One day I was talking to an old friend and lover, and in conversation he mentioned how, since we'd been apart, he'd gotten "more into doing the submissive thing."

That raised my eyebrow. "Um, sweetie, I don't know what you've been up to lately, but I'd have said you were pretty into the submissive thing back when we were fucking."

"Oh, that wasn't really submissive. That was just being a little kinky."

I stared at him. "Let me refresh your memory—I dressed you up in my lingerie, fucked you up the ass with a strap-on, and pissed all over you on the kitchen floor. Plus you kissed my feet a lot. You don't call that being submissive?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, okay, but I didn't feel submissive while we were doing it. It wasn't a Mistress/slave thing, it was just... kinky sex."

He introduced an interesting question: Are certain sexual behaviors inherently dominant or submissive, or does it all depend on how the participants view them? The more I considered it, the more I was inclined to think that while certain kinky activities are pretty reliably dominant—like giving someone a spanking—some types of play are more subjective.

(I'm guessing that right now, some of the more advanced BDSM players are reading this and thinking, "Well, everything in kink is subjective. There are dominant masochists in the world, who order people to give them the precise type of intense sensation that they like, and there are submissive sadists, who like to be told what kind of nasty act to perform." Yes, that's true, and you can deconstruct anything, including BDSM. But for today we're assuming the more common combinations of titles and duties.)

As I was saying: Take men who cross-dress. Now, nearly all my encounters with cross-dressing boys have been in an overtly dominant-submissive context. A lot of times, there's even been a whole role-play about my "making" them wear women's clothes. But I do know that lots of erotic cross-dressers have sweetly egalitarian sex while wearing their Vicky's Secret finery. (And an informal poll even turned up some guys who dress up and dominate their partners.) So one can definitely file cross-dressing under "flexible."

How about fucking someone with a strap-on? Is that necessarily a dominant act? No, I don't think so. It can be, but I've also had lovers who wore my dildo-wielding ass to a frazzle. Hard to feel all über-domly when you're lying on the bed in a panting, sweating heap and your partner sits up and says brightly, "Can we go again?" On the flip side, I once tied a male lover of mine spread-eagle on the bed, attached the harness and dildo to his hips just inches above his real dick, and enjoyed a lovely, thumping fuck with it, leaving him cursing and writhing in the most charming state of sexual frustration. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I'd recommend this trick to other female dominants. A dominant man who enjoyed anal penetration could easily do the same with a submissive of either gender.

What about foot-worship? Well, calling it "worship" tilts it a certain way. But I've enjoyed having my feet kissed and caressed in a vanilla-sex context, and I don't see why you couldn't tie someone up and do whatever kinky thing you wanted to do with their feet. I can see a fun little role-play there, with the submissive pretending to struggle and protest, and the dominant foot-lover laughing evilly, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little feet, too."

Golden showers, another favorite of mine, are usually considered a dominant-gives, submissive-receives arrangement, and I'm not sure even I can come up with a scenario in which getting pissed on seems terribly dominant. But while it's not Hallmark-card romantic, piss-play doesn't have to be done with a you're-my-toilet attitude. Defying the taboos against sharing piss can make this feel like a deeply intimate act, perhaps as part of an animal role-play scene, or simply out of enjoyment of a warm, wet sensation.

So whatever games you're playing, it's not crucial that you call yourself any certain name. It's just important that you like what you do and have fun. Oh, but do be sure to mop the kitchen floor afterward. ■



Live burlesque shows, and pinup models to photograph. Suggested dress code: pajamas or lingerie. Fenix Underground, 109 S Washington St, 405-4314, 8 pm, ladies free.

The Love Lounge is an "adult social club" designed to bring together bi women and male/female couples—no single men, please. Info at, 9 pm, $10/pp donation, BYOB, membership required, 21+.


The Little Red Studio is an intimate space for erotic performance art. Ticket includes dinner and performance. Little Red Studio, 328-4758 for info and reservations, 6:30 pm, $100.


Teri Ciacchi conducts an educational exploration of the clitoris, using live models and illustrations. Wet Spot, noon–4 pm, 612-3511, $35–50 sliding scale, membership and pre-registration required.

Men in their undies. Seattle Eagle, 314 E Pike, 9 pm, 21+.


PRIDE 2005
If you can't get a flirt going at the festival, you're just not trying. Starts at Broadway and Pike St, then proceeds up Broadway to the festival in Volunteer Park, 11 am, free.

Ferrets are the new gerbils. Kirkland's Marina Park hosts cup-tipping, tunnel races, an obstacle course, and a kissing contest. Marina Park Pavilion, 25 Lakeshore Plaza, Kirkland, noon–4 pm.


An ongoing discussion of the origins of the women's leather community in Seattle. Wet Spot,, 7–9 pm, $5–10, membership not required.