Just Ask. A Profile of Kasia Urbaniak, Founder of The Academy.
"What Urbaniak offers is refreshing because it eschews all the usual tropes of female-focused self-help. At the Academy, you don’t have to strike the right power pose or find your inner Kali or even lie prostrate on a couch and explore how your emotionally withholding father fucked you up with men. Rather, Urbaniak’s approach shares much with Cesar Milan’s, whose book on dog training was a revelation to her when she first started working in the dungeon."
Kasia Urbaniak has mastered the dominant position with men, and is a master at unpicking power dynamics. She’s a female empowerment coach in a city where power is a naked game. “I don’t teach anything related to BDSM or sex, just the application of power dynamics,” Urbaniak tells me. “It’s about the communications that women carry that either make them go speechless, or afraid of coming across as too bossy or too needy.”
"When it comes to power dynamics and influencing others, former dominatrix Kasia Urbaniak is a seasoned professional. Now, she’s harnessing the skills honed in her past profession – combined with lessons learned in martial arts and Taoism – to empower women. Her lessons, though, aren’t about dominating; rather, she focuses on leveling imbalances between men and women, particularly in the workplace."
"The Academy draws from dominatrixes’ psychological, rather than physical, tools. Political applications of BDSM make sense when you consider the gender roles that trap women in submissive societal positions are the same as those locking men in dominant ones."
"'For millennia' she explains, 'we have been trained to be good girls. To accommodate other people's needs before our own, to be polite and inoffensive at all costs, and to never, ever ask for what we want.' We have become, in other words, domesticated liars, forgetful of our own deepest truth."
"The idea of being good, by being low maintenance, is an absolute falsehood," Urbaniak says. She argues it's often what people don't say in conversations that's most dangerous to their future. This speechlessness can be a learned habit, but the easiest way to break out of it, she says, is by saying something in the moment. Bringing up an awkward comment, or giving immediate feedback about something that makes you uncomfortable, is the easiest way to change the situation.
"Kasia apparently does teach with a riding crop but the crux of her teachings comes down to a simple element of power dynamics that psychologists have studied for years. And, this secret element can be used in dealing with people in a wide array of situations beyond the bedroom. The key to taking your power or giving it away comes down to a simple question: Where does your attention go?"
"The thing that struck me the most was the incredible range of age diversity in the class: from college students to a grandmother and every age in between. The night concluded with a middle-aged mom saying, 'We as women are always taking bullets in life and now knowing how to [verbally] respond will act as our bullet-proof vests.' Let us all reenter this world with a bullet-proof vest for life."
The goal is not to cede your power by answering an unwanted question or submitting to someone else’s framing of the interaction, which is especially difficult to resist when you’re caught off-guard. Meeting a question with a question sounds simple, but it puts you in the headspace of realizing that you have the means to change the flow of a conversation or upset an unequal dynamic.
"The latest must-have in a woman’s career arsenal is Kasia Urbaniak, a New York-based professional dominatrix with 17 years of experience under her belt (or whatever). The proprietress of The Academy, Kasia has an almost cult-like following among working women. (Ruben Flores, a veteran of Doctors Without Borders, is her co-partner.)"
In the wake of #metoo verbal defense has never been more in the spotlight. Former Dominatrix and the focus of a recent New York Times feature, Kasia Urbaniak, Founder and CEO of the Academy in New York comes on to talk about how she is helping women find their voice in the wake of #metoo.
“On some level we’ve totally neglected primal communication. We’ve neglected that there’s an entire conversation happening between bodies that you cannot speak over. You can talk, talk, talk say powerful things, say disempowering things, say whatever you want, but you can’t neglect that level of communication.” - Kasia Urbaniak