Written by Silk Smitha
Illustrated by Diya Sengupta
Covid, right? No, it was neither Covid nor 50 Shades of Grey that prompted me to explore this. Years ago, an ex-boyfriend was once away and when we were sexting, he asked me what my fantasies were. The cat was out of the bag. I had not thought much about it until then—maybe because no one had asked? On his way home, he brought a whole bunch of sex-toys and accessories (he was always ‘overenthusiastic’ about everything)! It was quite an exploration. Unfortunately, it was also the time I was on medicines for anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and I did not know then that they had affected by sex-drive (they can lower libido). I look back at those years wistfully. In my subsequent relationships, no one asked me what my kinks were but sometimes, I showed them what got me going, and the smart ones took the hint!
Earlier this year, I happened to discuss this with a close friend (a man). It was liberating to be able to discuss this with a friend—a friend who knew and understood. We discussed various options I could try and use to explore this. There are many as it turns out: apps, Facebook groups, Reddit groups. I do not use Reddit or Facebook much. Also, given how much Facebook snoops, there was no way I could risk this. I started looking for chat options and stumbled upon one that needed no prior registration. It was perfect!
On this website, all one needed to enter was gender, age, what one was into (dom, sub, master, slave) and select their preferences, termed fetishes on the website. One can send pictures, videos, as well as call each other (voice or video). The only down in chatting on this website was that you could not select what you are looking for. The website randomly pairs you with someone. As a sub, I could run into other subs (men or women) even though I was looking for a dom. Once I figured out how this worked, I needed to be patient. And my patience was rewarded, no doubt.
I have to say these chats are where I met some of the politest men ever.
Chats usually started with, ‘Hi. How are you?’ or ‘Hi. How are you holding up’?
I would reply, ‘I am good. Thank you, and you?’
After some pleasantries were exchanged, the most important question, ‘What are you into?’, would pop up.
I did not have a wide vocabulary, so I stuck to ‘I am a sub, I like XYZ, and ABC’. The next important question, ‘What are your limits?’ I answered with, ‘None (on chat)’, at first.
I thought that how did it matter what I agreed to do on chat—it was all make-believe anyway. Consent was key. Time to time, some doms stop to ask ‘All okay? All fun for you so far?’ Not one man in real life has asked me this yet. That said, I think I am a very 90s girl—I do not like being asked a lot of questions, especially around consent.
Explicit consent is absolute, but if I (a woman in her late 30s) am in a private, intimate space (irl or online) with a man, I feel okay with implicit consent—I expect a man to stop when I ask him to than be bombarded with a whole lot of questions. I have left chats where I was asked many questions because
a) I do not want to answer questions about my likes and dislikes—I preferred winging it as the chat progresses,
and b) Being impatient is a part of my personality, so I think I did not have the patience to answer questions. Also, added to this was the uncertainty that after answering all these questions, I may still not vibe with the person at the other end. With the right dom, the vibes are pretty instant (although they could get boring too after the initial exchange of messages).
The first few exchanges were limited to chats. Some men wanted to only chat, some only wanted video calls. Some wanted pictures that showed I was following instructions. After some chats, I felt ‘bold’ enough to send pictures that showed I was following instructions. It is hard to explain the rush that came from sending pictures. It was liberating, for sure. It could have also been this rush of indulging in what is seen as ‘taboo’ or ‘unacceptable’ behaviour. It was also a great lesson in accepting my body, how I look—I did not feel embarrassed or ashamed of my brown, imperfect body. Once, a dom asked me if I could get on a voice call, and on an impulse, I agreed to. To hear a voice tell me what to do was exhilarating. It is not easy to describe this in words but hearing a dom’s voice got my heart pounding, and my voice turned into a whimper (perfect for a sub, if I may say so). It made the whole experience more real than a chat. While chatting, I could be multitasking—reading or watching TV, for example. But while on a call, I had to be fully present and commit to the moment.
Once someone asked if I would be willing to ‘switch’—a switch is someone who enjoys engaging in both dominant and submissive behaviour. I did my best to be a dom but being a dom did nothing for me. I did not have the vocabulary to dominate a man, and it did not turn me on, at all. After that first time, I have not tried switching again.
Some conversations, however, took an interesting turn (when I was in the mood to answer questions). I was asked ‘So, what makes you want to submit?’
I replied, ‘I like being controlled, being told what to do. It is unlike daily life where I decide everything. I am tired of it.’
He asked, ‘Are you dominant in your professional career?’, and continued, ‘You enjoy liberating yourself from the burden of choice’.
I replied, ‘I have my own business and I live alone. So, yeah. It is liberating’.
It was a light-bulb moment. I realise being a sub stemmed from this intense desire to give up all control. I want to surrender completely, be told what to do, and follow instructions. The word ‘submit’ feels like it would be restrictive, but in reality, it brings freedom, liberation. Giving someone else the power over me was still retaining control as I decided who I wanted to give the power to and how much. I read about kink quite often and voices of other women subs who have similar stories and share similar feelings. There are also some voices that talk of how kink can be stress-relieving. And it has been true for me. I found myself reaching out to chat when I was extremely stressed or anxious. Giving up control but in a way that fulfilled my innermost desires is a balm that soothes my anxieties.
I have been in long term relationships where sex took a backseat but emotional compatibility, and intimacy were on the forefront. Sex in most of these relationships (barring one or two) was okay-ish but not electrifying—they were mostly been about the men prioritising themselves. I never minded it because while sex was important it was not the most important thing. But after my BDSM experiences, I look back and wonder if my reaction to okay-ish was the sub in me willing to prioritise men, even when they were not doms. BDSM is not the only sexual experience I seek or am willing to have but my experiences have definitely enriched my sexual encounters and widened my perspective, allowing me to redefine relationships outside acceptable societal norms and understand my sexual self a little more.
Silk Smitha is a strong, fiercely independent, ‘in-control’ woman who used to be married and is now inching towards 40. She lives alone and loves it.