I’ve always been interested in how people interpret different sex acts. So much of sex is power play—and even when you’re actively trying to take the power out of it, its influence is there, making you act against it. Either way, it’s persistently relevant. So which acts give power to whom, and why?
For the longest time, I considered giving head to be a submissive act. When I came across semes (tops) in yaoi manga blowing their shy, embarrassed ukes, I was always taken aback. Isn’t that the uke’s job? I suspect my reaction stemmed partly from gender roles and dominant men making submissive women perform it on them. But I know that’s not the whole picture, because even a man performing cunnilingus on his girlfriend seemed submissive to me. I think the biggest key is in the fact that I viewed the dominant one as the one receiving physical pleasure.
It was actually one such manga that flipped the switch for me. Because it was a favourite and I understood the characters so well, I could understand their motives in taking these roles. I came to understand it as serving another purpose. In driving a partner to orgasm, there’s so much control and intimacy. Lusting after his body and being able to give him head simply because I want to is an indulgent and incredibly satisfying thought. Now I can fully see it either way. I think this was actually a big turning point in understanding what I might like for myself. When I started to think about having control over my partner’s release as a dominant act, my imagination ran free. I love the idea of bringing him to orgasm—for my own sake. To cause such a vulnerable reaction is a very intimate and dominant experience for me. His orgasm and lust are what sate me. And as a dominant, I would have equal control in having him perform it on me, if I so chose. Oral sex to me is a very versatile way to play with power.
Another act I want to bring up is penetrative sex. This is an interesting case for me. Not having any interest in receiving it, I feel biased in thinking of it with penetrator as dominant and penetrated as submissive. However, I know that doesn’t have to be the case. I truly do understand that. Plenty of dominant women enjoy vaginal penetration from their submissive men, and it means something different to them than it does to me. In this case, it’s simply because I can’t put myself in that headspace that I interpret it this way. My view of power here is not a belief, but a feeling.
I think a simple principle might be that whatever role the dominant wants is dominant, but it just isn’t easy to want certain things when there’s a precedent, and that’s what makes such a principle more complicated: it’s true, but easier said than done.
What do you think? Are there any sex acts you have interpreted differently at different times in your life? What are your views on some of the ones I did or didn’t talk about?