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Kinky Teen vs. 50 Shades of Grey

So I’ve heard a lot of people insist that 50 Shades of Grey reads like an erotica written by a teenager. As someone who was a kinky teenager who wrote prodigiously as a teenager in order to get good at a difficult and demanding craft, I figured it would be entertaining to dig back into my obsessive compulsively well-organized folder of writing in which I carefully collected and maintained the awful awful awful shit that I wrote when I was young.

The notebook where I kept all of my adolescent ramblings. Oh yeah, that's puff paint. The warning at the bottom says "Warning: Anyone criticizing the organization, contents, or appearance of this book may have a health hazard."

The notebook where I kept all of my adolescent ramblings. The warning at the bottom says “Warning: Anyone criticizing the organization, contents, or appearance of this book may have a health hazard.”

Please note that I was fully aware as a kid that it was awful shit. I was carefully documenting and saving all of this with the deep-seated belief and very sincere hope that someday I wouldn’t suck at this.

If most of this stuff comes off as creepy and rapey, that’s because it is. Welcome to my head, ladies and gentleman. It hasn’t changed much in the intervening 20 years.

And so here we go, accompanied by the photos of the actual shit itself. Here is The Porn I Wrote When I Was 14-16 (vintage mid- to late-90’s). I have not edited my spelling, punctuation, or grammar as I type this.

I’ll commence with a mercifully short one. This one was clearly inspired by the musical Aspects of Love, which was the closest fictional contact I had to polyamory at that age.


“Sailing off in the night…

Taking more from this life…” were the words he spoke softly to himself. He could not control himself any longer. His hunger for her was simply too great. He walked back to her bed and looked at her indecisively while she slept. But he had made his choice—he couldn’t change his mind now.

He climbed up with her. He had to awaken her. It would simply be to cruel to take her when she could not remember. He put his lips on hers, and she awoke immediately, staring deeply into his eyes and smiling. “I knew you’d come back,” she whispered. She responded quickly to his touch, wrapping her own arms around neck. They kissed until sweet desire became too much to bear. She slipped her nightgown over her head, closing her eyes as he kissed her breasts. Tenderness and deep passion were the strange emotions they felt as they held onto one another. She twined her legs around him, never once gasping in either small pain or unbearable pleasure, though both feelings coursed through her veins as she and he became one. Fire went thought her until she began to soar past the clouds, as she slowly fell, kissing him as she floated down. When they separated, she whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

You know this is authentic 1995ish because of the classic pink pen.

You know this is authentic 1995ish because of the classic pink pen.


So, some kids fantasize about sex, and some kids fantasize about sex magic. I was definitely in both camps. This literary atrocity was a spectacular way to skip over the fact that I had no idea what sex felt like by just imagining the characters couldn’t remember it. I have spared you some of the worst of the writing here, and skipped to the, um, not-so-juicy parts. This one was titled, “A Hippie Wedding,” but it should have been titled, “Mary Sue Was a Pagan.” The part that I’ve spared you included the words, “My friends and I had a strange culture. It was kind-of a combination of true Druidism and hippie-love.” Please note that at the time I was writing this, I had no fucking clue that there was a pagan subculture or kink subculture. Like, no clue at all. I believed that in order to live my life properly, I was going to have to save a lot of money, buy a plot of land in the middle of nowhere, and convince a lot of friends to come have sex outside in the fields with me. Lucky for me, I didn’t actually have to do that. Okay, on to the, um, story:


Now it was time for the true wedding.

I had been dressed (without either underwear or bra) in a black broomstick skirt, a black-and-purple tie-dyed shirt, and  long necklace of daisies tied together. But that was not all. I also wore a black choker, blue-crescent earrings, and a blue-crescent bracelet to match. On bare feet were pained peace signs and flowers. The crescent on my forehead had been darkly painted, and I was keenly aware of my flowing hair. The final outer symbol was a large daisy behind my ear. All the girls were dressed in black, all the boys in white. I linked arms with my Soul Sister, Jasmine, and then linked arms with Wren [her fiance], who was joined by his Brother, Salmon. In that formation we walked around a sort-of circle, then let go of our Siblings in the center. All the people joined hands around us, and finally I threw off my shirt. Underneath, my nipples had daisies glued to them with sap; a yin-yang was painted of my stomach; a large star was painted between my breasts; and a heart-peace-sing was painted on my back. Wren, too, stripped off his shirt, and we joined hands, raising our arms skyward, and singing a blissful song. All around us, the magic words, which simply cannot be translated, were sung.

At the song’s cue, I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. It was a light kiss, but it was enough to make us both want more. Finally, we sang the words which can only be translated:

Forever in thy arms,

Forever in thy embrace,

Forever I shall hold thee in my heart,

In this life and eternally,

I know thee! Thou art mine!

Forever… Forever… Forever… Forever…

And we were bound. I slipped my skirt from my waist, as he slipped off his bell-bottoms, and we twined our lips… our arms… our bodies… I felt nearly nothing that night. I felt the bliss of the Goddess; I felt the power between us; but I did not even so much as feel his lips on mine.

I do not know how long we lay there, but surely it was very late when we fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next morning I stumbled as I awoke, and was amazed to find no one but him there. I had not expected them to leave, but then, I smiled, for that was more our way than Hers. For the first time I got a good look at him, and saw his starch-blonde hair. He was freckled, and pale-skinned, but quite handsome, and obviously muscular. I was just pulling my shirt over my head when he awakened.

He stretched ungracefully and smiled lustfully at me. “You are even more beautiful in flesh than you were in my visions, and indeed,” he was speaking quite softly now, “you were the most beautiful woman I had ever even somewhat looked at then.”

“Surely my husband shall not love me for my face,” I said, pretending to be shocked.

“Oh, surely not,” he replied, almost jovially. “But surely such a priestess as you understands that men love all beauty, mental and physical.”

“As do women,” I whispered. “Even the Greatest One Herself.”


Well, I definitely feel like I owe you an apology after that, so I’ll give you something even weirder. I have no idea where this next one came from. I’m going to guess that it was Shakespeare’s fault. If I had to snarkily title it right now, I’d call it, “A Smile of Mirth.” Have fun counting clichés here…:

They talked and laughed, each holding a basket, their hands occasionally brushing. Oh, how he savored those moments! He wondered desperately if she felt the same thrill he did. He spread the picnic blanket down on the grass in the tiny field, entirely surrounded by trees. Oh, if only he were bold enough! They ate, and she giggled at his jokes. Suddenly, he stopped, a dark cloud covering his face.

“What’s wrong,” Hannah asked curiously, rolling over.

“There’s something I must tell you,” he whispered.

“What?” she asked, a smile of mirth on her face.

“I’m a boy,” he said helplessly.

She laughed. “Theodora! Really, you don’t expect me to believe that do you?”

He looked up abruptly. “Will you let me kiss you to prove it?”

She laughed. “Go ahead,” she shrugged good-naturedly. She stuck her lips out towards him. He thrust his mouth towards hers in such a forceful passion she was almost frightened. He threw his arms around her neck and rubbed his tongue in desparate union with hers. He slowly lay across her, and she felt a mysterious fiery life in her lips that they had never known before. Love was something that mind had barely known, and passion was something her body had never even dreamed existed.

“I can’t,” he whispered.

“Don’t stop now!” she said matter-of-factly. “Love is something you’ve always felt, but it’s something I’ve never known. Until now,” she added softly.

“As long as you want…”

“I do,” she said. And to prove it, she began to unlace her dress. She pulled off her shoes, and hastily threw off her petticoats. She sat back on the blanket and kissed his lips with a lust which more than matched his. He suddenly threw off his own shirt and pants and knelt over her in a fury of lust. She felt as though she were burning as the flames seemed to consumed her entire body. Life seemed to flow between them like two rivers running together. And then they felt the sweet waters wash over them like an ocean tide. Slowly, it slipped away until it was as though there was nothing left between them except two warm bodies.

And a mountain of love.

He kissed her breasts slowly, then said, “We’d better go back.”

“I know,” she said slowly. “But does it have to end?”

“Only in our bodies. But never in our hearts.”

She kissed him again. “How true.”

My cat Rufio decided to spare you my awful adolescent writing.

My cat Rufio decided to spare you my awful adolescent writing.


Somewhere around the age of 16, I magically transformed into a much more competent writer. Most things I’ve written since then don’t cause me to experience seizures of embarrassment and cringe so hard my face hurts. Since this next one only causes me to repeatedly bang my head against hard surfaces, I’m going to assume it was written after that literary epiphany. It’s still conspicuously written by a virgin who has no idea what sex feels like, but it’s at least a moderately engaging story. This is Cleopatra and Caesar porn. Because, you know… classics. I’ve skipped the set up where Cleopatra arranges to get to Caesar’s room in a carpet:

But even the odd rugs of the Persians, though heavy, did not weigh this much. He yanked it free, desirous of knowing its contents, and found a woman. Not just any woman though.

Cleopatra blinked without visible concern at the man she had come to visit. Handsome, but she had known handsomer. Not excessively large, but he would do. He would have to; she didn’t care what he looked like, just as long as he felt differently about her…

And she needn’t have feared that at all. His eyes immediately devoured all the exposed flesh of her body, and without difficulty contemplated what could not be seen, though there was little to contemplate. Despite her beauty, he stepped back, but remembered his Roman civilities.

“Queen Cleopatra! What a pleasant surprise! For what purpose am I so deeply honored by your presence?”

She wanted to laugh at his pretensious politeness, but she forced herself to smile charmingly. “Not too much of a surprise, I hope? I don’t imagine women rolled in carpets visit you frequently.”

He grimaced. “No. Somehow they always seem to find other means.”

There was a very thick silence between them as she sat up. She made no effort to break it, so finally he asked sharply,

“Why have you come?’

“Suppose I hadn’t a reason?”

“Women like you always have a reason for what they do: frequently eight or nine.”

She laughed. “Very well, then: to talk business.”

It took great restraint to keep from making the lewd remark which involuntarily popped into his head. Her attire suggested everything but business: she looked like a courtesan.

“Do you always dress like that when you come to talk treaties?”

She did not blush. “I dress how I like. This is the current state of fashion.” He looked at her and felt unconvinced. Her apparel consisted of a tiny top which left everything revealed except the very lowest portions of her breasts and her nipples. The heavily embroidered fabric was really gauze save for the thickness of the stitching. She wore a panty-like garment which also covered as little as was humanly possible. Then a short gauze skirt went around that. Intense beadwork hung all over the clothing, draped from various points on the top, skirt, and undergarment. Gold bracelets, ankle bracelets, necklaces covered her, yet she appeared oblivious to Caesar’s disapproval; naturally however, she was aware of it.

There was another, shorter, pause between them and the queen began again.

“I did not come here to discuss fashion, as no doubt I could visit your wife about such an issue. I came to talk business.

And so she did. Ruthlessly, she scoured him for every penny he could give her for Egypt’s aid, alliment, vessels, soldiers. Every time, she started out bigger than she knew he could accept, and then slowly lowered the demands. To his shock, he found she had already drawn up the documents ahead of time in Egyptian, Greek, and Latin without the aid of a scribe. The papers stated the exact conditions they had agreed upon. He knew now that he truly was facing one of the most intelligent people—men and women included—he had ever met. But it wasn’t her intelligence he was thinking about now…

He had a job to do, and he dutifully signed the papers. He did not ask her how she had known ahead of time what they would agree on: it no longer mattered.

She got up from the carpet she had been lounging on (she had never accepted the chair he had offered) and began walking towards the door.


She turned around with such a calculated measure of sharpness and poise that indicated to him that she had never really had any intention of leaving.

“Yes, my lord?” I was said daringly, as if she knew what he wanted, but also knew he would be afraid to ask for it.

It was a pulsing gaze which went between them now. “Did you come here to seduce me?”

She paused in a semblance of thought. “Have I made any attempts to do so?”

“No, but—“ he was rather discombobulated. “Perhaps it was simply my vanity,” he muttered.

She looked at him with glittering eyes, but for the third time that night, said nothing.

“You are married, are you not?” he demanded.

“I am. To my brother.”

It's classy if it's Caesar and Cleopatra, right?

It’s classy if it’s Caesar and Cleopatra, right?

He shook his head in disbelief. “I am still accustoming myself to the traditions of your country—they are very different from the ones of Rome. Can any boy of your body become heir?”

“Any child of my body may receive the crown. As may any child acknowledged of my husbands: it matters not which ones are born first, second, or third: whichever one wins.”

He nodded comprehension, as she once more turned to leave.

Rather than asking her to wait, he found a better way to stop her:

“There are many rumors about you.”

She did not turn around.

“Such as, my lord?”

“Such as you are a virtual nymphomaniac. That no man, unless he escapes your eyes, may escape your bed.”

She turned around slowly, and he could see anger in her face.

“I am not a nymphomaniac. And I am not a whore, as I know many others have said. And if no man escapes my bed after meeting me, perhaps it is because they all desire me, not the other way around.”

It stunned him, and made him blush at the accusatory note in her voice. Perhaps he truly had been mistake, yet she began to walk towards him. He still sat and she still stood, but she was very near him now—so near he could smell her very subtle perfume.

“Would you like a seduction, my lord?” Her voice was very quiet now, not the harpy-tuned challenges he had heard before.

“Why should I let you? There are women more beautiful than you.” It was a lie. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

She smiled and asked in a childish tone, “Where?”

“At the temple of Venus. I could get one right now, if I wanted.”

She laughed. “Yes, I suppose you could, as one is standing beside you, grossly lavishing her smiles on you.” He looked around him when she said that, but of course, there was only she.

You’re a priestess of Venus?”

“Yes. I told you, my lord, I am not a whore; I merely perform my Goddess’ rites a bit more assiduously than the common people approve.”

“And what must one do to become a priestess of Venus? Or is it some great mystery?”

She shrugged. “It’s no great secret, though it’s not widely known: one must be trained, then seduce a priest of Apollo.”

He stared at her. She was sitting on the floor beside him now. The priests of Apollo were well-known for being excessively virtuous, even at keeping their oaths of chastity, unlike many other priests who took similar vows.

“You seduced a priest of Apollo?” It did not surprise him. Such beauty could seduce any man with eyes to see it. Yet it would be easy for her to lie.

“Two, actually.” She smiled luxuriously at him. “At the same time, unfortunately.”

At the same time?”


She bent her lips towards his to kiss him. Not a timid first kiss, a passionate open-mouthed kiss that ran through his body in a rage of fire.

“You don’t love me.”

“True and find out for yourself. I pose riddles: they must be solved.”

“You love power.”

“Yes, but not necessarily any more than love.”

“You love Egypt?”

“More than anything in the world.”

“You would do anything in the world for her?”

“I have.”

She bent and kissed him again, and this time he melted. It was the most delicious flaming thing he had ever known. He knew lust like a disease, but he didn’t care: he had been infected too badly to think of anything other than her. It did not take long for him to draw her to his bed, but it meant brief a separation of their lips. It left him time to doubt.

“You don’t love me,” he repeated.

“I said to try and find out.”

He slipped what small pieces of clothing she wore off her and discarded them along with most of her jewelry. He put his hands on her generous bosom and let the delight of the touch flow through both their bodies.

As for the lady, she didn’t love him, but she had one night to convince him that she did. Egypt needed Rome, and so she needed Julius Caesar. This was the way treaties were signed for her: in a way far more dependable than blood. Besides, she liked this clever ruler: and he was better than she’d though he’d be.

She brought his mouth down to hers after he had discarded his clothes.

Give everything, she thought to herself. He’s probably slept with every courtesan in Rome. Convince him you’re much more than that.

She spread her legs and let him sink down into her, a raging torrent of pleasure that she used the tricks of Venus to ensure came to both herself and him.

His hands were everywhere along her body, as if hurriedly trying to memorize every detail of it. They rolled, and she gasped as the pain began, mingled indiscriminately with excessive pleasure. She arched her back to let its deluge come over her.

When his breathing slowed, he asked, “You do love me, don’t you?”

She smiled into the darkness, thanking Venus for her success.

“Do you have to ask?”

Burying his head in her voluptuous breasts, he murmured, “No, of course not.”


Sadly, I feel that I must concede this one to E.L. James.

As a chaser, I figure I’d offer up some of the erotica that I’ve written since I actually had sex. Nowadays, I mostly write erotica when I’m bored and lonely in hotel rooms. Then I post it to the internet. Here’s a sample:

All I Want for Christmas

 One Finger





7 Things “50 Shades of Grey” Got Right

By now I’m guessing that a lot of you have heard over and over again about what a bad book 50 Shades of Grey is, and how its portrayal of BDSM and kink is horribly inaccurate, blah blah blah. Well, I’m assuming that the millions people who are fans of the book are probably especially tired of listening to a lot of people bitch about a book that they loved and enjoyed. As someone who is deeply involved in the kink scene, I also think that it’s okay for a work of fiction to show fallibility in its characters, especially when they are fallibilities that appear a lot in the real world. And so the case with 50 Shades, I think. I believe one of the reasons the book so annoys the kinksters who’ve actually read is that they know too many people like Ana and Christian (minus the billion dollar financial empire…), and wish they didn’t.

Also, unlike many of the people who are railing against the book, I’ve actually read it (twice) and seen the movie. I can’t honestly say that I found any of that to be especially pleasurable, but I at least know what the hell I’m talking about. I should caution that I haven’t read the subsequent books, though, so I’m really only talking about the first book. My understanding is that Ana and Christian stop being kinky in the second and third books anyway.

And so, without further ado, I give you the 7 things that 50 Shades of Grey gets right:

  1. Many people enjoy D/s without wanting to engage in it full-time.

Despite the fact that “24/7” relationships get most of the hype both inside and outside of the BDSM scene, in actual fact, lots of very kinky people don’t do this in the context of relationships where one person is the full-time Dom of the other one. At the heart of 50 Shades is at least one nuance that Christian is basically oblivious to up until the very end (sort-of):  it’s entirely possible to have a very happy D/s relationship with someone that only functionally exists inside a bedroom or playroom. Being someone’s Dom or sub all the time is a HUGE commitment, and even a lot of people who do it often finesse it by having the Dom tell the sub “you’re in charge of managing your own life.” It’s clear that what Ana really wants is a part-time D/s relationship (even though she’s terrible at articulating that), while Christian thinks they have to have a full-time D/s relationship in order to satisfy his Domliness.

This conflict is one which frequently emerges from real kinky folks all the time in both directions (i.e. subs who want their Doms to control them more, Doms who want more control of their subs, subs who feel over-controlled, and Doms who feel excessively submitted to). Christian seems to think that being the Dom, he just gets to dictate all the terms of his and Ana’s relationship, and that’s not usually a great recipe for success in D/s relationships (although a common mistake). It’s especially stupid of him, since he is obviously actually turned on by her spirited disobedience, which leads me to…

  1. Many subs are “brats” and many Doms are assholes

When my friends and I sat around to make collective nouns of our people (you know, like a “murder of crows”), among the ones we can up with was an AssHole of Dominants, a doormat of submissives, and a waffle of switches. All of us who hang out in the Scene know That Dom—the one who insists that because he is a Twu Dom, he gets to boss everyone around. Well, Christian Grey is That Dom, as he says in one of the first pages of the book: “Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele,” he says without a trace of humor in his smile. Sigh. For most of us, this doesn’t make our panties wet, this just makes us annoyed. But these are very real people out there who haven’t quite figured out the difference between “Dominant” and “domineering.”

Meanwhile, there’s an entire sub-class of subs who identify as “brats.” These are subs who like to be “punished,” but who, like Anastasia, don’t actually like to be punished, and indeed, are often offended by the very idea. The idea behind “bratting” (and yes, the Scene culture has actually verbed that one) is that you mouth off and misbehave around your top, and then they get to “punish” you for it, which excites everyone. The tops aren’t actually trying to change the “brats” behavior because both people enjoy having a fun excuse for a nice consensual beating. In real life, as in 50 Shades, sparks often fly in complicated patterns between some Doms who yearn for obedience but find that they’re kind of turned on and simultaneously annoyed by bratty subs. There’s something really satisfying about slapping someone who’s mouthing off to you, but if you are genuinely annoyed by their behavior, it tends to become a problem after a while. And when Those Doms try to punish those subs and change their behavior, the sexy sparks turn into a big fiery mess… just like what happens in 50 Shades.

  1. A lot of Doms refuse to date their subs

There actually is an entire group of Doms that refuses to date their subs. Like, as a matter of principle. I have seen posts from them on FetLife complaining that their subs keep violating their hard limits and falling in love with them! Such disobedience!

…this dynamic is not to be confused with non-sexual D/s arrangements, which are a very different thing that 50 Shades never addresses… No, I mean there really are Doms who fuck their subs and expect them to be loyal to them, but have no feelings for them. Except, you know, all that trust and submission and desire and stuff. But no feelings.

  1. Lots of kinky people think they aren’t

Now I admit, I’ve got my own personal biases coming into this story, but when I read 50 Shades of Grey, I read a story about a virgin girl, who’s actually quite kinky and fairly submissive, who really just isn’t comfortable admitting that. So she displaces a lot of her own feelings of guilt and anguish onto a guy who is, conveniently, pretty fucked up completely aside from his kinky preferences.

It might surprise some of you reading this to know when first invited into a private dungeon, I turned down the invitation saying “I’m not really that kinky” (that guy still occasionally mocks me for that. With good reason). It turns out that it is possible to deny one’s own kinkiness in the face of a truly spectacular array of evidence to the contrary if one is determined. And lo, we get a woman like Anastasia Steele, who can orgasm from being hit on the clit with a riding crop, (which, while I have seen people do it, is certainly an extraordinary feat, even amongst those who consider themselves very kinky)… but maintains throughout the book that she isn’t kinky. Dude, I’m jealous of that kind of fucktastic kink power. But whatever that is, it’s not vanilla…

I’m pretty sure the VAST majority of kinky folks out there are (like Ana) busy believing that they’re “just not that kinky.” I think that’s a big part of why 50 Shades is so fucking popular. It feels okay to be turned on by kink as long as you aren’t actually kinky yourself. Believe me, I know from experience.

  1. Lots of kinky folks worry about how others will perceive them

In one of the more telling passages in 50 Shades, Ana worries: I don’t even know how to categorize him. If I do this thing… will he be my boyfriend? Will I be able to introduce him to my friends? Go out to bars, the cinema, bowling even, with him? The truth is, I don’t think I will. Kinksters constantly complain that they don’t even know how to explain their relationships to vanilla people. And they’re clearly a bit ambivalent about categorizing their relationships themselves—people will almost always introduce a boy/girlfriend (but not spouses) more comfortably as “my Dom/sub.” On the one hand, most real-world kink couples live surprisingly ordinary boring lives; on the other hand, they often end up feeling isolated from vanillas because they’re constantly afraid of being judged.

  1. It comes down to trust

In one of the wisest exchanges in 50 Shades, Christian says, “Again, it comes down to trust. Do you trust me, Ana?” Ana! “Yes, I do.” I respond spontaneously, not thinking… because it’s true – I do trust him. “Well then,” he looks relieved. “The rest of this stuff is just details.” I think one of the ways to look at BDSM is just as a giant trust-building exercise, like one of those weird camp activities where they make you fall into your friends’ arms with your eyes closed, or climb up some weird… rope… ladder. For a lot of people (like Ana and Christian), BDSM involves sex. But at its root, it’s really about finding intense and powerful ways to build trust between two (or more) people through what often feel like dangerous, risky, scary, exciting, and/or titillating activities. And it is remarkably effective at that.

What Christian constantly loses sight of is that normally, we expect Doms to have to *earn* their sub’s trust, not just hand it over after a helicopter ride and a kiss in an elevator.

  1. Don’t feel guilty about it

The smartest thing in 50 Shades is Christian’s advice to Ana: Don’t waste your energy on guilt, feelings of wrongdoing etc. We are consenting adults and what we do behind closed doors is between ourselves. You need to free your mind and listen to your body. These ideas are major philosophical underpinnings of the kink subculture: rather than feeling guilty about what we want to do, let’s find safe and sane ways to do what we want with people who have matching desires.

Christian spends most of the novel incorrectly telling Ana what she wants, and simultaneously correctly showing her what she wants over and over again. The best kinky fun happens when you can free yourself enough to listen to what you really want instead of what someone else or society tells you to want. So… do as Christian said, not as he did.

Submission is masculine too

Valentine’s Day draws nigh, and we’re about to be treated to another installment of the 50 Shades movie and Christian Grey’s twu domliness (ignoring the inconvenient part where in the book his character was once a sub, because he was apparently underaged so it doesn’t count…). And of course he’s a dom. He’s a guy. In American films, you’re not likely to see masculine high-power business executives or action heroes who get chained to beds when they get home any time soon, because we mostly treat masculine submission as humorous and often absurd (if you haven’t seen it, check out this hysterical segment of Conan). Gods, in a world where we think men being actually raped is funny (check out the Wedding Crashers or to a lesser degree Almost Famous), it’s no wonder that we think the idea of men consenting to submission is just downright absurd.

It’s the twenty-first century, and I’d personally love to see the idea of gender done away with entirely. I want to make very clear at the start that I prefer living in a world where no one gives a shit about gender, and most of what I’m about to say is irrelevant to assigned-male-at-birth people who identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, trans, or even (a la Eddie Izzard) as “executive transvestites.” But since we seem to be stuck with gender for the foreseeable future, I want to make sure that we get something clear as a subculture, because right now the mainstream culture seems to have made us a bit fuzzy on this point:

submission is masculine too

I’ve never heard anyone suggest that a submissive woman isn’t a “real woman,” but the idea that submissive men aren’t “real men” is one of the most pernicious concepts that pervades much of traditional femdom sub-sub-culture. I don’t pretend to know what a “real man” is, so I figured I’d check the internet for help. The difference between men and women on most personality characteristics is so small that it’s barely scientific to discuss it, but the words that show up as associated with masculinity are:

independent non-emotional aggressive tough-skinned competitive clumsy experienced strong active self-confident hard sexually aggressive rebellious

Now if, for some reason, you’re deeply committed to being a twu manly man and holding onto these values, I want to point out how you can hold onto these characteristics and still be a twu sub too (Goddess help us all). Here goes.

  • Independent: while crazy doms might like someone who is financially and emotionally dependent on them, most sane and healthy doms agree that they actually prefer subs who have their shit together and can take care of themselves. To go back to my car analogy of ages ago, most doms prefer a sub who can drive, but just likes it better if their dom does.
  • Non-emotional and tough skinned: don’t underestimate the appeal of a stoic bottom. It’s super hot when you beat the shit out of someone and they barely show any response, even as the welts appear (it’s also super hot when they scream. My tastes are many and varied).
  • Aggressive and clumsy: okay, I can’t make those work. But they’re also super unappealing qualities anyway, and wouldn’t be nice in a dom either…
  • Competitive: by all means, be competitive–just love to lose. And compete with yourself (just how big a dildo can you take up your ass without getting injured? hm?) Also, develop a perverse affection for rigged games (“let’s play rock paper scissors to see who’s going to be on bottom! You can only do paper.”)
  • Experienced: while cherry popping and innocence are easily compatible with bottoming and submission, you can go so much further with someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing.
  • Strong: yes, please. Give me a strong masculine sub, and I’ll do fucked up shit like kick him while he holds his arms plank position until he falls onto my torturous acupressure mat in exhaustion and I get to step on him. No fun to do with someone who’s weak.
  • Active: contrary to popular belief, submission and bottoming are not passive positions. It’s like getting fucked: to be good at it, you still have to actually be DOING something.
  • Self-confident: one of the unsexiest things is people who seem to be submissive because they’re too insecure to be anything else. And they’re way more satisfying to dom because it feels like you’ve achieved something.
  • Hard: I mean, I don’t want to make people who have erectile problems feel bad, but I must admit that I prefer guys who get and stay hard easily. This is equally true for subs and doms, because I’m going to want to fuck them either way.
  • Sexually aggressive: I would love it if we could stop equating “passion” and “dominance.” You can absolutely still be the sexual aggressor and be submissive. Slam me against a wall and kiss me to get me horny, and I’ll still force you down to your knees to worship my pussy. You can still be the one who initiates the sex… by pleading.
  • Rebellious: my sub rebels all the time; I keep a list of strike marks on my phone and beat him later accordingly. Everyone is still happy. Alternatively, you could argue that one of the most rebellious things a guy in our culture can do is stand up and say, “yeah, I fucking love it if my wife kicks my ass.”

Am I stretching things a bit to make this work? Yeah. But we’ve spent the last 70 years passionately re-working the concept of “feminine” to include the idea of “dominant,” and we’ve done an okay job at that (enough that a woman won the popular presidential vote by a substantial margin–something that would have been impossible 50 years ago). It’s high time we started working on the converse of that idea and started thinking about healthy ways to let men be submissive.


So you want to be a masculine submissive (please note that this is not necessarily the same thing as being a submissive man). And I would love for you to. You know, like the cover of a trashy romance novel, except you’re wearing a collar. How do you make that happen?

First, let’s go to a couple of awesome fantasy series for inspiration: Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books, and Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel books. In both cases, super badass manly men lovingly and happily take the backseat to even more badass chicks, and use the same phrase as they do: “protect and serve.” They take a traditionally masculine role (“the Protector”) and use their skills to serve and please the women in their lives. They’re physically and emotionally strong, clever, resourceful, and good in bed… And they seek out women who are even more badass than they are themselves so they can use their abundant personal resources to do what those women tell them to.

Sure, it’s fiction, but that sounds pretty fucking awesome to me.

But let’s talk about the real world. Here’s a few points of inspiration for you:

  • I think it’s wicked hot if a guy walks around a dungeon in a suit being led around by his necktie (what convenient leashes those are!).
  • And what fun if a guy is strong enough to pick me up and fuck me standing up while carrying me… but isn’t allowed to cum until he’s made me cum three times and has to ask my permission.
  • Tough guys can take a lot of pain, and it’s extra fun to watch them suffer. It’s an especially beautiful thing is to watch super strong guys tied up with almost no rope lines on them, basically stuck in a pull-up position… Their muscles inevitably start trembling, and then they finally collapse into the agony of their viciously unsupportive lines.
  • Our culture has become a little obsessed with the idea that part of being manly is being able to please one’s sexual partners. I think that obsession is pretty unhealthy, but if you’re going to cling to it, it’s super easy to make that compatible with submission. (Pleasing one’s partner is one of those ideas that’s easy to interpret in support of any identity, conveniently enough). But I certainly want a sub to be good at pleasing me and enjoy pleasing me, and I think it’s pretty easy to make that compatible with common masculine identity values.

The thing we seem to have the most trouble with is the idea that erections and being on the giving end of PIV/PIA sex are submissive. This idea is a big part of why fem dom stuff tends to put a big emphasis on chastity play and penis cages: the implication is that in order to control a man, you have to get control of the root of his power, i.e. his dick. We’re stuck in an archaic patriarchal conceptualization where penis = power. This is just silly. Men are amusingly weakened in so many ways when they’re hard. It’s hard for them to pee; a lot of times they walk funny; actually, it’s often difficult for them to do much of anything non-sexual when their dicks are hard–especially, say, math. Men are exposed (literally) and vulnerable when they’re hard, and most of them have been taught by society to feel extremely self-conscious about their erections (you want to quickly humiliate most guys: keep their belt on so their pants stay up, unzip their fly, keep their boxers on, and make them hard anyway so their dicks are sticking out of their clothes. Then make them, say, go to the bathroom across the room in a dungeon to get you a kleenex).

Screw this idea that penis = power. The root of anyone’s power–and the site of everything that controls submission, switching, and domination–is never the genitalia. It’s the brain. You get hard for me. You fuck me for my entertainment and my pleasure. You cum when I tell you you can. Done. That’s what submission is. There’s no need to emasculate yourself in order to be submissive, and I’d personally mostly rather that you didn’t.

Oh, and did I mention the most ironic part? The sooner we embrace the idea that submission is masculine, the easier it will be to find hetero-attracted women who want to be dominant. For many or even possibly most (potentially) dominant hetero-attracted women, submissive men are hot because they’re submissive men. And that’s not just about some sort of fetish for the taboo or defying gender expectations by getting a MAN to submit to them. It’s also just about finding conventionally masculinity hot in a context of submission.

In conclusion, I’m not just saying that it’s okay for guys to submit, or that it’s okay for guys to wear collars. I’m not even just saying that it’s hot for guys to do these things. I’m going several steps further and saying: if you are a masculine person who likes to submit and/or identifies as a sub, that can in fact boost your masculinity rather than reducing it. And I’m not just basing this on some subjective idea about “gender is in the eye of the beholder/keeper” (although it is), or some desperate attempt to re-work masculinity for my own mischievous fem-domly aims (although I am). You really just don’t have to work hard to make your identity as a guy compatible with your identity as a sub, for one simple and basic reason: with the right dom, being masculine is likely to please and arouse them, and isn’t that what submission is about?

The 8 Most Misunderstood Things About BDSM

It’s easy to mock and misunderstand kinky people. We’re weird. I know. Trust me, only kinky people know how really weird we are. But seriously, most of us aren’t that weird, especially compared to say, soccer moms. Everyone deserves to be laughed at for something, and it’s easy to poke fun at kinksters. But if you’re going to laugh, please laugh about the right things. The stereotypes and misunderstandings that “vanillas” (what kinky people call everyone else) have about us undoubtedly exceed the 8 things on this list. Lo, these misinformed stereotypes even recently appeared in a cracked.com article.  We already have to deal with the fictional travesty that is 50 Shades of Grey, with its dubious conceptions of BDSM and its lexically challenged heroine. So please take a minute to learn how most of what you’ve learned about BDSM is wrong.


8. “What the hell is that acronym for anyway? Can I just call it ‘kink?’”

The acronym cheats: “BDSM” actually stands for 6 things—Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & submission (and yes, kink orthography traditionally capitalizes the “D” and doesn’t capitalize the “s”), and Sadism & Masochism.  The acronym evolved over time from S&M to SM to BDS&M to just plain BDSM.  Expect it to change again in 10 years.

And yes, you can just call it “kink.” Kinky people do. Just don’t be a judgmental prick about it.
For a good summary of the history, see CARAS research 


7. “All kinky people wear leather. And are gay.”

Long, long ago, there was a “leather scene” primarily for gay men that involved many activities that we now tend to label BDSM. Then some straight-ish people saw what was going on and thought that that kinky shit looked fun and started building their own BDSM subcultures. To this day, gay men and… everyone else… functionally have two separate, albeit related BDSM worlds. Occasionally, we all get together at big events, but for the most part, the “pansexual” BDSM scene and the “gay men’s leather scene” are basically distinct.

Gratuitous hot boys in leather.


Well, kinky girls wear weird shit too… it just isn’t always leather: gratuitous hot chick in latex.

Nowadays, all kinksters have the same flag, but the not-gay male kinky people are a lot less likely to wear leather.

“No flag, no subculture–that’s the rule that I just made up!” ~with apologies to Eddie Izzard

References: Fennell 2014  Lenius 2001  Richters et al. 2008 (for Australia)


6. “All people who do BDSM participate in ‘The Lifestyle’”
The public face of BDSM tends to be folks who are out, loud, and proud.

Awww, so cute! This was the #2 picture when I searched google image for “BDSM.”

Cute pic, right? But in reality, you won’t find most kinksters at a pride parade or at their local BDSM “munch” or happy hour (those are kinky social networking events, FYI), or even at the local BDSM club.  Despite the visibility of public kink, social scientists actually assume that the vast majority of people engaging in kink are not part of the public BDSM subculture (usually referred to as “The Scene” or “The Lifestyle”).

It’s like facebook, except there are lots of naked pictures.

It’s like facebook, except there are lots of naked pictures.

The BDSM subculture (which is most visible on the internet on the website FetLife) only represents a tiny fraction of kinky folks. Only a few kinky folks are lucky enough to live in a big city with a public BDSM scene. But even a lot of those people don’t like getting dressed up, going to parties, and doing kink surrounded by lots of other people. The public BDSM scene calls to exhibitionists and people who like doing weird things in the company of other weird people. These people also tend to be white and middle+-class.

I created this diagram to illustrate my point.

I created this diagram to illustrate my point.

People who participate in the public BDSM scene tend to participate in a lot of overlapping and adjacent subcultures as well, most notably the geek subculture, the pagan subculture, and the polyamorous subculture. Polyamory???  You know, that crazy thing where people get to sleep with people who aren’t their spouses, but don’t lie about it… or have meaningful relationships with lots of people… or some combination of the above.

Polyamorous life is definitely more complicated, but it’s also a helluva lot more fun.

Most people who participate in the public BDSM scene in the main urban areas around the U.S. are non-monogamous, while we’re pretty sure the people who like to play at home have more traditional monogamish relationships.

I can’t be wittier than Oscar Wilde.

In the public BDSM scene where I live, monogamous kinksters were so rare that they tried to set up their own dating group. But there were so few of them that it rapidly vanished.

References:  Newmahr 2010  Sheff & Hammers 2011


5. “Kinksters and swingers are all part of the same subculture”
Au contraire, there is actually a longstanding subcultural war between kinksters and swingers, even though—nay, perhaps because—they often have their events in the same venues on alternating nights. The hostility is so common that the primary group for swingers on the kinky social networking website FetLife is defensively named, “’Swingers‘ is not a dirty word!”

#3 google image pic for “Swinger Party.” Real swingers tend to be a lot older than this, but just as white, and just as naked.

The only google image I could quickly find for “BDSM Party” that wasn’t from porn. As you see, sexy, but a lot less sex. Real kinksters tend to look pretty much exactly like this—just as white and just as semi-clothed, most of the time.

To be clear, kinksters like to play with power and pain; swingers like to have sex with lots of people. These desires occasionally overlap, but mostly don’t.

Many kink gatherings forbid sex; sex is what happens at swinger parties. Most kink events enforce strict rules about consensual touching; most swinger events operate with a “touch unless swatted” attitude.  Many kink events are extremely Queer-friendly (despite a decidedly heterosexual male/bisexual female bias); most swinger events strongly discourage two men from staring at each other’s asses, let alone fucking.

Reference: Morton 2010


4. “All kinksters live in 24/7 Dominant/submissive relationships and do crazy shit like play with enemas and let people pee on them.”
Whoa, there, friend!  Um, some of us do… but actually, the vast majority of us don’t.

Don’t gay guys dress like this all the time?

Just like the gay guys who make the news are often wearing rainbow tutus with sparkly underwear, the people who are conspicuous among kinky folk tend to live at the extremes—but neither is really representative of “most gay guys” or “most kinksters.”  Most kinky folks aren’t in 24/7 relationships, have never signed a contract that lets someone else “own” them, and wouldn’t let someone else pee on them.

Lots of kinky people get collared or collar someone else. Most of us don’t.

Sure, lots of kinky people have done all of these things, but your average kinky person likes being tied up and beaten with a flogger on weekends, not wandering around on a leash and eating from a dog bowl in their spare time (not that I’m judging those people—those people totally hot and cool, and I sleep with plenty of them, but they’re still not the average). On Fetlife, discounting oral sex (#2) and anal sex (#5), the 10 most popular “kinks” are: bondage, spanking, hair pulling, blindfolds, biting, talking dirty, handcuffs, discipline, collar lead/leash, and lingerie.

Handcuffs: so kinky you can buy them at the mall at Spencer’s, along with a Superman wallet.

Reference: for Sweden: Carlstrom 2012


3. “All kinky people were abused as children, or have been raped or molested.”
This one just won’t go away: the great kinky romantic comedy Secretary actually opens with the main character being released from a mental hospital; meanwhile Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey has some sort of tortured past of non-consent. Just like psychologists used to try to expend a lot of energy and imagination trying to figure out the experiences in someone’s past that “makes them gay,” the culture still tends to assume that some experience “makes them kinky.”

Dude, Mama Monster (Lady Gaga) said she was Born This Way. Why would she lie?

Despite the persistent idea of kinksters with haunted pasts of abuse and molestation, in fact, psychological research has found over and over again that kinksters are pretty damned normal and as likely to have been raped or abused as anyone else.  A lot of kinky people say they were just born this way, with some suggesting that “kinky” is a basic sexual orientation the same way “straight” or “gay” is.

References: Meeker  Connolly 2008 Wismeijer & van Assen 2013 (the Netherlands)  Richters et al. 2008 (Australia)
2. “All Doms are men” OR “All Doms are women”
Both of these misconceptions manage to float around simultaneously.  The idea that all Doms are women is fueled by the fact that most professional dominatrixes are women.

It’s a living.

The idea that all Doms are men is driven by sexist assumptions about women all being submissive and having a deep-seated biological urge to spread their legs whenever anyone with a penis tells them to.

You can regularly meet people in the BDSM subculture who will assure you that all women are “really” submissive, and all men are “really” dominant… although they have an awkward habit of spelling the adjective “dominate.”

Nevertheless, the idea that men are Doms and women are subs turns out to have a little validity: inside the BDSM subculture, women are much more likely to be submissive than dominant.  However, in defiance of popular imagination and BDSM imagination both, about a third of men identify as submissive, and switches (people who like to be dominant and submissive) of both genders are quite common.

It’s called “switching.” It’s not surprising that mainstream imagination tends to forget its existence, since the BDSM subculture tends to forget about it too.

References: Lindemann 2010  Wismeijer & van Assen 2008 (the Netherlands)  Bienvenu, McGeorge, Jacques 2002


1. “It’s all about sex” 
This pseudo-myth actually gets debated a lot among people in the BDSM subculture themselves. Witness the following:

I admit I find this attitude pretty funny myself, but it’s kinda popular.

In wild contrast to the porntastic popular portrayal, many kinksters say that BDSM isn’t about sex at all, and it’s common for public kink parties and gatherings to forbid any sexual activity. When I interviewed American east coast kinksters, about 25% of them said that kink wasn’t sexual for them personally, and that they didn’t think it was sexual in general.

It may seem really counterintuitive, but lots of people do BDSM the way that other people climb mountains—like an extreme sport. Many people report the same kind of endorphin high from getting whipped, beaten, tied up, etc. that other people report from running, rock climbing, etc.

This looks pretty fucking kinky to me. That’s some serious bondage.


In case you were wondering, people don’t usually fuck when they’re tied up like this.

Other people really do engage in BDSM as a religious/spiritual activity, and psychologists have shown that participants’ bodies actually respond in ways that echo those of a person having any other type of religious experience to these rituals.


BDSM can turn your body into a religious work of art. I wouldn’t recommend having sex like this, but you theoretically could…


Kink, religion, or both? If the people weren’t white, would your answer change?

References:  Newmahr 2010  Livescience Fennell 2014




Please note: none of these photos except the diagram in the middle are original to me. All are live-linked back to their original sources. Enjoy!

Cracked.com: BDSM relationships

Along with several other folks, I gave an interview for Cracked.com on BDSM relationships.


You can also check out my book chapter on BDSM relationships here.