Kristina Lloyd

Erotic Fiction Author

Why are women sexually submissive?

Thrill Seeker Kristina Lloyd eroticaDon’t worry, I’m not about to go all Mel Gibson on you.

This question, in various forms, was bandied about a lot during last year’s Fifty Shades media hysteria. It’s a question I’ve been asked my opinion on more than enough times. Usually the questioner is asking why are so many women into sexual submission as roleplay or fantasy (which would suggest the answer requires a socio-cultural analysis, and I have to put my eyeroll on standby in readiness for the chimpanzee who wants to tell me it’s ‘natural’).

Made more personal, the question becomes why is this character/are you sexually submissive (which would suggest the questioner thinks us crazy bitches need our heads examined cos we must have a history of brokenness to like that fucked-up shit).

I think it’s the wrong question to be asking. Instead, perhaps we should be asking: why is that question constantly being asked of women? It’s a question which implies there’s a problem that needs rectifying. We don’t often hear the corresponding enquiry: why are (so many) men sexually dominant? Femsub generates anxiety because too often it’s deemed to constitute a betrayal and rejection of feminism. I think most intelligent people would be able to understand that wanting to be cuffed to the bedpost and treated like a fuckslutwhore doesn’t equate to wanting to live on the bottom half of a gender-imbalanced culture. The more complex issue, and one which affects me as a writer, is how do we convey this when we’re presenting M/f to a broad audience?

I’m a woman writing about women who desire sexually dominant men; about women who own their stuff or are on a journey towards ownership. I’m writing about sex that re-enacts and often exaggerates gender norms; and at the same time, I’m subverting those gender norms by showing that women can have sexual agency and be actively, assertively desiring. Historically, that’s been the preserve of men.

EL James did us a massive wrong when she presented Grey’s non-mainstream sexuality as a consequence of an abusive past and him as freakishly ‘other’ (and so safe from tainting the mainstream); and when she depicted acceptable, ordinary female sexuality as being dead-in-the-cunt. The romantic, reactionary trope of a ‘sleeping beauty’ sexuality, where our heroine is oblivious to her submissive desires until some handsome prick-prince arrives to ‘awaken’ her kinky self is deeply problematic.

My protagonist in Thrill Seeker, Natalie Lovell, starts to explore her submissive sexuality when she’s in her late twenties. She’s been deterred from doing so previously due, in part, to a former unhealthy sexual relationship which has left her feeling uncomfortable about, and reluctant to pursue, her desires. I think this is a far more typical scenario for many of us, except it’s not usually an incident in the past that has inhibited our sexual growth but a barrage of cultural messages telling us we shouldn’t; that it’s wrong; it’s dirty; it’s twisted to want it that way. I don’t for a moment believe that, as FSOG suggests, we’re all ticking along in neutral vanilla mode until something distorts us and sends us – whoa! – kinky.

In Thrill Seeker, Natalie is sexually submissive because she is. Anyone looking for a ‘why?’ won’t find their answer. They will, however, find plenty to demonstrate the pleasure Natalie gets out of powerplay, and that ought to be reason enough.

Here’s an excerpt. And I’m very sorry: this is my third excerpt from Thrill Seeker, and once again it centres on cocksucking. I promise you, the book does contain other stuff and I do have range!

Another memory: Baxter making me confront myself in the full-length mirror in the bedroom. I was on my knees, hands cuffed behind my back, both of us naked. I’d just been sucking his cock, or rather he’d just been fucking my mouth. He once taught me a word: irrumatio. Not fellatio, where I suck his cock, but irrumatio, where he fucks my mouth. ‘Learn to love it,’ he’d growled, hands in my hair, cock driving hard enough to make me splutter.

When he withdrew, he stuffed my knickers into my mouth, feeding in the last of the fabric with two big fingers. My cheeks bulged, pink lace foaming from my lips as he turned me to meet my reflection. He held me by the hair, waggling my head in warning when I tried to look away. Black tears streaked my face, my eyes bloodshot, my skin hectic and blotched. Next to me, his cock was ramrod-stiff, gleaming with my saliva, his pubes curling damply.

‘Look at the state of you,’ he said brightly. ‘How d’you end up like this, eh? Dirty little cocksucker. You know why your panties are in your mouth, eh? Do you?’

I shook my head, grunting into cotton.

‘Because I dinnae want to hear you speak,’ he said. ‘All that mouth’s fit for is being used. Not got a dick in it? Then it’s surplus to my requirements. Now come on, suck me again. Do it!’

I grunted to indicate he needed to first remove the underwear from my mouth. My hands were tied, see? Baxter was having none of it. ‘Spit them out,’ he said. ‘Prove how much you want my dick.’

I did as told, glad to be rid of the knickers, gladder still to have Baxter gliding into my mouth again. I loved the strength in his shaft, loved to breathe in the intimacy of his pubes as he bunched my hair in his fists, pulling me close. And most of all, I loved it when he told me what to do. He knew I got off on that because I’d tried to explain it numerous times. I couldn’t say why I liked being forced to submit, only that I did; that I longed to be overtaken and reduced in this way. I didn’t so much get off on the act of submission but in being made to submit. I wanted to resist as if I hated it, the pleasure arising from the process of him doing what was necessary to push me to that place where I had either become greedy and willing or was too weak to fight back.

Does everything, I’d once wondered aloud to Baxter, have to be explained before it gets a pass? Does the nature-nurture debate need to be resolved before I’m allowed to fuck who and how I want? Didn’t gay people get asked the same question – are you born this way or made? – and discover the answer was ‘accept us for who we are, don’t pathologise and try to fix us’?

Baxter took it in his stride, not seeking justification but happy to be with someone he viewed as on a par. My kinky desires were as legitimate as his, and together we could celebrate what we relished, and make each other happy.

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May 17, 2013 - Posted by | Kristina Lloyd | , , ,


  1. I agree with your thoughts. My past has been interesting, but I can’t say that’s what has motivated my desire to understand my sexuality (I can’t completely claim being a submissive as I’ve never submitted to anyone to know for sure) via “kink”. I’m exploring it, no one else put me on a path of exploration.

    Comment by Cara Thereon | May 17, 2013 | Reply

  2. “In Thrill Seeker, Natalie is sexually submissive because she is.”

    This gives me the warn fuzzies as a reader. It sums up perfectly what I wanted to hear from every erotic book that ultimately chose to justify a sexual act with some traumatic or even a merely unpleasant event in the heroine or hero’s sexual history.

    Comment by Annemarie Hartnett (@amhartnett) | May 17, 2013 | Reply

    • I worship that line too. Perfection!

      Wonderful post, Kristina and wonderful excerpt. I don’t offer any ‘whys’ in my books either. My people like what they like because they like it, as yours do. :)

      Comment by PortiaDaCosta (@PortiaDaCosta) | May 17, 2013 | Reply

  3. Thanks both! This idea that women don’t have desire, and so are incapable of sexual self-awareness and agency, manifests itself in so many pernicious ways in our culture. You’d hope erotic fic might be one of the last places to find this message being repeated. And sadly, it does seem BDSM is more likely to gain mainstream acceptance when it’s justified as a sexual pathology, and as something arising from injury – which of course, is not acceptance at all.

    Comment by Kristina Lloyd | May 17, 2013 | Reply

  4. I found my kink aged 35 and it took a lot to get to where I am. First, I just have a masochistic/submissive streak in me but have suppressed it until recently because it’s not “normal”. And second, the community in which I live is not tolerant of anything they deem not “normal”, so finding someone to help me explore my kink has been “interesting”. I am now happy with a very loving partner and we have a very deep and secure relationship with each other, more so than my (ex) marriage ever was and I’m sure it’s because of what we do. Everyone who knows me has commented how happy I have been since getting together with my partner, but would think we’re broken if they knew what we get up to rather than accepting that we are who we are. And in fact, the only times I really have issues with being “this way” and feel that I must be damaged or abnormal, are when I try to rationalise it and frame it within a viewpoint that society would accept.

    Gosh, that’s a lot more than I expected to write, but you managed to sum up so well Kristina how I feel, and I think there’s a lot of women out there who could do to read this post and accept and love themselves for who they are, not how society dictates how they should be.

    Comment by Anna Sky | May 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for such a positive comment Anna! I’m pleased my post struck a chord and, yep, for so many of us it’s a battle to even start to explore. But as you suggest, it’s helluva worth it when you do!

      Comment by Kristina Lloyd | May 17, 2013 | Reply

  5. It didn’t occur to me that the erotica I’d read (a few of the classics and a few Black Lace) was anything but pure fantasy until I was introduced to it. So in that respect I was one of those “sleeping beauty” types. You wouldn’t believe what I didn’t know until someone or something (Ms Magazine) explained it to me. Sigh. My problem with Ana Steele is not so much in her needing a big strong man to “awaken her desires” but that, at least in the first book, she doesn’t like it. She only does it because she’s in love with him. She repeatedly refers to him “hitting” her, which I found deeply disturbing.

    The attraction of D/s, for a literal-thinker such as myself, is (at least in part) because of its honesty. I don’t cook him a nice meal in the hopes that he’ll have sex with me. He doesn’t buy me a present in the hopes that I’ll have sex with him. I love the simple clarity.

    Now that I think about it, while many of the female characters in my short stories are aggressively sexual, even the submissive characters, the submissives in my 3 novels have all been introduced to it by a dominant man. Hmm. I give no reason for why he is dominant or why she likes it so much, but she does need the catalyst of a dominant man to start her down her path.

    I haven’t read your book yet, Kristina, but the excerpts I’ve read seem to suggest that Baxter, if he didn’t actually awaken the desire in your protagonist, was certainly prominent in helping her understand what she wanted. (I didn’t so much get off on the act of submission but in being made to submit. I wanted to resist as if I hated it, the pleasure arising from the process of him doing what was necessary to push me to that place where I had either become greedy and willing or was too weak to fight back.)

    By the way, there’s a lot packed into those two sentences, for the “careful reader.” Nicely done, K, but no one would expect anything less than that from you.

    Comment by Madeline Moore | May 18, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Mad. And yes, Baxter is absolutely key to Natalie’s exploration of her sexuality. I don’t mean to suggest she knows what she wants and clicks her fingers so it gets done. Rejecting the Sleeping Beauty trope is about giving my leads the inkling of a *desire* for something, not knowledge of what that is or how to execute a plan to get it.

      There has to be a catalyst to set events in motion, and hot dude turning up and catching her by surprise is valid and often hot. But FSOG takes that to the nth degree (and her not actually wanting D/s is part of her ongoing ‘purity’ – as if kink has become the new sex, and a way to measure women’s ‘sluttiness’). I tend to think our genre is over reliant on female ‘innocence’ or lack of self-awareness. If a contemporary character is oblivious to her own sexual proclivities until he shows up, as a reader, I want to know why. And there are plenty of possible reasons – cultural pressure, trapped in a marriage, guilt, shame, youth, vagina been living under a rock, failure of the imagination etc. But in a info-saturated society, I feel she ought to have *some* clue to herself.

      Comment by Kristina Lloyd | May 20, 2013 | Reply

      • I hear you. I think the clue might be as simple as “something is missing.” Things have changed a lot, very quickly, now that we all have computers and are part of the global village. It bugs me that FSOG is touted as something new, but (massive promotion aside) James’ “Mommyporn” (gack) brought bdsm right into the mainstream. I just hope people looking to add a little spice to their sex lives get that this kind of “Play” can have major repercussions. Like any revelation, there may be surprises that aren’t acceptable to one player. I’ve heard it said that you haven’t experienced true passion until you’ve experienced bdsm. It’s certainly powerful and risky. Hopefully people do a little more research before they bust out the handcuffs and anal beads or start whacking each other with belts. I’ve never understood why someone with a fetish would fall in love first and hope the other person will find that fetish exciting. Now that is risky!

        Comment by Madeline Moore | May 20, 2013 | Reply

  6. Mad, I don’t seem to be able to reply directly to your comment! Agree on the risk factor of your closing point – i guess sexuality has a bigger role to play in some people’s lives than others. If it matters to you, you surely foreground it in your search for a partner/playmate.But I can accept that option isn’t always easy for a lot of people.

    Not convinced by the idea true passion is found in BDSM, Or that what we do is mighty dangerous so beginners ought to read a BDSM manual first before giving it a go. I think there’s an element of sex-snobbery in kink, as if BDSM is superior to vanilla and is full of special secrets as a route to getting it right. Like life, you learn through your fuck ups and bruises, no? Most people aren’t dolts. And those that are dolts, won’t be picking up the manual any time soon!

    Comment by Kristina Lloyd | May 20, 2013 | Reply

    • Yes but those dolts are reading FSOG!

      I suppose I’ll have to admit to erotica author-snobbery,but not sex-snobbery.

      Now that kink is going mainstream, what will make my work kinky? Grumble. I know yours will continue to be kinky, you kink-meister, but I’m gonna have to stretch. Or become a writer of erotic romance, which is probably the direction I’m heading in.

      Comment by Madeline Moore | May 21, 2013 | Reply

  7. Kristina, I’ve only just discovered this post and well, you in general. I know this is ancient and I apologize. Firstly the compliments – I think this is an interesting topic and you make some good points, also, I like you’re style of writing and your taste in kink! :)

    Now for my two cents. I think there are a lot of mixed messages out there floating around at once that you need to take into account. To be blunt, rape hysteria, mass media campaigns about the degradation of women, pornography, etc. Just a lot of demonization towards sexually aggressive men and men’s sexuality, in a general sense. These are cultural messages that have been beat into our heads for better or worse of the past 50 years. The message being this kind of behavior is gross, vile, immoral, and men who engage or enable it are just bad men.

    Of course now, we have many women like yourself coming forth saying “yeah, this is what I like” and asking “what’s the big deal?”.

    I don’t intend to invalidate your own reasoning (or lack of need for) exploring such submissive sexuality, but I have a theory I toss around. I tend to think sexual fantasies are born from something, that they don’t just come out of nothing. One such birth is classic human psychology. Sexual appeal is often born from anything that carries a heavy taboo. In present day, the idea of a man sexually violating and debasing a woman is a horror of our society. Just the idea of men subjugating women is a big no-no in today’s politically correct atmosphere, and that inspires the curiosity towards it. Many women of today might feel like they’re always being “protected” from men, and protected from the wickedness of a man’s sexual desires. Whatever is not supposed to be or is forbidden, often becomes the fruit. Women’s curiosity becomes desire, where they don’t want to be protected from men or their sexual desires, they want the opposite. They want to be exposed, they want to be the “victim” to what everyone is trying to protect them from. This is the taboo and what makes it so dirty and appealing. As I’m sure you know many women have rape fantasies, and it’s not surprising.

    From the excerpt. I notice that you have the male character evaluating the female character, asking her to “look at the state of herself” and asking “how did you end up like this?”. I think this is example of how people verbalize and explore the above mentioned. It’s kind of an integral part of it, that the woman is a ‘victim’ of something, that she has fallen from grace and ended up somewhere very unfortunate or rock-bottom, serving the interests of savage and depraved men. I think most of the time, these kinds of questions and statements are rhetorical. They are there to underline the taboo – this is not supposed to happen to a woman, they are supposed to be protected from this – but not this woman, she has slipped through the cracks and now look at her. She is a pitiful sight and no one is going to save her from it, etc.

    So I think it could boil down to… Some women like being forced to submit because they know they aren’t supposed to be forced to submit. They aren’t supposed to be subject to these vile acts and this second-class treatment by men. So inevitably it becomes an erotic desire for those very things, a desire to be that victim, experience the thrills and fears of what’s not supposed to happen.

    Not saying this is your answer, but it jives with other theories about societal taboos and sexual behaviors. I think there will always be a question of “why is she like that” because it’s a part of the appeal. This woman is being brutalized and clearly deserves better, so why has this happened to her, why is she putting up with it? These questions don’t really want answers, they just want to make the observation which in itself is kind of curiously sexy.

    Comment by Guy | June 22, 2015 | Reply

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