Kinky feminist: A paradox?

Image credit: C. Kennedy Garrett

Last summer, I matched with a guy on Tinder who said he was looking for someone he could dominate. Put simply, a person who’d get off on him calling the shots in bed. I swiped right because that just about sums up my sexual preferences. 

I’d been single for a year at this point, and although my sex life wasn’t quite dead, it was on the verge of needing mouth-to-mouth. No one had given me an orgasm since my last girlfriend and this was mostly because it takes more nerve than I have to tell relative strangers, halfway through a one night stand, that I’d really be enjoying this more if they pinned my arms above my head. Or dug their nails in. Or even just told me to keep still. Basically, if they gave some kind of sign that I was not the one in charge.

Besides, even if I had the level of nerve required, the likelihood of me having fallen into bed with someone whose kinks perfectly aligned with mine always seemed slim. And asking someone who prefers vanilla sex — the kind that doesn’t come with any surprises — to call me a slut and yank my hair wouldn’t be a very cool thing to do. In my quest for sexual fulfilment, I don’t intend to stamp on anyone else’s libido — or, much worse, do something that my partner has not consented to. 

But then I matched with this man and it was pretty clear that telling him what I liked was not going to inhibit his sex drive. So, I was open from the beginning. I told him I have a humiliation kink about a mile wide. I like being manhandled and given orders – getting spanked and hearing the words ‘good girl’ are my kryptonite.

I said all this, he concurred neatly in the opposite direction, and we started talking about meeting up. Which was when I asked, because it’d been bothering me — a persistent and growing worry at the back of my mind — whether he considered himself a feminist. Or was I about to sleep with someone who would take my preferred sexual dynamics as indication of something much more? And, regardless of his answer, am I, as a woman who gets off on degradation and being submissive, a perpetuator of misogynistic stereotypes and ideals?

Objectively, I know that I am not. What I enjoy in the bedroom is not a reflection of how I think the world outside it ought to operate. Objectively, I know that I can be both feminist and kinky, and I can separate reality from sexual fantasy. As a friend put it to me — no one actually wants to go back to school, but that doesn’t mean the uniforms can’t be sexy.

Subjectively, though, these are things I grapple with, and the more I explore my sexuality, the more I question myself. In front of the mirror, ‘Are you really a feminist?’ crops up again and again. Ultimately, my answer will always be ‘Yes’ — but writing this column might help me to say it without any lingering doubt. 

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