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Can I be submissive in the bedroom and still be a feminist? | Sex

I have been with my partner for almost six years and, for the most part, have enjoyed our sex. I prefer to ‘sit back and relax’ and my partner is OK with that. If I get on top or have too much control, I am unable to get out of my head and I feel stressed. However, my personality and moral side finds this conflicting, as outside the bedroom I am a feminist and agree that women have for too long been taught to submit to their man and forget their own needs. This has caused confusion in my understanding of the way I enjoy sex. How can I feel as if I am in control without being dominant in the bedroom? Can I be a feminist while being submissive during sex?

Consensual sex requires that both partners give permission for what occurs, whether they take on a more passive or a dominant role at any given moment. If someone chooses to assume a submissive erotic position, that is an agreement that he or she could withdraw at any time. So, in fact, the submissive partner is actually the moral controller; if that person wishes to gain physical dominance, he or she must first be sure that permission for that is fully granted by the partner. But while these facts may help you to consider physical submission more ethically palatable, in general, erotic connections are heightened when taboos are broken … including what might be considered a feminist no-no.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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