This is our truth, tell us yours
I am, according to some who know me, a dominant. A dom. Someone whose opinion I value calls me master, or sir. All of this because of how I like to have sex, or because of the things I like to do in a sexualized context.
If you’re writing a profile for yourself on a sex related website you’re expected to categorize yourself. Male or female, gay or straight or bi, dom or sub, top or bottom. It’s a useful kind of shorthand if what you expect to do is have lots of sex with lots of people who are window shopping for sex with more enthusiasm than care.
When I started recognizing my own sexuality submissive was an adjective, not a noun. Part of my struggle was to understand that the role I enjoyed and understood was also recognizable to others.
That struggle to understand that my sexuality was comprehensible to others was a lengthy process. It was made harder, not easier, by the desire of others to fit my sexuality into their frames of reference. If I had sex with other men I must be gay. Except I didn’t conceive of it in that way, and didn’t fit their framework. My sex life began with me discovering sex as a way of being alive, connecting with people; their gender was, frankly, irrelevant. As I made sense of what my preferences were they coalesced not around gender but around behaviour; I wished to have sex with those who would let me lead, and who would help me comprehend the sensuality of pain.
How do I make sense of that? Simple. My experience of violent or painful sport was that it was deeply sensuous, that I was physically aroused by the memory and experience of it. I would finish a ten mile run and climb in the bath and experience an overwhelming desire to masturbate, to link the physical and the sexual.I discovered, along the way, that others wanted to explore that space, those places where your mind goes when your body is experiencing physical extremes of effort and pain.
Do I ever ponder if my early experiences of sex, when I was not in charge, but grateful enough to ignore that it was not exactly what I wanted, coloured my later preference for being in charge? Not seriously. I’m not sure what purpose that knowledge would serve; I have no desire to be other than I am, and no desire to change the path I’ve walked.
I do ponder though about the way in which I refused to join the clubs that were open to me. I had sex with men, but was not gay. I had sex with women, but didn’t entirely fit in with the straight lifestyle. Looking back I realize that there was a certain arrogance in refusing to subordinate my sexual identity to other people’s labels. I didn’t stop being gay – I simply stopped having sex with men as I reached a point in my life where women could be found who would also fit into my way of having sex.
When I discovered the online BDSM communities I found it easy to play on their edges, to meet people and to talk to them about sex. And, frankly, I got sick of having to explain that yes, I was a dom, but no, I had nothing but contempt for Gorean strutures or Old Guard protocols. Just as, when I was younger, I preferred straight acting men who cross dressed in secret to the beautifully turned out submissive men who hung around with the leather and denim set. Even the straightest of bank managers could turn into a rebel with his wife’s knickers under his suit in a way that a clone with a credit card worth of leather and toys could never, to me, understand.
Mainly though I was having sex with those men in my younger life because they would submit, not because they were men. In the process though they could be who and whatever they wanted to be, provided that person submitted and enjoyed whatever happened. And we are talking about a time when intelligent women who dissented from feminism and were willing to test the boundaries of sex were rarer than hens teeth.
Now though I’m less and less convinced that I want to be a dom. Not just because of Christian Grey and Fifty Shades of Shite, and not just because every man who wants to can call himself a dom, and shout the newly self baptized doms’ mantra of ‘On Your Knees Bitch’. I want to leave this club I’ve never really joined because it takes too much time to keep telling people ‘I’m not that kind of dom’, or to keep explaining what’s different about what I do compared to all the other doms who aren’t like me.
I plan on continuing to whip, beat and bind anyone who wants me to, and who I find physically and mentally attractive. Right now one person fills that role. If I wanted someone else to fill that role though, it would not be by advertising my membership of a club where I don’t feel comfortable.
There is no greater arrogance than the claim that we are unique, that we have some special factor that makes us different to all the others. If I’m right, and I’m not that unique, then if I ever need to find someone else to have sex with, they’ll just as likely not be in an online community, trying to make space for themselves within the framework, since the kind of people I like are likely to not want to join that club either..
In my file of stories that could be novels if I had the time is one about a D/S relationship between two members of the Communist Party in the 1920s. It’s a story that is hard to move from concept to narrative because it demands a domme female, and a submissive male, roles I find less easy to write about, and because I fear that the metaphor of the CP as a fixed framework in which people can’t easily make their own lives is too obvious, and too clumsy. Perhaps too, it’s too hard to write because I hope the CP would have been just another club I would have refused to join.
So, after this lengthy gaze at my navel, here is the news. I’m not a dom. I am not a member of the BDSM community. Now pass me that whip and the ball gag – I have a desire to beat someone I really, really like…