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So for Valentine’s this year a bunch of people up in Hollywood thought that it would be a good idea to premiere ’Fifty Shades Of Grey’ as it is obviously the most romantic film ever.

Among some of Christian Grey’s irresistible traits are jealousy, possessiveness and manipulation, what more could a girl want, right?! Ana, the leading role, seems to overlook Grey’s awkward stalking and psychopathic behaviour because she’s busy swooning over him and after all, the real appeal of ’Fifty shades of Grey’ are the explicit and often BDSM sex scenes, not Grey’s moral compass.

Considering that this book and now film has become so unbelievably successful and that women all over the world enjoy the concept of these sex scenes it leads me to ask one question: Why do women like to be dominated in bed?

Related: Love, sex, vibrators and orgasms – The Breakdown

I certainly won’t be telling people what they should and shouldn’t like in bed but I do think that it’s only healthy to open it up to discussion and maybe ask some uncomfortable questions. Like why do we like the kind of things that we like? In this instance; being dominated. Are some women just prone to sexual submissiveness or is this a trend fuelled by media and the porn industry? Can these sexual habits be harmful or empowering?

Any of you who visit porn sites will know that these days there’s pretty much no softcore porn to be found. It’s all pretty hardcore. Instead, it seems that what used to be referred to as “softcore porn” has now migrated into mainstream media (aka fifty shades of Grey). This has an obvious influence on our sex lives as people imitate what they see in porn, and to be frank, there’s not a lot of diversity to pick from. Most of the BDSM inspired porn out there represent the same old stereotypes of the submissive and often degraded woman and the strong dominant man.

I cannot and do not want to speak on behalf of all women but what I can do is to answer the headline question from my own perspective and experiences and maybe some of you will be able to identify.

During my first sexual experiences I wasn’t too keen on being dominated, and quite normally so I’d assume for a 15-year-old. However, I did find that guys would frequently portray dominating characteristics in bed such as pulling my hair or attempting to playfully choke me. I’d get pretty uncomfortable by these tendencies and quite frankly put off.

But I began getting used to it as it kept reoccurring and it seemed like the guys really got a kick from it. And isn’t that a bit of what sex is about; getting pleasure from seeing the arousal of your partner? Otherwise, why would anyone go down on anyone? It’s not like I’m down there going; yup, I’m really enjoying controlling my gag reflexes today!

In the end I didn’t like what being dominated did to my sexuality and self-worth and I can’t help but think that the reason that I allowed my sex life to spiral so out of my control is that I’ve been conditioned and subsequently traumatised by various experiences and influences for most of my sexually active life.

I think that it’s important to mention however, that the type of BDSM and domination inspired by ‘50 shades of Grey’ has been critiqued by various sources that claim the book fails to represent BDSM properly and is in fact harmful and even non consensual at times.

According to sex education activist and youtuber Laci Green both parties should be in full understanding of what they’re getting into and there should also be a so-called “aftercare” where you talk and take care of each other afterwards. You can watch her video on the topic here:

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people practicing BDSM do not abide by that rulebook. In my experience most people don’t seem to educate themselves on practicing safe BDSM but simply pick up BDSM characteristics from porn and various other outlets without ever thinking twice about it.
I’ve certainly never had a guy sit me down to reassure me that I am actually a human being after a session of considerably rough sex.

In light of this topic I started wondering if maybe there are more people who aren’t completely comfortable with this genre of sex being thrust upon them by the media or our sexual partners so I started talking to some of my friends about it and found that I wasn’t completely alone.

“I request being dominated as it takes me back to my abusive relationship where I learnt about ‘pleasure’ and ‘worth’ in sex through rape. So I feel the dominance takes away my responsibility to fight against the faux abuse in the situation as I never fought against my real abuse.”

– Rosie, 23, a teacher from London

“I don’t always know what I want or how to ask for it, letting the other person do what they want means I’ve done something right.”

– Kate, 26, works in marketing, London

Sexuality is something that grows. Or at least it has the ability to grow. I know that my sexuality wasn’t what it is today when I first started to have sex. It’s something that has been moulded as I went along. There are of course lots of contributing factors that can affect a person’s sexual preferences and they don’t necessarily have to come from one source, but rather a conjunction of experiences and influences.

If you feel like you’re perfectly fine with being dominated and engaging in BDSM activities in a safe and consensual environment, then you should of course do what makes you feel good and happy in bed. But I can’t help but think that some of us have been crossing this territory in uncomfortable conditions. No one should have to, so take a step back and ask yourself what YOU really want your sex life to be like.

Disclaimer:
The headline of this article is in no way suggesting that all women like to be dominated in bed. This article is a self-expression and dissection of my own experiences and I am fully aware that each individual’s experience is unique and different to that of my own. However, some themes may ring true for some readers.

mayday masquerade glitterball at Kookyloco
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Amanda Lundstedt is a singer/songwriter that goes by the artist name Ayelle. She’s half Iranian, grew up in Sweden, lived in Spain for a while and eventually landed in London. Passionate about music, feminism and activism among many other things. She’s the Co-founder of ‘Young Feminists London’, a group for young people to get together and explore feminism.