I found a way to have a fulfilling sex life and still promote the things I strongly believed in without feeling like I was picking sides.
One night I found myself, handcuffed, hands behind my back, and kneeling on the floor. My body was pressed up against the warn down sofa in my boyfriend’s (for lack of a better word of describing what we were) apartment and he was grabbing me from behind. Our clothes were scattered on the floor around the room, my hair was wild, and his body dripped with sweat. His hands grabbed me tight around my stomach and chest. And for thirty minutes or so we incidentally reenacted our own version of 50 Shades of Grey.
He asked, so I agreed.
Apart from writing out the sequence of events right now, there was nothing inherently weird or awkward about this. Although, we had joked about some of the scenes in 50 Shades, we hadn’t deliberately staged a scene from the film that night. The night simply escalated from flipping through channels on the television and laughing about the lyrics to some song that neither of us could remember. As he mounted me and our clothes were thrown to every corner of the room, we forgot about the television and song altogether. It was midway through our couch session, when my boyfriend fled to his room. He returned, holding up a pair of handcuffs and a grin. He asked, so I agreed. There wasn’t much to it. It was only after I replayed that night in my head a couple days later that I thought about what it all meant. It was my first time using handcuffs and I wasn’t quite sure how I should feel. I originally didn’t feel anything toward it; it was a good night. It happened, and now it was over. But should I share this story with my friends? A group of my girlfriends would always get together and share awkward or funny stories about the previous nights, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell just yet. I wasn’t so much scared of what they would say, but when you really articulate something out loud, you get a better understanding of how it comes off and what it really was. Additionally, I had just taken interest in the born-again feminist movement, which in some ways had revamped its message to wipe away the misconception that feminists were “man-haters” and instead, advocators for equality. But now I wasn’t sure if I could be a feminist and experiment with my boyfriend’s twisted fantasies.
I wasn’t sure if I could be a feminist and experiment with my boyfriend’s twisted fantasies.
I, like many other women, had developed this notion that liking handcuffs, rough sex, or whatever you want to call my night was advocating for giving into a man’s fantasy, and as a result, promoting degradation. I mean, if you’re looking at this from a visual standpoint, it seemed a lot like degradation. I was kneeling, my hands were behind my back and in some ways, I was being dominated. But feminism is about equality and choice. It is about equal rights for all genders in terms of labor and other civil rights. And it is about the ability to choose in all aspects of life, whether that be in sex or child bearing. Rewinding to that night, I mentioned “he asked, so I agreed.” That may be the only line I needed to consider. There was my choice right there. I didn’t go further about how he asked and then went about handcuffing me. It was a conscious decision to move forward with his proposal. My choice thereby eliminated this idea of degradation. I think where many of us get confused is this idea that not only is the act degrading, but it is hypocritical to stand for one thing and literally kneel for another. But reliving 50 Shades of Grey in private and tweeting about Hillary Clinton didn’t outshine one another. And signing a petition to get birth control added in the pharmacy of a college campus didn’t contradict having sex outside a bedroom. Whether I had picked whips, chains, or a rubber ball gag to experiment with, it was my business, and in no ways took away from a belief that women should get equal pay or that rape shouldn’t be based on the clothes a woman is wearing. I found a way to have a fulfilling sex life and still promote the things I strongly believed in without feeling like I was picking sides. I can only be sure my boyfriend has a list of things he would like to act out next. But as long as he asks, (I can assess) I can potentially agree. As a woman and a feminist, it’s my choice.