Last night, we played the game again. The one where I’m a sex slave, and my man is my king, selecting me for a night of passion from among a bevy of women—all ready to serve. I am, as the rules of the game dictate, always ready to go down on my king, whenever he wants, however he wants it. As I tell him I’ll do anything for him, anything, my voice slips into a submissive hush.

Am I a dirty little slut?

You’re such a fucking whore. You fucking whore.

By the second “whore,” I inevitably finish, then curl my quivering legs under my arms, until the spasms quell and I’m left with the same thought as always: This is a game I created, and one I crave. Why, as a self-respecting feminist, do I get so turned on by being a dirty little slut?

* * *

There was a time, a few years ago, when I told an ex-boyfriend who called me whore in bed that I no longer wanted him to say that. I’m not a whore, I announced, proud and indignant. I’m your girlfriend!

But these days—while I remain just as staunchly feminist as ever—I no longer feel any inclination to push back against my desire to be ritualistically, explicitly, and sexually demeaned.

In real life—the one that exists when I’m not a dungeon-bound sex servant—I loath the word “whore.” Of course I do. It’s objectifying, reductive, crude. The gendered power dynamic I turn into bedroom play—powerful man, subservient woman—is the explicit manifestation of a patriarchal system I spend my days hating.

So why, behind closed doors, does it all get me so hot?

 

Like any good, thoughtful feminist, it makes me worry that I’ve internalized what “society” has long told me about men and women; I’m concerned that even in fantasy, wanting to serve as nothing more than a vessel for male pleasure is an indication that I’ve become a self-loathing woman, mired in a fetish worthy of Freudian pursuits.

But of course it’s not that simple.

Because being called a “whore” makes my relationship with my partner—who I love—all the more intimate, through the power of privilege; I exist in this fleeting whoredom solely for him and created by my own desire. I’m good for everyone else, but I’m bad for you. It’s our little secret, and there’s something dare-I-say romantic about how clandestine the entire exchange remains.

Having recently moved in with my partner, I’ve also been spending much of my time negotiating gender equality. And the truth is, navigating who should do the dishes, or pay the bills, or take out the trash, is important, but not hot. I don’twant to navigate how to be respectful and egalitarian in the bedroom; I want to be thrown down, spanked, and screamed at. Two partners in an equal position of power are good at settling chores, and at making love. But I think fucking requires a bit of a power imbalance—and sometimes I just want to be fucked.

Earlier this year, The New York Times Magazine ran a story about how gender equality doesn’t always belong in bed. As sex writer Dan Savage put it, “We all want to be with somebody who can flip the switch and see you as an object for an hour. Sometimes sex is an expression of anger or a struggle for power and dominance. They work in concert.” In other words, he says, why can’t you be degraded and loved?

 

In my own case, I happily understand the difference between fantasy and belief, and I know my partner does, too. So often after he calls me a dirty slut, and my convulsions have subsisted, he’ll look me in the eyes and say, “You know I love and respect you, right?”

I’d also like to think that part of what gets me going, is how strangely feminist it all is in the end. Because I believe that ultimately, being a “whore” doesn’t make me anything more or less than a woman who enjoys sex, and who can serve herself in serving her partner. There’s a subversion to it that feels freeing, coursing through my body until I am rendered both weak, and strong.

In “whore,” I’ve found both.

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.com

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