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Welcome to the Bottoms Up! A new column all about sex, kink, being a bottom, and getting what you want.
How do you tell someone, “Hey, I’d love it if you’d slap me around and tell me what to do”?
Turns out, you tell them just like that.
Talking about sex is typically an awkward conversation, even for those of us who do it a lot. But talking about sex as a submissive is a completely different kind of awkward.
My desires and being as a submissive may be different from yours; there’s no one way to submit. I like to be told what to do — primarily in the bedroom, but with the right person maybe a little outside of the bedroom too. There’s nothing hotter than the right person telling me to “get over here” in public. I also like to be punished: spanked, flogged, my orgasms controlled. I have a lot of control in my life, but I love how freeing it is to be able to give it up to someone else, even if only for a few hours. Being submissive allows me to be vulnerable in ways that everyday life doesn’t as a non-binary person who is read as a Black woman. Having that is important to me.
My first conversation about submission started with laughter. My partner was showering and I was watching porn in our bedroom. When they came into the bedroom to dry off, they investigated what was on my screen — my shitty guilty pleasure porn, Ultimate Surrender — and snickered. I said, nonchalantly, “I want you to do that to me.” Then I looked over at them and burst out laughing. I had no clue what they were thinking. I used the time they took to do their hair to get over my embarrassment. Bringing up submission as a joke made me realize how badly I wanted to actually talk about it, so I paused what I was watching and watched my partner instead. I thought about how safe I felt with them, and talking to them felt less scary. I took a deep breath and said it again, this time more earnestly: “I want you to do that to me.”
I took their hand and guided them to the bed. We cuddled on our bed, them naked and wet from the shower, me wearing one of their flannels, and we didn’t really look at each other, but we talked. They wondered if I just wanted to be fucked harder? Yes, but also could they tell me what to do?
They had questions: All the time? Just in bed? What did I mean? I laughed because I wasn’t sure. This shit happens in erotica much easier than it happens in real life. I was underprepared, with a vague notion of what I meant when I said I wanted to be a sub and a lot of adrenaline. When I realized I wasn’t 100% sure about what I wanted, I got to negotiate those things with my boo. I got to say, “okay, let’s try this, but not this” and I had a safe and exciting person with whom to explore.
Here’s the thing though — even though the conversation ended up being good for our sex life, it couldn’t help but be really awkward. I was making myself vulnerable to them in a way I hadn’t before. It’s weird to think about how nervous I was now, because everyone I know is at least a little bit kinky, but before I got the courage up to talk about it, it seemed like something that could be the end of my relationship. After I told my partner what I wanted, I was less inhibited. I felt more in touch with my body and less in my head. I wasn’t always thinking about what I was doing when I was having sex, I just let myself do what felt good. We started experimenting with things I’d never thought I’d do. I came over and over and over and over again.
Having that conversation with my boifriend helped me realize how important my voice was — even as a sub. My needs are just as important as my partner’s. I knew that, but there’s something about putting that theory into practice that empowered me in a way I didn’t know it would. It put me on the same level as the doms and tops I sleep with. It feels amazing to have sex with your equals; to know that your sexual partner respects and values you fully, makes the experience that much better.
Sex is giving and taking and compromise and asking for what we want. It’s feeling each other’s bodies in bed and laughing as we realize maybe this position won’t work. It’s the moans and the sighs into each other’s mouths because we found out what would work. It’s the satisfaction of being able to find that bliss in each other’s bodies together. It’s snuggling naked afterward and arguing about whether or not to let the cats cuddle under the covers with you. But sex cannot and should not happen without conversations. They might be awkward. They might be funny. But they’re always necessary.
Talking with my partner helped me realize all of the places in life where I wasn’t sharing how I felt. But it didn’t change my entire personality. Talking about sex still makes me a little giggly. Sometimes, I still avoid uncomfortable conversations, but I’m still figuring this all out. Day by day, partner by partner, I am learning more about how I can make submission my own.