Independently Owned and Operated

 Posted by on July 18, 2010
Jul 182010

by Viola

A few days ago, my partner and I went to Provincetown, Massachusetts for a day trip. For those who aren’t familiar with the queer fabulousness that is P-town, it’s a picturesque Cape Cod resort destination that caters to the LGBTQ crowd. When you walk down the main street, it looks like it’s Pride weekend, but it’s not – just rainbow-tastic. It’s bear week, and about a thousand bears were there in all of their hairy, unapologetically masculine glory. (Note to self: Write a “Salute to Bears” column…)

It was a perfect day; the sky was blue and nearly cloudless, a perfect 83 degrees with a cool breeze, and the water was warm when I dipped my toes in, thanks to last week’s heat wave. After spending a considerable amount of time smiling at the bears and window shopping in the fancy kitchen gadget store, we stumbled into a small shop called City Video and I proceeded to fall in love with a tshirt.

It’s soft, medium gray heather, fitted, with raglan-style short sleeves. It is, essentially, an old-school gym shirt but instead of “Property of Kennedy High” (or whichever generic school name you can think of) printed on it, in simple red varsity font it reads “INDEPENDENTLY OWNED AND OPERATED.

A feminist declaration, a “think globally, shop locally” manifesto for City Video, and a slightly ironic take on traditional athletic wear – absolutely. It will also prove to be terribly useful for kink and leather events, as my partner and I are often mistaken for a 24/7 hardcore D/s or M/s couple, with the assumption that she’s the Master/Dominant/Top/Daddy/Sir and I’m the sub/bottom/girl/slave/property. But that’s not how we roll.

The assumption that we’re M/s or D/s is bothersome, not merely because it’s incorrect, but because there’s an implication of an imbalance of power, of ownership, and, specifically, a simplicity – a way of fitting us into the boxes prescribed by the paradigm of the current state of the community. I often wonder about the unspoken assumptions regarding our relationship; would they know that we often have “vanilla” sex? The tendency for my partner to leave the house at 10 am on Saturday mornings, only to return 15 minutes later with bagels from the deli down the street and a medium skim iced mocha with an extra shot of espresso (because Princess Viola needs her coffee in ways you can’t begin to fathom)? That the rare times that we bicker, it’s usually over “real life” stuff and not kink? That she’s much more emotionally vulnerable than I am, or that I call her my “snuggly cuddlemuffin of cuteness” on a regular basis, or that she usually does the dishes?

To many, it seems that our dynamic just doesn’t fit in the right “box.” We have no contract, collar, or protocol; I truly believe that this doesn’t make us any more or less kinky. I think it’s important to specify to the readership that I am kinky, as is she. We have kinky sex – she’s a switch who mostly tops, I’m a bottom who switches occasionally. Sometimes she licks my boots while I call her “boy” and cane her, and many times I’m on my back, naked, begging Sir to fuck her girl harder.

But play is just that – play. When it ends, we go back to being Viola and G, that nice May-September butch/femme couple who will probably bring some variation on the theme of couscous salad to your next potluck, and G will tell some story about an HRC fundraising dinner she went to a few years ago while I smile sweetly, holding her arm, sipping a glass of wine, and making small talk with your neighbor.

So as the seemingly vanilla girl next door, my new tshirt will be a declaration of the control I have over my body and mind. At a kink event, I’ll be with that big butch who will inevitably have to explain that she doesn’t have a girl, and to ask her partner directly if she’d like some coffee, because she’s picky about that sort of thing.