I love all positions and roles during sex because I can trust myself to make the best choice for myself. No matter the position I’m in, I know I hold power, whether I’m kneeling or standing.
I feel powerful when a woman throws me on her bed and pins me down, trying to make me regret teasing her — even though I never really regret it. I feel powerful when I’m fucking someone from behind so hard that she can’t speak but can only wail my name. I feel powerful when someone ties me up and fucks me relentlessly. I feel powerful when I eat a girl out until her legs shake around my shoulders.
But I haven’t always felt that power. In the past, I used to shame myself for all of the things that now make me feel strong: being horny, knowing what I wanted in bed and loving women. Society is so good at programming women, especially LGBTQ+ womxn and womxn of color, into mind-fucking themselves over all things sexual. And once you’re brainwashed, it’s the easiest thing to give up your strength and truth.
Starting at the age of 12, I’ve been catcalled with phrases like “slut,” “prude,” “tease,” “nice tits.” Teachers said, “You’re too aggressive for such a pretty girl; shouldn’t you smile more?” My parents told me not to be so loud and open about loving women or my relatives would be upset. My church supported stoning queer people.
In every part of my adolescent life, it was unsafe to be myself. And because of the overwhelming pressure to be something other than myself, I caved. I wore not-too-revealing clothes and tame makeup. I let girlfriends decide what role I’d play in bed without voicing my own needs. I kept quiet about my sexuality. I pushed any semblance of power down, tried to fit myself down into a demure little box and suppressed the complexities and dialectics that didn’t fit in.
I was giving away my power, my independence, my ability to dictate my sex life for myself. When I was in that state of passivity, I allowed myself to be pushed and pulled like a rag doll. It seemed so much easier to just give in and let myself go. But as I entered college, I quickly found that I had more freedom to make decisions for myself. And the second I got a taste of the true strength that I have inside, I found it so much harder to try to suppress myself.
It’s been a long journey, trying to get to that point of really embracing my power over my own sex life. And maybe it’s still a long way away. But for now, I am trying my best to think critically about my choices and care for myself.
Self-care, especially when it comes to sex, is hard. I won’t lie and tell you it’s as easy as reading a Refinery29 article on Snapchat once and immediately becoming a woke modern reincarnation of Sappho. It isn’t. But there are steps I take to make sure I’m taking care of myself.
The first and most important is remembering to take time to assess my choices and emotional state whenever I can. Sometimes that assessment happens after I make a bad choice, and that’s fine! As long as I give myself time to reflect, it’s easier to catch potential messes before I have to get a towel and pray that the storm of crazy doesn’t get my sheets too soaked.
Once I’ve set that time aside, I can examine my emotions. The first one is almost always: horny as hell. But below that can lie a number of different possibilities, some healthy and some not. Happy, excited, chill, sleepy, hungry, thirsty — these are all valid and healthy for me. Pissed, anxious, annoyed, scared, disgusted, trapped — for me, these feelings are signs that I might be having sex as a reaction, obligation or distraction rather than for my own pleasure.
After I’ve established my base emotional state, I try to follow up with more specific questions — because sometimes my feelings are tricky little bitches that are slippery and hard to uncover. For example, I might ask myself: “Do I want to lick this pussy until the wetness drips down my chin right now? Or do I want to lick some ice cream, knowing full well that I’m lactose-intolerant?” It doesn’t matter the answer, or really the question. All that matters is that I’m checking in with what I actually want and honoring my own wishes.
Finally, I like to remind myself that, no matter how I might feel in the moment, I always have a choice. I can fuck the person I’m grinding on, get off, not get off, go home, stay, anything I want. That simple reminder of choice makes my decision lighter and easier on my conscience when I do decide to stay.
So, y’all, remember — it’s always good to double-check your feelings. If, after you check in with yourself, you still want to fuck, go off! Or, rather, get off. If you don’t, that’s your decision. You always have a choice. Ignore anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. Don’t ever let anyone take away your power.
Astrid Liu writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected].