An academic known only as ‘Cat’ has published an anonymous online exposé of her adventures as a submissive in Beijing’s S&M scene. We tracked her down to ask why she’s such a bad, bad girl
‘Open your legs, slut.’ These words begin Cat’s candid account on lifestyle site ABCs of Beijing. In ‘Sex Ed, Beijing Style’ she describes her dealings with two Chinese men, Wen and Xian, who she met online. Wen ‘really wanted to punish the female form to his own satisfaction’ and had initially planned on leaving Cat tied up in a hotel room while he went out with his friends. In his daily life he was an impoverished guy struggling to survive. Cat fell for him, seeing him as a ‘helpless’ and ‘defeated’ man.
Xian, the second man, picked her up from the library, ordered her to sit with her legs apart (it’s his words that start her piece), slapped her, groped her and revealed that he had a girlfriend who knew nothing about his other activities with women. Soon, Cat was hanging onto his every word, a coil of rope gripped in her jaws, wondering ‘how he came to be the person he was, what his dreams were, what demons troubled him.’ Eventually, the penny dropped: ‘I was just his whore.’
It turned out that the successful, globetrotting Xian did not have a girlfriend, he had a wife, who knew nothing about Cat or the multiple other women he dominated behind her back. Cat identified tenderly with his existential pain. ‘Was he a terrible person cheating on his wife? Perhaps. But driven into a double life, he decided to put up with the guilty conscience only because he saw no other choice. Was he happy?’
More importantly, is Cat happy? We catch up with the now married Beijing bad girl who wanted tough love and tender cruelty.
What does being a submissive mean to you now?
I identify most as being a pet and a brat now. I want to be treated roughly and coldly at first. I want you to spank me until I cry. But then I need you to cuddle me and tell me you love me. As a pet, I really enjoy the intimacy and the emotional connection between me and my dom [dominant partner]. I feel I can let go of my daily worries and, for a moment, just enjoy the simple joys of touch, tenderness and attention in a way not that different from how a cat purrs while being petted. But I also like being a brat, challenging authority, being deliberately mischievous, being punished for what I’ve done, and then being forgiven and told I’m still a good girl.
What do you think of Wen’s attitude to women?
I think a lot of Chinese men who identify as dominants or sadists have trouble distinguishing consensual power exchange and the real subjugation of one person by another. Wen used to believe that being a good dom means you have to have no mercy for your sub [submissive partner]. If you feel too much sympathy for her and can’t hit her hard enough, your dominance is compromised. In that picture, the sub really has no say. Once I was told that the sub is supposed to do everything the dom tells her to do. The fact that such a statement is often gendered shows that patriarchal thought is still very prevalent in China.
Did you wonder what Wen’s motivations might be?
I don’t think I ever questioned their intentions after I got to know them.
Did you ever question your own tendencies?
The major thing that bugged me, and still bugs me today, is whether I’m reproducing the patriarchal system by being a submissive. I feel that because it is me that wants this, I’m actually affirming my autonomy as a woman. Therefore I feel empowered. But I ask myself why I find a dominant man attractive. Is it because society has always privileged dominant alpha males? By reproducing male dominance and female submission, even just within the confines of play, am I perpetuating the pattern?