Consent and BDSM: what lessons can we learn from a professional Dominatrix?

The theme of Sexual Health Week 2021 is Consent: Do You Get It? In this blog, we hear from Madam Storm, International Dominatrix, writer, teacher, speaker and women’s empowerment coach about what we can learn about consent from the BDSM community.

I entered the world of BDSM in my twenties and was quickly educated on what consent was. It was during my first encounter with a sub when they asked “Madam, may I kiss your feet?” Yes I replied! I remember feeling empowered, respected and liberated.  

Kneeling by my feet, asking permission to touch me, talk to me, look at me and worship me, this “consent” was something I had no experience with growing up as a young woman. 

As a professional Dominatrix, consent is paramount. Not having it can be very dangerous and distressing to my client. My clients trust me as their Madam, and as much as I am the dominant person in the situation, the sub has consented to his/her treatment. I have a clear understanding of their boundaries and they trust me to stay within those boundaries. I believe we can’t address consent unless we discuss boundaries, especially when we speak of consent in a sexual situation. 

There is a misconception that subs have no power, I would disagree. I have never met a sub that wasn’t assured of themselves. 

Throughout my 12-year career as an international Dominatrix my clientele base has been a selection of powerful men who find it exhilarating to submit. They want to be stimulated mentally and taken into subspace, they are eager to give their power away and to feel fear but also to feel safe. The sub carefully picks out his/her Madam to explore with, and it’s a beautiful exchange of power and mutual respect. 

As professional Dominatrixes, we do not have sex with our clients, but the principal remains the same when introducing kink into your relationship. 

Boundaries need to be discussed and explored in a safe non-judgemental space. In my opinion, sex or play is a place of pleasure, trust, intimacy and exploration, which is why establishing boundaries with your partner/ lover outside of the bedroom or sexual environment is important. 

Setting and maintaining boundaries is a sign of self-respect, it is important that you are consistent with communicating your desires, the more you express yourself, the more confident and unapologetic you will become.  

For me, an open and honest conversation about your desires, kinks or fetishes is the only way to be sexually confident and liberated. Setting your boundaries and giving consent allows sex to be more pleasurable and exciting.   

But giving consent doesn’t mean that you can’t say no! You may have consented to having sex/play but if you’re not enjoying yourself, you have the right to say “STOP”. The person asking for consent must also be prepared for the person to say no and not to take it as a personal rejection. 

As an empowered woman, my understanding of consent is very clear. I am no longer uncomfortable with using my voice, I can say no. I understand that I have the right to say stop during sex without the fear of embarrassment or disappointing the other person.  

This is a great time to discuss the option of having a safe word. A safe word is what we use in the BDSM community, it allows the sub to inform the Dominatrix without “spoiling” play that they are no longer enjoying themselves, or the pain inflicted is too much or they’ve been triggered. The Dominatrix would then stop, “check-in” with the client and then continue play, this also keeps the power play dynamic.  

I’d like to introduce the idea of implementing a safe word into “vanilla” relationships as it’s a fun, clear way to communicate the word “stop”. A safe word can be any word you both agree on, however I’d advise staying away from words that could be used during sex; a word like strawberries, sunshine, lightbulb are clear words that do not fit within the act. 

“Checking in” is another important aspect of consent that I personally do as a Dominatrix and encourage my trainees to do the same. This is done by asking the client/sub if they’re ok  and enjoying themselves. I use phrases such as “Pet/sub are you enjoying your madam?’ “How is my pet/sub doing?”  

This can also be implemented in a “vanilla relationship” by asking the following questions: How does that feel? Do you want it harder? Should I slow down? Do you like the way that feels? Communicating with your lover throughout sex or play allows you to continue to ask for consent and ensures both parties are happy and being sexually satisfied.  

Ultimately consent is a sign of respect for yourself and for those involved. I believe giving consent is empowering because you are taking ownership of your body, you have the power to say “yes” or “no”. 

Asking for consent is equally empowering and sexy, it illustrates your level of confidence and comfortability to discuss your sexual needs and desires, you are opening up the conversation and to me that’s sexy. 

You’re creating a safe space for both of us to be vocal, once everyone’s needs are discussed and boundaries firmly set, we can continue to explore each other.   

I’d encourage you to ask yourself the below questions when engaging in sexual activity with a partner. They will help you to check in with yourself and with your lover, to ensure you can both engage in consensual, pleasurable sex.  

  1. What am I consenting to?  
  1. Am I comfortable with my decisions? 
  1. Are there any other questions I have? 
  1. Can I communicate safely with this person? 
  1. Do I need a safe word? 
  1. Have I been clear on what I’m asking for? 
  1. Have I set clear boundaries?  
  1. Have I explored personal triggers and expressed them to my lover? 

For more from Madam Storm, head over to her blog, Twitter or Instagram.

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