Portrait: Tessa

black & white partial nudeAwhile ago, I had an interesting discussion on women and submission on my other self’s blog. The discussion, which originated at The Erotic Writer, was excellent and ranged over several different sites. Dominance and submission are subjects that I am particularly drawn to, and I find myself coming back to power dynamics quite a lot in my work. Control requires a delicate, watchful balance, after all, and I’m sure it will come up here again. In the meantime, however, I offer you Tessa, a snippet of a scene from the opposite side of the coin. Rather than female submission, it’s the portrait of a dominance.


Elsa, a woman knowledgeable only in the ways of her own psyche, stared at her sister skeptically. The lines around her mouth settled comfortably. Skepticism was her natural state.

“…But deep down, you must have fantasies about being dominated. Every woman does, even if we don’t admit them to ourselves, even if you never act on them…?”

Tessa leaned back and sipped her tea. She was tired of the conversation. Elsa was her twin, a fact that made less and less sense the older they got. It was a threadbare question, but threadbare or not, the question passed the time.

“Elsa,” she said. “I dream of pulling a man’s heart out of his chest and cupping it in my hands. I want to cradle it so he can see it pulsing, gorgeous and red. I want to say, “look, darling! Your heart! Your heart is in my hands.” I dream of my face being the last thing he sees – my face and his beautiful heart. That is what I want. So no. I don’t dream of being dominated. Not even a little bit.”

Elsa’s fingers fluttered over her porcelain cup. It was empty. Tessa watched her resist the urge to lift it to her lips. She needed something to do.

“I don’t understand you,” she murmured. “I wish I did.”

Tessa reached for the pot, and filled her sister’s cup.

“It’s all right that you don’t.”


  1. Okay.

    I’ll bite. I’m a sucker for this topic. I get Elsa’s response. Here’s what I don’t get:

    How does Elsa square her fantasy with her biology? Assuming she’s straight, how does she square being put on her back, her legs opened wide, and being fucked. How does she square being on her hands and knees, penetrated doggy style, and being fucked. No matter how she does it, she’s the one penetrated.

    But then maybe she doesn’t do doggy style? Some women say they don’t like ‘all fours’ because of its connotations. Does she choose the submissive man? Does she try to dominate the bed? Could she admire the submissive mate? Where would she draw the line? Could a male be too submissive? What does “masculinity” mean to someone like Elsa?

    • This response is going to be long, but your questions bear a thoughtful response. Fair warning..

      For a person like Tessa, it isn’t about physical position, it’s about whose terms are guiding the action. Biology has little to do with it – it’s all psychological. Every domme is different, but for those wired toward the psychological, it isn’t about who is penetrating who, it’s about who is holding the reins. So, while I understand what you’re asking, position and penetration aren’t within the terms of what a woman like Tessa is thinking. She dominates through force of personality. She wouldn’t “try to dominate in bed”. She would be her dominant self during sex, even if she were fucking a dominant male, or allowing him to fuck her.

      Part of what makes a woman like Tessa actually dominant, and not a switch or a domme-for-show, is that she is dominant in every aspect of life, and she is secure enough in her dominance not to need to prove or or wield it like a club. And she enjoys dominance in others. She can allow other people ground without feeling threatened. She can and will do anything in bed with any partner she chooses in any style she likes. Biology is academic. But if a partner grabbed her hair and tried to force her to her knees, if he (or she) tried to run the “dirty-little-slut needs to be punished” script with her, she would walk, and she would laugh the person for trying.

      As far as submissive men go, if, in a D/s scene or relationship, a sub earned the right to fuck her (and this would be a *tremendous* reward) he would fuck her in the manner that she wants to be fucked, and he would enjoy it. The honor of giving of that pleasure, (and the approval it earned), would be his reward. I don’t imagine this is any different than it is for a male dom and female sub.

      As far as what masculinity and strength mean, submissive men can *absolutely* be masculine / strong. In fact, Tessa would select for strength. There is little thrill in dominating the weak. Anyone can do that. But learning and molding a strong person, developing their strengths as a sub and tempering their weaknesses – now *that* is worth doing. Not everyone can do that. You talk about biology and fucking, but what Tessa wants is fealty. Utter and complete fucking devotion. Such devotion as to allow the sub to completely cede control. Again, I can’t imagine this is very different for male doms and female subs.

      Maybe, in order to understand, it would be better to set aside the differences between men and women, and instead focus on the difference between dominants and submissives. They are two distinct personality types, both of which occur in both women and men. Perhaps it would be more useful to assume that what dominant women, like Tessa, want is very similar to what dominant men select for in subs and / or partners. Because, in the end, dominants are wired to control. To spin off one of the previous discussions, dominants are not the pack, they are the bellwethers. Perhaps dominance is a holdover from times when there were stricter hierarchies between rulers and ruled. Ideally, dominant men and women care for their subs just as rulers cared for their people – they love, care for and protect them, and in exchange, they command love, fealty and respect. It’s an equal exchange, with power lying in both halves of the dynamic, and control ceded to the dom/domme. Gender is secondary to the dom / sub personality divide.

      As for Tessa, the stronger a sub is, the more worthy of her respect, the more pleasure she would get from dominating him, because his submission would be a conscious *choice*. A person who is physically stronger, and emotionally equal, and who *chooses* to cede control – now that is better than gold.

    • Aloysius Patrick McGillicutty

      January 15, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Even disregarding dominant bottoms & submissive tops, the chauvinistic assumption that having a cunt automatically makes one submissive, or automatically disqualifies one from being dominant is so bloody ignorant that… hell I’m going to stop now before I blow a gasket.

      No. Just no.

      • 🙂 Yes, I suppose that could be construed as chauvinistic and I suppose in some cases it is. The questions were deliberately provocative. I had in mind a continuing conversation from a separate blog where we discussed the biology of sex and how that might inform the roles men and women seem to prefer.

        In response to Malin, Tessa is beautifully explained. The psychology of sexual positions is endlessly fascinating to me (and something I play on in my stories), but I wonder if that’s a more masculine conception of sex? So, it’s interesting that you write: “it’s all psychological”. I would say the same about the psychology of sexual positions, and might characterize Tessa’s experience as a more psychologically feminine experience of sex. There’s a greater interest in the meeting of minds and personality than in the physical meeting of bodies.

        I’m sure you’ve experienced that moment when you realize your partner is having an utterly different experience of sex than you are. The guy just assumes everybody’s on board with the “Viking is ravishing the virgin” fantasy only to discover that the gal was imagining she’d seduced a Mediterranean youth in the vineyards of southern France. =)

  2. So, I cracked up at “everybody’s on board with the Viking is ravishing the virgin fantasy” and didn’t stop to I got to southern France! In short, I completely agree – the psychology of sex is fascinating. Whether it’s positions, styles or which fantasy turns someone on at any given time, it just never gets old, mostly because it’s all so individual – to people as well as to context. A woman can be one way with one lover in one scenario, and totally different with someone else, and both sets of behaviors are utterly genuine. Sexuality seems a bit like a kaleidoscope that way – the colors twist and change depending how how far you turn it. That’s one of the biggest reasons I love reading and writing erotica so much. There’s always some variation to play with and explore 🙂

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