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On submission and self-esteem

A lovely guy emailed me a while ago asking for a link to his blog on coping with depression. I don’t know much about depression, but I do know that something he said in that initial exchange really got my hackles up.

“Your posts on choking, the consent rule, safe words and anal sex all indicate aspects of the darker side of sex which, believe it or not, is more commonly linked to depression than you might think because of its links to low self esteem.”

Assuming that people who are sexually submissive suffer from low self-esteem pisses me off. He has kindly elaborated, to kick off a discussion.

He says:

“Sometimes I wince inside when I read some of GOTN’s posts. The reason? I have had low self esteem and self confidence issues for most of my teen and adult life. In more recent times this has developed into severe depression.

Self esteem can be a big issue where sex is concerned. It may prevent you from doing things you might otherwise enjoy, it may compel you to do things you’re not comfortable with or it may even cause you to do things that are dangerous. Take G’s posts on choking, consent, and the Soho cinema. The consistent theme is that she’s submissive and gets turned on by being in a sexual situation beyond her control, even one that could be scary and painful for her. Now, G assures me that there is no psychological dimension to her sexual enjoyment, which is fine, I’m not suggesting otherwise.

I will, however, give you the example of a friend of mine. Career minded, independent, didn’t want to be stuck in a relationship or have children. She was submissive too, in fact she would do pretty much anything in or outside the bedroom, with anyone that might take her fancy. It all sounds like harmless fun, right? Well, not quite – she used to self harm, such was her level of self loathing. She did what she did sexually as a way of subconsciously punishing herself for being the horrible person she was (or so her mind told her), undeserving of any love or affection, men were free to play with her as they chose. She then used to cut her arms and legs to punish herself some more. She would drink herself into oblivion to hide from the mental pain, which would result in her slumping into an even deeper depression, from which she could escape only by trying to stimulate her brain into producing more serotonin. It was a vicious circle, which tragically came to a juddering halt when she ended her life. She never sought the help that could have saved her, simply because she never thought she was worth it.

I guess my message is that you never know when depression might creep up on you. Never be ashamed to get help, it may just save your life.”

Sexual submission does not equal low self-esteem

The above post is written very cautiously. Note that after I’ve ‘assured’ him that I like submission, he ‘is not suggesting’ that I have low self esteem. Nevertheless, he launches into what is certainly a powerful and sad story, and one which makes him wince at my stories about getting choked.

Submission is a valid sexual choice

How could I possibly like being choked? It’s so damaging and painful that there simply must be something wrong with my brain that draws me, against my will and better judgement, to such agony.

Point 1: I don’t like the implication that a subset of women have made the ‘wrong’ sexual choices.

For the record, I like getting choked because it’s hot. Not hot because ‘I’m a bad girl and need to be punished’ and not because ‘I want someone to be in total control of me.’ It’s hot because it makes my cunt wet. If it makes your dick hard then it makes my cunt all the wetter.

I shouldn’t have to ‘assure’ anyone of that, because no one should make any pop-psychological assumptions about my sexual inclinations in the first place. For the record, assuming that submissive men like to lick feet and be beaten because they ‘probably have very high-powered jobs’ and want to ‘let off a bit of steam’ is just as odious a cliche.

I, personally, like to assume that people take part in sexual acts because they have chosen to. That way, not only do we give people the credit for being able to make their own sexual choices, it is also much easier to spot situations where they haven’t – acts that they might be feeling pressured into, or things they’re doing because they’re too drunk or out of it. I’ll come onto this later.

Lots of people like pain

Kink-friendly film ‘The Secretary’ is worth a mention here, if only for the fact that it does little to dispel the myth that submissive women lack self-esteem. Despite being one of my favourite films (Maggie Gyllenhall getting whacked by her boss before being humiliatingly jizzed upon and voluntarily pissing herself at a desk in what I can only describe as an orgy of awesome) it’s still, at its core, a damsel in distress movie.

Poor Maggie Gyllenhall cuts herself because she’s sad. She self-harms and covers it up, and only becomes truly happy when she’s found a nice big strong man to fulfil her desperate need for pain.

Point 2: the desire for pain is not particularly uncommon.

As the popularity of the film implies, an interest in dominance/submission is not even that bloody weird. Depending on the survey results you look at, and how the question’s framed, between 5-25% of people have a penchant for dominance and/or submission. A study quoted by the Beeb estimates that between 11-14% of the US population has tried some form of BDSM.

Dominance and submission also splatters our cultural discourse like humiliating bukakke – we make jokes about spanking, watch TV shows with two-dimensional Dominatrix villains, even fucking Cosmopolitan magazine has even given tips on it, for crying out loud.

So why do we still insist on holding the desire for pain up as an example of ‘unusual’ sexual behaviour?

Perhaps poor Maggie Gyllenhaal would have been happier if we hadn’t.

Do I deserve to be punished?

Here’s something explicitly referenced in the example. The lady you discuss was ‘punishing herself.’ So do most submissive women submit because they think they deserve to be pubished?

Do I think I deserve to be punished? God no. I’m undeserving of most of the good things that happen to me, and I’m always surprised and delighted when a dude gets it into his head to beat me to the verge of tears and then fuck me like a ragdoll.

Do you see what I did there? I assumed that this particular sexual act, like most, was something that I wanted.

Point 3: submissive women do not necessarily think they ‘deserve’ misery.

In order to draw the link between low self-esteem and submission you have to assume that the girl doesn’t really want pain – at least not in the same way as she might want a cuddle and a chocolate brownie. She takes the pain because she feels like she deserves punishment – she’s bad/wrong/fucked up etc.

Do we try to rationalise other sexual preferences like this? Do we feel the need to explain away your desire for blowjobs because you think your cock is dirty and needs to be cleaned? No. We say you fucking like blowjobs.

We work on the rule of thumb that people are having sex because they want to. If, when a girl tells you that she wants to be spanked, you assume some complex psychological trauma to explain away her ‘unusual’ desires, you make the wild and significant assumption that she doesn’t like it.

By assuming she doesn’t like it you make the girl’s decision – a choice she has made about the way she gets off – insignificant. Your revulsion at the idea that someone could actively seek out pain leads you to patronise her and assume that she’s compelled to do it for reasons other than that it’s her choice.

What better way to take away her sexual agency? To lower her self-esteem.

Some submissive women do have low self-esteem

I’m not saying that no one ever allowed someone to do horrible, painful things to them because they had self-esteem issues. But what I am saying is that assuming a link between these two things is unfair on the countless thousands of people who choose submission because it turns them on.

Moreover, it’s unfair on the people for whom this is a genuine problem. If the lady in the example my friend proffers had genuine self-esteem issues, then assuming that there’s a natural link between submission and low self-esteem isn’t going to do her any favours.

Point 4: linking submission and low self-esteem provides a smokescreen for the real issues someone might be facing.

Assuming that people do sexual things because they enjoy it means that alarm bells will ring all the louder when you see someone who clearly doesn’t. And that’s really, really important.

If you don’t assume that submission and self-esteem are inextricably linked, what you describe in the example is even more shocking. It’s not a submissive woman carrying out her sexual desires, it’s a damaged woman being taken advantage of when she actually needs to be helped.

Where’s the evidence?

A final thought, because I am nothing if not rigorous and overly verbose: I’ve had a google around this area, and have yet to find any comprehensive studies on the possible link between sexual submission and low self-esteem. If the original statement that submission is “more commonly linked to depression than you might think” is true, then this material must exist. I would certainly like to see any data anyone could provide on this. Links in the comments will be rewarded with my genuine delight.

Despite having failed to locate much info on the topic, I’m more than willing to believe that there might be a link between sexual submission and low self-esteem in some cases. But I’m still going to stick to my guns and say you should never assume there is one. It’s incredibly patronising, and sometimes damaging, and it certainly depresses the fuck out of me.

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Someone else’s story: sexual anticipation

You know how sometimes something’s so good you can’t keep it to yourself? When you’ve done something utterly disgusting and you just have to tell someone?

I’ve annoyed/amused my best friend no end by occasionally texting him to let him know whether I got laid and how I got on. And once, in a rather misjudged boast, I told him that the morning after I stayed at his house, I’d sat cunt-first on one of the bedposts in his spare bedroom while a boy I was with tried to fuck me in the arse.

Don’t give me that look – I wiped the bedpost down afterwards.

Well, the point I’m tortuously getting to is that sometimes girls send me these stories. About what they’ve done, about what they want to do and (in the case of the lady in this post) what they’ll be doing soon.

I enjoy these stories almost as much as I enjoy the cock pictures. At my request, and posted with her permission, I hope you enjoy the following story too…

Guest: anticipation

I have pictured this for so long. How decorous we will be in public then, as soon as we are in the hotel room, you push me up against the wall. You kiss me fiercely, one hand clutching my breast, the other slides up my thigh, under my skirt, two fingers push inside my pants, inside me and finger fuck me to oblivion.

Or maybe you’ll put a finger on my lips, tell me to be quiet, to kneel, you’ll make me wait as you slowly undo your belt – I will be gasping for you, my mouth dropping open, expectant.

Or maybe we’ll fall on the bed, ripping clothes as we struggle to join.

I want to feel your hips buck under me, your cock pulse inside me. All I know for sure is that first time we will still be clothed, our joint impatience predicts it. Then afterwards we peel each other down to the skin and really start to explore.

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On getting laid in a nightclub

This doesn’t happen. It might happen to other people, but it never ever happens to me. Therefore it might as well be light-speed interstellar travel or a stint as Emperor of the Universe – it is an almost-impossible dream. Moreover it’s one which, frankly, I’m not sure I’d want to have anyway.

The typical night out clubbing involves meeting people in a pub or bar, getting just drunk enough that you feel at your most attractive, then heading to some odd-looking fashionable warehouse to flail madly while some preening dickhead presses play on a stereo and underpaid miserablists charge you £20 for a gin and tonic.

That does not make me feel very sexy. Let’s break it down:

Groups of friends

Few people go clubbing on their own – they go with friends. And in a group of friends it is much more difficult to make an initial approach. What if your friends see you and whisper behind their hands? What if they’re nudging you towards him/her like you’re nrvously asking for a snog at the school disco? What if all of his/her friends laugh as you approach, or loudly tell you that your chosen one is taken?

Loud music

I don’t want to sound like your moaning grandma, but I am about to do just that: why the living arsefuck (yes, in my head your gran talks just like this) do you want to go somewhere where you can’t hear what anyone’s saying? Why do the kids these days insist on placing themselves in rooms with noise so penetrating that you can’t think, let alone share a coherent and captivating sentence or two with your neighbour?


Nightclubs are hot. They are boiling, boiling hot. I would no more try to approach a stranger in a nightclub than I would insist on jogging to a first date.

Yes, my sweat is beautiful and arousing and gets your dick hard when we’re in bed together, but if the first time you meet me I’m humming like a tramps’ sauna, chances are you’ll be unlikely to want to dick me.


No. Unless you’re stunningly good at it, nightclub dancing is a shockingly difficult way to get laid. It’s a very distant descendant of the partner dances our grandparents did together, but somehow all the beauty and sex has been stripped out of it until it’s just a repulsive husk of its former self – a rutting, gyrating dignity-killer that leaves us all looking like someone’s last choice.

Tea dancing, swing dancing, anything you do with a partner is fucking sexy. Beautiful. It’s closeness and warmth and the good, good scent of your partner and – if you’re lucky – the feeling of their growing erection pressing into your hips. It’s whispering into their ear that you want to squeeze it and making plans for later in the evening. Your grandparents did this – it’s why you are here.

What happened to that sort of dancing? What happened to chatting, and wooing, and subtle glances? Why do we now feel like we have to dance like we’re actually humping things in mid-air, or cavorting wildly with some invisible partner? I want men to sidle up to me, tap me on the shoulder, and take me by the hands. I want to get wetter and wetter as I feel their hands stray – ever so slowly – to my bottom. I don’t want to have to rub my crotch on them while they gurn over my shoulder and twist their hips around like they’ve got scorpions attacked to their bollocks.

It’s obscene.

I’m a massive fucking pervert – I love strip clubs and Beyoncé videos and all the rest of it – but even I have an issue with the idea that to pull someone you must first embarass yourself with undignified dancing until you’re dripping with a stinking sweat, eschew all forms of verbal communication then complete your advances by performing a borderline sexual assault on someone and hoping they don’t punch you in the face.

Sorry, that was a bit ranty, but it’s true. Even if you love clubbing, and live for the nights where you drop some pills and punch the sky in a delicious orgy of pleasure and music and people, I still don’t think you’d say the club is a sexy place to be.

Proof: If you pull someone at a pub, would you bother taking your fresh and eager loved one to a nightclub? No. You’d whisk them off to your house, slap on some Janis Joplin, and slow dance them until they’re utterly drenched in fuck.

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On whether porn is cheating

A friend of mine (who knows damn well how to wind me up) sent me a link to a forum on which they were discussing the question “Is watching porn cheating?” to which the answer any sane human being would give is very obviously ‘no.’ On the thread women (and some men who are recovering porn addicts) argue that perhaps it is, and that it certainly feels like it is when a lady accidentally stumbles across her boyfriend’s internet history.

After a brief Google around the subject I discovered that rather than being a mockable minority, the people who believe porn is cheating are not only serious, but worryingly numerous.

I’m presumably preaching to the choir here, but I’d like someone to disagree with me so I can form my argument more fully than I have in this post, which essentially consists of me going “What the ACTUAL MENTAL FUCK ARE YOU ON ABOUT” over and over again.

My boyfriend watches porn and it’s like he’s fucking someone else

No. It’s not at all like he’s fucking someone else because it’s just some pictures on a fucking screen. You’re no more cheating when you watch porn than you’re a vampire when you read Twilight, or a member of the Secret Seven when you crack out the childhood Enid Blyton books.

You sometimes put yourself in the place of people acting in scenes in order to enhance your enjoyment of the material, but that does not mean you are actually there. It doesn’t even mean that were these people performing a live show right in your living room and getting their awesome porny juices all over your sofa, you would join in.

But it’s cheating in the mind, right?

No. Because what you’re describing there is a thought crime. If watching porn is cheating then writing slashfic is a form of rape.

I think this comes from female (and it is usually female – I’d like to see how men react to the idea that their girl watching porn is ‘cheating’) worries about not being adequate, and their partner being sexually interested in other people and things. It’s ‘cheating’ because he’s getting off to something that isn’t you, and that taps into a fairly primitive female jealousy about boys leaving their girlfriends for younger/prettier/thinner/more-willing-to-do-anal models.

Well, it probably sucks for these girls to hear this but he is interested in other people. Sexually. No matter how stunning or sexually adventurous you are, you are not the only thing that makes your man’s dick hard. Nice though you might think that would be, it’s not practical, nor even desirable. Many of his best moves have probably come from things he’s seen while doing some one-handed browsing during an idle moment.

But what he watches is so disgusting and degrading



No, seriously, stop it – you’re killing me.

It’s so much easier to demonise men for the porn they watch because men tend to require more visual stimulation than women do to get off. In short – you can watch theirs too whereas yours is probably locked away inside your head. Saying that their fantasies are ‘degrading’ and ‘disgusting’ is really easy to do when your own fantasies aren’t exposed for all to see, at the click of a mouse on the 3 a.m. section of your Chrome history.

SECRET ALERT: Women’s fantasies can be disgusting and degrading too.

While John’s beating one out to a video of someone getting beaten on YouPorn, Jane might be having just as much fun imagining biting into her partner’s abdomen until she draws blood and he whimpers and comes into her red and ready lips. Or thinking about her old Geordie history teacher reaching into her open shirt while she finishes off her homework, squeezing her nipples and calling her a ‘good girl’ then dragging her to the front of class to finish the rest while sitting on his lap. Ahem.

I’ve never been as degraded, humiliated, used and spat upon as I am in my own fantasies. It’s extremely lucky for me that most exist only in my head and not on an easily accessible hard drive.

Porn and sexual fantasy is by its nature degrading because the people in it are there for one purpose – to get you off. Even if you’re rubbing one out to the thought of your ex (who you’re still hopelessly in love with, and have a deep and abiding respect for) touching you up until his cock throbs, at the moment you’re fantasising you don’t give a fuck if he’s real or unreal, alive or dead – all you care is that his fictional dick is hard and his fictional fingers are fumbling at your fictional crotch through your pretty, fictional, soaking wet knickers.

But it’s a violation – it just feels disgusting

Porn is disgusting. Your fantasies are disgusting. But that’s OK. We can wallow in gallons of misery and shame during frantic solo sessions and no one gets hurt – our relationships don’t get a fucking look in. You imagine some things in private that you wouldn’t dream of in real life, because it’s unreal – and the unreality of it is what allows you to abandon yourself.

Your wanking is your wanking – it has little to do with your partner or your ex-partners or the guy who delivers you pizza – it has everything to do with the things you think inside your head, or the things that happen inside your head when you’re watching the teeny screen people frig each other off for your delectation.

Wanking (whether to porn or to your own imagined depravity) is usually a solo sport – it wouldn’t work if we allowed others to scrutinise it properly.

If we start giving that the ‘cheating’ label to our personal fantasy life then monogamy is not just dead but hung, drawn, quartered, burned, then fired out into space to make sure it’s gone forever.

If wanking is cheating then no one is faithful.

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On the prettiest things

Are you a tits man or an arse man? Or, perhaps, a leg man? Guys are often asked, for no rational reason that I can identify, to shoehorn themselves into one of these boxes. But what’s the alternative for girls? We aren’t asked if we’re ‘cock’ or ‘arse’ women.

Perhaps it’s because we’re trickier to categorise – we have a tendency to sexualise bits of your body that aren’t obviously sexual – your eyes, your hands, your arms. Lovely though your penis is, it’s rarely your hottest feature.

This point was hammered home fairly solidly to me recently when I watched Cindy Gallop talking about female desireIn what I think is a desperately sexy accent, she goes misty-eyed about men’s forearms. I mean, forearms, for crying out loud. Filthy bitch.

But she’s right – sometimes the things that turn us on are bloody odd. I’m a big fan of chipping in, so in no particular order, here are some of the sexiest things about boys.


Beautiful hands – long fingers, chubby fingers, rings, fingernails cut or bitten to the quick that mean you can slide them into me eagerly and easily.

Even better – big hands. Hands that you use to touch me, grab me, restrain me. Hands that you put flat on my tits and squeeze. Hands that you can place on my waist when I’m beside you, that you can use to squeeze and control me.

Hands that fit neatly into the back pocket of my jeans.

Final note: boys wearing nail varnish: yes please. Please. With sugar, a cherry, and a massive helping of girljizz on top.


Naked men lying on my bed with their hands either gripping or tied to the bed posts. These men are not hot because they’re vulnerable – they’re hot because they’re showing me their armpits.

Guys have hairy armpits and it’s wonderful – beautiful. They’re dark, and dirty, and provide definition against your powerful, masculine arms.

Ideally they smell musky and sweaty, like fucking in a sauna. If you promise not to freak out at my perving, I would love the chance to lick them.


It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, thin, skinny or muscular – your shoulders are sexy. They’re what I’ll bite and drool and dribble over while you’re fucking me nice and hard.

They’re male and strong and defined and so so different to my own. The things that make the two of us different make you especially hot.

I once fucked a guy with tattooed sleeves, the designs ended just at the tip of his shoulders – essentially an arrow to highlight and point at what my eye’s already drawn towards. Apparently I wasn’t paying the requisite amount of attention to his face, because he stopped halfway through that fuck to ask: “are you perving on my tattoos?”

Yes. I most definitely, definitely was.


Ungh. Yes. This only really works with very lithe, skinny boys, but I love to play with your hipbones.

If you’re lying on your back and I can see the definition of your hipbones at your waist it will take as much restraint as I can muster not to just grab your hips with my hands and push my thumbs into the little dent above them, ideally while taking your cock in my mouth as you moan like a desperate, wriggling teenager.

The dimples just above your arse cheeks

Why is this beautiful? It’s beautiful because if you’re wearing pants, staring at these dimples is the closest I get to your arse without actually seeing your arse. It’s a tiny bit of definition that hints at what’s below. And is usually even sexier than your arse itself.

Bonus points if you also have soft, wispy hair in the crook of your back that I can stroke when I’m reaching down behind you.

The back of your neck

I want to bite it. I also want to sniff it, kiss it, lick and nuzzle it as I sit behind you on the sofa with my legs wrapped round your hips, one hand steadily rubbing your ever-hardening cock.

Incidentally, the back of the neck is one of the reasons why fucking guys in the ass can be so spectacular – if you have a guy lying on his front, you get a stunning view of his neck as you push yourself into him.

This is one reason why I try to avoid hugging guys I’m not sleeping with – being that close to their neck just feels pervy, like I’m violating them with my thoughts.

No matter who you are, if you hug me I will take deep breaths in – sampling exactly what your neck smells like and what it feels like to rest my face there. Out of courtesy I’ll refrain from actually licking it, but I’ll probably be imagining what it would be like to bury my face in it while we fuck.