Now that the dust has settled on the popular movie Fifty Shades of Grey (and sequel), the time might be ripe for some honest introspection, in terms of how we perceive some of the issues raised by the film. Why, for example, are we so riveted by the idea of sexual submission?
Although we may each experience sex differently, what remains common, perhaps, is the understanding that a sexual relationship involves at some level the surrendering of personal power. Inherent in our ability to experience sexual pleasure is the reality of lowered barriers and a certain sense of vulnerability, no matter what role we think we may be playing in the sex act.
As women who may hold strongly to a sense of personal empowerment in our everyday lives, the idea of completely surrendering personal control to our partner may just rub some of us the wrong way. When we convert this to our sexual relationship, however, the dynamic can change because we can find ourselves favoring a different balance of power in bed. Women who are comfortable in leadership or decision-making roles at home or work, may prefer a dynamic where they are allowed to figuratively lie back and be told what to do or how to be sexually.
For the woman who may hold the reins of power at work or with her kids, surrendering those reins willingly can be the ultimate turn-on for her. Without consciously thinking it through, allowing ourselves to be sexually vulnerable with our spouse is akin to offering him the gift of trust. If we’re in a healthy and well-balanced relationship, then this mutual sharing of trust allows us to let go sexually and be totally uninhibited in bed. This is liberating and can be a vehicle for intensifying pleasure since sex, of course, first begins in the brain.
Despite this very positive take on "sexual surrender," the challenge which some of us still have, is with the idea of a woman or man for that matter, totally losing herself or himself because of the interplay between sexual pleasure and power.
“Without consciously thinking it through, allowing ourselves to be sexually vulnerable with our spouse is akin to offering him the gift of trust.”
There is a fine line that exists between total sexual surrender and self-abasement. What happens when trust is extended but our partner may want something from us sexually, with which we may be uncomfortable? When that trust is totally mutual, then our desires must be respected and there is no excuse for undue coercion, blame or guilt. If we do share in a sexual act, which to us is "off the chain," then this should take place in a framework of mutual agreement. At the same time, there is no guarantee that our sexual desires and preferences will always work in tandem with those of our spouse.
If we feel compelled to give in to every whim and fancy of our spouse, even when we would prefer not to, then we are in danger of self-abuse and of losing ourselves. If we’re unsure of who we are sexually or unsure of what we really want to try, then trust and respect must govern our relationship to mitigate against our being taken advantage of by a partner who may be more experienced in the realm of kinky sex. If our sense of who we are becomes lost in our partner’s desires, then we are treading the line of self-abasement and need to take stock of ourselves.
It also becomes important for us to examine our motives when pushing the envelope sexually. Do we want to simply say that we’ve done the tying up thing because we think it’s trending and we have this deep need to sexually "keep up with the Jones" or do we realistically want to challenge ourselves to be more uninhibited in bed? If our sexual curiosity has been piqued by the reading of erotica, does this cause us to have unrealistic expectations of our spouse; and how do we handle the disappointment if our husband's or wife's response falls below our expectations? Can we explore our sexuality as a couple on our own terms or are we victims of the latest fads touted in books and movies? These are important questions we need to ask ourselves as we delve into the waters of sexual exploration.
Finding an authentic sexual rhythm that is unique to our needs and our joint sexual history as a couple is critical to taking our relationship to the next level. If what we attempt sexually produces discord, fear, rejection or self-recrimination, then we should know instinctively to ditch such practices. As couples, we should mutually discover and do only what is beneficial for us sexually, we should also be aware that sexual experimentation and exploration occurs best in a relational context of open communication and respect. When submission is mutual and laced with trust, then such submission can indeed be sexy.
Denise J Charles is an educator, counselor, relationship-coach, published author and blogger. She holds a Masters Degree in Education and is a qualified trainer-of-trainers. Denise is Executive Director of "Better Blends Relationship Institute," a counseling and training entity founded by herself and her husband Gabriel. Denise’s blog on sex can be found "here". Denise’s new book is "How To Have Mind-Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain." Follow her on Google+.