Sex at The Dinner Table | Issue 23
Handcuffs never felt so good
Tearing apart the terrifying yearnings of a middle-aged woman that make up the novel Fifty Shades of Grey is an endlessly amusing pastime for my friends and I. The novel’s pages, which ooze with post-pregnancy-sexually-repressed fantasies and E. L. James’ overuse of the terms “inner-goddess” and “oh my”, reduce me to simultaneous laughter and choking. Yet despite all the ridicule of the novel, I not only illegally torrented and read the entire series but also realised that I crave sexual domination.
The plot of Fifty Shades of Grey revolves around sexual dominance and subservience, and the character Anastasia Steele’s ability to have earth-shaking orgasms every two seconds. Despite my criticism, the dom/sub relationship is fascinating and, on further research, apparently extremely common. Dom/sub relationships can consist of anything from anonymous phone sex to a complete lifestyle change, but the fundamental idea remains the same: one individual gives another individual complete control over him or her. Those who take the controlling position are called dominants, and the controlled are called submissives. As Fifty Shades of Grey will teach you, consent and “safe words” are vital; they mean that subs never completely lose control.
Common sense tells me that having complete power over someone would be a great ego trip, but it’s the idea of being a sub that really gets me slippery. Study, work, and relationships often make me feel out of control and therefore anxious, so being told what to do would be a relief (plus, when is sexual confidence not a turn on?). Rules have never been more sexy. Further research informs me that a great dom learns to read their sub carefully, to understand their limits, before the safe word can be used – it takes experience in both roles to reach this level of perception. A dom/sub relationship as a lifestyle choice doesn’t solely revolve around orgasms. Often, it is about the dom taking complete care of the sub’s daily needs and making the process highly eroticised. With the increasing breakdown of gender constructs, men and women have equally complex reasons to be a dom or a sub, and sometimes the subsumed role is chosen solely because it’s a stark contrast to who the person is ordinarily.
Going into the second half of the second semester, with looming exams and failure to organise a flat for next year, the thought of being a sub is incredibly alluring. If only getting bad marks was such a sexually charged disciplinary process.
Now, which flatmate should be my dom?