Something I’ve had to work through is my feeling that I couldn’t fulfil an archetype, that I couldn’t live up to a rigid ideal. Writing about how not fitting into an archetype is not a failure has been so valuable.

BDSM, in particular D/s, is a world that is brimming with labels. Titles, terms, protocols, all of these things are meant to create structure and order, to define what you are, what role you fulfil and who you match with. It simplifies things. Or does it?

What’s In A Name?
There seem to be two camps: the folks that are obsessed with the labels and what they signify, and the rest of us. When I first stumbled into D/s I was very much sure of my title and wanted to craft the perfect submissive persona. I wanted to commit to a title and embody it. I wanted to find my place. I was interested in “both sides of the slash”, but I lacked the vocabulary to understand that I was a Switch. Much like bisexuality (hi, hello, that’s also me!) there is a terrific amount of rather nasty Switch-erasure in the BDSM community. It felt dangerous to even begin to express Switchiness, so I suppressed the desire to tie up boys and hit them (consensually) with sticks. I wanted to be clearly and unequivocally recognizable as a submissive, because back then I thought it mattered. Or at the very least, at the time, it mattered to me. Almost immediately, I struggled. I immediately realized that I didn’t relate to the imagery (see above!) that was the majority representation of cis women in submission. I’m not a tall, slim, gazelle of a woman who drops to her knees when her Dom (in a suit, drinking whiskey in a leather arm chair, obviously), snaps his fingers. I was never that, I never will be that, and in the beginning, I really suffered emotionally because of that, so much so that I gave up. I decided I had misjudged my willingness to embrace the archetype of “submissive” and that it was out of my reach. I felt like I had failed. The only way I had failed was to realize that none of that matters.

Going A Different Direction
I spent the next year and a half embracing my Dominant side, learning, growing, pushing myself. To say it was some of the hardest and most heartbreaking times in terms of relationships would be an understatement. I struggled. Again, I wasn’t the archetype. I seemed to be attracting men that said that didn’t matter, that my humane and gentle style was an asset, and then they’d sulk when I wasn’t interested in stepping on their balls in 6″ stilettos. Total impostor syndrome, 24/7. So I walked away for awhile. I continued the bedroom only dynamic that Ralph London and I have had since the beginning and I spent more time learning about myself and going to therapy, began the long and exhausting process of facing the neglect and abuse of my formative years and basically allowed BDSM to be a hobby, an interest, but not a lifestyle, for awhile.

Taking a New Tact
Now I’m in the the most carefully crafted, communicative and unique dynamic with the most patient and loving man. The dynamic is more or less 24/7 and reaches beyond ‘the bedroom’ but there remains opportunity to have the simplicity and different sort of intimacy that a vanilla relationship provides. The most powerful part of this dynamic, in my opinion, is that it is completely bespoke. Neither of us feels the need to be overly definitive or prescriptive, and while there are some of the classic ‘isms’ of D/s, neither of us is afraid to be a bit anarchistic and push the traditional limitations of a traditional dynamic.

A little of column A, a little of column B
I still don’t fit the mold of the classic submissive; not in look or attitude. I’ve settled on Little as the closest traditional term, but even that fluctuates. I’m not very service oriented, I’m not a brat, I don’t have the bandwidth or desire for immersion of a slave. He’s a Daddy and he leans heavily to the nurturing side. He’s an excellent leader and he’s a patient teacher. He’s also an adoring playmate and an incredible friend. We have a lot of fun. I think that’s so much of what makes this ‘bespoke dynamic’ so exciting: it’s filled with so much fun and sweetness.

I feel lucky to have made this connection and to have fallen in love with someone so pure of heart and communicative, I want to give it my all and I know that he does too. I’m still not the picture perfect submissive, and I doubt I ever will be. However, that’s not a requirement of his, and it’s finally, finally, no longer a requirement of myself.

Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.