Please note: This piece discusses my personal sex life, and my personal sexual tastes and fantasies, in a fair amount of detail. Family members and others who don't want to read about that, please don't. We're having some good conversations about the meaning of death in a godless world, and, far more importantly, the sexual orientation of fictional characters. I encourage you to check those out instead.
This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.
Not Going There
by Greta Christina
I'm not sure what made me start thinking of it. I was thinking about stuff I've read about very intense, very un-PC kinky role-playing scenes. Jewish people doing Nazi scenes; African-Americans doing slave-owner/ slave scenes; that sort of thing.
And I was realizing: I don't know if I could go there.
I don't think there's anything wrong with playing that way. I can see why people would want to play that way. I support, not only people's right to play that way, but people's right to play that way without being scorned by the SM community.
I just don't think I could go there. Not just as a bottom -- as a top, too. As a top maybe even more.
Even if my partner were into it. Even if they were the one suggesting it. Even if they were completely enthusiastic about it and wanted it more than anything. I don't think I could do it.
Here's the thing. When I do any kind of role-playing, in order for it to work I have to find the grain of truth in it. I have to find the part of the role -- whether it's top or bottom -- that overlaps with a part of who I am.
Sometimes that's fairly easy. I can easily find the part of me that's a selfish, controlling perfectionist who wants exactly what she wants exactly the way she wants it. It's a bit unsettling, actually, how easy it is to find that. And I can find the part of me that's helpless and malleable and wants someone else to make all the decisions. Again, a little disturbing how easy that is to find, but there it is. I can find the part of me that feels powerful when I hurt someone, the part that's hungry to be the center of attention, the part that feels like suffering is proof of devotion.
And I'm happy to let those parts of me come out and play.
But there are some roles that I either don't have in me -- or that I don't want to tap into if I do. I don't want to find my inner Nazi, or my inner slave-owner. If I have one, I don't want to get to know it. I don't want to make friends with it. And I really don't want to get off on it. I don't think there's anything wrong with people who do, any more than I think there's anything wrong with me for getting off on my inner martyred doormat or my inner sadistic bitch. I just don't want to go there.
And it suddenly occurred to me:
I bet this is how men who don't want to spank women feel.
I see a lot of letters in sex advice columns from men saying, "My girlfriend/ wife wants me to spank her but I don't want to, she keeps saying it's okay and she wants it but I don't want to hurt her." Or from women saying, "My boyfriend/ husband doesn't want to spank me, I keep telling him it's okay and I want it but he just says he doesn't want to hurt me." And until now, my attitude towards these men has been a somewhat dismissive, "Will you just spank her already? She says she wants it. It's okay to do it if she wants it. And it's not that fucking big of a deal. Will you get over the willies already and just smack the poor girl's bottom?"
But when I started thinking about all the places in my head that I don't want to go, I suddenly got a lot more sympathetic. I bet that for a lot of these guys, it's not just about, "I'm afraid I'll hurt her." I bet for a lot of them it's about, "I don't want to hurt her."
Or more precisely, "I don't want to want to hurt her."
In other words, I bet you that some of these guys just don't want to go there. They don't want to find the part of themselves that gets off on hurting women. They don't want to find the part of themselves that gets off on controlling women, or punishing them, or asserting power over them, or causing them physical pain.
Which I get. Finding those parts of yourself can be weird and hard. And I think it's especially hard when the power dynamics being played out in the bedroom are a direct reflection of the ones being played out in real life. After all, I'm a lot more comfortable playing, say, "serving wench" than I would be playing a scene with racist content. I work too hard to combat the racist parts of me to have any fun at all letting them out to play. And I could see how men who work hard to be feminist might feel the same way about spanking the women they love.
Now, I do think spanking is on a very different scale from Nazi or slave-owner scenes. Maybe it's just because it's become so common, mainstream almost; but I don't see it as having quite the same kind of gravitas or emotional hair-trigger. And therefore I do think that, if you want to be what Dan Savage calls "good, giving, and game," you should at least seriously consider getting over your qualms about spanking if your sweetie really wants to do it, and at least give it a try.
I'm just saying that tops have just as much right to have squicks and limits as bottoms do. Including having a squick or a limit about being a top at all. And I'm saying that, if I want my unwillingness to go there with a Nazi or a slave-owner scene to be respected, then ultimately I have to respect a straight guy's unwillingness to go there with a spanking scene.