February, while at the Fetish Fair Fleamarket, Maximus and i had the opportunity to attend two classes by Midori, Mapping your D/s Archetype and The Exquisite Whip, both of which we found very transformative. Our dear friend, SexxyPixie, a switchy submissive, who attended those classes with us, had been through Midori’s three-day intensive ForteFemme course and simply raved about it, recommending that i attend if i had an opportunity. i looked into it, but when seeing that the course was about women’s dominance i questioned whether it was the right class for me; SexxyPixie insisted it was totally appropriate and was about embracing feminine power, not necessarily dominance. So, with trepidation, i signed up! And in my typical fashion, i worried about it between February and July.
A couple of weeks before the class i received an email package about the course including location, itinerary, expectations, more information, and homework. And i got even more nervous. The readings and homework questions all pertained to being a dominant in your sexual/kink relationships, something i was not at all experienced in and really hadn’t expressed a desire in. It took me three days to answer the questions with a lot of soul-searching and conversations with Maximus. He was very supportive in my attendance of this course. Through this pre-course assignment i really came to embrace the possibility of switching from time-to-time, exploring topping as a service to Maximus when we play with others. Maximus will always be dominant and His preference is to direct, which often includes directing me to do things with and to others. Perhaps, this course would make service topping more comfortable for me.
The course was held in a wonderful flat in the Flatiron District, an area i’d come to love when Maximus and i visited New York City over Valentine’s Day. i took the train from Washington, DC, where i’d been staying with friends, and stayed in a hotel in nearby Chelsea, walking distance between Penn Station and ForteFemme. The first session was in the evening, getting to know the eight other women attending the course, Midori, and her assistant; going over expectations and orientation for the course; and starting some introductory work. The women in the course were fantastic, from all over the country (and even one from Europe), all different levels of kink experience, and all orientations–it was a wonderful mix! Midori and her assistant were amazing as well and we were never wanting for anything. i did leave that evening concerned and befuddled, as it really did seem to be a course on being dominant, but, as the mission of the course was to “give tools and processes to experience and enjoy your dominance on your terms,” i remained committed to go back the next day open-minded to discover more.
Day two was amazing! We spent time discuss our personal needs for aftercare, how we should preplan our aftercare needs rather than expect someone else to assume to know what it is we need, and do the same for others we play with. We examined the need to develop discipline in determining what we personally need, asking for what we want, managing time, space, and expectations. And we worked extensively defining foundational words of Dominant, Submissive, Sadist, Masochist, Top, Bottom, Switch, Fetishist, Master/Slave in terms of appetites, outcomes, and structures, so that we were speaking in common terms rather than self-defined shorthand. This asking for definitions, observables, from ourselves and others really was a theme for the course. We worked to define what someone would observe, tangible signs, if we were enjoying play, and what they would observe if we weren’t.
In the midst of this, Midori and i had a difference in terminology over the word like. It seems such a simple, unobtrusive word, but it became one i struggled with in terms of selecting a play partner due to like versus their Curriculum vitae (CV). The discussion took us off track and at some point, we all realized that perhaps she and i define like differently, and possibly there is something lost in translation between us given Midori’s Japanese descent. Afterward, even though we’d resolved it, i felt a bubble of stress, and air of discomfort between us, and it was most probably within me, as i get this way with Maximus, a sort of sheepish embarrassment of breaking a mood after verbal discussions or disagreements.
After a break, Midori asked for someone to volunteer to be in a flogging scene with her. i had seen a flogging scene by Midori during The Exquisite Whip and it was so transformative that it changed how Maximus and i played from that point on. No one else in our group had seen this and i decided i would volunteer to bottom to her so that others could watch and be transformed as i had been watching Midori a few months before. And, i felt it would be a good way for me to release this bubble of stress, remove this feeling of awkwardness i was feeling, and reconnect with Midori. It was a way for me to practice answering the question, “What would please me now?” an essential part of dominant discipline we were learning to apply in our daily lives. And Midori chose me as well.
Midori went through an abbreviated consent conversation with me to prepare for our scene. This preparatory phase is one of the things Maximus and i found so astounding and changing for our play–really having a conversation about desires and needs, gaining common ground for amazing play rather than going through a BDSM checklist of kinky acts. i described my desire for a catharsis, that i felt tension and stress that i wanted to release, and she shared that she felt the same and would be interested in a scene with that mood. And after concluding the conversation, she conducted the flogging scene with grace and deft that was exactly what i needed and cleared all tension i’d felt. And i was all noodles afterward, despite being a short scene.
We ended the day with a field trip to Purple Passion, a fetish and adult toy store in Chelsea and then dinner out with classmates, their partners, and some ForteFemme alumnae.
Admittedly, i was nervous about Day 3 going in. In order to successfully complete the course, at the end of the day we all had to complete a full consent conversation with either our partner we brought along or trainer bottom provided by Midori. We hadn’t even learned the consent conversation, only had the abbreviated demonstration during our flogging scene, so there was anxiety in not knowing yet what we were doing and my anxiety of having to come up with some type of scene where i was dominant/top–completely out of my comfort zone. My mind was reeling on what i could possibly want to do.
We started the day working to define what someone would observe, tangible signs, if we were enjoying topping, and as i’d never topped before, i could only surmise based on non-play dominant situations, which were all about work. Midori advised that i pay attention to future play situations where i would be dominant and learn what those observables were for me. We then examined play we enjoyed as children and how to incorporate those areas of joy into our adult play, something i found fascinating!
Then we did an exercise on role models of powerful femme icons–which ended up completely debasing me. We did work as a group listing examples of powerful femme icons in mythology, history, literature, current culture and talked about their light and dark attributes. After time as a group doing this, we were instructed to do the same individually, listing powerful femme icons that have been our personal role models and then listing their light and dark attributes. i struggled with this and ended up with five. i was shocked in the realization that i didn’t have role models, that i had simply visualized where i wanted to be and made myself into that likeness, not modeled around anyone else. But then, after listing these, we were asked to fold the paper and read off the attributes, which, in turn, reflected your desired type of dominant play. i…was…horrified. Everything reflected work, the work that i had been working for a decade to disassociate from my self. i instantly started to bawl. It was not at all to do with my desired play but with my role at work. i was horrified to realize that i had not accomplished separating my professional self from my individual self.
But an amazing thing happened.
After pouring my grief and frustration out to the group, another woman came and sat down with me at the break to share attributes of one of her role models she’d listed. And then she shared that it was me. i was blown away. i know i didn’t handle it with the most grace, i was still reeling, but i hadn’t realized that i hadn’t failed, that failing would be completely disregarding all those attributes that made me, me.
Then we went right into the consent conversation. And it wasn’t great for me. i was still in my head. The previous exercise was just so intense and i’d not had any time to process it that i was just a puddle. i did the best i could with the trainer bottom i was assigned. He was very gracious and patient and i so appreciate that he took the time and energy to participate and be present. It was very jolty at first, but after i revealed to him that my tendency is toward submission and that this was a difficult exercise for me, we moved more into a real conversation and things improved. We didn’t complete the exercise and we didn’t get into actually playing, but i had figured out in the process that what i really wanted was a simple massage of my back, shoulders, neck, and scalp, so i would call that a win.
After the final formalities, receiving feedback and certificates, it was over. Midori had advised us from Day 1 to preplan our own aftercare, so i went out to dinner at a restaurant i had reserved, returned to my room to pack and hit the sack. i held it together until i got back to my room and was talking to Maximus on the phone, and then there were sobs. The end of the last day was just too intense and i was crumbling. At that point, i openly stated that i wished i hadn’t gone, that i failed. i packed and cried myself to sleep.
Maximus had anticipated this. i’d had a month of being constantly around people, houseguests, vacations with friends, and ForteFemme, and He knew my batteries were going to be exhausted due to my introverted nature. Maximus had upgraded my flights home, complete with a first class cocoon and passes to the airline club room. i watched movies, had a mimosa and fresh fruit, and gave myself a break. In the days that followed i slept, worked in my garden, and had a massage. And i chatted with my submissives network, something that helped me most of all. This group of women is just so important to me as they held space and gave me an opportunity to speak my truth and process my thoughts without judgment or criticism.
It’s taken several days for me to fully process this experience, and i have no regrets at all for ForteFemme. Struggle brings clarity and in discomfort we shift to find our true place. i have not failed, at all. i have had the beauty of discovering that i am on the right path for me and that my desire for submission play is my way of reconciling the years of professional dominance, thus my preference. My strong reaction was a sign. i’ve picked up amazing skills and processes to enhance my relationship with Maximus and play with others, even as a submissive. Embracing my femme power is now part of my daily practice, something Maximus has been encouraging all along. And i am on a path to discovering much more of Maximus and His needs, things i assumed and took for granted.
ForteFemme was amazing. my journey and experience is unique to me, as i was unique to it. i wouldn’t hesitate at all to recommend others, of all persuasions and desires, this intensive study. Go with an open mind and open heart and ready to delve into the light and dark places. But be prepared, you won’t leave as the same person you arrived.