A Harsh Lesson

Just when I felt like I had finally gained some degree of self-confidence regarding my sexuality…

Tonight, I learned that there’s a world of difference between “coming out” to other kinky folks and to vanilla friends. While talking to a group of friends, one of them began describing a documentary on fetishes he’d recently watched, and how uncomfortable it made him feel. He was specifically talking about a section of the documentary about people who enjoy being degraded, and expressed his shock and horror upon learning that people actually did this, that this existed. What freaks.

Immediately, I felt my stomach churning, and I became terrified to respond in any way — I was afraid that any reaction, however slight, would either “give me away,” or be a lie; I was afraid to say something like, “Of course people do that, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” but I also wasn’t about to nod in agreement or act like I didn’t know anything about it.

Then, the two other women in the group — both self-identified feminists — began to discuss whether or not such activities were “okay.” As in, “I guess it’s okay if the woman wants to….” (Me, in my head: “Why do you get to decide what is or isn’t an acceptable sexual practice for a woman to engage in?”)

I just walked away. Because, well, what could I say? I felt ashamed, afterward, for not being brave enough to speak out, for not saying a word to refute them. Because any word would mark me, I was afraid, as one of those freaks — or worse, as a bad feminist, as a self-hating woman, as a masochist.

I’m not really sure how I could have better dealt with the situation. They weren’t close enough friends for me to really talk about my sex life with them, or for me to approach them afterward to tell them how they’d made me feel uncomfortable, or anything like that. More than anything, it was simply a rude awakening to remember that even within a so-called radical community, even among those I consider friends, even among those who are sexually marginalized in other ways (several in the group identified as queer), BDSM beyond “tee hee, I tied my boyfriend’s hands to the bed with a silk scarf, how kinky!” is seen as sick, shocking, and potentially (if not inherently) abusive. I know that my friends would never mean to intentionally insult me, and I’m sure that they wouldn’t continue to say such things in my presence if I had told them that I was a submissive, that I liked that sort of thing, and that if they had a problem with that we could discuss it some other time. But to do that would be to step out in a way that I’m just not ready for.

3 comments so far

  1. Ken on

    That’s too bad and I know how you feel!

    I wish our society was much more open, honest and accepting. But the scaredies make whatever they are afraid of ‘bad’ and therefore if you think it is then YOU are ‘bad’ – all because they are afraid. You know I think that if they truly viewed you as a friend then their fears might actually be put at ease knowing it includes people like yourself – who they consider a friend!

    Now, what I find interesting is that you were SUBMITTING, DURING THE CONVERSATION! Hmm?

  2. subversive_sub on

    Well, being shy about discussing my sex life with friends or being reluctant to reveal my participation in sexual activities they find repulsive doesn’t really seem like something that’s an exclusively “submissive” trait; my dominant partner has experienced similar situations. It is interesting to think about how much of my sexual identity is or isn’t influenced by my overall personality, though.

    Thanks for the supportive words, I hadn’t really thought of it that way — something that seems weird and scary becomes less so when you’re friends with someone who does it.

  3. Fluence on

    Yes, it can be difficult, people often have preconceived notions about what kind of people are into BDSM, and are particularly down on female subs. I try to say SOMETHING when it comes up in conversation, and then judge how much to say depending on who I’m talking to.

    If they’re real friends, they’ll understand and you might even find they’re interested. In my experience people are a bit funny with you at first, but then get used to the idea, see you’re the same person as ever, and eventually it just becomes something new to tease you about.

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