This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
For as long as I can remember, certain sexual acts were deemed "freaky white people shit" by the vast majority of my black female friends. From my earliest memories of teenage slut-shaming as a Toronto high school student, it was agreed upon in our young black and brown minds that white girls were the only ones who engaged in oral sex, for example. We would grow up to find that not only was this complete and utter bullshit, but also wonder how that stereotype started in the first place.
The more I followed sex-positive black women on social media in my mid-20s, the more curious I became about kink and everything it meant. I started to wonder about my boundaries and limits when it came to sex. Though I didn't go into it head first, I obsessively read erotica, essays, blogs, posts, and tweets by people of color who were into BDSM.
From sex clubs to online websites dedicated to kink, zeroing in on other people of color in BDSM can be tricky if you don't know where to start. These same online voices I'd learned so much from seemed so (literally) far away when it came down to it. While tons of men and women have taken a "colorblind" approach to who they share their sexual experiences with, I found out it's a bit more difficult to maneuver this community as a black woman.
I learned there's a considerable amount of room for black dommes and other such figures, but it can get fuzzy for those of us who fall under submissive categories and as a black woman, there's something that rubbed me the wrong way about having a white male dominant. Politics and sex don't cross paths for a lot of other people, but there were too many implications of power at play for me to ignore or not be troubled by. I decided very early on that I was really only interested in "playing" with black male dominants, but they seemed so few and far between that I wondered if that was even going to work. A couple years back I signed up for FetLife to look around and see how comfortable I really was. Almost immediately I started receiving messages. Ping. Ping. Ping. "Oh God," I thought after opening one of the first few. A bright, beige penis sat in my inbox. Not that I didn't expect that sort of thing considering the kind of website it was, but I just wasn't moved in any way.
Read more: The Pleasure and Pain of Being Disabled in the BDSM Community
"I've been looking for a dominant Ebony goddess," read another message. Which was funny, considering my profile specifically said I myself was a submissive. So how, Sway? There were tons like it, and the assumption that a black woman would automatically be a dominant was just as annoying as the opposite propositions presented to me. Nevermind the implicitness of said power struggle, there are men who will straight up approach you for race play. From flippant slur use to disturbing reenactments, you will get requests for things you never knew even existed. There are entire groups that discuss and plan out antebellum slave scenes, and since these spaces are meant to be "no judgement zones," people are comfortable sharing them openly.