I rarely take Internet quizzes to tell me what kind of personality I am, whether it’s which Sex and the City character or which dessert I most resemble, but I recently found one extremely intriguing: the submissive scale that my fellow SexIs writer Rachel Rabbit White posted on her website, which I highly recommend checking out whether you’re into kink or not (or aren’t sure).
The questions it asks are ones that could not only be fodder for fiction, but for introspection. I loved that, somewhat akin to the Kinsey scale of sexual orientation, the seven matrices of submission scale isn’t just asking us to pick a side, but to delve into the nuances of BDSM and submission, specifically. It doesn’t assume that just because you’re into one activity that falls under the BDSM umbrella (say, being tied up, being owned, being beaten, whether involving pain or not, etc.) that you’re into everything that does. While the scale itself doesn’t ask you why you gave a given answer, that further exploration could lead to some very interesting results, whether you’re tallying them solo or with a (play) partner or potential partner.
I came close to a 9 or 10 on all seven questions…but I wouldn’t say that’s my true “score” on this test, because I can’t truly answer them in the abstract. With the right person, I’d be a 10 out of 10 on almost all of these, but even then, they are not all what White describes as maximized fantasies (a term that was new to me but that makes so much sense), meaning ones I want to live out.
Sometimes, when role-playing, it can be hard to know where one person’s maximized fantasy ends and another’s minimized one begins. I’ve discussed plenty of things I might maybe someday like to do if all the right circumstances aligned, but the reality is, that is very unlikely to occur in a way that would make me feel comfortable actually living it out. I also think that many people don’t value the role of fantasy as fantasy enough. To me, “talking dirty,” whether that means sharing, building or exchanging fantasies, or verbal degradation, or being ordered around, is something even my most vanilla encounters usually entail. Even Holly Robinson-Peete, co-host of CBS show The Talk, recently proclaimed that she’s into talking dirty with her former NFL star husband Rodney Peete. “I love embracing my inner freak,” Robinson-Peete shared. And so do I! I suspect that many people, when they’re with someone they feel totally themselves with, are willing to share intimate secrets precisely because they trust the other person to keep them quiet and not to judge them.
I can’t answer what kind of submissive I am without also telling you what kind of dominant I am. To me they are both sides of the same coin, and one helps inform the other. The truth is, I’m probably a pretty narcissistic dominant on the occasions I indulge that side of myself, because the things I tend to like to do to other people are things I like having done to myself. Maybe that’s not so much narcissistic as familiar and relatable. When a lover’s fantasies differ from mine and I’m in the dominant role, sometimes I want to cater to them but don’t exactly know how. I can learn and enjoy learning, and to me the hottest thing any lover can do is allow me to peer inside their mind, for a few minutes or hours or more, and see a part of them that can only be accessed via a shared sexual or kinky, intimate space.
Something else the scale brought up for me is what kind of submissive I’m not, and the biggest offender to me, there, is the idea that I can switch that side of myself on and off, or that I’d even want to. I forwarded an email from a stranger to one of my best friends with the subject line “OMG FML” the other day. It started off innocently enough, wherein the man told me how he’d found my work via looking up erotica classics. But it devolved into cringe-worthy territory when it went on: “Your butt is scrumptious. In my fantasy last night, I took your specs off, kissing your neck in front of a full- length mirror, divesting you of your dress and bra and spanking your bootylicious ass while tweaking your nipples with my other hand. I then ate your sweet pussy and ass till you cane all over my happy face. YOU are my sex goddess now.” [sic]
I’m not so much offended that someone might have that fantasy, but that to me is the epitome of unsexiness, not because I’m not into spanking, but because I know absolutely nothing about this person and to me that is what the whole point of sex or kink is. I’m not arguing that everyone should feel that way; plenty of people have minimized and maximized fantasies about fucking strangers, I’m just not one of them. I don’t want to peer into everyone’s mind, otherwise the act loses its charm.
Even though I think the scale is a very useful tool, it does have its limits. To some degree, even knowing what my numerical answers were wouldn’t tell you much more about me than whether I’m most like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda, because it doesn’t, and hopefully shouldn’t, tell you what I would do in any given sexual scenario. I like that there is part of me that is still a mystery, even to me; that I can’t know until I’m actually in the moment what I might enjoy or not enjoy. So much depends on my mindset, my mood, my feelings toward whomever I’m with and their feelings toward me. That 70 could easily turn into a 7.
The real answer to the question of what kind of submissive I am could also be applied to what kind of lover I am and what kind of person I am. It depends, and can’t be quantified or pinned down in some objective, scientific way. I never want to draw a line and say, “I’m always going to be into X, but not Y.” Today’s yes could be tomorrow’s maybe, and while I will certainly change and evolve, I also learn from and grow alongside whoever I’m with. I take so many cues from whoever I’m sleeping with, not because I “have” to or because it’s part of our kinky play, but because I enjoy getting to know them and building on what’s come before. Ultimately, the answer to this column’s title query is one that is always evolving. In many ways, contemplating the answer is hot in and of itself, as is the process of figuring out where my answers might fit with someone else’s. I like the idea of those responses playing off each other, winding in and out of the range from 1 to 10 as they go from abstract questions into reality. Most of all, I like knowing that I have the potential to fall anywhere on that scale — and still maximize my pleasure. I don’t know how submissive that makes me, but it certainly makes me excited about the future