There is this common trope within BDSM that, while worded in various ways, conveys the message that “no” is a down and out no-go for any submissive. That to be submissive – or obtain some kind of deeper level of submission, one must yield completely and without hesitation. And while for some this may express a genuine carte blanche statement for others, like myself it does not, in anyway represent me or my experiences of or need for submission. The word “no” nor the message it conveys to him has no power in our relationship. It is not something that is outlawed or rejected. It is, purely and simply a word. So I wanted to spend some time writing, what I guess you’d call the opposite statement and to show how the word no can become just another communication tool within a relationship.
But I want to make two points before I do.
First, keeping my ability to say no is a very personal and very political choice, that has nothing to do with him.
There are just under 50 countries throughout the world where a woman does not have the right not be raped by her husband.
20 countries do not have laws protecting women from domestic violence.
Dozens of women every year are murdered in an archaic attempt at restoring family honour.
1 in 6 women in my country will encounter some form of sexualised violence in her lifetime.
To me, giving up something that is so often rejected or just non-existent in so many women’s lives feels wrong. That’s not to say that other women are wrong when they make the choice to do so, it just means that for me, doing so would feel so wrong.
Second, let me make something very clear. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens here that has not been asked for or agreed to. Our sex life, no matter how kinky, is absolutely something that is mutually beneficial and satisfying. I want this. Not is some obscure ‘she asked for it’ kind of way. But in a genuine, this relationship is sexually satisfying for me.
When I say no to him, there is something going on for me. Something that he didn’t notice or forgot about. Usually it is a response to uncertainty – I’m confused about what he is asking of me, or it is a reaction caused through fear. Not of him, but of the process or consequence of what he is planning on doing. Sometimes for me the only response I can give him is no. Anything else would be a lie and me lying to him, hiding the truth or ignoring the reactions going on within me is going to, eventually hurts me in a way that saying no doesn’t.
Because let me be completely honest here. Saying no to him hurts. I don’t want to say it. I want to surrender – that’s why I asked for a relationship founded in dominance and submission. That’s why I agreed to the way things are here. Sometimes no to him is an obvious reaction to what he is saying or doing. He may be my master but he is one heck of a human being, and sometimes he misses something that is relevant to his choice or he just doesn’t see what I do. Other times just saying those two little letters can be an excruciating experience for me. I go through this ridiculous inner negotiation with myself, where I will try and bargain with myself to try and get out of saying the word. Even though I know I need to say it. Even though I know I am going to say it and that saying it is the right things to do, I still try and get out of it. Why? No idea! I wish I could figure it out because that conversation I have with myself has, once or twice, lead me down that negative self-talk spiral and, as I’m sure some of you know, that never ends well.
No, here, is the beginning of a conversation, one that is more often than not a very long and ongoing one. Never once has no meant yes – and if anyone ever tries to tell you otherwise give them a miss. Getting me from a no to a yes is not manipulation or coercion. It is a process that we work through, together. He has an idea and it’s up to the both of us to get me, or us, to that place. Sometimes it’s a simple as him walking through things with me so I understand what it is exactly that he wants of me. Sometimes it’s been one step, stop, talk about my reaction or what I need to get to the next one. Other times it’s taken me several, sometimes very difficult conversations, to get me to even think about giving what he wants a try.
And sometimes the no remains a no. No matter how many steps forward and backwards we take, no matter how much we talk through things, no matter how much I might want to surrender; what he wants just doesn’t happen.
And that is okay.
No doesn’t have to be the end, as it is with us, it can be the beginning of something that, more often than not, turns into something amazing. But even when it doesn’t end that way, when whatever it is he wants is and stays a no, the fact that no is my response is still okay without justification.