.
However, that problem has nothing to do with two people consensually deciding to explore kinks and fetishes that make them feel good. Instead, it’s a problem of men not understanding consensual sex. And blaming the abusive sex problem on women who want to be handled roughly and dominated in the bedroom is also anti-feminist and problematic.
There are a lot of misconceptions and false stereotypes people still believe about sexual activities outside the vanilla scope like BDSM and sexual domination. BDSM still has the reputation of being violent and degrading, reserved only for the wicked people who enjoy weird things.
But in reality, BDSM is one of the safest and healthiest sexual activities to indulge in because people who are into BDSM know boundaries and consent better than anyone. They have safewords and contracts, and they communicate before, during, and after sex to ensure that everyone involved is happy and feeling good.
Also, if we’re talking about the power dynamics in BDSM sex, being dominant and submissive is not always what it seems from the start. When you decide to submit to your partner sexually, or you ask them to dominate you, you’re choosing the role you play. This means that you have the power and dominance over your pleasure. So, in reality, the submissive sex could also be viewed as the dominant sex.
Unpacking Our Sexual Fantasies
Why would a confident, independent, feminist woman want to have submissive sex with her partner and ask a man to spit on her? The answer to this question is quite simple – sometimes they just want to let go of the control.
Freelance journalist, editor and founder of An Injustice! Zuva Seven shares that it’s the exact reason behind her desire to be dominated in the bedroom. She writes, “As a Black woman, I’m tired of always having to be strong. So yes, the bedroom is the one place where I can be vulnerable and let that all go. The one time where I don’t have to be in control. And it’s great.”
Naturally, assertive women who have a lot of responsibilities in their day-to-day life might look to submit in the bedroom and surrender their control to the partner they trust. It’s fun and relaxing and a great way to release the tension from a long day.
So, we know that wanting to submit in the bedroom comes from women wanting to lose control. But how about rougher, more “problematic” fantasies? For example, rape fantasies. What if a woman wants her partner to take her rough without really asking?
There is also reasoning behind rough sex fantasies as well. A study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that one thing that triggers sexual desire in women is the feeling of being sexually desired. And this desire to feel sexually irresistible to someone sometimes can take the form of coercion which is a form of sexual assault.
The feeling of being wanted so bad someone can’t control themselves is what turns some women on. And some women might be bold enough to explore this fantasy with their intimate partners in their bedrooms. While it might seem problematic at first sight, wanting to engage in such activity or fantasize about it is healthy.
Sex therapist Leigh Noren, who used to specialize in sex after sexual assault, explains that sexual fantasies about coercion do not equal condoning such behavior in real life or asking for it to happen. She explains, “As it’s your own fantasy, you’ve already implicitly consented. And the mere idea of exploring the fantasy in your head means you’re in control of what happens and where the story goes.”
The True Meaning of Feminism
The point of feminism is allowing women to choose what they want to do with their lives and letting them do it without judging them. So, it doesn’t matter whether women choose to be stay at home moms and raise their kids, or become CEOs and run billion-dollar companies; whether they choose to have romantic, gentle sex with their partner or ask their partners to dominate them in the bedroom, all of it is valid as long as the woman chooses for herself.
Also, when a woman chooses to have rough sex or asks her partner to spank, choke or bite her during sex, she’s taking control of her pleasure, which is the definition of a feminist — choosing for yourself. Exploring different sides of sex and pain and kink is also liberating and fun. And sex is supposed to be a way to relax and have fun with your partner.