That doesn’t make sense, right? A submissive, a slave even – and emancipated? Surely this is just some kink propaganda.  A BDSM advocate painting it pretty to get some attention. I kid you not:

Opening up to my submissive side, like no other phase in my life, truly emancipated me.

Over the past half year, I’ve witnessed a lot of conversations of new and experienced submissives on social media. We got a few readers questions in that showed me that my personal struggle with emancipation and submissiveness is not very unique.

I found, that the more experienced a submissive was, the more they were able to stand up for themselves. Really stand up for themselves. Not the fist-on-table kind but the healthy, positive way.


emancipated
ɪˈmansɪpeɪtɪd/
adjective

1. free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberated.


So let me tell you how this happened for me.

Before BDSM: Being the Good Girl

I have always identified as a feminist – and do so even more today. Before I discovered BDSM I felt like I needed to live up to expectations. ANYbody’s expectations.

I had to perform wherever: as a daughter, as a partner, as a student, an employee, as a freelancer. So many people, so many expectations – not to mention the macro expectations of society. Sure enough, I wasn’t expected anymore to wear an apron and stand in the kitchen.

But saying ‘No’ was never an option.

Rather, I had to jetset through the world, consultant life Monday morning to Friday night. Succeed in the male dominated tech domain. Be a happy party person on the weekends. Shave. Find marriage-material partner because tic-toc, good girl needs to have kids soon. See the world. Take care of parents as needed. Don’t complain. Don’t ask for help. You can do this, by yourself. You are strong, after all.

On the outside, I was successful. People would compliment me what an emancipated woman I was, standing on my own two feet. All by myself. Surely, that’s something to be proud of?

What those people didn’t see was Sonja in the kitchen corner. Paired with a latent – or not so latent – helper syndrom, I would repeatedly find myself exhausted. Exhausted at work, in relationships – be they romantic or just friends. I would give my all, and at the end, not have energy left for myself.

Then I’d typically turn to escapism – luckily for me that usually meant books, pen & paper role playing games and later MMORPGs. I even had a fundamental christian phase in there. To my (thankful) astonishment, I never turned to excessive alcohol or drugs… I consider myself very lucky like that.

You know what the weirdest thing is? I thought that’s just how it was. That that’s what it took to be a ‘good girl’.

First Steps: Online D/s

I was in one of those valleys again when I discovered SecondLife. If you roll your eyes now, I am with you – but bear with me too here for a minute. If you don’t know SecondLife: It’s essentially a virtual world that you can explore with avatars. There is no set objective and the players can create the world themselves, which makes it a rather interesting social experiment.

One of the things SecondLife is famous for is its large BDSM Community. Every kink niche you could think of is well represented. I remember clearly first hearing about ‘THE goreans’ – a subculture based on the novels of John Norman that seemed the ideal mix of fantasy world and BDSM dynamic to me at the time. I later learned about the not-so-consensual side of parts of the Gorean community, so do approach with caution.

As I explored the philosophy of total power exchange with a very kind Master, I started to understand that my problem wasn’t wanting to please. That my helper syndrome wasn’t the issue here. Rather, the fact that I tried to please everybody and did not take enough care of myself was what periodically knocked the wind out of my sails. That might seem quite obvious – but to me, it was a huge revelation.

I remember enjoying the short period of online D/s. My then-Master would call me to make sure I left work on time. Would quiz me if I ate well, and scold me if I didn’t. He would encourage me to go out and walk in Hyde Park in London, where I lived at the time. Sometimes, when I was too anxious to fall asleep, he would keep a skype line open until he heard my steady breathing pattern. (He would tell you I snored but I say – no recording, no proof!).

In short: Many people would argue that online D/s is ‘not real’ – but that man took care of me for real. More real than I had experienced before. And maybe I needed that start, without sexuality, without s/m to understand what BDSM is really all about.

Over the course of the years, moving into the real-life BDSM, I unlearned that in the excitement of coming out. I relapsed into just giving anything without either having a counterpart who took care of me OR looking after myself. The incredible desire for having a – any – real life dominant again meant I put myself second – rather than equal. A lot of stupid mistakes followed.

The Emancipated Submissive: Setting Boundaries

But I supposed it’s those mistakes that make us learn. Today, I am in a 24/7 Total Power Exchange (TPE) relationship. Yet, like no time before in my life, I am very clear about my needs, wants and desires. Practicing BDSM really forces you to sit down and think about your shit. And I am very fortunate to have a husband and Master who encourages me to openly communicate about my state of mind.

I have learned that as a “good girl”, I have to be sound of body and mind. That is my responsibility. It is my responsibility as a human being – not a sub – to articulate my limits and limitations clearly. It is my duty to myself to set boundaries to other people where I have to. That is also what my dominant – and I would argue any good dominant – expects of their submissive. It’s a necessary baseline for trust and consensuality in kinky relationships.

This might be saying ‘Sir, I am sorry, I am really struggling today and cannot have sex.’ That might be telling my parents I can’t come over this weekend. Or saying no to that work function in the evening because it just doesn’t matter more than bringing my children to bed.

Today, I say no with confidence. I even increasingly start to feel less guilty about it – still practicing here. And whilst I have a long way to go in taking an active part in maintaining my energy levels, at least today I understand that I have to. I am liberated from those social restrictions and expectations and truly emancipated to pursue my happiness.

Happy Independence Day

I want to close unusually dramatic, it being Independence Day and all. I remember cleary standing in Washington DC, in the Jefferson memorial, with the chills reading the famous words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All men, that includes all ladies and gents and everybody fluid on the spectrum in between: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is your right. Don’t let society shame you for who you would like to be. Go explore, be brave.

Stay safe, stay sane, ditch shame.

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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