Disclaimer/warning to readers: I don’t want to offend anyone who is interested in these practises or takes part in the broad spectrum of the BDSM lifestyle. I know some of my readers are and do, so I want to make this clear. Horses for courses and all that!
I’ll say straight up that I’m not into BDSM or kink. For a few months, I joined the small and distinctly cliquey polyamory scene in my town, and I was definitely in the minority as someone who does not identify as kinky or part of the BDSM scene.
On the spectrum, I can have fun with kink and role play but the moment anyone mentions hot wax, humiliation or hard limits, I’m outta there.
The allure of BDSM has never been clear to me. I have always held an inherent revulsion for deviant sexuality and anything that involves pain or genuinely seeking to dominate or abuse or hurt another person – even if they ask for it.
To me, sexuality should be warm, connecting and mutually pleasurable – it might be animalistic but in an authentic and deeply human way. But hey, that’s just me and I accept that the way folk get their kicks has vast and unplumbed depths.
Over to Wikipedia for a minute:
“The term BDSM …is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism). BDSM is used today as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.”
Despite the lack of personal appeal, I do believe that consenting adults have every right to explore the shadowy world of kink practices if that is their desire, within the accepted boundaries of safety, sanity and consent.
I learned a lot more than I cared to know about kink through sitting on the sidelines of various poly social media platforms for a few months. In my hometown I got to know a sweet, mostly straight transvestite sub, an emotionally damaged, dummy-sucking ‘little’ and more (large, bearded, male) doms than I could count.
I read articles, skimmed posts, listened to my extremely kinky friend talk about the joys of being cut, whipped or bitten and I tried not to judge or analyse. I took it at face value that some people see kink as “a political way to fuck” that is “complex and requires active, consistent assessment and reassessment.” (Soha Kareem ‘Your 3-step Guide to Practising Non-Oppressive BDSM’ Everyday Feminism July 2015)
In an interview by Cosmopolitan magazine, one male BDSM fan says a common misconception is that BDSM is “super serious and must involve pain or suffering. If things are going on that the participants really don’t want to happen on any level, that’s not BDSM. Some people want to devote their lives to developing an intense master and slave relationship, and others want to be restrained or hurt. Others might want to be pampered, and some really enjoy causing pain. None of these is better or more ‘authentic’ than any other and just because you are interested in one thing doesn’t mean you have to try others.”
Far be it for me to play the wowser if it comes to the sisterhood having a penchant for a spanking or two, or a bit of rough play, as long as she is enacting her fantasy and looking for some escapism. As some women argue, owning your sexuality and expressing your kinks is perfectly aligned with feminism.
“In fact, it takes a real feminist, one who’s comfortable in her own skin and who is aware of her position and power, to ask for fun stuff like this — and enjoy it,” insists writer Amanda Chatel. (Amanda Chatel Your Tango March 2016)
However, it took me by surprise when I found myself being groomed as a Mistress.
I didn’t seek this dubious privilege; it was thrust upon me by Martin, a 21-year-old Canadian submissive with a foot fetish.
Of course, he didn’t announce himself in this way – his communication started in much the same way as many do, with a rather bland ‘hey’ or some such tepid greeting on OK Cupid. Normally I’d delete a request from someone in another country but in this case he looked interesting so I investigated further.
His profile described him as 6 foot 2 inches, skinny, nerdy and working in a food bank after finishing university. There were two photographs of Martin; in one he was looking seriously at the camera and it might have been a studio shot for his resumé. In the other he was bundled up in winter attire in the snow with a mischievous Rowan-Atkinson-esque grin on his face.
We began chatting via OK Cupid and almost immediately there was a disconnect. It wasn’t just the time differences between my city and his across the world, it was as if he didn’t understand basic English, or chose to misinterpret innocent remarks. Despite the jarring nature of our early communication, I was intrigued enough to carry on. I also genuinely enjoy conversations with people and learning about them, particularly if they live somewhere else.
Within the first day he asked, “Do you want to own me?”
This was an entirely new concept to me, and one that made me laugh out loud, as I did a lot of the time while chatting to Martin. I soon uncovered his Mistress-seeking intention. He was a classic submissive, said to be unusual in a man, who wanted (or needed, using his language) to be dominated, ordered around and to be my slave.
I had a few problems with this concept. The first and the most obvious was distance – I was in Australia and he was in Canada, so how exactly was this going to work? The second objection was caused by my ‘vanilla’ morality, which values personal freedom, equality and respect. The last thing I wanted to do was control another human being, or force them into slavery, whether it was virtual or not!
Back to the problem of ‘virtual’ slavery; what was in it for me?
All the things Martin got off on – sucking my toes, giving me a pedicure, licking my feet, sleeping at the foot of my bed, house cleaning and servicing me sexually – were not happening for me in real life. I don’t care what anyone says, ‘virtual’ anything is just not the same.
He told me that he’d been in three sub-dom relationships with women who ranged in age from 18 to 39. A relationship with a 27-year-old had lasted two years and during that time, Martin had lived full-time in a submissive role, wearing a maid’s uniform and performing all household duties such as cooking and cleaning. The union only ended because she was unfaithful to him.
I was curious about this. Given my limited understanding of the psychology of the submissive I wrongly assumed that ‘anything goes’ – that he had no boundaries when it came to humiliation or servitude. I was wrong because infidelity was a big line in the sand for Martin and so he took his maid’s uniform and left.
And here I was being groomed to replace his last Mistress, a fact he meekly admitted to only after extensive questioning (*nods and grins shyly* was a typical response from him).
The rules imposed by Martin were as follows: He will always called me Miss, he will only ever have one Mistress at a time, I have to be ‘kinky’ – being nice, polite or considerate was a turn-off – I need to give him orders before he will do anything, and I need to stimulate his interest in feet (that’s what got his rocks off).
At this point it’s worth exploring some definitions. In this world, Wikipedia defines the term ‘vanilla’ as referring to normative (‘non-kinky’) sex and relationships; the vanilla world being mainstream society outside of the BDSM subculture. The term comes from vanilla icecream being considered the ‘default’ flavour.
“Dominance and submission (also known as D&s, Ds or D/s) is a set of behaviors, customs and rituals relating to the giving and accepting of control of one individual over another in an erotic or lifestyle context.
“Female dominance, female domination, or femdom refers to BDSM relationships …in which the dominant partner is female. Often the dominant woman may be referred to as a Dom, Domme, Femdomme, Domina, or Dominatrix… A female dominant in a mistress/slave relationship is often termed a Mistress, not to be confused with the colloquial usage of mistress as a kept sexual partner without a similarly formalized power relationship…
“Physical contact is not a necessity, and it can even be conducted anonymously over the telephone, email or other messaging systems. In D/s, both parties take pleasure or erotic enjoyment from either dominating or being dominated. Those who take the superior position are called dominants, Doms (male) or Dommes (female), while those who take the subordinate position are called submissives or subs (male or female). Dominatrix is a term usually reserved for a female professional dominant who dominates others for pay.”
I was learning so much from Martin about his world that I could almost tolerate his insistent demands and sulky silences when he didn’t get his way. I discovered that he rarely left the house – whether this was because it was below zero or because he was genuinely a recluse I don’t know, as he wouldn’t take part in any form of conversation that wasn’t directly related to his fantasy.
Hence, chatting about the weather or what he did with his time was off limits. I learned that he didn’t seem to work and spent a lot of time watching television or using his computer. So much for volunteering at a food bank as claimed on his profile.
Enter the Sissymaid
Soon I learned that he also liked to cross-dress and wear a dog collar. Looking back now I can see that Martin claimed most of the ‘typical’ features of being the underdog – the submissive – in a relationship: domestic servitude or consensual slavery, erotic humiliation, sexual slavery, verbal humiliation, fetishes, such as foot, shoe or boot worship, cross-dressing, feminization, and public humiliation. He was, in fact, a classic ‘sissymaid’ – an adult male who dresses in cartoonish female clothing and performs stereotypical female chores such as housecleaning or serving tea.
After only a few days of virtually pandering to Martin’s bizarre desires I started to feel bored. In truth, I was extremely bored but somehow fascinated and curious as to where it would go. It was difficult to think of ways to entertain him. He seemed to stay up all night to ‘chat’ with me and consequently if I left him unattended for a few hours I’d get a verbal rebuke or a passive-aggressive sulk. There were only so many foot baths I could order and I’d discovered that his vocabulary and imagination left a lot to be desired, so any sort of erotic game playing rendered me comatose.
The final straw came when we were chatting one afternoon (here in Australia, in Canada I guess it was late the previous evening.) I made an innocuous remark, as I often did in my attempt to understand what worked for him and what I was supposed to be saying or doing, something to the effect of ‘is that okay?’. He spat back at me that when I said things like that it was a total turn off. Instinctively I froze and recoiled. I quit out of OKC and switched off my phone.
Then I calmly reassessed the situation I’d got myself into. I was getting nothing out of this ‘relationship’. I considered Martin’s desperate claim that he’d fly over to see me to be farcical at best. I thought he looked cute and – at a stretch – in real life it might be temporarily fun to have a willing submissive around the house. But that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Besides, time for a reality dose: I had children around, and Martin lived in Canada.
I ignored Martin for two days and then I logged in to see his messages. There were only a few and it was faintly heart-rending. I could almost imagine his pleading expression and tear-stained face with its deathly white pallor.
“I can’t live without a Mistress,” he said. “Don’t you want to own me anymore?”
I keyed in to explain that I’d had enough of trying to pretend to be something I’m not, that I found being his Mistress tedious and unsatisfying, that there was nothing in it for me – not even the benefits of having a clean house, a meal cooked or a good foot massage.
Surprisingly – or not – he begged me to give him another chance. “I can change!” he whined. So, sigh, I agreed to give him a second chance, but explained that I’d have new rules and if he didn’t want them I’d find my own local sub.
“That’s hot!” he shot back, and I could almost imagine him salivating as he typed. It was still a mystery what turned him on and what he wanted, but I’d laid down the law and he’d agreed to obey. My new rules were:
You must be proactive, resourceful and show initiative
You must not whinge, complain or otherwise demand my presence
You must try to learn the art of intrigue, seduction and creating tension by using language creatively.
In hindsight, rule number three was probably never going to happen. I’d read his Myers Briggs profile and as a big fan of the MBTI, I paid attention to it. He was, in all likelihood, incapable of that kind of creative expression or skill. He did, however, try very hard to please me and he did fulfil number two. I didn’t see the type of change I was after in his behaviour in announcing number one either; this was probably linked with number three and his essential inability to do these things. Someone who craves orders, regularity, control and submission is probably not cut out to be proactive about what his Mistress might like.
We muddled on for another few days and then finally it fizzled out. One evening my time, he seemed lukewarm over giving me a foot massage – normally the high point of his day. I picked up on the lacklustre approach and felt the end was nigh. Sure enough, he didn’t message me again.
I think it’s rare for a Mistress to be dumped but all I felt was relief.
I already had two children; I didn’t want a third, or the responsibility of ordering a grown man around and satisfying his strange whims.
Enter the local sub
A short time later I was approached on Oasis by what seemed to be a reasonably attractive but extremely shy 30-year-old guy from my part of town. He said his named was Trevor. After the first three or four awkward interactions he called me ‘Miss’.
My internal warning signal immediately sounded. “Are you a submissive looking for a dominant woman?” I asked. There was a pause. “Would you still talk to me if I was?” he countered. “Yes, but you’d need to be straight up about it,” I said. He admitted it; yes, he wanted to be my slave.
How did I attract another one like this? Was there something in my face that led men to believe I’d be a good domme? When I asked Trevor why he wanted me, he replied that it was because I was beautiful, sexy, good-looking and that I looked as if I’d like a younger man. I had a little chuckle at this, especially when he mentioned the word cougar.
He wasn’t any good at conversation and most of what he said seemed to be single words or fractured responses demonstrating a very poor grasp of good English. He sent me a dick pic and I firmly told him off, playing the teacher role to perfection. “Don’t you try that again,” I admonished. “Or it’s over with me.”
Over a period of days we chatted inanely back and forth. The fact that he lived close to me was a real bonus and a rarity. He only had the one photo (beware!) and so I built an internal picture of him as a reclusive full-time student who was very short of money and who, I eventually discovered, did not drive. He explained that it was something to do with his poor eyesight.
We arranged to meet on a Sunday in a park because he “wasn’t comfortable” with a cafe. I had only allowed 45 minutes because I was on my way to another date. I wanted to get this first meeting with Trevor over with so I could decide if he was worth time and energy in future.
I was driving there when he texted me that he’d be late because he was “having a fight with his housemate”. As my mind was still grappling with the ridiculously bizarre nature of that remark, he then texted me that his sister had just had a car accident and he needed to go to see her in hospital.
In hindsight, that was the moment I should have hit ‘delete’ and blocked him from my phone and from Oasis. (I was still extremely green in this new world.) However, I left it for a day and texted him that I’d give him one more chance and only one, and that he’d better not stuff things up again. “I don’t want a drama queen boy,” I said, fully getting into the domme role.
Enter the drama queen boy
The sister seemed to make a miraculous recovery and within a few days he was ready to take up my second offer – yes, I was seduced by the photo of the dark-haired, mysterious looking six foot, muscular man of my vivid imagination.
We arranged to meet again in the park near his house. We texted briefly the night before; he was smutty and overtly sexual and so I chastised him again. As we said goodbye, he added, “I love you.” Such was the extent of my fantasy about who he ‘might’ be that I ignored this mind-blowingly preposterous statement.
The next morning while the fog was still lifting and the early morning air still held a distinctly un-summery chill, I sat in my car with full view of the park. My mobile rang, the number was hidden and so I asked who it was.
“It’s Me!” he said, as if I should have known. His voice was odd – high pitched and slightly girly. He told me that he was on his way and would be there in a couple of minutes.
Sure enough, like a hedgehog meandering around a deserted park, someone soon arrived. At first I did a double take – I swear it’s true – and re-examined the sight before me. He was wearing a dirty high-viz yellow jacket and baggy black nylon shorts, from which protruded white, bandy hairy legs. He was certainly not six foot, unless that was the measurement of his circumference. He was balding and as I reluctantly climbed out of my car and walked over to him, I could smell the ripe aroma of unwashed clothes and body odour.
I tried to smile as I greeted him but before I could even do that, he grabbed me in an embrace and pushed his lips to mine. Repelled, I defensively pushed him backwards with both hands and hissed, “Back off!”
He stood there, slightly dejected, but looking as if he deserved it. My mind was reeling – there was not one millimetre of him that conformed to the image he sent me or the picture I had built. I was too confused to think properly, but I managed to blurt out as I gestured to a park bench, “Shall we sit down for a minute?”
I’ve forgotten to mention the piece de resistance. He had no front teeth. What remained of them was a brown and rotting shard that protruded from his top gum. I couldn’t draw my eyes away from this sight, and so, somewhat rudely, I asked, ‘What happened to your teeth?”
“The picture was a few years ago,” he said innocently, as if time had not dulled his good looks and charm. “I got into a fight with a guy who looked at my girlfriend funny.”
I could no longer hide my repugnance, nor feign politeness and good manners. I was itching to leave. I didn’t want to spend even one more second of my time with this person, this imposter.
“Look I know we’ve been talking … but I think you’ve been really dishonest with me. I’m going to go now.”
I announced this while acknowledging in my mind something that I should have suspected all along, especially after the comments about not being allowed to drive, and the inappropriate declaration of love. This guy was not the full pallet of bricks; he was one sandwich short of a picnic, not the full quid.
He passively agreed that he’d been dishonest and slouched off. I felt nothing short of furious; I’d been lied to and had wasted my time. I didn’t feel one bit sorry for Trevor, despite his pleas of loneliness and wanting a relationship “where people take care of each other”.
He’d pretended to be someone he was not and in the meantime, he’d sent uninvited photos of his genitals. Worse, I’d indulged in a fantasy with a stranger, who this time really was a fake. I felt sick to my stomach.
As I drove home, thoughts bounced around in my head; what I’d said to him, what we’d shared. It was a blunt shock to come face to face with the reality of how this situation could have panned out. He didn’t seem remotely dangerous, just shy and forlorn, but he could have been and though we’d been in a public setting, we were alone in the park and he could have done anything.
It was a sobering experience and one that made me re-think every connection with a person online. The wise words of a friend hold true in this world – you don’t really know someone, no matter how long you’ve been talking to them online, until you meet them face to face.
There are many tales I could share about BDSM, but that’s really not my world nor my story. I may never understand it, but that’s okay. I also don’t want to suggest that ‘Trevor’ was a genuine sub; he was probably someone who liked the idea of being bossed around or taken care of. This second story is really one about the possibilities online of disguising your identity and lying about who you are. It’s not exactly catfishing, but there’s a lot in common with that odious practice. There is a part of me that does genuinely feel sorry for people like Trevor, but there’s no easy answer to the quest for love and acceptance – no matter our appearance or status.
Since publishing this article I came across this most excellent article on the value of consensual kink practices for trauma survivors. I thought it was worth sharing.
This article here is also a good one to read about the messages behind the 50 Shades hype and what it teaches viewers/readers about relationships.
And this article about the sex scenes portrayed in 50 Shades is also very informative about female sexuality generally, and how the movies specifically, portray disturbing untruths that continue to disadvantage women in sexual relations.
Here is a funny and illuminating Periodic Table of Kink.