‘I’m a feminist and a sadist’, is how one millennial man reconciles his relationships with women both in and out of the bedroom.
If you’ve been dating in the last few years you’ve probably noticed even the most vanilla of partners are happier to indulge in a little light spanking or some gentle bondage. Blame it on porn, Tinder or a certain film trilogy. Whatever the reason, we’re all more likely than ever to experiment a bit. But what about when it goes further than that and your sex life revolves around inflicting what can be extreme levels of pain on your female partners BUT you still consider yourself a feminist? Are the two compatible? We spoke to Pete *a 28-year-old self-identified sadist based in London to find out.
What does being a sadist mean to you?
In the simplest terms, it means I derive pleasure from the pain of others. However, I don’t think of it as just enjoying seeing other people suffer- what I enjoy is when people consent for me to hurt them, either emotionally or physically (or often both).
What does being a feminist mean to you?
That all genders should have equal opportunity to succeed in life. There should be fair treatment of all people, regardless of gender. Being aware of the privileges afforded me as a man and looking to be an ally for feminist causes, to pay attention to areas where there is considered to still be inequality and try to help rectify these issues.
What difficulties do you have being both of these?
I have become very good at compartmentalising, when I first started getting into sadism and kink there were a number of areas I never thought I’d be involved in – for example, degrading women as being objects for male pleasure was unthinkable. As I’ve developed, I can now very easily separate the types of things that I enjoy in a fixed, consensual setting, and what I actually believe. I would never go to someone random and act in this way, but when I have talked to someone before and seen they have similar interests, I think we can both engage in that kind of play and go away not having compromised our feminist views in any way.
Is there anything you’d like to do sadism wise that being a feminist holds you back from?
I believe in the early days I would have been much more reluctant to engage in forms of gendered emotional sadism or to simulate abusive relationships. As I’ve got to know people who engage in this, however, I’ve learned that doing so in a contained environment doesn’t, for me, challenge my feminist ideals.
What do you most like about sadism?
It comes down to two aspects – control and connection. I very much enjoy being in control of another person, having both the ability to bring them pleasure and pain, and to craft their enjoyment of a scene, hopefully fulfilling fantasies of their own along the way. In terms of connectivity, the trust that people place in me to hurt them is always very gratifying and I find it brings us closer together.
How do you bring it up with partners/potential partners?
Most of my partners come from the kink scene or related websites, so will already have an interest in it – it’s been some time since I introduced someone completely new to sadism, although that can be a lot of fun as well.
How do you ensure your partners feel safe?
A lot of up-front conversation to start with, about the types of things they can expect, what they’re interested in, what kind of level they enjoy or have experienced before, etc. Ultimately despite all this, you can still be surprised in a first session – people can often over-state their own desires when in a fantasy setting. Because of this, the first time I meet anyone will be exploratory and I will deliberately go gentler and build things up as I judge their reactions (movements, sounds, physical reactions, etc.).
They will have safe words to either slow things down or stop things altogether, although it is very rare people have had to use those with me as I can usually judge what people need now that I have had a decent amount of experience.
Afterward as well, it is very important to show the person they are valued and cared for – that is very person dependent, from cuddling up, to just looking after their needs. Just kicking them straight out afterward would be actual sadism, which isn’t fun for anyone!
How do your female friends feel about your sadism?
Many of them come from the scene itself and thus understand it very well – in fact, I would say I’ve become a much stronger feminist from listening to women who like being degraded for their gender in the bedroom. There is definitely a lack of understanding about sadism generally from those outside, but not so much from a feminism angle – just that people can’t really understand the pleasure derived from hurting or humiliating people. I’ve never lost any friends over it, but there are definitely those that would rather not hear about it and I respect that.
*names have been changed