I don’t think there’s any feeling more powerful for a Black woman than to hold the keys to a (white) man’s sexual experience.
Every part of my body shook as I told Paul how to pleasure himself. Not from nervousness or fear, mind you, but power. I had briefly held power before with blindfolds, floggers, and even some creative use of my nails, but nothing felt like this. No toys, no tricks, just the unflinching vulnerability of another person.
How did I go from being an eager submissive to a power-hungry top?
For three days, I stayed with Paul in his beautiful Bushwick apartment, courtesy of a Fetlife message board. Fetlife is the largest online kink community in the world, making it a valuable resource for folx who like different strokes, even though it looks like it’s stuck in 2005. After limited luck with Couchsurfing.com, I turned to Fetlife’s groups for potential hosts during my travels.
Paul, a jazz pianist and Airbnb hobbyist, reached out to me and, after a few video calls, agreed to host me. He made it clear that when he’s alone/sans Airbnb guests, he was nude. I, unafraid of the human form and a bit of a voyeur, confirmed my consent to this arrangement.
Casual Nudity, Formal Respect
My first four days in New York, I stayed with a friend, but I met with Paul on my first day to kill some time. For two hours, he sat in a precariously wrapped towel while we talked about political art, NYU, and ourselves. The apartment was bigger than most, but still cramped, so I marveled at how he actively avoided touching me as he moved around.
As I met with more of my high school friends, they all became increasingly concerned about me staying with him. I simply remarked “I’ve had sketchier interactions with fully clothed men in public,” which was unfortunately all too true. Just as I respected Paul’s lifestyle, he respected my space and sexual agency throughout my stay, frequently checking in on my comfort with his nakedness and absentminded touching of himself.
One of my days at Paul’s, some plans were cancelled and we spent the entire day watching absurdist comedy, drinking beer, eating pizza, and, eventually, talking about our involvement in our local kink scenes. As the hour got later, we were both aroused and, for the first time, tense.
This was a new experience for me and he had limited experience with guests being comfortable with his nudity, let alone as open as I was. Not really knowing what do, he brought up the elephant in the room by excusing himself to masturbate. We talked about the sexual tension for a bit, but ultimately agreed to do nothing and go to bed.
A few months prior, I worked a steady job, had my own place, and enjoyed the romantic company of a submissive-switch. Eric was a sweet, formerly Jewish Canadian who wooed his way into my bed via dad jokes. We both identified as switches (someone who can be either dominant or submissive during sexual play), but erred on the side of submission.
Anyone who knows their way around BDSM can tell you that “Type A” personalities are usually submissive. After trying to exert so much control over life in general, relinquishing control of your sexual experience can be cathartic.
As a Black woman, I’ve become a Type A personality in order to achieve success. The constant drive to be excellent is exhausting, as anyone with this personality type will tell you, regardless of race. My Blackness, however, adds another dimension of difficulty to this by impairing others’ perception of my talent and ability. To create some balance in my life, I’ve eagerly submitted my body to men. Dominance and submission, however, tend to not live in a vacuum, so I always knew I had a dominant streak.
To create some balance in my life, I’ve eagerly submitted my body to men.
With Eric, I got to stretch this side of of my kinkdom, but my role fell largely into that of a service top (a dominant who primarily serves the physical desires of the submissive). Realizing the dominance I sought with him was not possible, I ended up forcing myself into an uncomfortable middle ground. Additionally, Eric was not an initiator, in life or the bedroom — a rare Type C. Although this had been the first (read: only) decent relationship I’d had in months, it did little to quell a growing fear that I was undesirable.
Losing My Groove
I’ve always been better at breaking down barriers when flirting in person, but I often have better luck at finding compatibility online. As online dating has grown and become increasingly superficial, I’ve been left it by the wayside. OkCupid has accumulated a wealth of data showcasing how Black women (and Asian men) are penalized the most when it comes to profile ratings, and are the least likely to be messaged or responded to.
Throughout 2016, despite being known as a sexual wunderkind to all of my friends, I went on only five OkCupid dates, each spaced out a couple of months from each other. It’s hard to preach sex positivity when you’re not having sex.
After graduating from college in 2014, I’ve noticed a steady decline in my sexual/emotional marketability. While this can be partly attributed to a lack of social stimulation and the loss of my “sexy coed” status, I also know I fit into a larger trend: As the most educated group in the U.S. these days, Black women sometimes struggle to find men with similar racial and educational backgrounds. In my own life, I know exactly one educated Black woman in a committed relationship.
And that’s to say nothing of the fact that, in the dating realm, we are often met with either racial bias or fetishization. After a year of lukewarm responses to my advances and a general lack of interest from other parties, I was ready to give up on having a fulfilling sex life.
Which Brings Me Back To Paul
All things considered, I bet you’re wondering why Paul and I didn’t just have wild sex on the aforementioned night. Other than the obvious, potential awkwardness that could have ensued, he was engaged in a limited, open relationship.
On my last night, we both got home fairly late and talked about the tension from the day before. We separately came to the conclusion that we’d essentially been partaking in an unusually long scene. A scene is typically a form of kink play with a start and end, sometimes using some type of roleplay. More often than not, scenes don’t involve sex, but they can serve as foreplay.
With an early flight and nothing to lose, we decided to bookend the scene by having me watch and control his masturbation. Unlike with Eric, where I controlled the physicality of the sex and play out of necessity, the earned psychological control of Paul sent me to the dominant headspace I had heard so much about.
I had grown to think of dominance as an extra task I had to master, but to have Paul both mentally and physically submit to my whims was as intoxicating as it was liberating. The free rein I had over his satisfaction translated my nonsexual dominance into an effortless sexual dominance.
I don’t think there’s any feeling more powerful for a Black woman than to hold the keys to a (white) man’s sexual experience. If there are any Black submissives out there who submit for reasons similar to mine, I’d highly recommend flexing your dominant side.
Not only did I find a new way to release built-up, Type A aggression, I’ve become more adept at negotiating my submission. When you can feel the scope of a dominant’s power, you can discover nuanced ways to extend your limits.
Sexual dominance won’t fix society’s perception of you, but it can drastically affect how you view yourself. How can you be weak or unworthy of affection when you’re trusted to control someone else’s pleasure? When you carry titles like Mistress and Goddess?