I am a submissive.  I have never felt exploited in any way.  In fact, I feel empowered.  I feel empowered in a way I have never felt before.

It angers me to read that in light of the theatrical release of Fifty Shades of Grey, women activists believe that the kink community exploits women.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ll share this story with my readers because I think it’s important.  I’m not looking for sympathy; on the contrary, I think that my story illustrates an important point.

I was in a Vanilla relationship for several years with a man who lives about a hundred miles away.  We saw each other regularly and things were getting serious (in that he often discussed “our future”, including kids).  As our fifth anniversary as a couple approached, he dropped a huge bombshell: He was in other relationships with several other women, all at the same time, and he also had an 18-month old child with one of the women.  He wanted this woman to move into his new house that I helped him find.  Oh, and would it still be possible for me to help him move into said new house this weekend, since I have an SUV?

Yeah.  Do the math on the kid.  As if that wasn’t enough, he was hopeful that we could be a big happy family together.  And continue the sex, of course.

So.  What does this have to do with empowerment?  Frankly, I have never felt so powerless in my life.  Not only had I been completely betrayed by someone I loved, but my health had been jeopardized as well.  While he said he loved me, he wanted to raise his child with this woman, but he didn’t want to lose me because of our sexual chemistry.  That’s why he figured we could all just be a unit of some kind.  He exploited me.  He used me for sex, and he led me on under false pretenses.  That is exploitation.

When I read about how the kinky community supposedly exploits women, I see red. 

Given our mantra of Safe, Sane and Consensual, the idea of exploitation really doesn’t fall into the equation.   I see more examples of exploitation in the Vanilla World on a daily basis—just watch an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich if you don’t believe me.

Of course, it must be said that bad things happen in every community.  With the kinky community bad things can happen, especially with inexperienced members.  A naïve submissive might find herself in the hands of an abusive faux-Dominant who’s really just an asshole on a power trip.

However, in my experience, the most beautiful thing about D/s is that the submissive and the Dominant enter into a contractual relationship.  Everything is laid out on the table; it’s discussed, and at the end of the conversation it’s crystal clear what should be expected, and what should be avoided.  This is the most empowering aspect of D/s.  The Dominant must abide by the terms of the contract, as must the submissive.  If the terms are broken, then the contract is null and void.

My Dominant made me feel empowered.  When I was doing what he requested of me, it made me feel invincible.  He appreciated what I did to serve him.  My service and obedience pleased him, which was the biggest reward imaginable for me.  I never felt belittled, nor did I feel as though he was taking advantage of me.  The perception that D/s is about women submitting to men is simply inaccurate.

I count myself among the submissives who are also highly independent.  It’s not an oxymoron: you can be submissive and independent at the same time.   I’ve received emails from other submissives who feel the same way.  The biggest attraction to the D/s lifestyle for me is being able to give up all control to someone else and let that person call the shots.  Letting someone else tell me what to wear and what to eat, and taking away the hard decisions, was a welcome diversion.  The most important thing, though, is that I made the choice to give up control.  My Dominant asked which areas of my life I was comfortable handing over to him, we talked about it, he gave me input, and ultimately I gave him a list.  Once he took control, he was in charge and my only job was to obey.  If I disobeyed, I was punished.  This was all part of the deal.  The important thing is that I had the power to shape what I wanted out of the relationship.

Anyone who blindly says that women are exploited in the D/s lifestyle has no idea about what really goes on in the community.  From what I’ve seen, the D/s community is one of the most open, outgoing, friendly, and welcoming groups out there.  No one is exploited in any way; whether you identify as a Dominant or submissive, Top or bottom, Master or slave, you are revered and coveted for being who you are.  Submissives and slaves are celebrated for the gifts they provide to their Dominants and Masters.

It is my humble opinion that the exploitation of women occurs more frequently in the Vanilla World than in the kinky world.  The kinky lifestyle allows women to empower themselves to go out and find what they’re looking for in a relationship.  With the relationship bound by the strict standards of the contract, women can rest assured that they will be respected and treated properly.  Women are able to feel empowered, not exploited.

Vanilla World, take heed!