I started the other normal because I was frustrated. Frustrated and fed up of the ways in which we were allocated space to talk about sex. More specifically the ways in which we talk about female sexuality.
The other normal intends to build a space for positive and passionate representation and exploration of female sexuality, desire, pleasure, experience and need. I wanted to create a new platform to talk about sex. One that centres the female body, pleasure and needs. To explore and understand the complexity of female sexuality. Not only to better understand the needs and experiences of female sexuality but to encourage new, more radical approaches to female sexuality it order to create meaningful change.
I want to create a space within which we can come to a better understanding of our sexual behaviours. Behaviours that are a complex interplay of internal and external factors. I am not a biological essentialist. While I understand that genetics, biology, hormones and drives are key to all of our behaviours, I see human sexuality as infinitely plastic, centred in our emotions, behaviours, desires and relationships, rather than eternally fixed, biologically determined and unchangeable. I see our sexual selves created within relationship but best understood in the complex social and cultural forms and organisations.
I believe wholeheartedly that by combining who (we are as individuals) with what (the environments we live within) we can gain a better understanding of the why of our sex lives. And I believe it is the why rather than the who or how of our sexual experiences that are crucial to any gaining any genuine and significant change to the way we, as females, experience sex.
In particular, I wanted to explore the ways in which the concept of submission within women’s sexual identity is thought of and discussed. I am a sexually submissive woman in a satisfying relationship with my husband. More and more I was encountering the same messages: that submissive as a sexual identity of women can be one of two things perfection or dysfunction. Neither of which is representative of me or my experiences. And I soon came to realise that, at least for me, these narrow and black and white assumptions are limiting and dangerous. They create for me a sense of deep shame – that there was something wrong with me; and this shame came at me from within and outside of kink spaces. It was deliberating for me and something that took a long time and a lot of emotional space to wade through and disassemble.
I started the other normal as a project to add another voice to the social conversations about sex, kink and feminism. The other normal is all about challenging the dominant understanding of what it is to be a woman who identifies as submissive while respecting the diversity of human sexual identity and performance. While I make no apologies for my words and approach to sex, I am, at least I generally strive to be, mindful and respective of the nuances within our sexual experiences.
With the mainstreaming and increasing fashionableness of all things out of the ordinary and kinky we have been given an opportunity to have very some real and needed conversations about women’s sexuality. To really understand the complexity and diversity of need and experience and yet, once again, it seems as if we are still stuck in the same perfection/dysfunction good/bad/ right/wrong for/against dichotomy and going nowhere anytime soon; and this is nowhere more obvious that in conversation about submission and domination.
There are many questions about the authenticity and the permissibility of the submissive sexual identity. These questions and assumptions are valid but, in my opinion, lack the answers necessary to add something constructive to the wider conversation about sex and sexual identity. Women who are coming into submission are doing so from varying life circumstances and are doing so for many reasons. Submissive women are not a homogenised group that are clearly identifiable; nor is the concept of submission one that is easy to provide objective and critical analysis of. The dominant representations of submissive women are more often than not imagined through what is now being called the ‘male gaze’; that is a representation that is obtained through the perspective of the heterosexual male. Even in porn (erotica) written for women by women the objectification of the submissive woman by her creator is still that which is written by the heteronormative assumptions of what a woman needs to be to be sexually pleasing for men; not her man, but heterosexual men in general.
The other normal wants to move away from this dominant representation and look deeper into this idea that; within the context of her sexual/intimate relationship women can and do see themselves as submissive to their partners dominance in a way that is not oppressive or damaging – to herself or the wider concept of women’s sexuality. To focus on the importance of normalisation and validation of sexual behaviours by actively removing the pathology of genuine and mutually satisfying kink and replacing it with expectation. The expectation of great sex. Isn’t that why we have sex?
The other normal is just as it says; things that may be considered ‘the other’ but is merely a drop in the ocean that is the fluidity of sexual identity and performance. Different but normal.
But beyond this I needed a place to explore how consent fits into the idea of kink. I am a passionate advocate for consent and make no apologies for this. I will not acknowledge ‘grey areas’ or concede that consent isn’t necessary, relevant or expected at the core of all sexual encounters; even the most kinky of them.
The other normal is written by a 30 something woman from the outer suburbs of Sydney Australia. I am a wife, a mother, a sociologist, a trainee therapist and a woman who has a satisfying, imaginative sex life with the man she loves; that may be a little bit off to the left than some, but still normal in every way.