The much discussed day has finally arrived. Here is my very first interview with a woman who likes to call the shots, at least from time to time.
I have several more interviews in various stages of preparation and I am looking forward to sharing those with you too. There is a lot of variety represented so far, and I am hopeful that more women will be willing to join in and be interviewed as part of this little project.
I have women who switch, women who lovingly direct (without dominating) their love life, and women who dominate professionally, as well as in their personal lives.
The idea behind these interviews is to help sketch more accurate portraits of women who like to take the lead and if that description suits you— we should talk, but first,
let’s read what my first brave victim has to say for herself.
Ladies and gents, it is my honor to introduce you to Lily. She was kind enough to answer my enormous list of questions and EVEN BETTER, she is willing to answers your questions too. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask them in the comment section. Lily also has a blog, which you should probably read. Lily is married, has two kids, and… what a wild kinkster, she even claims to have a while picket fence!
Here she is.
- How would you describe yourself, your sexual tastes, and your power exchange preference?
I’m someone who really enjoys intensity in sexual encounters. As a teenager, I used to be perplexed by the fact that I wasn’t turned on at all by the kind of hearts-and-flowers romance that made my peers swoon. I would say that the core of my sexuality is rough sex — emphatic and passionate.
One of the things I love the most about kink is quite simple: it makes sex take longer. Setting up and executing a scene can take hours from beginning to end. I like to call that kind of sex “Sunday Dinner sex” — it’s a meal that takes hours to cook and should be enjoyed at table for several hours more. There’s nothing wrong with a quickie, but I wouldn’t want a diet composed entirely of fast food any more than I’d want a sex life composed of twenty minute encounters.
As far as my power exchange preference goes, I am a switch. I am hoping that the Buddhists are correct in their speculations about the afterlife, so I can come back as a gay leatherman and do the whole thing where I work myself up to being a top by starting as a submissive boy. Hawt! In my life, I started out as a bottom, and became involved in a relationship with a submissive woman later. My experiences as a bottom certainly inform my practice as a top.
Coming into my own “style” as a top has been a very surprising and rewarding experience. I did not go into my relationship with my girlfriend with a fixed identity as a top — I had no title, and I’m not sure what kind of “style” I had other than the fact that I am in real life a very take-charge person and it felt wonderful to have someone really enjoy that in a sexual context.
During some play, my girlfriend called me “Daddy” in an almost offhand way, and I really didn’t even think about it; what popped out of my mouth was, “Yes, sweetheart?” She clearly saw something in me that I didn’t see myself, but now seems very obvious. I have two children, and now when I look at how I interact with them I realize how much “Daddy energy” I have — although I’m female, I’m the one that gave them all that rubber tubing to make a giant slingshot, and I’m the one that loves roughhousing and physical play.
- How did you discover your power exchange preference?
My earliest sexual fantasies involved bondage and anonymous sex. So I was a kinky little fucker from the very beginning.
I never spoke to anyone about my fantasies, because I assumed that no one I knew shared them, and that the people who did were probably way too dangerous for me to have a relationship with. My ideas about my sexuality were heavily shaped by media, and it didn’t help that television generally presents shibari as a kind of macrame for serial killers. And I was discovering my sexuality before the advent of the Web, so I didn’t have access to really any information at all about BDSM outside of fleeting scenes in movies and books.
- *Tell me what it is about submission and domination that appeal to you.
I grew up in an environment where power — and abuse of power — were front and center. One of the reasons I’m attracted to D/s is that it’s a kind of magical replay, one that lets us create a world where the use of power creates outcomes that are very different than the ones we usually see in the real world. In BDSM, we might render someone completely vulnerable, binding them hand and foot and then beating them — and the outcome is an orgasm and aftercare. The outcome of being vulnerable in the real world is rarely that positive. I find this scenario — the use of power and force with pleasure and love as an outcome — so compelling that I repeat it again and again. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.
- Describe your ideal partner, and your ideal relationship?
Sexual attraction is such a mystery. If you see a couple’s sexuality as a pair of overlapping circles, I think many people think that sexual compatibility is about the area where both of you overlap. I used to think that too, but I’m coming to think that sexual attraction is about the areas where you *don’t* overlap — in short, we’re attracted to partners who will take us where we simultaneously long and fear to go to. Many of the things that I now find most rewarding about my sex life are things that weren’t even part of my fantasy life at all five years ago. My partners discovered those things in me. So when someone asks me what my ideal partner or relationship is, the honest answer is, “I don’t know, but I think the people for whom I experience strong sexual attraction do.”
Along those lines, when I was younger, I certainly imagined being in a relationship with a stern, authoritative dominant. But I think I have the partners I have for a reason. Sometimes what we fantasize about and what we need are two different things.
As far as ideal relationships, I feel so lucky. Growing up, I heard so much bad news about the lives of kids who grew up in difficult circumstances that I wondered whether I would ever have a happy relationship, or a family, and now I have that and more.
I really enjoy sharing a home with my family — my husband and my two children — and we have both enjoyed the kind of excitement that can come from exploring a new partner. The polyamory bit has worked out much better than I ever expected. But my husband would say that pretty much everything works out better than I expect, which is kind of true!
- Would you say your domination and submission are both parts of you, or are they something that you do?
I think dominance and submission are inextricably bound up with my sexuality — and my sexuality is certainly part of me, so I’d have to say that D/s is more than something I do. Back when I wasn’t doing or even admitting to wanting to do anything with D/s, I really suffered in ways I didn’t realize had anything to do with sex. I had no idea what a big impact getting right with my sexuality would have on the rest of my life. I used to be so angry and frustrated; and I also suffered from periodic depressions. I didn’t connect that to the kind of rigid, self-imposed suppression of my sexuality until I stopped repressing it, but the simple fact is that I’m a lot happier and healthier now.
- Do you think there is a connection between feminism and femdom? If so, how would you characterize it?
Oh, this is such an interesting question; but it’s one that I mostly grappled with as a woman bottoming to a man. When I made the decision to start trying to be less guarded about my native sexuality, one of the things that held me back was that I felt certain that the kind of sex I found genuinely thrilling was going to cause Gloria Steinem to pound on my door and personally demand my National Organization for Women membership card back. I’ve found it very difficult to reconcile my feminism and my interest in power exchange, and really, I never have.
As a switch in a polyamorous relationship, I bottom to a man and top a woman, and in my relationship with my girlfriend, I’ve generally avoided feminine honorifics like “Lady,” or “Mistress.” I’m sure that some feminists would find the fact that I bottom to a man but top women, and when I top I’m often addressed as “Daddy” or “Boss” would make them think that I associate power exclusively with masculinity. That’s actually not true — for me, it’s basically a result of circumstance. I’m switchable, but my partners aren’t, so unless I take another partner I don’t have the opportunity to top a man or to bottom to a woman.
My persona as a top is shaped by my own sense of my true gender: I’m female, but not particularly girly, and I just don’t have the wardrobe to go along with ultrafeminine titles like “Lady” or “Mistress.” (That’s said tongue-in-cheek, as certainly I realize that a woman who claims those titles needn’t have a corset to go with them).
- The cultural image of women who prefer to take the lead sexually is rarely positive, and female submission can have its problems as well. How has that affected you? Do the cultural messages about one bother you more than the other?
You know, in the social circles I operate in — white, educated, upper-middle-class, and politically liberal — bisexuality and “kinky play” in the bedroom are an eyeblink. The two things that would be huge, crashing showstoppers are A) non-monogamy and B) that I have relationships in which I choose to be obedient, or have someone be obedient to me. The idea of an egalitarian relationship — where power is shared equally — is so ingrained in our culture that many people think that someone who gives up control must be a “doormat” who needs self-esteem training, and that a person who prefers being in charge must either be a jerk or a potentially dangerous person with serious mental health issues.
Many of my vanilla friends simply can’t wrap their mind around inviting someone into your life as a good influence — someone who might make sure you go to the gym, or help you form new habits. They get a little fixated on the discipline part of the dynamic that goes along with some such relationships. They’ll readily accept the notion that I like to tie someone up and give them a thorough working over with a flogger — but the idea that one person might make another one take their vitamins is WEIRD. What a strange culture we live in!
Probably because I’m bottoming to a man and topping a woman — and thus not challenging too many stereotypes about gender and power on a surface level, I generally don’t get the “you must be an ice queen/your male submissive partner must be a wimp” feedback that I know so many female dominants in relationships with men get. I’m sure if I ever have a relationship with a male submissive, I’ll run headlong into just those issues.
- Could you see yourself topping a man?
Sure. If I had a play-partner size hole in my life, gender wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
- I am one of those people you mentioned who has no trouble with the tying up and whatnot but isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of telling anyone when and how to work out and the only people whose vitamin intake I monitor would be my children. The only model I have mentally sketched out for that level of direction is a parent/child model. I am hoping you will expand on this idea because it is one that has come up before and I have a feeling there is something about it I don’t really understand.
One of the most transgressive elements of BDSM once it leaves the confines of the bedroom is that it can mess with our idea of what it means to be an adult. In our society, making choices is what makes us an adult. Tellingly, many of the criticisms of a relationship where one partner makes some choices for the other partner by mutual consent involve characterizing the submissive as “immature,” “childlike,” or “running away from adult responsibilities.”
Yet, this is the same society in which it’s entirely acceptable to see a therapist for advice on how to straighten out our lives, or hire a personal trainer to boss us around mercilessly at the gym. So, we’re comfortable with other people telling us what to do, even in very private areas such as our mind and body — but only if they come under a cloak of expertise, and only if we can fire them. Are we really so much better off when we ignore the many native sources of intelligence or skill closer to home?
One fear that lurks here is the fear of creeping dependency. I certainly know plenty of people who resent others’ dependency on them — and to me, one of the core reasons for that they were never asked to give their consent to support that person, or they did give it long ago, but now the growing burden and lengthening time has eclipsed their consent.
This style of play is interesting because it’s one where negotiating the top’s consent is so much more complicated than it usually is. It’s easy, I think, for a top to be drawn in to a discipline dynamic by an eager sub with fantasies about how it will work, and end with a frustrated and resentful top.
With the of out-of-the-bedroom exchanges I have had with my girlfriend, I entered into them with my full consent. We choose only very focused, discrete things to work on. I choose not to do anything that seems “perpetual”; we always have time limits. My “win condition” is that we have a shared idea of where we want to end up, we get there in a month or two, we declare victory and I drink champagne out of her bellybutton while she’s bound to a coffee table.
If I began to feel resentful, or if the experience started to erode my confidence in and respect for her, I would discontinue what we were doing immediately, and I would expect my girlfriend to treat that with the exact same amount of respect I treat her limits and her safeword, that is: total respect.
Now that we’ve actually done it, I have to say, my outside-of-the-bedroom exchanges with my girl have not led to wholesale regression to childhood. Nor did we suddenly stop having sex because we felt like we’d morphed into parent and child, rather than lovers. What a relief! :) I don’t feel burdened, and my respect for her is entirely intact, indeed, even enhanced by how brave and diligent she is, even when no one is looking.
For any top who is thinking about having a discipline dynamic as part of their relationship, I’d say this: Never assign something you can’t easily monitor. (And I mean REALLY easily — the information should come to you, you shouldn’t have to go get it). Make time limits for everything. Be honest about what will make you feel resentful or burdened. It doesn’t matter if it would be easy for you to do: if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. Stick to your guns; tops get to have limits too, and you shouldn’t have to engage in any style of play that makes you feel rotten. Your consent matters.
I wrote about this, back when it was new to us, in an essay entitled Just Do What I Say, where I talk about what I find personally rewarding about it from my perspective as a top.
- Are you involved in a community of like-minded people [locally, online, etc]? If so, how is that experience for you?
I am, both online and offline. When I started enacting some of my long-held fantasies about D/s in real life, I started writing a journal about it on the “Facebook for kinky people” site Fetlife.com. And in-person gatherings of kinky people were vital, in part because they allowed my husband to see that leather chaps were, indeed, optional.
My encounters with the public scene have been limited to plain-clothes gatherings of kinky folk in public places like restaurants or coffeeshops, and classes given by members of local leather associations like the New England Leather Alliance or MOB Boston, a group aimed at women of all sexual orientations interested in BDSM. I’ve never been to a club night or to a play party. I tend to avoid events that would require me to dress up, because one of my big problems with BDSM is that I never know what to wear (chuckle), and I don’t really like loud music — I like to talk to people. I would certainly go to a play party if the right opportunity came along.
Since I have a pretty busy life, I only attend events every other month or so, but I do enjoy them. One event we never miss is the Fetish Fair Fleamarket (how I wish it had a better name), which started out as a vendors’ event for all your whips and chains needs, and has expanded into a three-day event with over 100 classes, dances, and even a fashion show. That’s coming up next weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.
- There is a theory that we all have an innate preference for affection expressed in 1 or 2 of the following 5 ways which are called Love Languages. They are:
- Words of Affirmation -Quality Time- Receiving Gifts- Acts of Service- Physical Touch- Here is a link if you want to explore this more. Which of the love languages would say you prefer?
Oh, I’m absolutely someone who lives through her ears; what people say is extraordinarily important to me. What’s interesting is that I’ve often chosen people of few words as partners. I wrote an essay, “Lines,”
about an exchange with my girl, Holly, recounting an exchange between us in which I told her that I didn’t ask her why she never said ‘I love you,’ because after more than a year of being together, I figured that meant one of two things: either she didn’t feel it, or she had the ‘sex but no love’ agreement with her husband, and either way, it wasn’t good news for me.
She said that she distrusted words; that people used them to cover up their deeds, and that to her, a word was ‘just a collection of lines.’ They’re so much more than that to me. She also said, “If you don’t know how I feel about you from what I do, then I’m doing something wrong.”
It was one of those conversations where I kept thinking about clever retorts days afterward. Holly is a visual artist, so one of the ones I thought of was “If that’s true, isn’t all art just a collection of lines?” I’m glad I didn’t have an instant reply.
Ultimately, Holly did say “I love you” on her own terms. That’s something that can never be compelled.
- How does pain play work for you emotionally and mentally?
To me, topping — that is, physically commanding someone in a sexual context — is a lot like getting to drive a powerful sportscar or fly a private plane: I get the opportunity to be in charge of something extraordinarily powerful. It’s thrilling.
It’s also a more intellectual and visual thrill than I find bottoming to be — to me, bottoming is intensely visceral and emotional; I spend a lot of time with my eyes closed, and to me a good scene as a bottom is about getting to a place where I don’t have to (or can’t) think, and for me, the gateway to many of those states is pain play.
Of course, just because I enjoy those kinds of scenes doesn’t mean that I assume any bottom would like what I like. But I think it’s easier for me to imagine and accept the idea that someone wants me to flog them or paddle them or pour hot wax on them, because I like all those things too.
The other thing that makes it easier for me to engage in pain play scenes as a top is that I’m fully aware that tops can have limits too. For example, I never intentionally play in ways that will leave marks the next day, whether a bottom is okay with that or not, because I prefer not to.
- How you cope with the disparity of being a nurturer as a parent, etc. and someone who enjoys tying up another person and using a whip, etc.?
You know, I got to the grand old age of 35 before attempting or even mentioning the kinds of sex acts that I found truly alluring, and one of the reasons why was because I held an erroneous belief that the kind of sex I enjoyed and wanted to have was in conflict with being a wife or a mother.
Finally, I just did it, and the world didn’t fall apart the next day. So I kept doing it :)
- How does domination and submission fit into other aspects of your relationships?
I think “in the bedroom” or purely sexual BDSM is fabulous. I do not think that other forms of BDSM are somehow “more” or “better.” Power dynamics are good only to the extent that they improve the lives and correspond to the desires of the people in them. It is really up to us.
I wouldn’t characterize either of my two relationships as 24/7, because I think that would give people a completely erroneous idea of what our lives are like. Each of us is a busy, independent adult with a profession. It’s just that what started in the bedroom didn’t stay there, as it so often doesn’t. We regard the out-of-the-bedroom elements of our power exchange as playful reminders of our deep affection for each other. It’s also a private reminder of our dynamic that helps us feel connected when we are apart.
Ok, there it is!
Thanks for the answers, Lily. If you have questions for her, don’t forget to leave them in the comment box. I will expect everyone to be polite to my guest, and I expect to have no problems on that count.
Gals, if after reading this you are willing to let me ask you a couple questions, please email to let me know, thanks!