Once in a while (and much more often of late, which pleases me), I get the opportunity to top my favorite top. He is, in reality, a switch, and one of the most experienced full-time submissives I know, but that’s not his life anymore, and for over three years he’s been far more of a Daddy to me than a bottom of any kind.
The urge has been there for him lately, though, as our hearts keep opening to each other more and more. And the way he opens himself to me is so complete that it nearly paralyzes me. When he wishes to give himself to me, he transforms into the most dazzling engraved invitation I have ever seen, delivered by a dirty and bloodied knight on one knee with his head bowing over his outstretched hand. And there I am, without a single pretty dress to wear.
In the face of his impressively masculine body laid bare and trimmed, his ass cleaned out in advance, his blue eyes wide and seeking approval, and all the tools I could want laid out carefully to hand, I almost don’t know what to do to him.
It is a truly beautiful thing to watch a piece of smooth, glistening steel disappear into a big hard cock, then have him push it out. A joy beyond reason to fuck a willing ass with a toy the texture and color of his skin until I come screaming. And an intimate and transcendent pleasure to fist him while we both do.
But it was the little things along the way that reminded me of who I am when I top. The way I like to grab his ear and move him around by it. The way I like to stick my fingers in his mouth and feel his teeth, and move his head around by the jaw as if he were a horse I was looking to buy. How I like to grab and squeeze him, both in strong places like pecs and quads and shoulders, and in soft places like sides and insides of elbows. How I like to bite his face and his lip, and just run my hands over and over the lean expanse of him. Mine. Mine. Mine.
He might ask me if I want this or that, if I’d like the knife to run over his skin, or the suction cups for his nipples, or whatever. There are ways in which he wants to please me so much that it can feel like he wants to run the show. And that’s okay, too, because that’s part of how I know what it is I want, which is what this is about. “Do you want the knife?” “No, I want to bite you.” “Do you want to sit and I’ll straddle you facing away?” “No, I want you on your knees with your ass in the air.” Gentle topping from below is just another means of clarifying. Just another way of letting me know what it is I want.
Because I can forget. In work, it was easy to forget. In being with him, in the way he tops me, I can forget everything. For a long time, even when I topped him it was following his lead; in some ways, he’s still teaching me how to fuck with a strap-on.
But more and more, he’s reminding me. He’s bringing me back to what I like, and what I want, and what I need, from him.
And that is truly sweet.
Axe recently (okay, about a month ago) wrote about a reader of his who’d asked for advice. She was inexperienced, and worried about making a fool of herself with the new guy in her life by doing something wrong. The guy had said that he likes strong, confident, aggressive women, and the reader worried that that meant she could never have a shy moment around him, or show it when she is overcome with emotion.
Along with some kind, thoughtful advice, Axe confessed: “As far as showing emotion goes, I’m ashamed to admit when I first started I was looking for someone who was cold, knew exactly what she wanted and would demand it from me and not show any weakness. I don’t know if this is the case with the guy you met but I think it’s a common problem that submissive guys have when they first start out. They have unrealistic ideas of what dominant women are.”
I’m awfully shy myself, so this post really stuck with me. Enjoying topping does not imbue one with magical social skills, after all.
My thoughts, vaguely organized and peppered with vignettes:
The first time I braved going out to a TES event, Boymeat dragged me out to his extreme caning class and had to promise in advance that he’d introduce me to someone friendly to sit next to. (He promptly introduced me to a cute guy around my age, saying: “This is Cal; she’s looking for someone to hurt!” I don’t think I’ve ever stammered or blushed so hard in my life. It’s been a good long while since then, though. The cute guy is still a good friend of mine, and I no longer lack for people to keep me company when I go out to classes. Boymeat occasionally tells me how proud he feels, the smug bastard. (Mwah!))
And, well. Another man I know, back when we first started expressing interest in each other, once told me that he likes shy tops.
If you’re inexperienced, nervous, and worried that submissive men can’t handle your human quirks, just reread that bit. He likes. Shy. Tops.
Be still my heart.
I also vividly recall an evening of flirting with an amazing woman over IM, where after each message I would hide my face in my boy’s back before peeking over to see if she’d replied yet. (She was doing something similar over on her end. We are ridiculous.) How could shyness and dominance possibly be incompatible? My boy was providing excellent service, to use the formal vernacular, by giving me comfort and assistance with my silly shyness in the way that suits me best.
Confidence/aggression and shyness are not mutually exclusive. I have no problem expressing my desires, or seducing or forcing people to satisfy them once we’ve established that that’s what they’re into. I think the shyness actually goes along with a hyper awareness of the importance of establishing consent before taking control.
I’m shy with new people because I can’t know whether or not they’d enjoy my aggression. I’m confident enough that I don’t have to believe that everyone on the planet wants to be submissive to me. So we dance around it a bit, get to know each other, and then determine whether things should go any further. Being shy is perhaps just another way for me to signal that, not being an actual rapist, I won’t take control unless you offer it to me.
2. Showing Emotion
I tend to be very emotional and open about it, with my boy. And why not? I’m thoroughly in love with him, and we share a wonderful life together. (I think I’ll call him… Bulgakov. Or maybe Cassidy.) What a terrible thing it would be, if I had to cut myself off from that in order to have relationships that turns me on. He taught me what service is and how to accept it by holding me when I cry, knowing what sort of tea I want even before I do, and taking care of me in various ways. There’s no question that he’s mine, but I’m not sure why he’d want to be without the emotional intimacy that holds us together.
Trinity put it marvelously well in her comment to this otherwise hopefully irrelevant post: “My relationship is based on love and friendship and sex… There are D/s elements to our relationship, some of which have to do directly with sex and play and some of which don’t, but this idea that vanilla people have relationships and I have a misshapen thingy really bothers me.”
I fall in love. I make mistakes. I seek connection, openness, understanding. I want intimacy, and sometimes I think that all the vicious roughness is just a way to break into even deeper intimacy, for me – let me into your heart, and also your skin, your mind, your everything.
None of this is worthwhile if it creates a wall between us instead of bringing us closer together – even all those strange distances of denial, clothing, bondage, unfairness, and power are just another way to circle around and tease our way closer to each other.
I’m more of a barbarian than an ice queen, though, if we must choose our archetypes. No wonder I love the intimacy of thuggery without intervening toys. Hands on, hands in.
So, where does that leave us?
Yes, there are submissive men out there who have are only attracted to bizarre fantasy figures, but there are also a lot of submissive men out there who want relationships with real human women who happen to enjoy being sexually dominant (some of whom may very much enjoy being cold at times). I’m pretty damn happy to know a few myself.
(If you’re looking for wonderful advice instead of my musings, I think that Ferns‘s reply to Axe’s post was really the best. And for a more balanced and extensive discussion on the many contradictory expectations of dominance out there, just check out Sex Geek’s post on the subject.)
Dominatrix. Domina. Domme. Goddess. Mistress. Princess. Lady. Maitresse. As a pro-domme, I’ve gone through a love-hate relationship with them all.
I really appreciate Ivy’s point that a lot of it depends on who you’re playing with: if someone just decides that they’re going to call me Mistress, it tends to turn me right off. From time to time in sessions, though, I would tell people to call me Mistress – usually in order to have an excuse to slap them if they forgot. I don’t love the term on its own: the meanings that arise for me include “adulterous female partner” and “lame feminine cognate for Master, as of lands and/or slaves.” Both strike me as archaic and referring to some strange feminine mystery in which I don’t care to participate.
Nothing quite overblows that feminine mystery thing, though, like “Goddess.” I never could stand being called Goddess – especially by people who just decided that’s what they would call me without asking my preference. Bah.
Variations on the “dom” root tend to be more self-applied than what one is called during a scene: I chose “Domme” because I liked how it went with “Delilah,” and because I didn’t want to be called “Mistress” like everyone else. Nobody ever called me “Domme”; it just sounds silly.
So that leaves the two questions still open: how do I think of myself when defining my sexuality, and how do I like to be referred to?
Mostly, when I’m approached by strangers, I’d prefer to be referred to by my name. I enjoy basic respect, not overblown pedestalizing; I find the latter presumptuous and alienating.
Surprisingly enough to me, I’ve found that the term I like best during some scenes is “Ma’am.” It’s short, sweet, to the point, has the cultural weight of respect and deference behind it. But mostly, being named during a scene doesn’t have that much power for me. Five things I’d sooner hear out of a submissive’s mouth during a scene than “Mistress” include: “please…” “ow, fuck!” “nonononono!” “fuck me,” “god, yes…” The list goes on, but even more than the words are the sounds, and even better than the sounds are the looks in the eyes: the fear, the desire, the adoration.
So the short answer for all of that is that I’ve found it’s not that important to me what you call me: depending on the context I’ve enjoyed “Lover,” “My love,” “Ma’am,” “Mistress,” and so on.
But what do I call this thing I do?
I called myself a “domme” for enough years that I refer to what I did as being a “pro-domme” rather than a “dominatrix,” though more people know what that means. While, like Ivy, I kind of like the word “dominatrix;” like Cal, I don’t like how the word others female dominants, and I don’t like what the word refers to: that cartoonish image of the hired female dominant. I find it as strange and pretentious to refer to myself as a dominatrix in a non-pro scene context as I find it for men to refer to themselves as Sir Thumpalot or Lord Wankmeoff at BDSM gatherings.
The word I use most often for myself is Switch, since that most accurately reflects my true sexuality. Topping or bottoming is more something that I do than something that I am, and so much of it – and here’s the key for me – depends on the relationship. My labeling system, as a bi poly switch, is by nature chameleonic: though all of my selves are authentic, who I am depends on who I’m with. My struggle, as a pro domme, was pushing up against the boundaries of who I didn’t want to be: I’m good enough at being what others want that I had to draw the line when it came to whom I’d play with.
I should touch on another place my favorite terminology tends to come from, and that’s the gay leather scene. I don’t do ageplay, but I love playing with a Daddy in the leather sense. On some very special days I’m a boy. I love the word Master and the word Sir and it turns me on whenever someone calls a woman “Sir” on Battlestar Gallactica. My absolute favorite porn book is The Leather Daddy and the Femme, and interestingly, my least favorite part of that book is the part where the Femme is given over to a classic dominatrix for training. I adore the second chapter, however, where the Femme fucks the Daddy in the shower. Go figure.
Words, words, words. It’s complicated. Call me Delilah. I’m a switch, and if you smell right to me, I may want to hurt you. How’s that?
Since Cal kicked us off with a post on shifting the discourse on female dominance, I thought I’d introduce myself in this space by talking about what my version looks like – and how I got there. As Cal points out, it’s an incredibly valuable thing for as many women as possible who have an interest in dominance to come out and speak about what that means for them – so that we can stop thinking of female dominance only in terms of corsets, thigh-high boots, sneering looks and withholding sex.
I come at this from a particular angle, since I was a dominatrix by trade for about four years, from my first terrified session until I gave it up about half a year ago. Being a pro-domme – a leather-corset-wearing, thigh-high-boot-sporting pro-domme – both informed and detracted from who I really was as a dominant and a switch, and while I had many reasons for giving the work up, one of the biggest was how inauthentic I felt in the part much of the time.
The interesting part was that I started from the place of being a submissive – a late-blooming submissive at that. My journey into kink was a long time starting, and was finally kicked off when I was 26 and met my first poly, kinky lover. He was one of those rare animals – a male dom who never switches and is not an asshole – and I enjoyed the hell out of letting him do as he wished with me.
A while into the relationship, I began to entertain the notion of becoming a pro domme. It looked like a great career for someone who wants lots of time to write, and happens to be six feet tall, pretty, and intimidating quite by accident. I didn’t really play that side of the fence, but I’d heard that a lot of pros are submissives in private. I personally know a few women for whom this stereotype definitely does not hold, but it makes sense: a submissive knows what those desires look like, and can be incredibly suited to fulfilling fantasies even if they aren’t her turn-ons – as a kind of service.
As I trained for the work, however, and as I got more involved in the kink scene, I began to notice that I enjoyed it on this side of the fence. Tying people up, yum! Flogging – delicious, especially on someone who likes it. At the time I was also exploring some of my first relationships with women, and with that came strap-ons, which I found I was more interested in wielding than being fucked with. I quickly began to fantasize about fucking a man in the ass. I had found my switchy side in what might be the unlikeliest of places.
It turned out that that relationship wasn’t a good place for me to be exploring that work, and I eventually dropped the idea. But the kink stayed, and I sought more opportunities to pull hair, grasp throats, scratch and bite and squeeze.
Then, a couple of years later, out of that relationship and into a new phase of my life, I entertained the notion again, and my professional life as a dominant began. Very quickly, I found myself in a world of kinks I wasn’t familiar with, apparently typical protocol I didn’t find sexy. I read a lot of Claudia Varrin and Mistress Lorilei, and while I found them fun they weren’t really my thing. I read them as instruction manuals for pro-dommery (yes, I was a professional asshat), and took on their ideas as my own. After all, I didn’t even know yet what kind of domme I was. I had to put myself out there in a way that my customers would like. (It mortifies me now to think of the crazy shit I wrote for my site. At least I didn’t use inappropriate initial caps.)
Naturally, that meant various personas and capacities: I could be the Leather Amazon to your captive hooded slave, I could be the Victorian governess to your naughty little boy; I could be the Goddess to your foot-worshipping votary; I could be the bitch Princess to your simpering sissy slut. I found that the leather role was the only one I liked, but I did the others with far more frequency. I found that I’d much rather singletail someone until they cry then have someone lick my toes for half an hour, but the latter was what they lined up to pay for. I also found that I wanted to fuck men in the ass – but not these ones. I didn’t do it in my sessions, because it was too personal.
I found myself doing a lot of things I didn’t like, in the context of something that I normally enjoy, with people I didn’t want to do them with. I mean, what kind of job is that? And what kind of way to express your sexuality?
During this time, my sense of myself as a top continued to evolve. I started seeing a man to whom I bottom most of the time, and the things he did turned me on so much that I would take them and use them on my clients – and on other lovers. He helped me learn to use my voice and my words, to use fear and intimidation, to use pressure points and simple force to make my point. I loved it. And sometimes, he even lets me do it to him.
But it wasn’t what most clients wanted. And for the most part, they weren’t the people I wanted to do it with anyway.
At the same time, in a lot of ways, I’m really quite traditional when it comes to what I like as a top. I love a boy at my feet, his head in my lap as I stroke his hair – or pull it until he whimpers. I love using my strap-on on a man who loves it. I like to flog and whip and clamp and tease and electrify and collar and bind. And it’s hard to explain how I like these things, and how the way I like them is so different to how they look in most porn, or in most of the scenes that clients expect.
Am I different kind of dominant? Maybe. I don’t think of myself as particularly extreme, or into things that are particularly odd. I even enjoy the fetish wear from time to time – though I hate its being compulsory.
But it was indeed Bitchy Jones that got me thinking about what was so dissatisfying to me about the pro domme world, and my place in it. It was different when I started, and the sexuality I was commodifying wasn’t quite my own. But as I started developing my top side, it made it harder and harder to keep enacting this fake, watered down, strangely dull version of it. I no longer wanted to perform this weird opera of mainstream female dominance: I wanted to find and explore my own.
So hopefully my voice here will be instructive in some way to those who are looking to find their sexual authenticity. Naifs, waifs, and late bloomers more than welcome.