Liberation Through Slavery: My First Pedicure
Though I consider myself bisexual or pansexual, it's been a long time since I’ve been with a man. I naturally gravitate more toward women and genderqueer people for many reasons. One of the simplest reasons is weariness of the bullshit of men, especially white men. While I still occasionally find myself physically attracted to men, I haven’t had interest in dating or being in any sort of relationship with a man for awhile. And as I explored the kink world, it had thus far only been with women, an explicit choice on my part.
So, I was initially torn when approached by a radical political organizer and fellow martial arts student with the possibility of growing my dominance by participating in a session with a white male slave. As a worker in customer service who deals with countless irritating white men on a daily basis, an opportunity to be able to express not just my disdain, but my disgust with a white man was enticing. I was intrigued, but since I saw mutual sexual attraction as the baseline for any kink activity or play, I was hesitant.
I finally agreed with the contingency that I would be participating as an observer, not interacting physically with the slave but verbally interacting and responding to what was around me. I studied theatre in school, and the idea of developing a bit of a persona was not beyond my reach. I was now “playing a part.” A “part” that was still me, but enhanced for this situation.
The slave kissed our hands upon greeting, an initial move that led me to panic just for a moment. There were rules to this situation: he was not to speak without permission, or even look at us, so how was this allowed? My eyes quickly flashed to Charlotte Corday, whose calm demeanor indicated this was fine. I followed her lead from then on out.
It’s funny, kink play often has so many rules, and for good reasons: 1. everything needs to be laid out when you venture beyond the “vanilla” world for physical and psychological safety, and rules help create the very environment that allows for kinky exploration. And yet, the draw of it lies much deeper in the psyche. The way it plays out is something more complex.
As discussed earlier with Charlotte, I exaggerated my naivety during the session, but not by much. I had never been to a dungeon nor had a “session” with someone I only interacted with through kink. I also exaggerated my disgust with the slave, but again, not by much. We started with him getting naked. Nudity is weird. It is commonly thought of in sexual situations, yet in this situation, one overall clearly sexual in nature, he was not naked for typical sexual reasons. It was to shame him. He was not allowed to hide his body. Outside of this room, this man was a contract lawyer, a wealthy white male, certainly doing much better financially than I am. But we were inside the room now, and he was a slave, naked and humiliated before me.
So began an experience of power and sexuality that was unlike anything I’d done thus far. I felt no physical attraction, but still felt a sense of power that enticed me. There were many various tools and implements provided in the room, elaborately hung straps and whips with different widths and designs, collars and leashes, so many medical supplies and their hygienic counterparts that it almost looked like a first aid kit or hospital nurse’s closet, small strange-looking devices for cock and ball torture, and more, and while we perused through them and Charlotte explained some of their purposes, we actually used barely any of them. It was more about the psychological with us. Charlotte had a previous session and multiple previous communications with him, and she knew, beyond his kinky history, some about his personal life and history. She held (or at least appeared to hold) somewhat of an interest in him as a person. This, combined with her experience and intelligence, meant she knew the way into his mind. She went through some motions and positions with him, explaining reasoning behind it, or common practices in the scene, partly for my benefit, but also because she, too, was performing.
He was ordered to bring champagne, and every time we wanted more, it was his responsibility to get it for us, retrieve the glass from our hands without looking us in the eye, retrieve the champagne from the table and fill it, and return it still without eye contact, without us moving from our relaxed positions. Having worked as a bartender and server, this was especially nice. Although “nice” is perhaps too tame a word to use. It’s “nice” when I go out to a restaurant and am served, though I take special care to treat servers well. In this case, I took special care to treat my servant poorly. Not in every instance: I said “thank you” when he brought me champagne, but still called him nasty when Charlotte degraded him.
Other than the initial hand-kiss, the only other physical contact I had with him was the pedicure. Since we had the room reserved for a full hour, Charlotte had suggested it as a way to pass the time, among other benefits. An hour session, especially one in a room so heavily equipped, could have utilized myriad of the different implements and tools to fulfill his every dirty desire. Even though it would have been degrading on the surface, we would be giving him what he wanted, catering to his wishes. It can end up this way sometimes, especially with paid dommes, where the official roles are master and slave, yet the master does whatever the slave wants, as the slave determines every activity and interaction. We weren’t here for that. We had something he wanted, and we were able to provide it to him in whatever way we wanted, which put us at an advantage. We exploited him for what we wanted, not the other way around. We had the power. Charlotte was more skilled and experienced in handling this power, but I felt it in myself as well. And currently, Charlotte wanted a pedicure, something she had brought her own supplies for, not even utilizing the two full cupboards full in favor of something simple and satisfying. He began on her toes, very carefully. Pedicures specifically are humble work, even in upscale salons, but his hunched over figure, like a little naked rat, made him look especially pathetic, especially in contrast to his formal way of speaking. He brought no artistry to it, there were no fancy, intricate designs, because it was all about his reverence for her feet, not anything he could actually bring to the table. I was fascinated by how Charlotte maintained her demeanor, the same calm, powerful demeanor she had when she had been ordering him into different positions, if anything now a bit more casual. I conversed with her and a bit with him, in a strange setting of nonchalant but still blatant kinkiness. She critiqued him and made him fix any slip-ups, then told me I was next. As I mentioned, I had initially agreed to participate only as an observer. Hands off. Admittedly, this was still technically “hands” off for me, but it was certainly out of my comfort zone. But I went along with it, both because I trusted Charlotte’s judgment and because I had become drawn and curious watching her, and I’m glad I did.
I am a small woman, and like many small women, I tend to very often get cold feet and hands. When I was a child, I would often climb into my mother or sister’s bed and immediately put my cold feet on one of their legs to warm them up. Not a favorite habit in their view, as you might guess. Even now, when lovers and friends share my bed, it’s often only a matter of time before I get comfortable enough or at least cold enough to sneak my feet onto an unsuspecting warm body, most typically shaken off within seconds. I also have to stop myself from saying “Sorry my hands are so cold” every time I give someone new a handshake.
That day, like most fall and winter days, my feet were of course very cold. But instead of a sense of sneakiness or embarrassment, I proudly stretched my icy feet in front of me. He would have to hold them in his hands and rest them on his bare knees to keep them balanced and my comfort maintained. He had to go get his glasses, a sign of age, something that brought me more disgust at his presence, yet also a sign of intention and care that gave me a sense of power. He was not going to mess anything up.
Although I wear contacts at a high prescription, I still felt power over him because I did not need the aid for the same reason as him. I’ve worn glasses since I was 8. He was clearly wearing the glasses you need as your body loses some of its strengths over the years. My youth, although in other areas of my life a hindrance, also gave me power here.
His glasses on the edge of his nose, he carefully held my feet and painted tiny stroke by tiny stroke, a salmony pink that was much too sweet for the woman I was finding within myself. During both our pedicures, Charlotte conversed with him, discussing both kink-related topics and personal interests. His conversation was disjointed as he found himself both deeply humiliated and deeply aroused. He reminded me of teen boys in movies, seeing a girl naked for the first time. But we weren’t naked, he was. And this certainly wasn’t his first time in a situation like this. But it still had the same effect on him, as he serviced two goddesses, already more than he expected, as he initially was in contact with just one woman. The privilege of both attention and opportunity to paint our toes was almost too much. He focused deeply on the pedicure, treating it as something sacred. I suppose there’s a reason they call it foot worship. I grew up very religious, and while I have left the dogma behind, some of the teachings still cling to me. There was one sermon in particular, in which the pastor told us that humans were designed to worship, that it was in their very nature. He said if we weren’t worshipping God, we would worship money, or success, or other people, all of which was of course very unhealthy. I wasn’t sure I fully agreed with him even then, and while I have no intentions of ever worshipping a white male god again, in this moment, I sensed that this act was fulfilling a very deep and basic need in the slave’s life. He was made to worship, and he was worshipping my feet. I was the deity now.
This experience, and in an unexpected way, this connection, made D/S very real for me. This wasn’t playing a little rough with a girlfriend, or using a blindfold or fluffy handcuffs in bed to “spice things up.” Here I was, two hours before my managing shift at work, a position I’d held over a year that had its own power and responsibility, experiencing a kind of intimate power I’d never felt before. At work I have to instruct and correct employees, but there’s also a level of finessing and picking your battles that goes into being a young female in a position of authority in a sexist workplace. There was no finessing here though. I didn’t have to sweet talk him into doing something for me. I realized, as he worked so diligently doing what would appear to many as a mundane task, that I had power over him that I had never had over another person, or at least never felt or realized that I had. And that was sexy to me. I knew he would be thinking about it all day, when he went back to work, when he went home to his wife. It would be with him till his dying day, etched in his DNA.
I still have that power. I still feel that power. I certainly felt it during my shift that evening (the champagne probably helped, too). And while I don’t have the endorphins still rushing through my brain, I still have the pedicure. Every time I look down at my feet, I am reminded of our little session. I smirk to myself. I get in the shower, or I change my socks, simple, everyday tasks are suddenly marked with sexuality and power. The paint will eventually chip off, and even as I write this, my toes are less pristine than the first few days afterward. But I have crossed a bridge into a world that will hold onto me for much longer than the paint will last. Besides, I’m sure I won’t have trouble finding someone to give me a new pedicure.
This is the power women have in the kink world, and so many don’t even know it. So often I see any interaction with men as just typical slimy white men, already socially in positions of power, using their natural sexism to subdue women in an environment where it's socially acceptable. I put NO MEN on my online profile, and yet numerous men come in my inbox or with friend requests, many dominant men, and some “subs” who immediately come forward with their kinks and want me to acquiesce, trying to dominate in their own way.
I was interested in the world of kink as it gave me an opportunity to explore my sexuality in a more subversive way. From growing up very conservative, to exploring any sort of sexuality as a teenager (learning it’s okay to have sex outside of marriage), to exploring my queer sexuality in college (learning it’s okay to have sex with women), to exploring polyamory and now kink, I have been on a journey of unlearning what society has taught me are the narrow and necessary confines of the human sexual experience. As I have moved on from other more close-minded narratives and worldviews, my sexual experiences have been indicative of my widening perspective personally, politically, socially, spiritually, and of course, sexually.
Yet I’m realizing that it is foolish to think that just because something is outside of what I knew when I was young, it is necessarily progressive. I have met lesbian women who reinforced sexist tropes, I’ve been in polyamorous relationships that had jealousy and communication issues, and in the world of kink, I’ve found rampant sexism and predatory behavior, all accepted under the label of “kink.”
In Chicago, I’ve heard numerous stories about the local kink scene that involve everything from abuse of power to sexual assault by dominant male leaders, and, even more disheartening, the women who back them up. Even some places originally featuring female dominance have eventually introduced a male “professional” into the picture to be seen as legitimate. And on FetLife, I’ve been overwhelmed by the vast number of women of all types catering to men, and men taking advantage of a kinky space for their own sexism.
What is the point of kink if it just replicates existing power structures and doesn’t cause growth or subversion? Sexual pleasure? That’s the main argument: no kinkshaming, don’t judge people for whatever they’re into. And yet, I feel as if there’s a great opportunity here for women and queers to take over, to get sexual pleasure, yes, but also to build personal and communal power. Imagine if women used kink to empower themselves and exploit men, to make men --who have for so long oppressed us-- fall in line. Imagine spaces where women are dominant, both sexually and socially. Some of us don’t have to imagine: we’ve experienced it. But far too many haven’t even considered the power they have in themselves, the ways kink can be revolutionary. The way for Revolution is being led by women. Politically, socially, and yes, sexually. --------
Jessica works and lives in Chicago. She organizes with FURIE and has worked artistically with several local theatres when she can escape her day job. To learn more, connect with her on Facebook.