This week’s guest blogger is Violet Grey (@v_greyauthor), a submissive feminist. As a straight submissive feminist myself, I’ve often had to deal with people who believe that’s an oxymoron. How can I be feminist yet also enjoy getting spanked by a man? Over the years I’ve given different answers, refining and explaining as I learn more about my own sexual desires and the ways in which the world tries to police them. I’m delighted to welcome Violet Grey today to give her own answer, as well as kick back against some of the toxic ideas that we need to challenge when we’re thinking about submission within relationships.
Note: this post will discuss a few concepts that may be disturbing to some of you, including the ‘TradWife’ movement, religious policing of bodily autonomy and marital rape.
I’m a submissive feminist – don’t police how I fuck
I’ll openly admit, when the craze of Fifty Shades of Grey came about in the early 2010s, my first thought was: ‘Well, that’s fifty years of feminism out the window.’
However, I was an impressionable (and very much virginal) 18-year-old at the time. Up until that point I had lived a pretty sheltered existence when it came to sex. I’d never had a boyfriend, I’d never watched porn and refused to kiss anyone in a game of spin the bottle.
In hindsight, I don’t regret those boundaries of mine at the time. However, hindsight is a beautiful thing when I say my thoughts on consensual sexual submission – that it was somehow not ‘feminist’ – were a tad misinformed. Not to mention hypocritical, as I’d had fantasies of that kind as well.
I am submissive and feminist
Despite discussion around kinky sex, BDSM etc becoming more normalised, the topic of female sexual submission is still controversial. Some believe that female submission, especially when it involves sadomasochism, perpetuates violence against women and is therefore anti-feminist.
With a few years more life, and sexual experience under my belt, I can safely declare something that would shock my 18-year-old self: I love being submissive in bed… and I’m still a feminist.
Mentioning the word ‘feminist’ and I can already hear the groans. Oh God, you’re not a feminist are you? So let me clarify a few things: No, I don’t harbour internalised misogyny (trust me, I’ve had the therapy). I do not hate men, far from it. I love men. I believe in equality for all genders and that everyone should be able to do what is best for them. I believe in tackling issues across the board. That includes gender bias in family courts, stigma around men’s mental health and the astonishing lack of support and sheltered housing for male survivors of domestic and sexual violence. When I say equality, I mean it.
So I’m a feminist who enjoys submissive kinky sex. What does that mean exactly? Well, exactly that. I simply enjoy it. Given that my boyfriend enjoys being dominant as well, it’s a win-win. I love it when he takes charge in the sack, especially when things get a little kinky. I love when he spanks me, has my hair wrapped around his fist, calling the shots. I also love it when we switch the roles and he says he wants me to fuck him however I want. Be right back, melting at the thought…
Considering the ‘BDSM perpetuates violence against women argument’ if you’re looking from the outside, I can understand why you might think that. A woman enjoying being spanked by a man? Who would want that, surely? Well, quite a few people actually. Me being one of them. Consensually and safely of course.
Practicing feminist BDSM
While I’m certainly no BDSM expert, my experiences of BDSM and fellow kinksters have taught me the cardinal principles are what some may consider, in fact, very feminist. Ever heard of safe, sane and consensual (SSC)? Or risk aware consensual kink (RACK)? Considering certain kinks and curiosities many have i.e. rope bondage or higher risk kinks like needle play, safety is imperative.
You need to do your research and know what you’re doing. Not just for you, but for your partner(s). There’s particular emphasis on thorough negotiation: what will and won’t go on during play, limits, the use of safewords and aftercare. And of course, clear informed consent. A few leaves I personally feel the regular world could take out of the kinky book.
But even with that information, the acts themselves make some uncomfortable and that’s fine. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing and that’s fine. Considering the long-running ‘women must be subservient to men in all things’ concept, it can be difficult to shake. Policing of sexuality is nothing new. Religion, cultures, politics, they’ve all done it. However, what we need to recognise is that your personal sexual desire is not only a broad spectrum, but apolitical and asocial.
However, although I believe your private sex life is apolitical, there are some people who believe that their own relationship models should be taken up by everyone else. And it’s here where we start to hit some quite serious problems, especially if that model genuinely believes that women should be submissive to men in all things.
Recognising toxic models
For example, the #TradWife movement has many women who are looking to have traditional marriages and be homemakers. If you want to be a stay-at-home wife I have nothing against that if that’s what works for you.
However, there are certain individuals within that movement whose words and teachings set very dangerous precedents, including white supremacy and normalising abusive marriages. If you’re interested in female submission, it’s easy to stumble across work that doesn’t just say ‘it’s OK to choose to submit’ but ‘every woman should submit’ – and that’s troubling. One in particular I came across (whose name I shall not mention) that in all but name, advocates marital rape and believes birth control is in itself, a form of abortion, to name but a few things. Not good. Marriage does not equal consent. Birth control is important and very necessary for many. It goes without saying that racism needs to die. So when doing those good ol’ Google searches, please be discerning about what you read.
This rise in women advocating that we should all to submit to our husbands is especially troubling considering how women’s, and people assigned female at birth’s, sexualities and bodily autonomy are still being policed to this day in many countries (most notably, the ongoing restrictions on abortion laws in the USA, with some terrifying, if not medically impossible proposals, as was the case in Ohio).
Autonomy, safety and consent
If we wish to be more sex positive, that to me means finding what is sex-positive for you on the foundations of autonomy, safety and consent. If that for you means saving yourself for marriage, it might not be my cup of tea but more power to you. If that means being sexually dominant with your equally submissive boyfriend? Go for it. Or perhaps you are asexual and have no interest in having any sexual relations whatsoever. That’s completely fine. It’s your decision and your choice.
I can’t tell you why I like being the less dominant partner. I just do! Long story short, it’s not up to me to tell you what you can and can’t enjoy and vice versa. As long as you’re being safe between consenting adults, you do you. That’s what being feminist is to me: having the autonomy to share my sexuality with the man I love.
Don’t police how I fuck.