The cover of Newsweek magazine shows a woman wearing a blindfold. It shouts the news that spankings have gone “mainstream” and working women have hot sexual fantasies of being dominated. What if women could claim their fantasies as their own without making excuses for it?
Take a minute, and imagine an actual real live mainstream woman, not a character in a book, talking openly about her desires for sexual submission and spankings? What if that woman was a CEO, nurse, mother and a wife? What would we think then?
What if we learned that she not only read about it, but she did it? That’s right, and it wasn’t about her love and devotion to a man and his desires? What if it was just connected to sex and her own desires and she went out and explored it? And then, what if she wasn’t punished and shamed for her desire? What if this woman wanted what many men want and get every day? How do we really feel about that?
For me, this is where the lies we tell ourselves about sex start and end. And the craziness begins.
The cover story of Newsweek, written brilliantly by Katie Roiphe boils down to one salient point when she talks about all of the heroines of fictionalized female submission desires such as Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Gray.
“It’s important for a mainstream heroine appealing to mainstream readers: she indulges in the slightly out-there fantasy of whipping and humiliation without actually taking responsibility for any off-kilter desires. She can enjoy his punishments and leather whips and mild humiliations without ever having to say that she sought them out or chose them. It’s not that she wants to be whipped, it’s that she willingly endures it out of love for, and maybe in an effort to save, a handsome man. This little trick of the mind, of course, is one of the central aspects of sexual submission: you can experience it without claiming responsibility, without committing to actually wanting it, which has a natural appeal to both our puritan past and our post-ironic present.”
Women are still very bashful about owning our own desires. I believe that to be true. I coach women who are struggling with their sexuality everyday. So many of them are terrified and ashamed of their own desires. The very idea of a real live mainstream woman owning her desire still makes our hair stand on end.
Desire in and of itself is a big one for women. We don’t want to admit that being desired turns us on. What is more delicious than being the object of desire? And in the world of dominance and submission, the submissive is often the one tied up and the focus of all attention. That is pretty yummy for a lot of women. I know it’s pretty yummy for me. But I cop to the fantasy, and told all in my memoir Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner(Rodale). I have given up hiding.
Perhaps Marta Meana said it best when she said that for most women, “Desire is the real female orgasm.”
As women, we want to be the most desired fruit in the salad. We want our significant other – or simply admiring eyes – to reflect back to us their desire for us and this gives us more pleasure that most of us would like to admit to. It’s not very politically correct now, is it? Not any more politically correct than enjoying giving up our power and spankings.
We keep wanting sex to be politically correct. It’s not, and it never will be. I want to be swept off my feet by a suitor that just cannot breathe without me. This is a very real sexual desire for countless women. So many women want to be whisked away against our will because his desire is so intense that he just must have her!
And that turns on our feminine soul in such a hot deep place that the heroine falls in love. The end. This story is told again and again, marketed directly to women, to our core fantasy and purchased in truck loads by countless women in countless Walmarts across the country every day. And yet, we are bashful about it. Aren’t we?
Perhaps women are finally admitting the fantasy and giving up being embarrassed by it. Maybe we are finally in a place of knowing that we have power, and therefore we are in charge of when we decide to give it up for a while. I might be bold enough to declare that this is finally the purest form of feminism and totally being in our power – when we can claim all of our desires.
Sexuality and Desire didn’t read the playbook. The way our desire works is as encoded in our DNA as the color of our eyes, and sweeping it under the covers and the dark corners only hurts us.
I am happy to boldly claim my freedom without excuses or shame. And for me, sometimes that includes blindfolds and silk ties.