"Are you choking me?" my partner asked. He paused in the middle of sex. He looked shocked and confused. Caught off guard while straddling him, I found both my hands wrapped, perhaps a little bit tightly, on his neck. I quickly released them. In my embarrassment, I stacked up apologies. We'd never been in this territory before. We had always kept it soft-core.
But that night I let him in on a secret. "I think I'm into the whole sub/dom thing," I said. I told him I would love to be called names like slut, bitch, and whore. I would be into slapping, choking, and spanking. And I believed I was a switch who might want to do the same to him.
"So you're saying you're into degradation and humiliation but also into BDSM and power-play?" he asked. I nodded.
It didn't take long to share my experiences with friends in my circle. Whenever this comes up, the reactions are amusing. One teared up like a parent watching her kid grow up. Another's mouth dropped open, and then he mumbled how proud he was of me.
If I were to make a Venn diagram of all opinions, the question, "But aren't you a feminist?" is where they all meet. The query hangs around us silently.
Quite frankly, I ask myself the same question. I am conflicted. My whole career's work is rooted in advocacy and empowerment. But in bed, my needs shift. Sure, I'm a feminist who likes being choked, spanked, spat on, held down, etc. during sex -- and yes, I can do the dominant thing, too -- but does enjoying these kinks make me a bad one?
I've spent months trying to be OK with both my feminist identity and my BDSM kink -- and, well, surprise! These two can coexist. Engaging in consensual sexual acts has never been anti-feminist. There should be a space for us where we're not boxed in for enjoying them.
As a bisexual Asian womxn, my approach to my own kinkiness and queerness comes with an acknowledgment of my multitudes. It's all related and important, because our stories get mixed up or lost when people try to simplify or sensationalize us into a trope.
As someone who's almost always had an uncomfortable relationship with men, including being in an interracial (white man/Asian female) couple, this paradigm of power-play intersects massively with race-play. Our pairing is perhaps at the root of discrimination and stereotypes in which I am perceptively the innocent and meek one.
With so many cultural stereotypes about Asian womxn being with white men, I am not excused from being seen as a sub in bed by default. There is the batting of an eye radiating off people in public and those unsolicited comments from our peers silently telling each other how I must be whipped under the sheets -- as if there's something wrong with it.
Personally, I find it laughable. The intense parts of our play where he would slap my face and do me rough until he was howling, "Yes, just like that, slut!" and I'm moaning, almost crying with lust -- both bring us to cathartic climax.
So really, playing docile benefits me in ways I crave too. Practicing and delving into this definitely enable me to access certain parts of myself which I don't always get to do with my work and identity purely driven by leading.
Since then we've explored many D/s (Dominant/submissive) dynamics. In the beginning, I took charge of it all, being the Dom. There have been many afternoons and nights when we returned to our place and, excitedly, I'd catch him off guard, push him on the couch or bed, and pin him down.
I remember his look of disarmed arousal as I undressed. He would whisper, "A little bit faster" or "Slow down" -- but once he moaned, "Please," that's when I knew he's an obedient sub too. Then, over time, he ordered me to strip, kneel, and worship him. It might have been a slow start, but he too became a confident Dom, leading us to switch roles every now and then.
Our transformations have become a major part of our sexual dynamic. I know what I want; therefore, I will ask for it.
Of course, there's a lot more to our domination and role-plays. You might think these relationships are easy to define, but there's fascinating complexity in the intensity and timing of each.
Apropos to the judgment and mistakes people make, thinking BDSM and its erotic practices are all sexual and harmful, I say dominant/submissive relationships are loving and encourage a more positive sex life when done with safe, consensual, and proper bonding, communication, and affection.
I'm sure there are a lot of other womxn who enjoy these as well. There's nothing wrong with them -- it all boils down to bodily autonomy, choice, and consent. Seeing my partner using my body the way I want him to feels a lot more empowering than embarrassing. On the other hand, relinquishing control feels like therapy too.
It's hard to guess where my wants and needs come from, but the intimacy and vulnerability this provides feel like some type of healing. Regardless which role I'm taking, this definitely makes me feel more powerful than helpless.
So yes, I am kind of a bitch and a hoe -- and I proudly take pleasure in aspects of it.
Comedian and actor Margaret Cho once told me, "(BDSM) puts the power in the hands of Asian womxn -- and that's what makes it so personal and thrilling for me. We've been objectified so much for so long -- often our role is to be some kind of fantasy figure and not real."
I couldn't have been this honest about my sexual desires when I was younger. There is too much shame and guilt put on Asian womxn for enjoying sex, let alone pushing the boundaries of what's considered acceptable. I only hope to subvert those erotic taboos among us -- because we are so much more.
Today I'm learning more about my body, my boundaries, and my own erotic self-expression. It's empowering to hold myself with so much pride.
It's true, I am imperfect and messy. I am kind and compassionate. I can be cruel and resentful. I am all of these things. And I may be an alpha or beta in the sheets; however, that doesn't mean I'm cool with domination happening in real life, and vice versa.
I still fuck with patriarchy in the streets on a daily basis, annoying everyone into submission through my feminist writings that debunk systems and cultures that treat us womxn unfairly.