Your Guide To Non-Oppressive BDSM

Credit: ThinkStock

Surprisingly, I sometimes feel really good about the conversations we have regarding BDSM. For every Colossal Shitlord™ like Jian Ghomeshi citing the Colossal Shitlord Bible™ like Fifty Shades of Fuck Off, we have access to incredible kinkgames and folks confronting negative representation. It’s always helpful and reassuring to see sex-positive, gender-friendly kink communities based on the trifecta of safety, sanity, and consent.

But we need to discuss kink on another level besides the golden rules of SSC. Creating and obeying safewords, hard limits, soft limits, and participating in aftercare are sometimes just the tip of the iceberg.

For example, I’m a Palestinian-Iraqi queer sub with several dominant partners who are white. Even if my partners have crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s and stuck to our verbal contract of kink, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t—or won’t—cross boundaries that speak to their whiteness and other forms of social privilege.

So, for 2015 I wanted to create guidelines for myself about how to navigate non-oppressive BDSM that I hope would be helpful for other marginalized subs exchanging power with partners who may not be marginalized in the way they are.

And to preface with a disclaimer: these are my guidelines. If you see some that mirror yours, that’s rad! If you see some that don’t mirror yours, that’s rad! These guidelines are certainly not where the conversation should end, but are rather intended to encourage healthier ways to fuck.

Learn The Complexities Of Allyship

I once tweeted that if you are not pro-Palestinian you do not get my pussy. My thoughts have evolved since then, shifting from wanting a partner who is pro-Palestinian to wanting a partner who will encourage me in my activism and have an undying interest in the preservation of my heritage.

This summer, Gaza suffered one of the largest massacres in its history. In hindsight, I had a breakdown. I stopped writing my thesis for a month, I cried every morning and night, and was glued to my Twitter list of Palestinian activists and journalists. I messaged my parents daily asking if we had heard from our family there. Friends of the family died, and those friends’ families and friends died. It wasn’t until the closing chapter of the massacre did I allow myself a break, and boy oh boy, did I not want to hear from my partner at the time that I needed a break any time before that.

It seems innocent to have a partner tell you to slow down for your own sanity, and essentially, it really isn’t malicious. But here’s something that really flosses my ass about allies sometimes: don’t force me into practicing self-care ever.

I know it seems like it’s the right thing to do, but my people are becoming fucking extinct. Taking a break and having a fucking bubble bath will not help me. It will only make me wish that the bath was filled with your blood for even suggesting that I should stop. Respect my activism, don’t ever tell me to calm down, and I’ll let you know when I’m ready for a break.

It may not seem related to BDSM, but learning how to be a better ally will flourish the trust in your dynamics. To me, kink is a political way to fuck, and exploring that with folks who are great allies will make for wonderful non-oppressive and non-triggering play.

Call Your Intentions Out

When seeking out dominant partners, I like to investigate how they’ve come to the conclusion that they like dominating. For example, my desires to be a sub comes from a place of healing from post-traumatic stress disorder. I came to this conclusion after having a difficult conversation with myself about what my need to be controlled, hit, used, and tormented meant for me as an outspoken activist.

(Shameless butt plug: I’ve also made a game about it.)

It’s not easy to explain the roots of our kinks, especially when those roots are triggering, but when a white cis hetero man tells me he wants to spit on me and call me his whore, it’s fair for me to assess where those desires come from before I can feel comfortable. There are plenty-o-folks out there who use BDSM to mask abusive tactics, and that shit needs to be deconstructed for healthy play.

Unpacking desire is crucial and a great place to start is with roleplay. Personally, I stay away from roleplay which emphasizes an authoritative dynamic. If you want to roleplay as a soldier and take me as your prisoner, be prepared for me to throw rocks at you while wearing my keffiyeh and telling you to ilhas teezi, ya kalb.

If you’re in a relationship with a sub of color, you should be mindful of the language you use and dynamics you create. Unless you have explicitly negotiated a Master/slave dynamic, perhaps you should reconsider calling your sub of color a slave.

Again, this is my own guideline based on experience, and doesn’t speak to a larger list of absolute musts and must-nots, especially when we acknowledge that ethnicity is just one intersection of identity. It should always come down to having a detailed, honest discussion about your desires and expectations before you consider a dynamic together.

Understand Different Spaces

I feel more embarrassed to share that I religiously read my horoscope than to admit that I like being spanked. But, yeah, listen—I’m a Leo. I’m loud, selfish, glamorous, and the last lioness on earth you want to fuck with. But if I decide that I’m into you and you decide you’re into me, I might give you permission to make me purr. When I’m not purring, my claws are likely out and if you aren’t filing them to prepare me for my next kill then maybe you should worry about being my next kill.

What I’m getting at is: when I’m not crawling around asking permission to suck you, then we’re most likely not having a session, and NEWSFLASH! I’m actually more than your sub. I dated a Colossal Shitlord™ who liked to play rough after we had an argument to “punish” me for “disobeying” him (note that this wasn’t a play session, but like, on my couch). This is a straight-up abusive tactic to try and “correct” and “discipline” me and veiling it as a session.

I’ve also been dominated by a Colossal Shitlord™ who loved using me like a sex toy—which was super-hot until I realized he actually was using me outside our play sessions for various other reasons. That kind of sting doesn’t heal even if every safeword was obeyed and 45 cups of chamomile tea were brewed during aftercare.

How dominants treat subs outside of play is crucial in determining how safe play will be. I’m not particularly interested in dominants who believe that sticking to the golden rule of SSC will guarantee healthy play because kink is complex and requires active, consistent assessment and reassessment.

So, Let’s Fuck!

As mentioned, this is the skeletal guide of how I will assess my kink relationships going forward. A lot of what inspired me to write this piece is wanting to be dominated by socially conscious folks who live and breathe intersectional politics.

If you’re pulling my hair and denying me an orgasm with a Hitachi, I need to know you have my back even post-aftercare. Respect my voice, signal boost my work, and build a healthy dynamic with me that extends outside our play sessions.

Keep in mind that these are experiences based on being a queer woman of color, and several intersections come into our identity and lifestyle that will affect how we relate to dominant partners.

If you’re in a hierarchal polyamorous dynamic (i.e. you have a primary partner or partners, or you’re a part of a poly family and date others in more causal settings, etc.), or if you have partners with neuroatypical mental illnesses and/or physical disabilities, or your partners are trans, genderqueer, non-binary, etc., you should always practice non-oppression first and then negotiate your kink dynamics.

It’s crucial that on top of respecting safewords, subspaces, aftercare, hard limits, soft limits, and so forth, that we actually address each other as humans that require love and safety first and foremost.

If you like this article, please share it! Your clicks keep us alive!

Articles You'll Love