A Kink Expert Breaks Down 'Race Play,' 'Power Exchange,' Safe Words and More

Photo by melvin moten (erocrush)
Bored with the same old sex routine? Abiola Abrams digs deep into the world of BDSM for beginners to teach you how to make your sex life more adventurous right now.

Black women are ready to feel more sexually adventurous. We are learning that life is too short to deny our desires. We are ready to explore all of the dynamics in the sexual rainbow—and I want to help us to do just that!

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So of course, I am turning to my good friend, BDSM/Kink Educator Mollena Williams-Haas, known as “The Perverted Negress” for her tips on kinking up your sex life. As the tagline on her blog says, it’s more than just the hair that’s kinky! Mollena is the submissive half of a in a dominant-submissive power dynamic with her husband, a famous Austrian composer. She also considers her husband to be her “owner” and has nicknamed him, “Herr Meister.” As The New York Times reports, the Mister attracted his Mrs. with a note that said, “I would like to tame you.”

Ok, Mollena, let’s go 101. A common question to my Intimacy Intervention column is: “Dear Abiola, how do I tell my partner that I have freaky interests?”

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My first suggestion...go Nike and just do it. Most people have fantasies and often times everyone is so worried about what the other person will think, they spend all their time wasting time when they could be making time. If being direct ain’t your gig, try storytelling. Role-play. Pretending to be another character can be a great way to ease your significant other into the realm of edgy sex. Maybe you can’t tell your partner you want to be spanked, but perhaps you can pretend to be the Bad Student who has irked their teacher into doling out a well-deserved swatting over the desk. This little bit of distance can give us freedom.

Another gateway can be sharing porn that turns you on. That is another great way to open the dialogue. And hey, despite all of the very problematic issues with a certain blockbuster novel, the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is a household name gives you an easy entryway into conversations about kink. If you still can’t even talk about it, why not get Fifty Shades of Black fired up on Netflix and chill with that for a while. Humor and lighthearted fun is a great way to slip into the more serious side of kink, and it lets you share in a way that is less scary and intimidating.

Great advice! So what should go in a starter toy bag?

I always encourage folks to look around the house and pick up whatever they can there to start with. You don’t need to spend a lot of cash to have some kinky fun: some clothespins, carefully applied to ticklish bits are a great way to do sensation play. A scarf is an effective blindfold, and your hands are some of the best impact toys around. If you think you want to experiment a little further, some of the tools for basic bonidage can include some soft leather or fabric cuffs for restraint (avoid the temptation to grab handcuffs: they can be dangerous to sensitive nerves and tendons, even when covered in fuzzy fabric) and some hemp or nylon rope to secure those wayward limbs. If you enjoy penetration, a good silicone dildo or vibrator from a reputable toy manufacturer can be great fun. Look for medical-grade silicone and make sure that the toys are not made of that sketchy jelly substance and that they are Phthalate-free. Impact play - striking your partner in a way to encourage erotic reaction - comes in many forms!

Educate yourself on safe places to spank (think big muscles like the butt, thighs, upper back) and try paddles, crops...even a wooden spoon from the kitchen drawer is a great way to get started. Most importantly, keep your imagination and your words on point and ready to go. That old saying about the brain being the biggest sex organ is no lie, especially when it comes to getting your freak on kinky style.

Where do you recommend that safe words come into play?

Safe words started out as a way to do a role-playing scene and not break up the action. If I am pretending to be an abducted princess, I want to be able to struggle and resist and say “No! STOP! HANDS OF ME, YOU BASTARD!” without ACTUALLY having the bastard stop and take their hands off me. SO, I’d have a special word, not normally used in conversation, to halt or pause the scene.

This way, people playing out a sexual psychodrama could scream all they wanted, but if things got real, they’d say “eggplant!’ or something unusual to sound the alarm. Currently they are used in any situation to indicate a problem. The traffic light system is pretty universal these days, with “RED” meaning stop everything there’s a problem, “YELLOW” generally meaning “Please check in” and “GREEN” meaning “Roll on!!’

They can even be used for an emotional overload: there have been times where I was just too overwhelmed by life to even explain what was going on, and if I call “Red!” to my partner, they’ll stop what they’re doing and check in with me. It is a brilliant shortcut to connection and caring that has made its way into the rest of my life.

Break it down, Mollena. What is power exchange?

Power Exchange is a relationship in which the participants acknowledge, fetishize and celebrate consensual power imbalance. It is a consensual, unequal power dynamic between humans of equal value and worthiness.

The idea is that someone enjoys and even eroticizes - relinquishing their personal power to another person. Additionally, their partner(s) enjoy and eroticize accepting the service and obedience of their bottom, submissive or slave. Absolutely vital to this dynamic are consent, consciousness and compassion. All parties must EXPLICITLY consent to be involved into a Power Exchange (PE) relationship: passive-aggressiveness coercion and/or abuse have no place in this dynamic.

All parties MUST be conscious that they are WILLINGLY and enthusiastically involved in PE relationships. And compassion for the health and well-being is non-negotiable. This is called an “exchange” for a reason. This is because all involved parties give and receive benefit. In all of my PE relationships, we have agreed-upon emotional protocols to help keep us on track. Central to this is the “Prime Directive.”

The Prime Directive, amongst many in the kink, leather and BDSM communities is a guiding principal that rather elegantly creates a protocol designed to keep the slave / submissive safe and healthy, facilitates compassionate dominance, and supports a well-balanced power exchange relationship. There are many iterations of it, but the one I have settled on in my practice is the following: “It is the primary responsibility of the slave to protect the master’s property at all times, up to and including protecting the property from their master. Whatever your dynamic, however you exchange power, this system is a brilliant way to provide a fail-safe when things get rocky, or are in flux.”

How do you define “Race Play”?
I define “Race Play,” in broad terms, as any type of play that openly embraces and explores the (either “real” or assumed) racial identity of the players within the context of a BDSM scene. The prime motive in a “Race Play” scene is to underscore and investigate the challenges of racial or cultural differences.

Okay, so Mollena, how do you incorporate power exchange into your marriage? Do you turn off the power dynamic at times and turn it back on? How does it all work?

People who observe me with my husband often wind up puzzled and smirking about the fact it looks like I am the one in charge. And they’re right. Because he has put me in charge of many aspects of his life, in order to be of service to him. My husband, my owner (I have dubbed him Der Spousemeister, since he is Austrian and finds this terribly amusing) is a world-renowned composer of contemporary music, and a professor at Columbia University as well as maintaining a professor’s chair in Austria. I actually eroticize achievement and am emotionally nurtured by the gratitude, love and affection that he showers upon me. He loved me, from jump, in a way I’d never experienced before. And I was able to be myself fully with him.

Thank you for being so candid and open with us about your personal life. I know that this conversation will empower many women. Last time I interviewed you, I received an email that said, “Mollena does not represent Black women.” I wrote back and said that Mollena is a Black woman who is not claiming to represent anyone but herselfand that we are not a monolith. What about black folks who feel offended by your name “Perverted Negress,” the fact that you identify as a slave to your Austrian husband, and your outspoken sexuality?

I say “I appreciate your reaction, and of course it is correct. For you.” I’m not getting a paycheck to rep for anybody but me, so we cool there. Look, I am absolutely not a salesperson for this lifestyle. That would be grotesque. I do not EVER look to persuade, coerce or pimp my choices to ANYONE. What I DO aim to achieve is authenticity. I have been seeking out this lifestyle since 1993 and actively living this life since 1996. In those decades I have met thousands of people with whom my choices DO resonate.

I stand up—despite the slings and arrows of outraged haters—because it is important that people see themselves represented. The irony of the choice of my blog name, the weight of the words that I use—all of these are deliberate choices that reflect my deliberate choices. None of this came overnight, and none of it is flippant or thoughtlessly turned.

For every person who thinks I am some sort of damaged race traitor there are others who see themselves reflected to some degree within my story, and feel less alone, less isolated, less “other.” It is to these humans that I speak. I appreciate that many folks will take offense, and I respect that. However? I damn sure ain’t gonna step back from who I am in order to ease your hurt feelings. Imma do me. You do you. Learn more at Mollena.com.

Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love, Manifest Your Miracles meditation album and African Goddess Affirmation Cards. The popular lifestyle guru is also the founder of the Sacred Bombshell Self-Care Kits, blog, web TV show, and online academy at SacredBombshell.com. Follow her on Twitter to continue the discussion about this week's hot topic, and then email her your burning questions now. Anything you send will be posted anonymously, promise.

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Filed under: Love & Sex, Sex