Or does it mean you’re a submissive person?
There is a long-held myth that women who are into rough sex, sexually submissive or even submissive in relationships are passive, easy to control, pushovers, or doormats. The image of a submissive woman is one who is happy to submit to any strong person, whether it be during rough sex or even outside of the bedroom.
Submissive women are seen as easy to mold and often easy to meld by anyone. And while some submissive women are quite passive and easy to mold, many are strong, active women who find joy in surrendering some of their power to a dominant partner.
Let’s start with the basics of power exchange.
In all relationships, there exists power exchange. One person is in charge of X and the other in charge of Y. In some relationships, there is a balance of power most of the time, an equal division of labor, responsibilities and decision making. In other relationships, most of the power lies with one person who has overall responsibility, and control of decision making.
Many so-called ordinary relationships contain similar types of power exchange. In religious households, there is often a strict division of roles, where the man is often the one who is in charge as head of household with the woman deferring to him in all decisions.
Why would a woman want to be submissive, if not for religious conviction?
For some of us, surrender is tantalizing, exciting, and ultimately a relief. As a strong woman, I am often in charge and in control whether it is to do with running my business or managing what needs to be done at home, social planning, financial planning, or parenting my teenage son. When I was a teenager, I was often in charge of projects with friends, and I learned early how to take responsibility and plan well so that my goals were reached.
I learned quickly that relying on other people often meant that things were not done the way I wanted them done or that they were not done at all. I began to take more responsibility and more control in my life and became known as someone who could and would get things done.
Control felt good. It felt safe. I had difficulty with trust as a result of some early life experiences. This made it even harder for me to give up control in any area of my life.
But more control can equal less pleasure, as orgasm requires that you relinquish control.
At an early age, I found myself craving a dominant partner, someone who could take control from me, who could force me to surrender. First I discovered romance novels, the type where the man carried the woman off and ravaged her. I quickly discovered BDSM erotica and immersed myself in Story of O, amongst others.
My desire to submit grew. When I began to have relationships that included BDSM, I discovered that submission and surrender were not easy for a girl who was so used to being in control. I learned that in order to submit to someone, they had to be very intelligent, and someone I could respect and admire in the world.
In short, the person had to be stronger than I. That is true to this day. To some, this sounds arrogant, but I make no apologies. I am a strong, highly intelligent, highly accomplished woman.
I am into BDSM and that includes rough sex and power exchange for me. Some strong women are only into rough sex in the bedroom. Rough sex is exciting, raw and powerful.
Giving up control to my stronger partner is liberating. I can enjoy the experience of being brought to that edge of intense fear and pain, then feeling it turn to intense pleasure. Surrendering to the primal feelings is what energizes me and pushes me into the most intense full-body orgasms I have ever experienced. It takes me out of my head, out of the knots in my body and pushes me through any barriers.
Rough sex is especially hot for strong women because it helps to push us further than we would often be able to go by ourselves. When I consent to this type of sexual activity, I am choosing what I desire, though I am turning control over to another. It is my choice. That takes strength and trust and is part of what makes it so unbelievably hot. Often rough sex is cathartic and allows me to express and release any trapped emotions.
There is a myth that the submissive person is passive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The submissive is entirely engaged, connected to their partner. The primal aspects allow us to shed all the shame that society heaps onto our sexual lives and sexual culture and to simply do what intuition guides us to do — listen to our bodies.
It requires significant strength to choose risky intense sex where you show up completely open and raw. This makes rough sex exhilarating. Rough sex allows me to let go of all my responsibilities for a time, let go of decision making for a time and simply respond.
How do you enjoy rough sex as part of your sexual repertoire?
The first and most essential component is consent. Consent is the difference between mind-blowingly hot rough sex and rape. And consent is not as simple as ‘yes do it.’
If you want your rough sexual experiences to be super positive ones, consent is something you discuss before you get into the bedroom.
Talk with your partner about your fantasy and include the things that make you hot and the things that you are worried about. Make sure that you have a way of letting your partner know what is too little, what is too much and what is just right.
Safe words are ways to let a partner know when to stop what they are doing. However, sometimes you might not want someone to stop but just to back off a little bit and maybe even approach again. For example, nibbling might feel ticklish, biting harder might feel just right. If your partner bites aggressively, that might be too much. Some people use ‘red’ to say stop and ‘yellow’ to say back off just a bit.
A detailed discussion on consent includes an agreement about what types of activities we will try and define clear limits about how far we will go.
For example, Jane has a fantasy about being kidnapped by pirates and then ravaged. She talks with Barry about being restrained, but tells him that she doesn’t want to be tied with rope. She talks about being tied with ribbon but having that be symbolic rather than effective restraint. Barry asks about using his nails as he ravages her, and Jane says that she would rather he didn’t. They agree these limits before they play together.
Consent for new activities should not be sought while you are in the middle of a sexual session because it can be near impossible to think clearly about the activity, while you are flying from the things you are doing. When people consent to push their boundaries during a sexual session, they sometimes regret this and the experience turns sour.
This is akin to pushing a woman to have intercourse who has already said no to intercourse. Sometimes if you push hard enough, you will get grudging consent. Though you have consent, the experience often turns sour and sometimes even feels as though an assault happened. Though in this case, the person who gave consent has to take responsibility for allowing themselves to be pushed further than they wanted to go.
Let’s return to Jane and Barry. Jane says no to use of fingernails when they discuss limits, but while they are in the midst of the sex, Barry really wants to dig his nails into her thighs. He asks her if it’s OK, and she eventually says yes. Jane doesn’t really enjoy the experience and afterward tells Barry that she felt forced in a negative way and taken advantage of even though she had said yes. This type of situation is quite common and can have ongoing negative consequences.
Therefore, it is best to make your agreements outside the bedroom and stick to them and renegotiate the boundaries for the next encounter.
Once you are comfortable negotiating consent and boundaries with a potential partner, you can enjoy the intense delights of rough sex. If you are unsure of your ability to negotiate these areas or to express your boundaries, some sessions with a sex & intimacy coach can help you to gain these skills and optimize them.
Dr Lori Beth is a sex & intimacy coach and psychologist who works with individuals, couples and polyamorous groups to help them explore sexuality, explore kink and BDSM, recreate a healthy sexual identity after trauma as well as deepen their awareness and understanding about intimate relationships. Her mission is to take sex and conversations about sex from shadow to light. She hosts two podcasts: The A to Z of Sex and Sex Spoken Here every week. Book a discovery session to see how she can help you increase your negotiation skills and find ways to explore the joys of rough sex.