With 50 Shades of Grey sparking our ideas of what desire, submission, and really hot sex might look like, it’s easy to get caught up in the debate: Are the book and movie just another version of our culture’s dual obsession with porn and romance, or are they offering us vital information about what women want, inside the bedroom and out?
The book paints a picture of female submission, but we want to change things up a bit and say that what E.L. James’s story misses out on is the concept of feminine surrender. Being a truly turned-on and sexually satisfied woman is not about getting tied up or upping the ante on “naughty” sex—rather, it’s about learning how to access your desire and your power through surrender. Here are some ways you can do just that.
1. Embrace your power: surrender.
There is an unconscious coda that in order to be powerful, women need to suppress their innate femininity (and in order to be feminine, they need to suppress their power), which is why so many women are oblivious to their power. But we must debunk this untruth; our power is generative, creative, and connected to orgasm. And it isn't about dividing and conquering; it is about surrender.
When we are powerful, we experience such a surfeit of energy and overflow that we cannot help but open to those around us. To surrender is the highest form of power there is, because it requires immense trust. It requires an unconditional “yes” to everything that is, and the fortitude to stay open no matter what. Withholding our love, sex, or attention is what powerless people do, and this is a reaction that often comes from fear and the relentless need to come across as “right,” which pretty much shuts off the possibility of actual connection. Without surrender, neither men nor women get the elixir they’re really looking for; and as women, it’s in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen.
2. Pay attention and connect.
The feminine makes connection plausible in our orgasm-starved world. We create connection through our attention. All vividness, connection, and passion is happening right here and now. When we let ourselves get carried away by thoughts, feelings, fantasies, beliefs, and preferences (as women so often do), we carry ourselves away from the electricity that comes into focus when we’re actually paying attention. When we aren’t scrambling for new things to look at and think about, we discover greater depths of beauty in our surroundings, without blocking anything out. Great lovemaking and relationships don’t necessarily require intensity or novelty; they’re simply the result of this exquisite attention.
3. Take responsibility for your desire.
Unfortunately, women have learned to rely on manipulation and victimhood as primary tactics to get what they want. When we are in our power, however, rather than desperate damsels in distress wringing our hands over the thing we can't have, we allow our very yearning to become the jet fuel that gets us moving. Relishing our desire and taking responsibility for it, rather than expecting a man to open us up and take the lead when it comes to giving us what we want (whether in the realm of orgasms or happiness), not only leads to a greater sense of turn-on but it also makes others flock to us like bees to honey.
4. Know that it’s okay to fall part.
One of the inevitable consequences of surrender is spiraling into the sense that we are falling apart, that we are descending into some specially fashioned hell of our own making, in which relationship, jobs, and twenty-year friendships can be blasted to smithereens in a moment. In the absence of resistance and the many barricades we've used to hold out against the unknown, we suddenly find ourselves free-falling into a control-free environment in which the previous rules, which seemed to make sense and keep everyone safe, are utterly baseless.
When we learn to build our capacity for surrender, we can approach this feeling of falling apart as play. In surrender, we cannot hide or gloss over our appearance with polite conversation and all the “right” words, so we may as well have fun with it. Orgasm breaks through all the barriers of propriety. In this place, we learn who we truly are, free of conditioning and shy submissiveness. This is where true creativity reins free, unshackled from shoulds and have-to’s. It’s where we decide than rather than being naïve little girls, we are ready to accept the glory of being turned-on women.