Home > Aunt Pythia > Ask Aunt Pythia and Cousin Lily: Sunday edition

Ask Aunt Pythia and Cousin Lily: Sunday edition

June 23, 2013

Readers, Aunt Pythia’s confusion from traveling got her all mixed up and she forgot to distribute her pearls of wisdom yesterday on account of: she thought it was Friday. She is sincerely sorry, it won’t happen again.

Aunt Pythia is extremely grateful and pleased to announce that today she has help from a guest advice-giver, namely Cousin Lily, who specializes in sage advice for kinky people, or wanna-be kinky people.

We’ll start out with Cousin Lily’s advice, running the risk that nobody will bother to read anything else, since it’s much more interesting than anything Aunt Pythia knows about.

By the way, if you don’t know what you’re in for, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia. Most importantly,

Submit your question for Aunt Pythia at the bottom of this page!


Dear Aunt Pythia/ Cousin Lily,

Since I promised: here’s the follow-up question(s). My partner and I have a great sex life, but perhaps you have some advice on how to make it better. Her kink is that she’s submissive. I’m pretty vanilla in this area- it’s mostly obliviousness on my part. It had never occurred to me that sex and power were anything but orthogonal, to be nerdy about it.

I have two things I’m puzzling over. First, I’m used to asking someone what they like in bed – nobody’s a mind reader, after all. However, if I ask, then I’m not really being dominant. Any way around this?

Second, I know the bedroom isn’t real life, but I have a real problem with anything that even has undertones of treating her badly (no play humiliation etc). I’ve figured out some activities that we both enjoy (e.g. telling her to make me a cake while naked, wrestling). I think she would like it if I pushed the boundaries a bit more. Any ideas on how to disassociate slightly more the bedroom from real life in my mind?

OK I’ll Bite


Dear OK,

Please read “The Bottoming Book” by Hardy and Easton, stat. I highly recommend reading it together and letting it start some conversations between you. This book will help you understand the things that might be motivating your submissive partner, ways to explore Dominant/submissive (D/s) play safely (both physically and emotionally), and techniques for handling the times that things don’t go perfectly.

It is really common for “vanilla” partners to feel uncomfortable about their submissive partner’s desires regarding power and potentially things like pain and/or humiliation. But once you understand what motivates your submissive’s kink and what she is hoping to get from the experience, you will feel much more at ease about providing that. Not every sub is submissive in the same way or for the same reasons — understanding your sub’s kink (and finding out whether she understands it herself) will make the whole experience much more accessible. This better understanding will also allow you to view the exchange as your providing pleasure of a specific kind, rather than pain/abuse/etc.

NO MIND READING should be expected by either party. That is a recipe for disaster on both sides. Talk through in detail what each of you expects and wants, and do it long before you get into bed (although this discussion doesn’t have to be clinical — it can totally be sexy, just do it at the bar and not in the bedroom so that each person has time to reflect and react). This can be a tool to ease anxiety, but it can also be a tool to build anticipation: in other words, a total turn-on. Asking for input doesn’t mean you’re not being dominant; ask your sub to tell you the range of things that she would find sexy, and then YOU CHOOSE which of those things happen, or in what order, or when (depending on what you negotiate together). That is totally dom.

Take baby steps. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, or any time. Don’t go farther than you’re comfortable with, and trade feedback after each encounter. You should also develop techniques for getting feedback during your encounters. You can do this while remaining dominant: “How does that feel?” “I don’t like it, Sir.” “I didn’t ask if you liked it.” [but then you back off anyway, maybe after just one more prolonged second]. Just communicate, communicate, communicate. And read the book.

Finally, try to stop thinking about this as “[disassociating] the bedroom from real life”. We humans are complex creatures with multiple moods and identities. You don’t share the same side of yourself with your college friends that you do with your grandparents (hopefully), but that doesn’t make one experience more a part of “real life” than the other. Similarly, power dynamics in the bedroom are simply a way of exploring different parts of ourselves, and to fully explore your partner and all the levels of complexity she has to offer as a full human being is the most intimate, wonderful thing you could do — why would you ever want to disassociate that from the rest of your lives together? Embrace that part of her, and embrace whatever part of yourself engages with her inner submissive. I promise, it will add a new and rich dimension to your “real life” relationship if you let it.

For further reading and more specific guidance about exploring dominance, check out “The Topping Book” (also by Hardy and Easton) or “The Loving Dominant” (specific to male, heterosexual doms). Have fun!

Cousin Lily


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I want to preface my question by saying that I’ve read your posts about Big Data as Big Brother and NSA Mathematicians and I definitely appreciate that there are a lot of very serious, very heavy issues involved in your discussions.

However, reading them has also made me worried about a potentially more nontrivial issue: should I be concerned that the porn I watch shows up in my browser history? The stuff I watch is all firmly mainstream, but you’ve said before that a person’s google search histories (given that they’re logged into gmail) are basically stored forever and could potentially be bought by agencies/companies looking to vet prospective employees.

And given that I’m a grad student who’s in a long distance relationship, my internet history would read to others like: math, math, math, porn, porn, math… Which is clearly not an impression I want to give of myself. Am I being needlessly paranoid?

Paranoia Generally Leads (2, Craziness)

Dear PGL(2,C),

That might be the nerdiest abbreviation I’ve ever seen. Hear hear! I would have answered your question simply based on that alone, but I actually want to address your very good question as well.

Here’s the thing: you have to understand that everyone watches porn. Or, if not everyone, than almost everyone. So yes, although your electronic footprint is going to have an enormous amount of smut attached to it, you’d only need to worry if your smut level is somehow much larger than the average guy’s smut level. And honestly, it doesn’t sound that way at all, given that 4 out of 6 example clicks above were mathy.

In other words, be nerdy with me for a moment and look at an extreme edge case where your browser history is absolutely transparent to anyone, including future employers, but so is everyone else’s. Then it’s a game of relativity: are you going to stand out as a huge perv? Not a chance. If, over time, people more and more start getting smart about hiding their smut, say by using a separate browser or going into incognito windows on Chrome, and it becomes the norm not to have a bunch of porn in your history, then not doing so will make you stand out. But honestly we’re not there yet.

And also, we’re not there yet for that edge case where your history is completely known. The truth is most employers that you’d work for as a mathematician don’t even pry into this kind of thing – it’s mostly a problem for shitty jobs at Walmart, where they’re trying to decide if you’re going to be a good robot or if you’re going to cause trouble, or if you work for the NSA or something.

So don’t fret! And good luck. What with a long distance relationship during grad school, you’re going to need it.

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I’d be a bit of a wet blanket to state Lybridos is ineffective, plus there’s a lot of money at stake. So I’m skeptical about the supporting research (e.g. a woman’s sex drive in a relationship plummets in a relationship, except maybe if they’re with a whaler). What are the warning signa as to whether such research is dodgy?

More Sex Research Please

Dear MSRP,

First of all, “MSRP” stands for “manufacturer’s suggested retail price” and it doesn’t do much for me. Please take copious notes from PGL(2, C) above.

Second, when I first read your question, I honestly wondered if it was written in English. I mean, there are references to all sorts of things I’ve never heard about – Lybridos? Great sex with whalers? – and then the actual question asks me to comment on research that’s unnamed. I’m sure you can do better! Just throw in a few url’s and we’d be good!

I managed to figure out what Lybridos is, since googling that isn’t so hard, but for the whaling comment I got nothing, and in the end I can’t figure out which research is or is not dodgy. So please do write back with references, especially for the sex-with-whalers comment, which especially intrigues me, thanks.

I did want to address the inherent topic here, though, namely of women’s sex drive and getting pills for it. Namely, I’m all for it. In fact I’d like to read profiles in the New York Times about a gaggle of 50-year-old women, preferably in the same knitting circle, who started taking pills to get their sex life kick-started, and it worked, and now their husbands are too exhausted to keep up so they (the husbands) hired extra men to come in and assist.

Why? Because the narrative on men and women’s sexuality is totally distorted and always paints the picture of women avoiding sex and men wanting and needing it. I honestly think this myth is perpetuated for the sake of men’s egos. Or, to be generous, it’s a survivorship bias problem, since married couples go to the doctor and complain when women lose interest but they don’t do the same thing when men do. Judging from my girlfriends, though, there’s no national crisis of women not being interested in sex. Of course there’s also a bias in the sample of women who are my girlfriends, but I must expect the truth to be somewhere in the middle.

I look forward to your more precise question next time!

Aunt Pythia


Please submit your well-specified, cleverly-abbreviated question to Aunt Pythia!

Categories: Aunt Pythia
  1. bob
    June 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I love that “OK, I’ll bite” is a great pseudonym for this weeks question, even though its just his carry over name form last week.


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