A real man would never hit a woman. A real woman would never let a man tell her what to do. Sound familiar? Most of us have heard something similar and if you're like me, it's something you learned from the cradle. So what do you do when you're a female submissive with a male Dominant and you both like pain and violence? You put on your feminist big girl panties and come to terms with two competing view points.

Of course, I'm just one lone masochistic submissive woman in a big, wide world of BDSM. As with everything else, results will vary and your experiences are probably completely different.

But here's what happened for me: The moment I discovered BDSM and embraced the submissive life, everything about me finally made sense. It was a puzzle piece clicking into place. Sure, without it, I'm a recognizable picture, but with the last puzzle piece in place, I'm complete. That doesn't mean I didn't have my share of doubts, worries and questions. The loudest question in my head was, “Have I lost my freaking mind?! How can my need to submit and feel pain be normal??”

Good question. Here are my thoughts.

One Concept Separates Kink and Violence

Part of entering the BDSM lifestyle in a responsible way to is to learn as much as you possibly can about it. Finding credible sources can be a difficult task (present website excluded), but they are out there. One concept stuck out in every single thing I found – consent.

Consent isn't just a matter of saying yes to something. You also need to understand what's going to happen, what you should feel, and what you can expect. Violent abuse (and even the not-so-violent kind) all lack consent. Yes, abuse is about someone trying to take away your power. In kink, you consent to give up your power, however temporary.

My Daddy Dom can spank me until I cry, smack my cheek, pull my hair, toss me on the bed, and hit me with our favorite toys until red welts appear – because I allow him to do that. The moment I withdraw my consent, those acts are no longer allowed. If he were to ignore me and continue causing pain, now he's being abusive, and it's no longer a consensual kinky moment. (Learn more in Why BDSM May Be the Sanest Sex Out There.)

Kinksters Don't All Come From Violent Backgrounds

Pick any group of people - a religious group, a career field, a club – and you'll find someone who has been abused. The same is true in the BDSM world. We're all people first, and there are some similarities between us all. Sadly, abuse is something that can affect anyone.

However, the myth that those of us who are kinky and enjoy the rougher elements of BDSM have all been abused as children is wrong on a lot of levels. Prior to discovering BDSM, I was struck less then five times in my entire life. They were all spankings that occurred when I was younger than 10. Quite frankly, I wouldn't know what to do or how to respond if someone struck me in anger at this point. It's outside of my realm of expertise.

No, some of us aren't working through childhood issues of violence and abuse through our kinky play. Of course, that being said, some people are. Some people overcome very traumatic pasts in order to get kinky. However, it's not an automatic for all of us.

Coming to Terms With What We've Been Taught

Unless you were raised in a very remote world, an abusive home, or some patriarchal society that had no access to the outside world, you heard someone say, at some point in life, “Men should never hit women," or "Real men never touch a lady in anger,” or some variation.

On the flipside, as someone born as a female, the idea that I don't need a man (or anyone) to take care of me and that no man should tell me what to do or control me was something I heard from very early on. Imagine my surprise when I found that the relationship that fulfills me and makes me happiest is as a female submissive with a male Dominant partner in a 24/7 relationship. It's like I never heard a word my mother said.

What I slowly realized is that I don't feel this way about just any man. In my previous marriage, I controlled everything – money, the home, repairs and major decisions. Who knows what might have been different if I hadn't, but I didn't trust my then-husband enough to cede that control. That's the real difference. I am willing to lean on and give control to a man who's earned my complete and total trust – which also means, I'll let him get rough with me and cause pain too.

Feminism and BDSM Are Not Mutually Exclusive

I admit the idea for this piece came from a snarky, mean, rude and very uneducated post I saw on Tumblr a few weeks ago. It was along the lines of (and I'm paraphrasing), “Ugh, if you're a female submissive and you let a man hit you or you get on your knees for a man, you're never going to be a real feminist.”

Sadly, this is a pretty common view when it comes to BDSM. Someone (lots of someones) in the world decides their view of feminism and what it means to be a woman is the only right view, and they don't leave room for any other perspectives. They believe that BDSM is about male dominance and women who submit have been brainwashed. Ugh. I am both a proud submissive woman and an equally proud feminist. And I don't think I'm the only one. (Learn more in What Do Feminism and BDSM Have in Common?)

Feminism, to me, exists on two planes. First is equal treatment under the law and access to equal opportunities. I don't want to be given anything just because I'm a woman. I want to have the same chance as a man to fail or succeed. Second is the concept of choice. What fulfills me as a woman is going to be completely different for the next person, and that's OK. All that matters is that we have the freedom to choose what works for us without conforming to some societal standard of good or bad.

Embracing My Kinky Desires as a Feminist

For me, once I embraced my submissive self and my kinky desires, I felt like I understood my place in the world. I didn't have to turn in my feminist card in order to be submissive, but I did have to overcome plenty of old ways of thinking. At the end of the day, all anyone can do is what feels right for them. As long you're getting your kink on with a willing, consenting partner in a safe way that doesn't break any laws, outside opinions are meaningless.