When most people hear the term "BDSM," they think of 50 Shades of Grey. Y'all remember when everyone and her grandma was reading that book? Hosting parties for the movie's premiere? Writing think piece after think piece about how anti-feminist it was? Yeah, me too. Thank all the gods and goddesses that shit is over.
In my sexual experiences, BDSM means 50 different types of hot sex between me (a sub) and Jeffrey, my Dom. Here are some things you may not know about practicing feminist kinky sex as a middle-aged feminist woman:
1. Jeffrey and I love our own middle-aged bodies. And each others.
I am 46 years old, and well past menopause since my hysterectomy. My body has changed from its supple and toned 20-something body to a big ass, slightly flabby arms, and a post-hysto belly. His body, at 66, is wizened with age and sun, and his stomach is ample. He takes medication that cause erectile dysfunction, which for us (and other couples) is a work-around. But we see each other as deeply sexy and beautiful, and we often gaze upon and comment about our love for each others bodies. What might be "flaws" for advertising agencies are pleasures for us.
2. Jeffrey and I both love the roles we play in and beyond our bed.
In the throes of our bedroom kink, it is not unusual to find me bound, gagged, taped, chained, and clipped (clothespins or clamps attached to my nipples or to very sensitive parts of my skin, such as the inside of my thighs). While such a scenario may be triggering for some people — which I fully understand — it has been a way to move and release past pain into intense pleasure.
Yes, it hurts, but even as tears fall from my eyes, as Jeffrey is fucking me either with his fingers or a strap-on or offering me his most exquisite tongue on my clitoris, I feel the shift. What once hurt in a painful way, or what may conjure up painful memories, are now pleasurable. Pleasing him in this way pleases me because it offers a way to heal my old wounds. I feel joy in being tweaked or spanked because it is something I am choosing. Which leads to...
3. This relationship is deeply consensual.
Jeffrey and I live three hours apart but arranged for our first tryst in Key West — a weekend we could each afford. But long before either of us boarded a plane, or even packed the first toy, we agreed to consent to our new dynamic as Dom/sub. We agreed to a safe word — a word that is the most important one in our relationship. And we USE it. Once it comes out, all play stops. This means that every single "no" means "no" and every single "yes" means "yes."
4. We are both feminists with "skin in the game," as it were.
Jeffrey and I are both feminists for decades — we've marched, rallied, written letters, organized campaigns and fundraisers, walked streets to solicit voters and their registration, secured birth control illegally for women who needed it, and more — all for feminist political candidates and issues. We celebrate, as we did with the Supreme Court decision Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in bed.
Naked and loving each other's bodies, we were rejuvenated that women's reproductive health mattered in a country where it has been a polarizing issue for decades. Our aftercare pillow talk is often political. As he's rubbing arnica cream or vitamin E oil onto my reddened ass, we talk about the upcoming election, the importance of down-ticket races, humanism and feminism (where they overlap and why so many humanists reject feminism), my work as a rape crisis counselor, his work in clinic defense, gun control, economic inequality, Jesse Williams' brilliant speech where he honored Black women's work in social justice movements... Beyond the political pillow talk, we talk about our feelings.
At 66, he's unafraid to share what matters to him, his love for me and us, his past pain; at 46, I’m equally unafraid to let him know how our kinky sexual play moved pain through me, out of me. We cry, we laugh, we roll out of bed with our aging bodies and pee (more frequently than we did in our 20s, which also makes us laugh). And we come back to the feminist dynamic of our kink: consent, pleasure, and the right to our bodies precisely as they are.
Kinky sex isn’t about 50 Shades of anything. And the sex we have isn't just about hooking up — which we gray-heads do as well! — but is about expressing our feminist selves through and beyond sex. Yes, he's my Sir, and I am elated to call him such. He appreciates the respect, and I appreciate the way he respects me.
He's not going to abandon me, as Christian Grey does in those insipid books and movies. He's not going to marry me. Neither of us is seeking either of those things. Instead we are just gonna get back to bed and fuck for a while.