I started identifying as a feminist when I was ten, thanks to a very informative teacher. The following year was the first time I experienced sexual trauma. By the time I was fourteen I was cruising the Gender and Sexuality sections of bookstores, where I discovered the work of Patrick Califia. I immediately identified with those books; it was like a coming home, realizing that the sex I was interested in having (though not yet having) was not entirely unusual. It wasn’t freakish. There were others. I was kinky and somehow that acted as a pheromone, attracting other kinky people.
I started my kinky sexual journey as an unabashed Top who took all her worries about the control she didn’t have when she was sexually abused and turning those worries into a powerhouse of dominance and pain infliction. My years as only a Top began to translate outside of the sexual arena. My comfort with being in control there started to carry over into my every day life. I began to recognize why I was into Topping, as well as to learn the socio-cultural implications of FemDom. The more I learned both about myself and about gendered power dynamics, the more I healed from the sexual traumas I had experienced. As I healed, my sexual interests grew and I became a switch.
Now when I Top, I don’t do so out of a place of anger and internal pain. I Top because I know that’s what my partner(s) want, what my partner(s) are into. Seeing their pleasure is now immeasurably joyful to me, whereas in previous years I took pleasure only in acts such as orgasm denial, humiliation, and the infliction of pain.
In no way am I saying that certain acts of Topping or Dominance can only come from a dark place — I’m not yucking anyone’s kink. What I am saying is that for me, personally, that was certainly an initial impetus for my desires. Once I learned to view those desires through a gendered lens and once I had done some emotional and sexual healing, those desires ceased, or perhaps morphed into the desires I have now. Now when I Top, I do so from a place that is much more aware of power dynamic issues in the world, and I keep those in mind both during pre-play or pre-scene negotiations as well as during the actual acts. I feel like a well-informed sadomasochist is a happier sadomasochist!