Ask Jenn Vicious: To Stand Up For Yourself

by: Jenn Vicious 

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Jenn Vicious is the radical community’s Agony Aunt, providing life coaching and social etiquette answers for radical cultures.  Need poly. kinky, or queer dating advice, need to to know what to wear to court or a family function (you know, one you have to look “respectable” at),  want to understand what to and not to say in some contexts, Ask Jenn Vicious.

How do you learn to stand up for yourself?  I’m a straigh submissive cis-female and have a history of abuse.  I’m 25 and havent had a relationship or sex for the last 5 years.  I know that I want a dominant male partner, but the last relationship I had– my first and only BDSM relationship– devolved into me thinking I had no right to have preferences or boundries.  I am introverted and uncomfortable around people, and don’t have any friends IRL.  I don’t know how to safely find what I’m looking for.  

I applaud you for taking some time off from relationships to figure out a safe way to have the kind of relationship you want. I have a few tips for you to think about.

BDSM can be totally awesome, but it really requires trust and boundaries. I don’t want to define your experience for you, but I think that a BDSM relationship where you don’t feel like you can have any boundaries sounds abusive, not kinky. Radical, sex-positive BDSM can (and really should) include consent.

It’s hard to learn how to stand up for yourself. First, you need to really believe that you deserve it, and that can be hard for some people. I think it is really helpful to do things that make you feel empowered. I recommend taking a really good, women-focused self-defense class. I know they won’t all be like this, but the one’s I’ve taken have really focused on believing that you have the right and ability to set boundaries, and I think that would be good for you.

One way to fake standing up for yourself is when you are in a situation that calls for that, pretend like it is happening to your friend or your sister or your mom, some other person that you care about. Would you stand up for her in that situation? Then you should stand up for yourself.

I know these things are going to be super challenging for you, especially as an introvert. I’m not sure how you’ll find the relationship you are looking for, but I believe you can do it. If you can elucidate clearly what it is you want “like I want a dominant male partner who I can trust to respect my boundaries,” then it will make it a lot easier to find. The only thing I can really say is go slow and take care of yourself.

Skim through The Survivor’s Guide to Sex, even it you didn’t experience childhood sexual abuse, because there is a good section in their for survivors who want to participate in BDSM. It is super sex-positive and empowering.

At Bound to Struggle, you can download a bunch of free zines about the intersection of bdsm and radical politics, which I think sounds awesome.

I’ll admit I haven’t read this book The New Bottoming Book, but it sounds like it might be perfect for you and I have some respect for Dottie Easton’s work.

I also recommend checking out some sex-positive discussion boards, maybe through Fetlife.com (which I have mixed feelings about). You might be able to connect online with people near you, and you might feel more comfortable getting to know people online before meeting them.

Though not as active as I would like, this website Consent Culture might have some articles that would be helpful to you.

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