feature image by Manuela via Getty Images
I’m an avowed pillow princess — the enthusiastic recipient to sexual touch. Like a sweet, elegant cat. Much like cats, we’re also frequently misunderstood. Here are some basics about meeting us in the middle.
Pillow princess is a storied term in queer culture that describes people who enjoy sex as a receiving partner. It has its roots in 90s lesbian circles, where pillow princesses often mixed with stone partners who insisted on providing sexual pleasure. It’s evolved beyond lesbian-identified people, but the term isn’t always viewed positively. I’d love to dispel some myths and offer some pointers about meeting us.
What’s a Pillow Princess?
The main requirement to being a pillow princess is having a strong interest in being the partner who receives sexual touch. How deeply that matters can vary a lot. Some people insist on it. Others, like myself, prefer being a receiving partner and find that role more comfortable.
While the concept originated in lesbian circles, it doesn’t have to be locked to a gender. Anyone can describe themselves as a pillow princess if they find it fitting. Pillow prince is sometimes used as a masculine form. I’m open to ideas for a genderless version, too. A pillow paramour? Cushion companion? Bolster beneficiary?
What a Pillow Princess Isn’t
Okay, time for some mythbusting.
I really don’t like this one. Alongside terms like starfish and mattress queen, being called a pillow princess has become associated with laziness. It’s often stricken from its rich, queer origins and used to deride people. Sexual pleasure looks different for everyone and characterizing us as “lazy” is missing the point of what it means to be a receiving partner.
Pillow princesses evolved from lesbian dynamics that often involved a masculine “top” partner and feminine “bottom” partner. Maybe that’s where the snappy, gendered alliteration came from. That historical context is important, but people don’t have to be femme to prefer receiving pleasure. That plays into a stereotype of femininity being sexually passive, which is unhelpful.
Perhaps even worse than being thought of as lazy, we get painted with the brush of indifference. Sex can be a chore, but it’s a wide leap to treat everyone in a group as apathetic. On the contrary, pillow princesses are often very interested in sex — so interested that we want to communicate our needs clearly.
How To Make Your Pillow Princess Happy
So you plan to meet a pillow princess. Call me biased, but I think everyone involved is very lucky. Let’s talk about making the time as enjoyable (and comfortable) for all.
Treat the label as an affectionate letter
An interested pillow princess who tells you about their sexual interest is communicating their desires. It’s a disclosure of how we want to spend time with you and an invitation into our mind. Sexual communication is often difficult, so it can be downright refreshing to have someone give you a broad-strokes version of what they want in bed. Like anyone, we adore being listened to and having an open line of communication.
Discuss interests and boundaries
Just because someone has told you about their sensuality shouldn’t remove your say. Understanding someone’s identity is a base to work from, but we all have unique boundaries and needs. Take time to learn what being a pillow princess means to your partner and how they enjoy sex. I’m a low-pressure lover who dislikes exertion due to a disability. Others mix sex with low-intensity activities like a show or snacks. Talking is the best way to find out.
Guide and be guided
Good sex with a pillow princess is like topping a kinky submissive. Your partner appreciates you just for taking the lead and it only gets better from there. Like many kinksters, we’re sensation lovers — being present and seen is pleasurable to us. So take what you’ve learned about your partner to have sex that you’ll both adore. Lead the festivities but be willing to listen to your partner’s guidance.
A comfy place
If savoring a relaxed partner’s whole self sounds like the stuff of dreams, then pillow princesses might be a match for you. We relish the chance to show a new person the intricacies of our bodies. In fact, if any of the advice I described looks a lot like standard good practice, you’re definitely on the right track. The basics of communication and respect always apply.
And lots of soft cushions. Maybe a snack, too…