You can be your strongest self AND a power bottom

From the moment I met Casey*, it was clear that they were a powerhouse. They ran a non-profit, were involved with leather community events, managed a Facebook group for queer survivors that had thousands of members, and kept up an amazing vegetable garden. I saw them work a room at a kinky happy hour, and I was impressed. They were charming, funny, generous, and so welcoming — and it wasn’t even their event. Casey just naturally exudes confidence and ease, and it’s infectious.

I immediately thought they were a top.

“Everybody always thinks that,” Casey told me later that night, sitting next to me at the bar, both of us waiting for another drink. “I can’t tell you how many times bottoms have tried to pick me up. But I’m not. I’m submissive. But people don’t see that in me, because they expect submissives to be cowering in the corner waiting for a dominant to tell them what to do.”

Casey was so eloquent, speaking about their desires for submission. (And you know me, I’m a sucker for somebody who can use words to articulate what they want and how they work. Yum.) But still, I went away from that thinking, Casey is absolutely right … there is a huge difference between having a submissive personality and having the desire to submit to someone in bed. And I played into those social expectations, too, by assuming their outgoing behavior meant that they were a top.

(I try really hard not to assume people’s power orientation, though it’s pretty much human nature to speculate and put others into categories we understand. I try to lead with questions, rather than assumptions, and to keep any surprise to myself, as best as I can.)

I’ve heard this complaint about being assumed to have passive personalities from lots of other submissive folks, too: from leather girls who are worried that their job is too high-powered, that daddies are all scared off by it. From subs who are convinced that no one can ever tell they are submissive, because they are in charge of too many social groups. From bois who believe deeply that their masculinity will always be read as dominance, and that they will always have to explain that they’re not a top.

I call it …

The Bad-Ass/Bottom Paradox

Based on kinky stereotypes, it seems like being a bad-ass and being a bottom are contradictory. But they’re not — just like being a sweetheart and being a top are not contradictory. Having a core of concern and emotional care for someone else makes that person even better qualified to be a top, just like having a strong sense of self, direction, and desire makes someone an even better bottom.

Submissives are often seen as weak, passive little creatures who don’t have a brain of their own, and whose head gets filled with their dominant’s every whim. Or, perhaps worse, as doormats who are being taken advantage of, controlled, and manipulated.

While this might be true for some folks — toxic relationship behavior and abuse can and does happen in D/s relationships, just like any other — most submissives I know are actually bad-asses. They aren’t empty vessels; their heads are full of managing their own lives — car payments, asking for vacation time off, calendaring the next social events, keeping up with knitting trends on Pinterest (and often, parts of their dominant’s lives, too).

On the other hand, I heard from Jake*, a queer boy who took Submissive Playground, that he was pretty sure he was submissive, but he’d never done much psychological play, though he craved it, because he thought he’d have to give up parts of himself, or make himself smaller in order to be “good” at it.

No. On the contrary.

I actually think submission can help make someone even more of a bad-ass than they already are. Healthy, functional submission requires knowing oneself, holding boundaries, communication, being vulnerable about desires, having good recovery skills when things go wrong — and so many more advanced communication skills. Folks who do have submissive personalities can find themselves gaining inner strength, self-worth, and fortitude after exploring submission deeper.

Submission does not require someone to make yourself small, to turn off your desires, to cater to someone else’s every whim (you know, not unless you negotiate that — but that’s way down the line. Or, way up the power escalator**). It really is possible to be a total bad-ass, and turn your ass up to get spanked, or turn over authority to someone you trust and love. In fact, it’s not only possible — it’ll give you a leg up.

* Not their real names

** As related to the relationship escalator, I use the term “power escalator” to mean that in relationships based on authority exchange or power play that often, both parties assume that as trust builds, they will play with more and more power exchange, but that is not always what the people ultimately want. Stopping anywhere along the ‘power escalator’ is valid, and going all the way to total power exchange 24/7 M/s is not the most “real”, or better, or any more valid than any other place.

Thanks to Crash Pad Series for the image, from Episode 149 with Alani Pi and Nikki Darling


Like this? Want more? Submissive Playground registration opens Monday, September 19th. Download the free Submissive Starter Kit for a sample submissive journal prompt from the course, as well as a video and kinky desire map.

The Case For Not Being A Good Submissive

Pretty much all the books (not that there are very many) about the theories of submission, and pretty much all the writings of various bloggers and folks on various message boards throughout the internet, say similar things, usually starting with: obey your dominant. Put your wants and desires after those of your dominant. That’s what submitting is. Don’t you want to be a “good” submissive?

But there are a couple of essential steps missing in that formula.

Obedience is, of course, important. Open defiance is often enough to get a submissive released from service entirely. I’ve known a Master who had a slave for ten years, and one day, the slave acted up, and the Master ended it, just like that. While Masters and dominants will have a variety of different reactions to that particular scenario (I probably would have sent them away for 24 hours with some assignments to cool off, for example), the point remains: obedience is important.

Don’t get me wrong— minor disobedience, in play kinds of ways, can be fun, and make more friction between folks. It can instigate more sadism in a dominant, and it can be used as “funishment”—faux-punishments which are more for pleasure than because someone actually did something wrong, like, “Oh look how wet your cunt is, you slut, I’m going to beat you now.” Yep, that is good fun stuff. Sometimes folks call this brattiness, though being a ‘brat’ is a debated hot topic in the D/s worlds, with many dominants saying they would never want a brat. Brattiness can be a really good tool — especially if dominant likes it, or if it creates more excuses for play. That kind of “disobedience” is more about obediently playing the game that’s been set up, and it’s legit.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the importance of a submissive doing what they are told to the best of their ability in the D/s context.

The submissive has to be able to mess up without serious blows to their self-esteem, value, and submissive identity.
But what about those times when an order is given, and the submissive thinks they completely understand it, and they go along steps one-two-thee and present the completed task to the dominant, and that was not at all what the dominant had in mind? What about those times when the dominant is completely unclear about the orders, but just doesn’t have time to explain themself thoroughly, and expects the submissive to fill in the gaps themself? What about when a submissive thinks they are doing precisely the thing the dominant would want, since they have wanted that thing before, but is not taking into account these new factors in this particular scenario?

It’s not open defiance, intentionally being disobedient, but it isn’t perfect obedience. Regardless of who is at fault (and finding the ways that both the dominant and the submissive can make sure this doesn’t happen again is perhaps more useful than finding the fault), the dominant often responds with disappointment, and the submissive often responds with deep sadness that they didn’t get it right.

Because that is most often what submissives want, right—to get it right, to be good.

When we find ourselves in that scenario—and we will, if we play with power dynamics, eventually be in that scenario—we have to allow the submissive some wiggle room with being “good.” The submissive has to be able to mess up without serious blows to their self-esteem, value, and submissive identity. Now, I’m not saying that the submissive shouldn’t be punished, or there shouldn’t be an increased amount of discipline next time, but hopefully those things can be done in ways that build up the submissive’s self-value and self-worth, and don’t tear it down.

No matter how much humiliation fetish we may have, having a submissive with no self-worth is bad for everyone. A submissive with no self-worth can stop trying, can stop expecting amazing things of themself, and can stop believing in their value to their dominant. At the core, it is best to have submissives who believe themselves to be strong, capable people.

Submissives who are strong, capable people also tend to have needs, wants, and desires. We all do, of course—dominants are expected to constantly mine their needs, wants, and desires, and find ways to use the submissive to meet those. But submissives are often expected to override their own needs, wants, and desires in deference to their dominant’s. This is often called being a “good” submissive.

For example, there might be some orgasm control rules in place, where the submissive can only have so many orgasms, or none at all. It can be really hot to deny them what they want: “Oh, I see you writhing around, trying to rub your dick on the sheets. Are you trying to come? You know you’re not allowed, little pet; you will get in so much trouble if you do that.” The need for sexual satisfaction is of course valid, but part of sexual satisfaction, for this particular submissive, is being denied and teased with what they want.

There can be other, less sexual, examples of denial, too; if the dominant doesn’t like a particular food, perhaps the submissive never has it at home (there are never mushrooms or cilantro in my household, for example). This is, generally, not a big deal, especially not at first. But denial of something pleasurable, even something the submissive just desires, and doesn’t “need,” can wear them down over time.

When we’re talking about 24/7 relationships, especially authority exchanges which are also primary partnerships, the submissive does have needs, wants, and desires. That’s just a part of reality, a part of being human. The submissive does have core values and core kinks which, if they don’t get met, at least sometimes, they may start feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and even unloved.

The dominant role has many components, but one of them is to monitor and support the submissive’s fulfillment and satisfaction. Many submissives are fulfilled and satisfied by being controlled and denied, but long term denial can break down a relationship. A dominant must pay attention to the submissive’s needs, wants, and desires in order to bolster the longevity of the relationship.

The submissive does have core values and core kinks which, if they don’t get met, at least sometimes, they may start feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and even unloved.
This means that the submissive must communicate their needs, wants, and desires—which means the submissive must know what their needs, wants, and desires are. Instead of shoving them aside when they come up, pushing them away, tamping them down like a “good” submissive is “supposed to,” pay attention. Put a little highlighter mark over them in your brain when it comes up randomly throughout the day, and make a list in your submissive journal. Perhaps you’ll notice some patterns. Perhaps you’ll identify something deep in you that is vying to get out.

Depending on the D/s arrangements that you have, it may be up to your dominant what they do with this information, or it might be your responsibility to assert your needs and boundaries, or to get them met outside of your relationship. My wish for you is that you can both figure out a way to honor your humanity, to acknowledge that submissives (and dominants!) make mistakes, have miscommunications, and differences in styles, and that everyone has needs, wants, and desires that are core to our long-term fulfillment and happiness. Hopefully, the dominant can fold a submissive’s needs into their own, and make them part of the power dynamic—another thing for the submissive to, enthusiastically, obey.


Psst …. Submissive Playground is happening again in October 2016. Registration opens soon!

Unapologetic Need

This is an excerpt from the story/novel I’ve been working on all month, still untitled, which is an M/s novel following Master Jack Harrison as he’s searching for the woman submissive/slave of his dreams, and begins dating two women. This is the first scene with one of them, Addie.

I come in my pants despite myself. Sticky against the seam of my jeans, I try to collect myself before Addie notices, before she asks questions, before she thinks herself responsible for such an anomaly. I pause, on guard as if I’m unsure if a predator is waiting around the corner, frozen, but she doesn’t seem to notice. My orgasms often arrive without much fanfare or demand for acknowledgment, so I suppose I have learned to make them gently small and inconspicuous. I breathe with the clarity of someone recently wrung out, recently spent, recently thrilled by the capacity of my own body, and I turn my attention back to Addie. She’s still sucking away at my nipple, her hand against the thin, wispy hairs of my chest, coming through it with her fingers as her cunt throbs under my hand. I continue working my fingers inside her, three now and we’re getting to the thick of my hand, I wonder if she can take any more.

She seems to read my mind. “More,” she whispers, moving her mouth just far enough from my chest that she can form the word. The way she sucks is sweet, so sweet, and I relax into the curl of her spine around my chest, my left arm curved against her back as my right hand works inside her.

I didn’t mean to come. I don’t usually. But her mouth is expert, working against my nipple like she’s pulling milk from it, like she’s suckling me dry, and though I have rare interest in my nipples being touched, let alone sucked, she gets to me and my dick gets hard, I rub myself against my jeans at just the right angle such that it barely takes anything, I come easily, I make a wet spot on the crotch of my jeans and have to compose myself.

“Addie … goddamn, girl,” I mutter as her cunt swallows another finger of mine, the fourth now, pushing up against her hole where the wide of my hand is too much, unsure if I’ll ever be able to get more than this exactly right here inside, but very glad to be feeling every inch of her that I am currently. She is stocky and square and not full of a lot of curve, but her body is solid and sweet and I cannot get enough of her. I feel ravenous, my mouth waters, I want to swallow her, I ache to be inside her. That shouldn’t happen so quickly, but what can I say, it does, it is. It has barely been hours. I want … something. I want, I ache, I crave. How glorious it is to have such desires, to have such an appetite.

I like being hungry even more than I like being satisfied.

It isn’t the way she is working what we usually think of as one’s lips—the pillowy, slightly redder color of skin precisely around the mouth—so much as how she is working the soft, soft inner tissues of her mouth, those just above and below her lips. She isn’t pursuing so much as devouring my chest, and I can feel her hunger, too, her sense of ravenousness, her desire becoming an aching need. I want to fulfill it. I want something even bigger that will produce even more that I can shove in to her mouth. Perhaps that is precisely the appeal of a blow job to the point of choking: passing the point of ravenous desire and moving on to the point of being so over fed that they literally can’t take any more. I crave rough blow jobs the same way I crave mascara running down a girl’s face and telling her what she can or cannot eat. Not because I care about what she eats (honestly I kind of don’t) but because I want to control every single thing that gets inserted into her body. I want that level of decision. I want her to give herself over to me, and I want her to want to.

This time, she does not choke. She suckles gently and sweetly and more vulnerably than I would have otherwise let someone do, but she asked. She begged, really. Requested nicely as she simultaneously toyed with the hair on my chest and I could not say no. No, that is not true—I could say no, but I suddenly didn’t want to. I have known Addie for such a short time, and yet I am already breaking my own rules to feel her tongue, to feel her suck. This is not going to go well.

“Please, something in my mouth, please can I suck, please.”

I crave the way she begs as much as I crave anything else. Something about the unapologetic need. Something about the ways that I wish I could have that need of my own so openly, so purely, so exposed. I admire my submissives. I wish I could receive, could beg, could strip myself bare, as often as they do.

Four fingers might be as much as I get inside her. She is wet, lube pouring from my hand as she tightens and squeezes it out of her hole, hand working in and out of her as slowly as I can. I’m in no rush. I would have her stay here for a long, long time, if I had my way. Her cunt is tight but open, sometimes the muscles balloon and open even wider, a request for more, for my hand, for another date when we can relax again, differently, and maybe she will really be able to take it. All the way. In to the wrist, up the forearm, to the elbow. I don’t want to plow past the resistance of her muscles, but I do, I want to force myself in, to push her too far, for her to be sore tomorrow. I don’t. I can’t, not yet. Maybe someday.

I think she was surprised when I offered my nipple. Perhaps she was expecting my finger, my dick—something less vulnerable, less feminine. But I wanted to feel her mouth. I wanted to feel her mouth, and truthfully that was the best way to do it. The sweetness of having her curled up against my chest is something I would not have expected to desire or permit, but somehow it all came together and now I can’t get enough.

“Is it okay, can I ….” Suddenly, Addie is shy. Reaching her hand down toward her cunt, she looks up at me with big brown eyes, mouth still poised, talking despite her lips and tongue being full of me.

“Do it.” More of a command than permission. I thrill at the shudder that goes through her body at my words. She starts rubbing her clit in pretty little circles and it doesn’t take long before she’s pulsing, I can feel it from the inside. I work my fingers deeper, a little harder against her upper wall, in small circles around her cervix. She contracts, releases, tenses and holds; I can tell she’s close. She’s sucking a little harder, holding her mouth open, tongue working against my nipple. I won’t come again, I tell myself, I won’t, I won’t. But honestly, she could make me. If I just permitted myself, I’m certain it could happen easily.

I want inside her. I want to feel it when she comes. I don’t just mean my hands, I mean my dick, my hips thrusting against her, feeling us moving in rhythm, maybe we could even come together.

She starts whimpering. Convulsing. I can’t wait to feel her come.

She’s so tight, tightening to the point of bursting open, and that’s when I know she is coming, right now, right as my fingers work against the ringed muscles of her cunt and her mouth opens hungrily and she pushes her legs apart, thighs shaking.

“Mmmmmm,” she moans, humming low and long against my chest, eyes fluttering closed as she collapses in that post-orgasm release. I let my hand slowly go still and hold it against her cunt, running my other palm against the fine, sweet skin of her back and shoulders, everything I can reach as she curls and rubs against me.

She stays quiet and soft against me for a few long minutes, breathing and twirling her fingers through the hair on my chest, tracing the curves of my muscles, writing secret messages with one fingertip.

When she stirs, finally raising her eyes to my face and smiling, I drop my chin down to get my lips against hers and kiss her deeply. “Okay?” I ask.

She nods, kissing me back gently, her mouth supple and sweet. “Yes … thank you.”

I smile back. She feels so easy, so comfortable here in my arms, like she’s been here for a long time and my body has conformed to her shape. She sighs happily, snuggling against me a little more before she slides out of my embrace and off of the bed.

“Master Harrison, sir,” Addie drops to her knees, averting her eyes, though stealing glances up at me to punctuate her words. Her hands are folded neatly in her lap. “Please, would you permit me, sir … could I please lick your boots, to express my appreciation?”

I shiver, a thrill of dominance and devotion and lust down my spine. It makes me breathless, leaves my chest constricted and a little confused, unsure if I deserve this, unsure if she is playing, unsure if she is really feeling what she is expressing. I’m not sure what to do with my hands, my arms, my body, even now, as she’s kneeling and looking down, and it makes me feel unprepared, like I am not ready for a ‘real’ submissive, whatever that is. But the thrill of her below me is addictive, and at the same time clicks into a piece of me that has been aching to be satisfied.

“You may,” I say, sitting up on the bed, then perching myself on the edge of it, boots firmly planted on the floor. I hadn’t meant to leave them on, really, but it just happened when we got going and I didn’t want to stop to remove them.

She poises herself precisely and bends at the hips, knees widening as she bends, opening her mouth to stretch her tongue as far as it will go. She licks with wide, broad strokes, eager, as if she hadn’t just been sucking for an hour but instead was famished and only the leather of my boot would satiate her. I don’t usually permit my boots to be licked. I’m too particular. Too picky about precisely how someone does it. They never quite get all the right places, but instead focus on the toe or whatever is easy for them to reach. Me, I want the insole, the heel, the top of the foot, the toes, all to be paid attention to. To neglect any of those is to neglect to do a thorough job, or perhaps worse—that attention is not being paid.

There is something so vulnerable about having my boots licked. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s that this part of me that is so important and integral is finally getting some attention, this part that is usually just for working, for walking and running, the part of me that is the first line of defense against the ground. It feels like it is finally being acknowledged, finally being recognized as some valuable, sensual part, and that much spotlight is uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because my feet just happen to be an incredibly strong erogenous zone for me; for whatever reason, I’m just wired that way. Receiving touch and that much pleasure always feels vulnerable to me, especially with a woman I’ve just met. It catches me off-guard, makes me wonder what other things about her will catch me off-guard. I comfort myself through control and precision and predictability … perhaps that is why I like power exchange relationships so much, though they are not a guarantee for those things, as much as I would like them to be. Like any relationships, life is complex and interesting and ever-changing, and nothing is certain, even when you agree it will be. Perhaps that too is why I like power exchange, because the intimacy and vulnerability makes things even more loaded and intense, and the ability to hold control and precision and predictability in this particular configuration will be revealed quickly.

Plus, I get to see her on her knees, bending, opening her mouth, working her jaw around something too-big and watching her struggle.

Addie keeps her hands behind her back as if they are tied, which makes her struggle just a little more with control, her abs and back working hard to keep her body in the place she wants it. In the place I want it.

Whatever the reason, boot licking makes me high, and hard. It sends electric shivers up my legs, up my spine, shooting out my fingertips, out of every hair on my head. Intense and sudden and full of zaps of energy. Even through the leather—perhaps especially through the leather—the sensation is clear, honed, focused.

I close my eyes for a moment and everything else falls away, all I feel is the way her tongue and lips work against the leather against my foot. She moves her hands to rub my ankle and calf with her palms, working even more tension out of my muscles. It’s almost more than I can bear. I want to kick her, to topple her over, to press my boot into her chest. Patience, patience. We’ll get there.

The sensation washes over me, the tension drains from me, and my dick gets harder. This girl, goddamn. I drink in everything I can, every kiss from her lips, every touch of her tongue to my leather. She sinks into me, in through the skin of the leather boots, in through the skin of my feet. I feel spent, wrung out, when she gently retracts her mouth and puts both of her hands on my boots, looking up at me to grin.

“Girl, get up here,” I reach forward for her hair, her honey-colored hair just past her shoulders, thin and wispy and straight, but more than enough to get my fist around and pull. She inhales and rises, teetering to her feet and falling against me as I pull her. She is small, curvy, light-skinned, even whiter than I am. Shorter than me by more than a few inches. Master X would laugh at me; I have such a body type, this plump round body on a compact frame. I don’t rule people out based on their frame, but somehow the chemistry I feel is very much related to a particular type. I have dated people with all kinds of body types—tall, slender, model types with the longest legs; heavyset girls whose weight it feels even more amazing to move around when they are bigger than me; even a few athletes, with ropy muscles and hardened bodies. It’s not intentional, on my part, but I’ve never had a long term partnership with somebody other than this petite and plump kind of body. Something satisfies me about the curviness of Addie’s body, the compactness; she’s in shape, pays attention to how her body feels to her, and does physical things, but that isn’t her singular focus in life, and she likes to eat, too. Or at least, that’s my guess about her body. My projections, I suppose. I don’t actually know her body like that yet.

She giggles as I pull her on to me and kiss her deeply, her mouth all warm from working over the leather. She settles her head on the nook of my chest and neck and sighs. “Thank you, sir,” she says. “For letting me kiss your boots.”

“You don’t have to thank me. But, uh, you’re welcome. You did a good job.” I stroke her hair. She straddles my hips, naked, her cunt hot against my zipper. “Are you hungry? How about I make us a snack.”

She nods. “Sir, if you don’t mind, may I … would it be alright if I showered?”

I consider. Not a usual request exactly, but she is sweaty and covered in come, so I can understand how she’d be more comfortable. “Sure, I don’t mind. I don’t mind you dirty and smelling like sex, either.”

Addie giggles. We stir, sitting up together, and she gives me one more sweet look of submission, her hair falling into her face, before she kisses me one more time and hops up out of my lap. I stand, catching my balance for a moment before walking to the hallway linen closet and fetching a washcloth and big, fluffy towel—both dark grey—for her to use. She is fussing in her bag and pulls out a brush, starts running it through her hair. “It gets so tangled,” she says, and I can see how there’s a mat at the back of her head. “With hair this fine.”

I nod, watching her. I set the towel down on the dresser next to her and nod to the door that connects the two bedrooms. “That’s the bathroom there. I’m going to make a snack. Is there anything you don’t or can’t eat?”

She shakes her head. “No sir, I eat everything. I don’t eat much meat, but I do eat it sometimes.”

I nod. “Take your time, please. Feel free to use any of the soaps or things that are in there, if you like. Not that you probably want to smell like me. But there’s some plain things in there, too.”

She smiles at the thought of using boy shampoo, coming out of the shower smelling like musk and forest or whatever it is girls think that boys smell like. I head to the kitchen and make up a cheese plate, pulling things out of the fridge and cupboards: some gluten-free crackers that are mostly made of seeds and nuts; a granny smith apple, which I cut into small slivers; and two different cheeses, a manchego and some plain old cheddar that I brought back from a trip to a local dairy last week when I was up in the north bay. Classic and delicious. I arrange it all on a bamboo cutting board haphazardly and grab a cheese knife and two small plates, a couple of napkins. No need to be fancy about it. I open a bottle of a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley and pour myself a taste in a glass. That feels indulgent—the bottle was more than $40 and not one of my everyday drinking wines, but this isn’t just every day. Plus, a glass of really good wine is I suppose my replacement for a cigarette, which is perhaps what I really want, though I no longer partake. I bring the bottle of wine, the cheese board, and the dishes, and go back for the glass of wine. I swallow the taste of wine and it blooms in my mouth like fruit bursting, with hints of chocolate and ash. Bringing my glass, empty, and another empty glass into the living room, I go back again for two glasses of water, and finally collapse on the couch.

It’s a little bit chilly in here, fall in San Francisco being what it is, and I button a few of my shirt buttons back up. It is tight against my belly, and the buttons pull at the fabric just a little, though the shirt fit perfectly this morning. Seems like I always get a little more relaxed by the end of the day. I hear the shower going still and ponder stepping in there with her, soaping up her skin, washing her hair for her. But I can’t, not yet. Maybe someday.

I wonder what her passions are, what she wants to change about her life, what she loves about her life. Who has she been in love with? What kind of birthday cake is her favorite? What does she eat for comfort food? Which authors does she read—because of course she must be a reader, I hope; what’s that John Waters quote: “If you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” But what does she like to read? What does she read for fun, where are her favorite sections of a bookstore or a library to get lost in, what books were formative for her? I want to know so many things about her. I have barely begun to know her. I know she likes whiskey flights, since that’s what she was drinking when I saw her at the bar tonight. I know she can dance—at least the kind of random exciting movements to the hip hop and top 40 that were playing in the bar—and that when songs she likes come on, she urgently feels the need to move. I know at least two of her friends seem nice, who was it who was there with her? Vivian, if I remember right, who was the one who said, “Yeah, she’s available,” with that sparkle in her eyes, when I went up to talk to her as she was ordering another round of drinks. I ordered the same whiskey flight she had and sipped through it, watching her out of the corner of my eye while Dawn and Michael held up the conversation about the latest politics in the Pleasure Society. They want me to get more involved. I’m not sure I want to bother. But meanwhile, the bar had a fundraiser for the current Mr. SF Bootblack, and we figured we would go lend our support. Or at least our drinking money.

When we got to talking, the chemistry was immediate. She was bold and flirtatious and touched my arm and averted her eyes and told silly jokes that made me laugh despite myself, but she got serious when she asked what I was doing later tonight, and when she could see me again.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said. “I’m a … I tend toward the dominant side of things. I’m not sure we’d be a match.”

She looked at me a little puzzled. “Oh I know, Harrison. I know who you are. What makes you think I’m not submissive? Am I being too bold for a proper submissive?” She rolls her eyes, but places her hand on my arm and strokes, just a little. “Your misperceptions about me aren’t actually my problem.”

I’m taken aback. “Oh, is that how it is,” I tease, trying to buy myself some time.

“Indeed it is, sir,” Addie says softly, but also seriously.

“I suppose my misperceptions are your problem, if they get in the way of what you want.” I move a little closer to her and her body responds brilliantly, opening.

“Who says they’re in the way?” she challenges.

I try to backtrack. “So you’re submissive.”

She nods. “I think I know what you’ve been looking for,” she whispers, before she leans in to offer her mouth for a kiss. I take it. It would be rude not to. And besides, I want to. I have had this craving to kiss her since I saw her swirling her hips on the other side of the bar.

It’s not that I thought we wouldn’t be compatible, exactly, I just didn’t want to get my hopes up. At least, I figured it would be a fun one-night stand with a beautiful girl. Maybe we’d find some things in common. Maybe she’d be interested in a few of the things I’m interested in. I’m not sure what she meant when she said she knows what I’ve been looking for, but it was intriguing, I’ll admit. We talked a little more, and when I was ready to pull her into the men’s room for some play, I decided to take her home. Unexpected, even unprecedented. But hey. Maybe it’s the new me. Maybe it’s time for me to make some bolder, more impulsive choices.

By the time Addie gets out of the shower and joins me, I have an idea of at least twenty questions I want to ask. She is wearing my robe, probably the one that was on the back of the bathroom door. “This is so sweet!” she says, piling cheese and crackers and a few slices of apple into one hand and picking up the water glass with the other, then sitting down on the couch eagerly, pulling her legs up underneath her.

“Um, that’s what plates are for,” I say, handing one to her. “Do you want wine?”

“Ohh, yes please,” she answers, setting down her water and popping a slice of apple into her mouth. “Mmm this is heavenly. So perfect.”

I hand her the glass of Cabernet and sit down on the couch next to her, our knees touching.

She grins at me and chews. “So, Harrison,” she says, swallowing. “What do you do, anyway? What’s your story?”

“My story?”

“Yes, that’s right. I mean, what makes you tick. And how’d you get this great apartment? Did you grow up here? What are you passionate about, I mean really passionate?” She waits, chewing crackers and cheese, clearly expecting me to answer.

I swallow more wine and ponder how to answer her, fingering the rim of the glass. I don’t want to say too much, and I want to ask her these kinds of things. But I want to open up. Maybe she’ll be more open with me, if I do. “The apartment, I inherited from a friend. Took over his lease when he left for grad school on the east coast. I guess technically he still rents it, his name is on the lease, but I’ve been here for about five years. Rent controlled; I mean, what can you do? I had to take it.”

Addie nods, taking sips of the wine.

“I went to UC Berkeley, that’s what brought me here. I grew up in Oregon, near Portland, but pretty much out in the woods. I miss the evergreen forests sometimes, but I like it here. I have roots down now, it’d be so hard to move.” I chew an apple slice and keep going, not elaborating too much on the answers but still answering her questions, trying to satisfy her curiosity. “I’m … between jobs right now. I’ve been working in the tech world for a while, I was most recently at a start-up that was sold and my stock options have … bought me a little bit of time to figure out what I want to do next. I’ve been thinking, maybe something with wine.” I swirl the cabernet in the glass. It’s one of my favorites. Addie is taking big mouthfuls of it at a time, clearly thirsty and enjoying it, but not exactly savoring it. I wonder what she knows about wine, what kind of wine she likes. She might not exactly be impressed with this one, even though she kind of should be. If she liked big Napa cabs, anyway. “I’m not sure exactly, but I want to learn more about it. I’m not sure I want to go back to sitting at a computer all day. I was always better at schmoozing with people, in the tech world, anyway—selling them on a project, convincing them they needed to go in on it, to give us money. That was mostly my role.”

She nods, eyes sparkling, following along with my story. I uncross my legs and shift, self-conscious under her gaze.

“What am I passionate about … that’s a good question. Food, maybe. I love cooking, love entertaining. Love making something new or discovering a new way to enjoy something. I really get a lot out of something being deeply pleasurable. It feels a little indulgent, so I suppose it’s not always healthy. But in general, I like indulgence. I like going to the Kabuki spa in Japantown, have you been there?” Addie shakes her head, but stays quiet, encouraging me to continue. “It’s pretty stunning. There’s an all-men’s night, I like to go to that one; it’s clothing optional. The co-ed nights are clothed. It feels indulgent,” I continue, “But I find such deep relaxation and rest in things like that. Maybe that’s what I’m really passionate about: indulgence. Hedonism. Getting … what I want.”

“Maybe,” she says, raising an eyebrow. “Do you always get what you want?”

I consider this. “I kind of do, yeah. I guess that has to do with … privilege. I can expect that I can have what I’m after, that there aren’t a lot of barriers in the way, denying me access. Plus, I can … get away with things. I’m not necessarily proud of that, but I can. I always was a good kid, so that helped.”

“And now, is it your pretty face?” Addie asks, probing.

“Yeah, I suppose so.” I take another sip of wine and savor the flavor, and eat a bit more of the cheese and apple. I don’t want to talk about this. What if she asks me what I’ve gotten away with? I don’t want to reveal so much. I don’t have to tell her, just because she asks. I can stop talking. How did she get me talking so much? I look over to her, and she’s smiling and sipping wine, as if it’s totally normal for her to be asking probing questions to someone she’s just met. And fucked.

I shift on the couch, adjusting to angle my body toward hers a little more. I lower my hand to touch her arm gently. She smiles, tilts her head toward me. I sip more wine. The silence grows between us, but it’s not uncomfortable exactly. It’s just a breath, a small break, a moment of quietude, in and out.

“What about you?” I ask finally.

“What about me?”

“I mean, what are you passionate about? What do you do, what’s your work in the world? What’s your story? What makes you tick?” I could keep going, but I wait for her to answer.

She smiles, considering her response, a mischievous smile on her lips that spreads to her eyes and makes them sparkle. “Oh no, I think that’s enough about me for one night.” She drains the rest of her wine and sets her wine glass down on the coffee table. “I’m going to go get dressed. Will you drive me home?”

She’s not staying? No. Of course not. She has things to do, a job, a life to get back to. Maybe this was just a one-night stand for her. Maybe there won’t even be a next time. “Of course,” I say, and stand.

Image via Javier Kohen on Flickr, used with a Creative Commons license.

7 Tips For Flirting As A Submissive

One of the most common questions I get asked from submissives is, “How do I flirt with dominants!?” And while learning some basic flirting tips (like: be curious and ask questions, give compliments, be honest) can be helpful, when you add D/s into the equation sometimes the rules are a little bit different.

Part of the confusion is that we associate flirtation with assertion—someone comes along, declares interest, and asks for what they want. Those can be seen as dominant traits. But it is absolutely possible for a submissive to do them, and to still come across as submissive and respect the dominant’s authority as a dom.

So, assuming that you’ve already established that you are submissive and the person you’re flirting with is a dominant, here’s some tips. (These are some of the things that would work for me.)

1. Establish whether or not they want to be flirted with.

This might seem obvious, but it’s multi-faceted. You gotta figure out if they are available or not—if their relationship allow for flirtation with other people. It might be as simple as figuring out whether or not they are single, but being partnered doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t flirt—it just depends on whether their relationship allows for flirtation or not. And you might also see whether their relationship only allows flirting, and not going any farther than that—which may change your opinion on whether or not you want to flirt, depending on what the goal of your flirting is.

Secondly, you have to figure out if they are available or not right now, meaning if the timing is right. If I’m about to teach a workshop, for example, I am way less likely to respond well to flirtation than if I’ve just ended a workshop. How do you know if the timing is okay? Well, you can always ask—”So, is this a good time to flirt with you?” “Got a minute to flirt with me?” “Hey, if this isn’t a good time, could we set aside some time later and flirt maybe?”

2. If they have a submissive already, befriend them.

While you’re asking around about whether they’re available, also ask whether or not they already have a submissive—then, make friends with the sub. Ask if there’s any service you can do, if there’s some interesting talent or skill you can offer, or what other expression of interest would be welcome. If you establish yourself as aware of the hierarchy in the relationship that already exists, you’ll be a lot less threatening to the submissive, and they are way more likely to hook you up with tips and tricks to get the dominant’s attention.

3. Offer to be of service.

“May I ____ for you?”
As a friend of mine put it, “May I ____ for you?” This is where your keen observational skills can give you big points: if you notice some of the things they always do and offer to do it for them, you put yourself in the position of being very helpful. If being observational isn’t your strong point, offer some of your own impressive skills or talents: May I black your boots, may I gift you some peanut butter cookies that I made.

4. Use their title.

Using words that remind you both of the hierarchies that you like to play with can be a big turn-on, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to be flirtatious. Do some observation, and ask around, and see what kind of titles this person likes to use.

But, don’t use their relational titles. Some people have titles that they only use with a particular person, and those can be way too personal and intimate to use with a new person. Then again, some folks have “Daddy” or “Mistress” right there on their name tag or in their Fetlife user name, and everybody refers to them as such.

There’s no hard and clear rule about which titles are relational and which are respectful, so you kind of have to feel it out for yourself. In general, I’d say “Sir” and “Ma’am” are the most widely acceptable, but those are not universally liked by everyone. You can always slip it into a sentence and then ask permission: “I’d love to get your drink, ma’am—may I call you ma’am?” Hopefully, they’ll respond with the thing they would like to be called, if you guess incorrectly.

5. Be willing to be wrong.

Be willing to hear no. Be willing to be corrected if you make assumptions or mistakes. You might call them by a title and they might correct you—that’s okay. Say, “Sorry about that; thank you for the permission to call you sir.” Being corrected means you are worthy of correction, and it’s a good sign.

Putting yourself out there means taking risks, and when you’re the person who is initiating the flirtatious interaction, it’s kind of up to you to put yourself in a vulnerable position first.

6. Ask for what you want.

And be honest! Don’t ask to black their boots if that’s not your thing, don’t ask for them to beat you if you’re not into receiving sensation. Ask for what you actually want.

It’s always okay to ask for something, but it’s important that you are willing to hear any possible answer to your ask.
The context of your ask is important. If you can do that thing right there and then and it’s appropriate, it’s appropriate to offer it or to ask for it. So if you’re at a kink retreat, it is probably appropriate to offer a blow job or request to receive a spanking, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask for those things if you’re out at a bar (unless, you know, being crass and direct is one of your tactics—in which case, it could work! But know that it’s higher risk.)

It’s always okay to ask for something, but it’s important that you are willing to hear any possible answer to your ask. Of course, we want the answer to be an emphatic “yes,” but it isn’t always. If you’re going to get a little crushed if they say no, perhaps pre-plan the ask to have a friend around after who is willing to comfort you or perk you up.

Use your keen powers of observation and assess what kind of person this dominant is: Do they have public scenes at parties, or are they mostly private? Do they flirt and socialize a lot, or do they tend to keep to themself and their close people? Tailoring your asks to what you notice about the dominant makes it more likely for them to say yes.

7. Offer your contact information.

Assuming you are flirting now with the intention of following up for even more later, offer your info: Your Fetlife account, your cell number, your email address—however you want them to get in touch with you. Giving them your contact information gives them the power to follow up or not. Plus, it puts your vulnerability into a sexy framework: the potential to continue the flirtation, and possibly even more.


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Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #188, Valentine & Ember.

You’ll Never Find the Perfect Dominant

You’re right: You won’t ever find a dominant who is your most perfect match.

If you listen way down deep, there’s a voice telling you that. You have very particular needs, desires, cravings, and your submission is demanding, sometimes feeling endless. You want and want and want, and who can fill that up with anything that leaves a mark? You won’t ever find someone as good as your ex. You won’t ever find someone as good as the person who introduced you to submission, who whispered those most perfect dirty things in your ear and told you to get on your knees. You will come on too strong to the next sexiest person you’ve ever seen and they will whisper to their friends about how much you “aren’t a real submissive” or are “topping from the bottom.” You are too much. Too big. Too thick. Too mouthy. Too bratty. You will never get your needs met. You will never find someone who matches your particular specialties in submission, your unique perspectives on service and masochism and giving over your body and will and all the dirt under your fingernails. Your dirty hands are too dirty. Your dirty mind is too dirty. Your next dominant just wants to sit on the couch and have you pour more wine, and where does that leave you? You have to wait, to beg, to crave touch, to sit still with skin hunger that may feel like it will devour you, to be disappointed.

You won’t find the perfect dominant for you.

Unless you Do The Work.

Look at the parts of yourself that are yours and only yours. Excavate some of those unknown places until you can see around them and know why they’re there. Acknowledge what it is that you want and what it is you just won’t settle for, and you will have a much better chance to find (and be) the right partner. Until you know what you want, you may not find it. Until you look deep at your part in your patterns, you will probably keep repeating them. Until you fill your own holes, you may continue to have a bottomless pit of desire and need that you think can only be filled by another person. Define your own cosmology of icons and worship and desire. Define your own dictionary of touch and connection and intimacy. Write the perfect love letter to the universe detailing all of the amazing things you secretly wish hope dream for in a lover and mail it off on the wind to fall and float down a waterfall. You can do it. You have wells of untapped strength.

Submissives are the strongest people I know.

Your demands are reasonable. Your desires are reasonable. Your wants are reasonable. Your unique particular weirdo gender is reasonable, and beautiful. Your too-much-ness is exactly the reason why you will be wanted, why you will be craved when you are not around, why someone who doesn’t even know you is craving you right now.

There is nothing wrong with you, or with the kind of submission that you most secretly, way down in your bones, seek.

I do actually believe that. But you have to believe it, too.

And then you have to go after it, with such vigilance that you won’t accept no for an answer, and your own no is an eager blade to get anything not serving your journey out of the way. Take up arms. Take up protest. Take up your favorite friends as armor, as council, as confidants. Take up your rightful space in the room. Take more dessert than you were served. Take the most amazing gift of yourself to the person who really could use it, right now, today.

Take the next step.

So what ARE the different kinds of s-types? And more about the s-type quiz

So, the quiz! “What kind of s-type are you?” quiz, that rife + I co-created, was launched November 30th as a fun game, and an interesting tool, and the beginnings of a conversation about how many different ways that submissive folks explore their own submission.

And what the heck do we mean by “submission,” anyway? Do I mean “the person receiving the sensation or sexual touch in a BDSM scene”? Or do I mean “the person who takes the orders in a relationship”? Well … both, or either. And that is precisely the point: To begin asking what it is we mean when we say these things, to think deeper about them, and, ultimately, to make better informed choices about the parts in these power games that we want to play.

Here’s the quiz, in case you missed it:

THANK YOU for all of your thoughts and feedback. It’s been so fun to read and engage with you about this. There are more than 50 comments on the thread where I posted the quiz the first time, and each one I read and thought about … I replied to some, but I get overwhelmed by that level of correspondence sometimes, so I didn’t reply to everyone. I did have quite a few people who identified as kitties or puppies tell me that they weren’t represented, and it’s true that I didn’t include very many “vanilla” or non-s-type options. There was a bit of an agenda with the quiz, which was to determine which of the six s-types we separated out best matched the answers you’d give when you took the quiz. We added the “Not an s-type” option, just to make it a bit more inclusive.

And of course, it’s impossible to actually determine how it is that YOU identify just based on ten questions with seven options each! There is much more nuance to each person than that.

But, overwhelmingly, the response has been that the quiz is fairly accurate! And I love that! I hope it begins some conversations about what the different types of s-types are, and where you fit and what that means to you.

If I did a quiz again, I’d look for a different quiz host that gave the answers in percents, rather than just showed you ONE answer. (70% submissive, 30% servicey, for example.) But for this time, we didn’t do that.

The quiz has been taken more than 2,000 times (wow!). Here’s the statistics about what results were given:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 1.59.28 PM

I find it pretty fascinating. I never would have guessed that Slave would be so common of a result, or that Bottom and Service were the most uncommon.

For the sakes of THIS quiz, the “Slave” answer was determined by a lot of questions that were about ownership and possession, “Bottom” was determined by receiving sensation and play (kind of from a service top), and “Service” was … well, about service. I think many, many s-types incorporate service into other s-type identities, and the service part isn’t necessarily the strongest reaction for them—but that’s just a theory.

Here’s the descriptions of ALL of the s-types that we broke the quiz down into.

[toggle type=”2″ title=”

Hey wait, you’re not an s-type!

“] You’re not submissive, a slave, a bottom, service-oriented, a slut, or a naughty minx—you much prefer to be in charge or in an egalitarian relationship. Or perhaps you’re a mix of all kinds of things, a switch, or something else, but for whatever reason, right now you are testing as not an s-type at all. But hey, you took this quiz, so probably you have a little bit of curiosity around receiving, bottoming, submitting, and service. Why don’t you sign up for the Submissive Playground in January and let your inner submissive come out to play?
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Slut by day, slut by night.

“] You’re a slut. You like sex—and when I say you like sex, I mean you REALLY like sex. Giving, receiving, topping, bottoming, serving, whatever—you are happy as long as you’re getting your rocks off. Service, humiliation, pain—you may be into those things, but those aren’t the main course for you. The sexual play, attention, and pleasure is what matters most for you. If you want to develop more of your service skills, kink knowledge, and expand your palette of sexual adventures, come sign up for the Submissive Playground in January and take your sluttery to new places.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Naughty, naughty, naughty

“] You love to entice. Teasing, testing limits, pushing boundaries, cajoling, begging, breaking rules—you love to see exactly how far you can go, and you love to be punished. But it’s not really punishment—“funishment” is the name of the game to get you to take a lot of physical sensation play. Sometimes, people call you a “brat,” but that’s because your naughty tendencies are misunderstood as disrespectful, when in fact they are part of how you like to keep things interesting. You love to push your top’s buttons, and they love you all the more for it. Naughty minxes like you are a challenge for Dominants and Tops sometimes—come sign up for the Submissive Playground course in January 2014, hone your naughty skills, and find the d-types that are the best match for you.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Bottom’s Up

“] You are clearly a bottom. Though submissive s-types like psychological play, and slave s-types seek to be owned and controlled in addition to psychologically submit to another’s will, bottoms like you are driven by the love to receive sensation. You might love pain, you might love service, you might love sex—but primarily you like to receive. Bold, stingy, thuddy, feathery, light, soft, big, biting—you might have preferences, but it’s clear that you like it all more than most. Are you ready to expand deeper into the realms of psychological submission, and play deeper with giving up power? Sign up for the Submissive Playground in January 2014 and you’ll have lots of opportunities to expand your palette.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Service

“] Alfred from Batman. Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey. Lurch from the Addam’s Family. Riff-Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. These (and other) butlers are like to be your service icons. You are a service-oriented submissive, through and through. You like show your love and affection by keeping up with the chores, making sure your Dominant’s favorite hot morning beverages are always perfectly made, and anticipating their next desire—sometimes even before they do. You have likely been working on this skill of giving service with all kinds of people in your life for many years, not just in your intimate, romantic, or sexual relationships. The Submissive Playground course in January 2014 has an entire unit on practicing service, and while you’re clearly already a pro at it, the Playground will give you a place to hone your skills, and to branch out into other realms of submission, and make sure your extraordinary service skills are being placed in the right hands.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Slave

“] It’s not just a BDSM cliche—some of us, like you, are actual consensual slaves. You want to give over access to your entire self: body, time, will, and more. Though you may love to receive sensation, give good service, and submit psychologically, you also get off the very most by being owned, controlled, and possessed. Your deepest pleasure derives from someone else taking their deepest pleasure from encounters with you, and everything else is just icing on the cake. You love to be asked to do things that are not for your pleasure, just so you can have a chance to exercise your own devotion to your path as a slave. Come join the Submissive Playground course in January 2014—you can play with many aspects of a slave’s path and fine-tune your submissive toolkit while you’re practicing all of your skills.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Classic Submissive

“] You clock in as a classic submissive. You like giving over to your Dominant’s will, not just submitting to a Top’s sensation. You have a few boundaries and limits to what you will or won’t do, but you are eager to do what it takes to please and pleasure the one to whom you submit. You may love pain, or love to give service, or adore sex, but your desire for giving over is what drives you the strongest. For a deeper dive into all of your submissive tendencies, join the Submissive Playground course in January 2014 for four weeks of creative, sexy explorations.
[/toggle]

Whatcha think? Do you still think the quiz results you got were the most accurate description of you? Do you agree with my write-ups of what each one means?

It’s been a fascinating experiment! Thanks for playing!