I saw an image recently of a tiny kitten gazing into a pool of water, reflected as a powerful tiger. It moved me. I thought about how our self-image may be different than that which we display to the world. How nervous and small I can feel while projecting strength and stability.
In the middle of the night last night, I woke up thinking about how sometimes, when a certain kind of man treats me like a kitten — or makes me confront and acquiesce to my vulnerability — I can feel, counter-intuitively, like a lioness. How when I willingly give up my power, I feel unexpectedly safe. Quiet, open, stable, and yes — powerful.
It’s called subspace, and it’s an irresistible feeling, likened to an altered state, “where the person becomes inarticulate or non-verbal, suggestible, and feels floaty and warm, possibly with mild tingling throughout the body.” It’s an oxymoron, this whole concept. How can giving up all semblance of control make me feel more whole and complete than at any other time in my life?
I had a dominant lover once. I was putty in his hands. I gave him my power in exchange for a feeling of profound safety. He had immense respect for me and my body, and he effortlessly brought me to a place of pure receptivity. When he did so, a quiet confidence rumbled inside of me like a little motor, like the stupendous purr of a tiny kitten that’s as happy as can be — happier than can be. It’s that purr that makes her whole little body hum from whisker tips to tiny bony spine.
It feels like a ball of pure, white energy radiating quietly within — energy of some primal place and being, channeled through me like a godhead. And that’s what it is, actually. It’s divine energy channeled from the earth through me: it’s God, the life force. I believe this. It’s a merging, a conjoining. It’s intoxicating. And intensely erotic.
A few months ago, I was at a tango class in Berkeley. Something very small and subtle occurred in the class. We were learning steps, going down the line so everyone had a chance to dance with everyone else and try the step. I had a good leader and some experience, so my partner in that moment decided to take the dance further and try some more moves with me.
As we danced, my partner suddenly introduced a combination of steps which I believe were a corte and a quebrada. Corte in Spanish means “cut.” It’s a cutting step, and it blocks the path of the dancer with “elements of sharpness and surprise.” He did it once. As I attempted to step, he gently and very definitely blocked me. Which meant I had to wait and see what he wanted next. He began to lead me again, and then he did it again. He blocked my movement a second time.
The second time he did this, I found myself immediately in subspace, released like a balloon from a child’s hand. I was floating, serene, but also very much alive, pulsing, completely alert and aware. Yet also incredibly relaxed. I had nothing to hold on to. Nothing to worry about. I was being led, expertly. By surprising me like that, twice in a row, and doing it well, meaning gently and with authority, he delighted rather than startled me. He showed me in an instant who was in charge, and also that I was safe.
It shocked me how quickly he got me there, and how completely. It shocked me how likely it was that he had no idea what he had done to me. It also made me sad. I had finally, after years of looking for the man who could bring me to that place again, given up.
I was no longer looking for that elusive talent and had normalized my expectations. Too many men who called themselves “dominant” were anything but. Sometimes, they were brutes with no idea what these concepts mean in the erotic plane. It made me sad to discover how much I still wanted to be tamed in order to be wild, kind of like that kitten.
It’s an incredibly subtle art that I barely understand.
But, the man who can master it, I believe, can put most women into a very special space, where they will willingly curl up on your lap, purring away loudly and unabashedly, and gaze up with adoring eyes. Not a bad skill to have in one’s back pocket, methinks.