You’ve got the entirely wrong idea. Kink is a very different paradigm that you might imagine, and when it’s done as its intended, it’s a much healthier one than the typical world because it’s built entirely on consent, mutual respect, boundaries, and pleasure. The dominant cannot transgress boundaries at will — that is the antithesis of BDSM culture, and all of those boundaries are negotiated and talked about before play ever begins. Although it’s more typical for males to be the dominants, that’s not always the case. Ask any professional dominatrix and she’ll tell you that a lot of her male clients are high-powered men who have to always be in control who enjoy the relaxation of giving that over to someone else in a safe environment.

I’m a switch, which means sometimes the dominant and sometimes the submissive. It takes a lot of effort and energy to be the dominant and although that can be fun, being the submissive is like a mini-vacation from my stressful life and I actually prefer that most of the time. And instead of my power and body autonomy being taken from me, as is routinely done in the regular world, I am able to freely and consensually temporarily give those up to someone I trust in what feels to me like a profoundly feminist act. Ultimately it is the submissive who holds most of the power — even as he or she gives up control. That person is the one who determines the rules and boundaries.

“Submissiveness is not equivalent to weakness, doormat, gullible, or naïve. Submission is a study in humility and self-control. Humility requires confidence. Self-control requires strength. Confidence and strength are empowering.

Both contrary and complementary to each other, the submissive and Dominant are yin to each other’s yang. Though it may seem on the surface that one is serving the other — in the best of situations each are catering to the needs of the other.”

Submission can actually engender power: realizing that you have something to give, and that you are capable of mastering your own will to give it up the way your top wants it instead of the way you think s/he should want it, can inspire pride: not the false pride of an inflated ego, but the true pride that, like humility, comes from knowing the depths of yourself.

- William Henkin

“In the BDSM scene, partners explicitly negotiate specific sex acts beforehand, rather than assuming it’s kosher until somebody says no. Because BDSM can be risky and push people’s comfort limits, those who practice it don’t just assume a partner will be okay with a certain act just because they haven’t said ‘no’. ‘Everybody who plays BDSM games has their own ways of keeping themselves safe, and there are different community standards which different people subscribe to,’ says Blake. ‘One of the mantras that people use is Safe, Sane and Consensual, which is the idea that any riskier activities are done in a way that minimizes risk and is as safe as possible.

‘Sane refers to people’s abilities to give informed consent, so: are they in a state of mind where they’re able to look after themselves? Are they sober, for example? Are they going through a crisis in their life right now where they’d be inclined to make bad decisions? ‘Another system people use is Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, which makes slightly more space for risky activity, if they consent.’ BDSM is a subculture where consent and negotiation are normalized and accepted. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that compared to vanilla people, the kink community had significantly lower levels of benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, and victim blaming.” (emphasis mine)

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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