I want to be a good girl

Photo of a shelf of 19th-century painted mugs. The one in focus says

One of my longest-kept kinky secrets is that I want to be a good girl. I want to please my partner, use my skills to serve them, quietly predict their needs and strive to fulfill them before they even think of asking me to, be praised for my ability and eagerness to follow someone else’s will, stick to their rules, obey them.

I’ve felt a lot of shame about this desire. You see, I wasn’t supposed to want any of these things.

First, there was my mother who told me over and over again to never be dependent on a man and encouraged me to be smart and successful on my own.[1] Then there was the rebellious youth subculture that saved my teenage self from her futile attempts to be “normal” and taught me that resistance against pretty much any authority was a virtue and that I should follow no one’s rules but my own.[2] No gods, no masters. Almost at the same time, the first flavor of (second-wave) feminism I discovered repeated a similar message yet again: I was supposed to be a strong, independent woman. I was supposed to reject any and all traces of stereotypical femininity.[3] I was supposed to never be the proverbial woman behind a successful man. I was supposed to speak up and demand respect at all times. My body, my choice.[4] And I was to eroticize similarity. Egality. Sisterhood is powerful.[5] Then I found queer culture which tended to prescribe boundless fluidity and flexibility as the solution to all ills related to gender and sexuality. More role erotic switching was better, more gender ambiguity and variability was more desirable, and all desires were to be expressed freely.[6] Fuck gender. Assume nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, these were all highly valuable things to learn. I still cherish my ability to question authorities (including authorities within my own communities). I still cherish my knowledge that there is absolutely nothing that needs doing in my life that requires a man to do it.[7] I still cherish my awareness that there is no characteristic or interest or behavior on this planet that is inherently female or male. I still cherish all the insights I gained when I played around with drag and switching and genderfuckery and excessive femininity and general sluttiness. I still cherish being able to say “no” to so many things in so many different ways.

Of course, I carried these lessons over to my first ventures into BDSM. Which worked well for a long time. Especially since I never had much shame about my interest in kink to begin with.

Except for that one secret desire.

After several years of doing kink in a queer context, I realized that I was done “experimenting.” I was done sticking to all these strongly implied rules about how to be a proper queer feminist pervert. I realized that I didn’t want to be or play any gender besides femme, top anyone, or play as a cheeky brat anymore. What I actually wanted was to be a good girl. Or whatever the grown-up version of that was, because I was also tired of being permanently stuck somewhere between 16 and 25.

I wanted to submit, without any previous resistance whatsoever. I wanted to put on some pretty underwear and a nice dress, without any irony, and kneel before a butch, a trans guy, a nonbinarily-masculine being of the queer persuasion. Just because they wanted me to and because I wanted to. And because we both understood that this act expressed an intimate gift and that it didn’t diminish my value as a person or my ability to take responsibility for my life. I wanted my partner to give me a clear set of rules to follow, and I wanted it understood that I would do my best to do so, that I would not fail in order to provoke a reaction from them. I wanted to succeed at the tasks set before me, and I wanted to stretch myself to become ever better, and I wanted my partner to recognize and appreciate and desire that. And I wanted them to tell me so.

Once I had realized this desire, I started remembering moments from my past. Moments where I had had an inkling of this desire and then pushed it aside again. I was surprised at how many of these moments there were, all different, but all echoing the same theme: I want to be a good girl. I had to recognize that I had been wanting this for a long time, much longer than I liked admitting even to myself. That took a bit of work.

And because I had learned my lessons well, I then started to talk about this desire. Because in my experience, telling people what I wanted still was the way that would most likely get me what I wanted. This also took some work. I brought up the topic carefully at first, and often in hints and jokes because that was the only way I could speak about it in the beginning. And with practice, it got easier and I grew more comfortable with claiming this desire in my kinky public.

With practice, I also lost a lot of the shame over wanting something that seemed to contradict almost my entire life. Because, as I finally understood, there really is no contradiction: This is a choice that brings me pleasure. This is a choice I made even when I was sure there would be disapproval from those I cared about most (and there sometimes is disapproval). This is a choice I’m making in a thoroughly queer context where the majority of people would rather have me make a different choice. This is a choice, the details of which I am negotiating with my partner(s) instead of using any one-size-fits-all relationship or sexuality model. This is a choice. And I’ve spent my entire life learning how to make that choice. And how to make a different choice if this one stops working. I may still have some residue of defensiveness about it when I talk to people who may not be entirely approving, but I have no doubt that this is what I want: Being a good girl.

So here I am, a queer feminist femme pervert who wants to (temporarily, but regularly) submit to a masculine person[8] and finally be the good girl I’ve eyed with so much suspicion and pushed away for such a long time. The good girl I never thought I could be, should be, was allowed to be.

The good girl no one ever expected me to be.

P.S. I really wanted to work in a link to Kate Sloan’s “I’m a Good Girl,” but wherever I tried to put it, it felt forced. So you’re getting it here. It hits different notes than this piece, but I wanted to represent her type of good girl along with mine. Because it really is a lovely account and I was very touched when I first read it several months ago.


[1] Whether she herself was as independent as she wanted me to be is a different question to be examined elsewhere. The answer is probably complicated.

[2]  Except the subculture’s own rules, of course, as much as it pretended not to have them.

[3]  At least when it came to appearances. I still got disciplined for using “masculine communication patterns” (read: stating my opinions without wrapping them in apologies for sharing them in the first place — which I thought was a feminist achievement at the time) and punished for pointing out other women’s manipulative behavior (e.g. guilt-tripping others so they’d get what they wanted without ever having to state it directly).

[4]  Yes, I know this is originally a pro-choice slogan. I’m most definitely pro-choice, and I think the slogan works just as well in a broader context of (not just) female self-determination.

[5]  Striving for erotic “sisterhood” also led to me having the most awkward and unfulfilling sex in my life. Which is also a story for another day.

[6]  Especially the desire to have switchy, fluid, somewhat kinky sex without any permanent or serious power dynamic and preferably between two (or more) people who had been assigned the same gender at birth.

[7]  If you think this means I categorically hate men, you need to pay more attention to what I’m actually saying instead of what you’re projecting onto me.

[8]  Who is probably not a cis man. See footnote above.

Today’s #Kinktober prompt was “praise kink.” This is not exactly that, but it’s close enough.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “I want to be a good girl

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