Take My Whip: Fantasy Date Night, Guest Post by rife

It’s Friday night and we keep this night blocked off on the calendar. 5:30 rolls around and you send me around the block to walk the dog once I wrap up my work for the day. When I come back, you’re sitting on the porch in your jeans with the leather crotch, a tight new black t shirt and the chest harness. All the deck furniture has been pushed off to the side and your Bluetooth speaker is playing a mixture of jazz and romantic pop music. You are wearing your heavy harness boots and you let your goatee grow out a little.

I giggle, suddenly feeling underdressed in my daytime pajamas and sneakers. I prance over and get up on my toes to kiss you. You let me. “Hi, Daddy! What’s all this?”

“I’m taking you dancing, boy. Go get dressed.”

“Mmmhm. I mean, yes, Sir.” I say softly and pad inside to feed the dog and put on that slinky grey dress you like and my combat boots with the soles that have worn down to slick nothing and the chain wrist cuffs that match my collar that you like to see on me. I wash the work day off my face and scrub dry until I’m pink.

You raise an eyebrow at my outfit choice but you’re smiling underneath it.

We dance for days and days on the porch as night falls and the bats come out to play. Sometimes the tempo is slow and our feet barely remember to shuffle while we kiss with lots of tongue and you run your fingers through my fresh soft buzz cut. The smell of wisteria finds its way to us across the breeze and if our neighbors see us, they pretend not to.

Sometimes the tempo is faster and you throw me across the boards in controlled chaos. It takes every ounce of concentration to just follow, to listen for the cues in your palm on my back, to remind myself of the rock step-triple-step beat, to give over to the music and your direction. There are moments when it is effortless and we are just flying, one creature.

Finally it is fully dark and you press me back against the one oak tree, breathless and sweaty on the warm summer night. Ed Sheeran or some other sensitive white guy is still crooning on but all I can feel is your dick hard against the fly of your jeans against me.

You press me hard enough that I’m sure the rough bark will leave marks, pinning my hands over my head, looping the chains around my wrists into that hook that usually holds the wind chime. I’m impressed by your forethought but the nation is quickly swept away my your hands doubled up on either side of my rib cage, stroking the length of me up and down from exposed armpits to the bottom curve of each hip. I shiver and swoon under your firm big hands that make me feel so small. You inch the bottom of the dress up teasingly slowly. I really hope the neighbors aren’t watching now.

Just when I can feel myself start to squirm and rub my thighs together anxious of the wetness I can feel coming on… you pull back. I whimper a little and sigh involuntarily, which of course is what you want.

“Not now, pet. You’re going to wait.”

“Mmmrf. I mean, yes, Sir.”

Inside, we make pizzas — yours pesto and salami with a cauliflower crust, mine sourdough and jalapeños and onion. They are delicious, but I am distracted thinking of the packer still between your legs. After dinner you tell me to ignore the kitchen mess and follow you, so I do.

You strip my dress off like someone who has done it a hundred times before and nod approvingly at what is revealed: just mounds of tight exposed flesh with no underwear. I feel you press up against me from behind and your arm wraps around my throat.

“You’re going to take my whip, boy, and then you’re going to take my dick.”

“Mmmmmm… ! I mean, yes, Sir.”

The wood of the coffee table is shockingly cold at first and my nipples flinch against it, but I relax into it as you layer gentle strokes with your big fat deerskin flogger all across my back. I moan despite myself as you ramp up in intensity and land a few solid strikes across the curve where ass meets thighs. You always were a leg person.

You pause to lean over me and grow into my ear. “Mmm, beautiful. Good boy. Ten more. Count for me.”

This time, I do not hesitate. “Yes, Sir.”

You step back but your fingers trail across my reddening back like it pains you to be separated. I can still feel the energy of you reach out to me across the room.

Until it is concentrated into a fiery pinprick of the kiss of your single tail.

“One, Sir.”

I try to remind myself it is just sensation. I try to erase pain from my vocabulary and just feel it. Easier said than done.

“Two, Sir. Three, Sir. Oh…! Four, Sir.”

Now we are both flying, drunk on your power. You push me harder to see if you can draw blood and break in this whip. Make it bound to me like i am to you.

The lash falls hot across my shoulder and i squirm hard, but the trickle raised is just sweat.

“Five, Sir..!”

You love me but you quiet that part of yourself with reserve to get what you want. No, it’s not want. You will be nice later. You need blood.

“Fuck! Six, Sir. Seven! Ah!”

I squeak out with difficulty eight and nine. You tell me a hundred times i am a good boy for taking it so nice and it lands every time.

Finally the warm droplets are pooling for you and you can feel your dick hard and straining in your jeans. You laugh aloud as i flinch hard out of habit while you barely tease me with number ten.

“Ten, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

You run the tails and your fingertips over my back and ass, drawing in the red, savoring my flinching as you pass over the already raised welts. My breath is heaving and so is yours, in time, I think.

In a moment your fly is open and you are crammed against me, sliding in easily to the hilt of your open jeans. You pull my hips back into you with both hands and groan as you start thrusting slow and deep the length of you. You wrap your hands around my face and shove your fingers hard against my tongue. You are growling a steady stream of filthy words but my brain isn’t even processing it anymore. I am overwhelmed by you.

“Fuck, that’s so nice. That’s right. You just take it for me, you little whore. That’s Daddy’s slut. Unh, you feel so good. So tight baby. Daddy’s going to give it to you. Fuck…!!!”

I guess I came too, because the next thing I remember: I am in a puddle, dripping into the carpet and high and there is no pain anymore.

You scoop me up and guide me into the shower, lather down my dully aching back with peppermint soap and wrap me in your big soft Daddy robe.

We eat Girl Scout cookies and watch Steven Universe until I fall asleep on your shoulder.

Touch, Devour, Swallow

One of my big hands holding your wrists together.

A pause while I whip the belt out of your belt loops, then: weave the leather around your wrists and tighten. It isn’t hard. You don’t struggle. You want this, you want to be bound, you want the freedom that comes with restriction.

There is nothing for you to do but be right where you are.

There is nothing for me to do but be right where I am, one hand gently holding the belt against the wall, one hand touching. Softly. Trailing my fingers. Exploring. Slow.

Not cruel. Not yet.

You look at me with pleading eyes. Your lips are bright, your eyes are soft from that place of surrender. You want me to kiss you, and I want to deny you what you want, so I don’t. You want me to fill the ache that comes rushing in when I take everything else away.

I want to devour your attention.

I hold the back of your head, thumb your neck. I feel your jawbone move as you swallow. My mouth waters and I want to suck you deep. I slide my fingers over your lips, press your cheek to the wall.

This is the moment. More than the pounding wrath of my lust or my greed, this soft part where you are open and trusting and I’m just about to fall down the crevasse where permission meets skill and I lose myself, but find someone I’d much rather be. This is the moment I meet you anew and we remind each other who we are.

But I long to kiss you every minute that I don’t, so I spit at you instead, mark you, claim you. You wince but you want all parts of me that touch you.

I want all parts of you.

Give me the small soft ones, the solid ones, the ones that will never break, the ones that have never been anything but broken. They aren’t mine but I’ll put each to bed, to pillows and furs and spice rose tea and white flannel sheets and the moon, and you can tend to them when you’re ready. On the good days, I put mine to bed, too.

I get lost in the desire stalking me like a lion when I get this close and restrain myself, hoping to follow my own plan. I get lost when I have to be out in the world making meaning, making due, making sense. So I keep coming here, to us, to this, where I do make sense, where I am not the monster inside. Where you meet the monster inside and bow in reverence, and ask, and ask, and ask.

I unclip the flogger from my hip and feel the weight of the baton like a friend, like my shaft, hard in my hand. The falls like a gown made for me and worn at all my transformative life events. I swing it once, twice. The heat roars up and shakes something under my heart loose and starts to crumble.

Before you take my first blows, I lean in. Lips touching not kissing: you are so good. Beautiful, beautiful. Thank you.

A Good Beating, Guest Post by Xan West

This story contains: consensual kink including pain play, rough body play, boot play, edge play, D/s, playing with rage.

an excerpt from Shocking Violet

for Edith, who helped immensely in the eleventh hour

Hunter was one of those older leathermen who didn’t use the word play, called his scenes sessions, and took himself extremely seriously. Zak was certain he had never seen him smile.

This was one of the zillion ways that leather life would make no sense to outsiders. He’d never call Hunter a fuck buddy…because they would never be buddies. (Or fuck, for that matter.) But once a month, he beat the snot out of Zak for a couple hours. They’d been doing this for two years, and it was one of the steady constants that kept Zak going. He needed this.

He’d been surprised when Hunter approached him, because silver fox muscled cis leathermen didn’t generally line up to play with thirtysomething fat trans guys in thick glasses who were more cute than handsome. It had been a few weeks after Sam and Neo had dumped him. His friends had dragged Zak to the Eagle with them, even though he was absolutely certain he had “just dumped” stamped on his forehead and would be terrible company.

He’d seen Hunter around, of course, with his perfectly trimmed silver beard and well-used, extremely well-kept leathers. Zak knew his reputation as a heavy top who was very serious and respectful, and wanted no romance and no sex in his kink. But he was shocked as hell when Hunter approached him before he’d even ordered his usual seltzer, and had said, “You look like you could use a good beating.”

Zak was demiro and gray-ace, and had considered approaching Hunter for play, even though they’d never spoken. He’d thought Hunter would be a good fit, because of his boundaries around romance and sex. When they’d negotiated, Hunter had lead off with “I want to be real clear about something. I’m aroace, do you know what that means?” And Zak had sighed with relief, before sharing his own a-spec IDs. He’d never played with another a-spec person before, and that had him even more excited than the prospect of a good beating.

Though Zak had definitely needed a good beating that night. He’d needed to have the snot beaten out of him so damn badly. It was the best way to find his mad, which was blanketed over with numbness.

He needed a good beating today too. Needed the pain, and the intensity, and just the sheer physicality of it, as a way to move some of what had gotten stuck last night. All that rage he’d had to control when he was facing down Rickie’s asshole of an ex. He needed a way to let some of that out, or it would eat at him.

Sessions with Hunter gave him a way to release some of his rage. For all his formality, he was perfectly fine with Zak screaming, sobbing, and cursing him out. As long as Zak took everything he could, pushed himself, Hunter was happy. He actually seemed to like it when Zak cursed at him, though he would never smile. But his eyes would get this gleam…Zak was pretty sure Hunter was happiest when Zak called him a fucking asshole. What more could he ask for, really? It was rare to find a top that was up for that.

The first Sunday of the month at 1pm, Zak would show up at Hunter’s fancy place in DUMBO, to be methodically taken apart in the man’s living room. After all this time, his body knew what was coming, and was already running on adrenaline before he rang the bell. Hunter was in his full leathers, like always. The only thing that ever changed was the boots. Today it was Wesco Jobmasters, with red stitching, and Zak had a hard time paying attention to anything else for a moment because they were so beautiful. Those treads were going to feel so good.

After greeting Zak, and leading him to the living room, Hunter picked up his very fluffy light grey cat, Melisande. (Zak suspected, but had never confirmed, that she was named after the character in Kushiel’s Dart.) Hunter carried Melisande to her room, crooning to her, telling her she was beautiful and perfect and how very much he adored her. Yes, she had her own room, but of course she liked to roam freely through the apartment (aka her territory). So, when Zak came over for a session, Hunter always set her up in her room and put on Richard Attenborough’s Birds of Paradise for her—it was her favorite video, after all.

When he came back into the living room, he usually slid right into the scene, so Zak shucked down to his boxer briefs and boots, and got himself into headspace. Today was no different; Hunter stalked over and immediately bent him over the side of the couch, yanking his belt from his pants, and proceeded to beat Zak’s back. It was gloriously quick and jarring, and so much of Zak’s most favorite kind of pain all at once, with no traditional warm up at all. Zak couldn’t make words, or even sounds, everything went quiet for this. He was grateful for the couch, for its cool leather pressing into his cheek, the sturdy way it held him. He would not have been able to stand as Hunter poured this gorgeous blaze of pain into him, filled him up with it, methodically, ruthlessly. Yes. This was the way to start, pain swirling into every bit of him so there was nothing else at all. Nothing but the searing wonder of this.

This was the way they began, the way they re-learned each other, tested each other. Abundance, right from the start, a foundation of things to come. It would build and build until Zak bent, like always, and let the first drops of whatever was stuck, out. That meant tears. Sometimes it took 3 minutes of the belt, and sometimes it took 30. It rarely took more than that for Zak to let go. For Zak’s body, and psyche, to take in the reality that he could have as much pain as he needed, and that it was okay to let go.

For so many tops, tears were a signal to end a scene. In their sessions, Zak’s tears were a signal it was really beginning. It took a wonderfully long time to make a crack in the dam today. Such an incredible relief when it finally came, and the sobs were drawn from his body by the inexorable, patient blows of the belt he loved dearly.

It made him so angry to cry. He had always hated it, and most especially hated doing it in front of other people. That’s why this worked, tears were the best way to create an entry point for the rage. Hunter pulled Zak up to stand, and marched him over to the exposed brick wall he had in his fucking living room. That wall was the height of self-indulgence, and a marker of wealth funneled into kinky purpose. Hunter wanted a brick wall in his living room to slam boys into, so he made it happen. And really, who was Zak to complain? It felt so damned good, the roughness of the brick against the welts on his back.

Hunter was done with the belt. He put on his gloves, then pulled his leather sap from his back pocket, fitting the strap onto his hand as if he had all the time in the world. Which, Zak supposed, he did. They were on Hunter’s timetable now. Where he got to be patient and precise, and use as much thud as he wanted. Sting cracked the dam, but thud…thud pissed Zak the fuck off, so much that he let his rage flood out.

Zak thrust his chin out, anticipating what came next. When Hunter put a hand on his shoulder to hold him in place, and met his gaze, Zak glared. Hunter nodded, and began, the blows slow and methodical, driving into Zak’s bicep. They were jarring, in a deep way, made Zak feel off balance, even with the wall behind him and Hunter’s hand bracing him. The off balance was inside, this sense of being trapped and needing to prove himself and bubbling rage, already sparked by the tears still drying on his cheeks.

“Fuck you,” he spit into Hunter’s face. The man simply hit him harder, making it very clear that he was barely using his strength at all, didn’t need to, as the lead inside the sap did the work for him. Heat built under the pounding, bruises were blooming. Hunter was fucking relentless. The ball of anger grew inside him, the more Zak stood there, and took it, and glared; and Hunter’s face was this completely fucking inscrutable wall for Zak to throw himself against. Steady, constant, dependably there, poking and poking until Zak exploded, knowing that Hunter would stay steady all the way through, hold all of it.

Zak hated and loved Hunter’s inscrutability, because it made so much fucking room, because it meant that Zak had no impact. It wasn’t real, of course. He’d seen the man be completely gooey over his cat. He knew Hunter was deeply committed to raising as much money as he possibly could for AIDS research, and matched donations at the big leather fundraiser for it every single year. Hunter had a sweet queerplatonic partner named Xavier, who lived with him and whom he loved dearly, who always brought Zak a blanket, water, cocoa and cookies at the end of a session.

He knew Hunter wasn’t actually who he presented as during sessions. He might not smile, but outside of topspace he was affectionate toward Zak, and caring, offering an ear for whatever might pour out after a scene, checking on him at least once a day for a few days afterward. His inscrutability was a tool, one that suited his style as a top, one he offered to Zak along with his beautiful methodical sadism. Zak knew all of that, but in the middle of a beating, it floated away; he got to just have the room and the goad that it made for him.

Hunter began to knee Zak in the thigh. It forced Zak to concentrate, because his body wanted to curl in to protect itself. It made him grit his teeth and curse, focusing on staying still for it. There was nothing like rough body play to get his mad going, and he began to spit out curses incessantly, as Hunter drove his knee into his thighs, his fist into Zak’s pecs, in an irregular pattern that Zak couldn’t quite catch up to enough to predict. He just dug his boots into the floor and clenched his fists, so he wouldn’t inadvertently fight back.

That was the thing about allowing rage to build, it still demanded that he control the course of it; as adrenaline flooded him and emotion drove him, he was in charge. That’s part of what made it such a rush, because as much as he was now flooding Hunter’s living room with shouted curses, he wasn’t battling Hunter at all. He was fighting for control over his rage. Not by bottling it up, but by releasing it in exactly the way that he chose.

He focused on making sure his shoulders were back, his legs were steady, his chin was raised, as he glared into Hunter’s face and called him a fucking asshole for doing this to him. He saw that gleam in Hunter’s eyes that told him the man was pleased, and bared his teeth in satisfaction. Then, just as he caught himself swaying, and gripped the wall to steady himself, Hunter told him to lie on his back on the floor. The man was a fucking hawk. Nothing got past him. He always made Zak stand until he just fucking couldn’t anymore.

The floor was cool and hard and perfect against the welts on his back. Zak knew what was coming next. He was going to get to feel the treads of those spectacular boots. Not right away, though. First, Hunter began to kick, driving his boots into Zak’s arms, then his thighs, circling, delivering blow after shattering blow.

Being on the floor, with this miracle of a top towering over him, kicking him, made Zak more aware of his helplessness than anything else ever did. If there was one thing guaranteed to bring out his rage, it was that kind of awareness. This feeling was what had filled him last night, that there were things he could not control, however desperately he wanted to. That was what he had to release. So he concentrated on it, feeling it build inside him, this terrible rage-inducing feeling, as Hunter stoked it with every single blow.

He was screaming incoherent rage at Hunter, had lost words at this point, was just screaming and screaming, even though his throat was hoarse, and Hunter kept going until Zak’s voice was nearly gone altogether, before he lifted his boot, and ground it into Zak’s thigh. Zak felt himself growl, as he glared up at Hunter, who nodded, and, bracing himself on the wall, lifted his other boot, so his entire weight was on Zak’s thighs. Then he slowly, methodically, began to grind first one boot, then the other, into Zak, whose growl turned into a sob, and transformed into a shout.

“Fuck you, you fucking asshole!” Zak shouted at full volume, before breaking into sobs again. Hunter slowly removed his weight, then sank into his chair nearby, and crooked his finger at Zak, who crawled over to him, and grabbed onto his boots like they were a fucking lifeline. He kept on sobbing, Hunter’s hand stroking his hair, until he was spent. Then he just lay there for a good long while, his cheek pressed into Hunter’s boot, enjoying the man’s hand in his hair.

He raised his head finally, and Hunter told him to sit at his feet and drink some water. Zak sat between Hunter’s thighs, drank the water Xavier gave him, and listened, as Hunter told him what a good boy he had been, how brave and strong, and how much he had pushed himself, but Hunter knew he would, that was one of the things Hunter liked most about their sessions, and that was why he’d chosen to wear his new boots for the first time with Zak. Because Zak had earned this. His tears should be the first ones to touch them.

Zak breathed that in, wanting to set this memory in his mind as one he could draw on whenever he doubted his own strength. It was a beautiful gift, and he thanked Hunter for the honor and babbled a bit about how beautiful the boots were. Then he let Xavier fuss at him, and wrap him in a blanket, and concentrated on drinking his cocoa and eating his cookies—Xavier had baked the gluten free almond ones that he loved. As Zak focused on sweets, Hunter drank his own water and leaned into Xavier, who stood next to his chair, a pillar of support, telling him about the dinner he’d made for them.

Show Me You Want It

I want you on your knees in the dark. Waiting. Unsure when I’ll come for you but knowing that I will. Of course I will. We both trust I will.

You know you have to be ready. Your knees are sore your back is sore your wrists are enflamed from the cuffs. Loose enough to be safe, but barely. You won’t use the buzzer affixed to you, the one that alerts me if you are in danger. You know it’s there. That is enough comfort for you.

You know you have to be ready because when I open the door I will not wait. It could be a blow to the face, a swift kick, knocking you over, shoving you to the floor. It could be a tight grip, lifting you to your feet. Don’t fall over don’t get thrown off balance keep your composure.

Impress me.

Maybe I’ll let you breathe. Maybe I’ll let you look at me, touch me. Maybe I’ll let you catch your breath, ease off of your red knees, work the kink out of your elbow.

The softest fingertip touch is a tease, is a curse, is even worse because of the pounding force that will come. You don’t trust it. But you trust me, underneath, under the pink of you, inside. You know I can hold this, hold myself and you, hold all of your autonomy and authority and sense of self, and I will give them back to you in morsels you can melt on your tongue. Close your eyes. Don’t bite, just suck. Good boy.

You will be lucky if you taste me. Open your mouth, stick out your tongue. Wider, further. Don’t make me get the gag that opens you too far. I could kneel over your mouth and drip into it, I could urge you open wider and watch you strain to lick, to suck. I like when you strain. I like when you want it.

Show me you want it.

I won’t give it to you, precisely because you want it. This isn’t about you getting what you want. This is about me. This is about my want, my ownership, my craving, my retribution, my dick. It isn’t personal. It’s about the ways my life is so far out of my control, both because that no human is in control of their surroundings and also because I am wired to be passive, to let things happen to me instead of making the things happen. But this, I can control. This is my deepest lust and vulnerability, the rawness at the heart of me, both the raw power and the raw open wound. It isn’t personal, but then again it is: it is the ways that we have grown together and changed

You will take all that I can give and more than I can give. I want it raw, just you and me: I use my fists. I catch you in the jaw, in the chest. One or two in the stomach to remind you of your place. To ensure that it hurts and is too much, sometimes.

I will hit you for so long and you will take it, just take it. Will you ever cry for me? You hold out for so long. You are so tough, so brave. Not so much a masochist, but capable of dispersing the intensity and absorbing the impact with your whole self. But you won’t outlast me. You will cry. You will break down for me. You need it. Maybe we both forget how you need it, but I remember each time you curl in my arms and finally heave sobs of relief and love.

Something in me releases when you do: Relief. I can still do it. I can still break you down to particles, put your puzzle pieces back together. I still have you. You are still, and always have been, mine.

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I struggle with my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences … help!

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

I am a strong, opinionated, sometimes bossy, lesbian. I have a huge passion for the empowerment, education and advocacy of women. I volunteer as a sexual assault advocate and have been involved as a Planned Parenthood educator. I am very vocal about breaking the cycle of female oppression in our culture.

I feel a personal conflict, as I also identify as femme and am very much a bottom in the bedroom. I like to be dominated and controlled in sexual play and I very much get off on fantasies that boarder on roughness and non-consent. I guess my struggle lies in the dichotomy between my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences. I do not consider myself to be a weak or oppressed female, but in the bedroom I love to be controlled, punished and made to serve. Is there a way for the two to be harmonious? I fight for women to have power and to stand up for themselves. Can you help me sort this out?

Tara

I hear you.

I too have come up within the lesbian feminist movements (and in their wakes) with a strong passion for smashing the patriarchy and a vehement dedication to working on less pain for the various gender minorities in the world. And I too like to do dirty, “perverted,” un-politically correct things in my erotic life. I struggle with reconciling my own feminist beliefs with my desire for sadism and wanting to physically cause “pain,” and with my masculinity and dominance and the ways that both masculinity and dominance are seen as corrupted ways of having power in some feminist’s views. I was asked just this morning about my consumption of porn, and my candid talk about how porn is fun and can be useful and good and valuable, and how I reconcile that with feminism. And, oh yeah, I forget that’s a part of that feminist reconciliation process too.

And all of these took a long time, and were long processes.

I have had lots of judgment about sadism, masculinity, dominance, and porn in the past. Some of it was a reaction formation, at least in a minor way, I think. I had reactions and judgment both about other people’s visible execution of these things, and the tendencies in myself—my own desires. I struggled to reconcile those tendencies and how they went with my feminist commitments to gender liberation and my sensitivities to surviving abuse and being in a rape culture.

I think it absolutely is possible to reconcile, to sort this out.

Here’s some of the ideas that I kicked around—for years and years, with trusted friends, at kink conferences, with lovers. It was not an immediate process. It required adopting a new kind of feminism, I think—a BDSM- and kink-friendly feminism that is rooted in agency and consent, and that understands the difference between play and abuse.

Consider these things:

1. Bottoming, service, and surrendering control, comes from a place of great strength and power.

[Bottoming] is absolutely making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—it comes from a place of great strength.

People have the idea in their heads that bottoming is weak, but I think that is not true at all. Bottoming is incredibly powerful. Being able to know where your own boundaries are, hold yourself safe, be able to speak up for your own needs, ask for what you want, and negotiate trust with a person who is going to assist your body and self on a journey takes a lot of skill and sovereignty. People who do it well have an extensive amount of intelligence, self-worth, and self-knowledge.

It absolutely is making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—again, it comes from a place of great strength.

The notion that bottoming, receiving sensation, and submitting to someone else’s desires is weak comes from a twisted version of what those things really are, versions that show only the completely non-consensual and abusive sides of these experiences. But when done consensually, the gift that is bottoming to another is precious and strong. It’s amazing to serve someone else; we serve community, family, friends, and other valuable relationships all the time. We give our power or authority, or cede our control, away intentionally in order to empower others in a variety of contexts, and we can get great pleasure from doing so. And when we find someone worthy of our trust such that we will put our body into their hands for intense sensation, cathartic release, and the deep pleasure of being in the present moment with whatever is happening … how does that not come from a place of power?

The difference, in my opinion, between it coming from power and strength or from oppression comes down to some simple traditional feminist concepts.

2. Consent makes all the difference. All of it.

When done within a framework of consent, I believe it is possible for just about anything to be empowering.

I would guess that you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely.

Consent changes experiences completely. In the activist cultures around female oppression, we often talk about consent in a “no means no” way, and stress the value of enthusiastic consent and the “just because they didn’t say no doesn’t mean there was consent!”

But I think an incredibly important piece of examining the feminist concept of consent is also that YES MEANS YES, and that the consent itself is what makes the act possible or okay.

Let me give you an example: I like playing with Daddy/girl and Daddy/boy role play in my sex life. I know that is something kind of extreme to some people, and many people misinterpret it as incest fantasies, which it is and it isn’t (more on that another time). Sometimes I hear people say things like, “But what if you/I/someone crosses the line with an actual young person!”

But for me, that would not happen.

I do not have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with people under eighteen. I have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with adults who adopt a younger persona (usually temporarily) with enthusiastic consent. It’s not about actual incest or actual under-18 youths. No no no no no. It’s about adults tapping in to other parts of ourselves, to open up new experiences.

The consent is actually an essential part of that fetish.

And likewise, I would guess that for you, Tara, you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely, to be punished for doing something “wrong,” to be used for someone else’s pleasure.

There is a huge, huge difference between the actual thing and some sort of play consensual version of the thing.

3. BDSM—and being punished, controlled, and made to serve—are completely different from abuse and oppression.

And consent is a key piece of that, yes, but there are a lot of other specific, clear, and measurable differences, too.

Read the “BDSM is Not Abuse” list released by the Lesbian Sex Mafia, one of the oldest women’s BDSM groups in the country, based in New York City. I think it articulates things very well:

This is box title
The Difference Between BDSM and Abuse

SM: An SM scene is a controlled situation.
ABUSE: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.

SM: Negotiation occurs before an SM scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
ABUSE: One person determines what will happen.

SM: Knowledgeable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
ABUSE: No consent is asked for or given.

SM: The “bottom” has a safeword that allows them to stop the scene at any time should they need to for physical or emotional reasons.
ABUSE: The person being abused cannot stop what is happening.

SM: Everyone involved in an SM scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of others.
ABUSE: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.

SM: The people in an SM scene are careful to be sure that they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
ABUSE: Alcohol or drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.

SM: After an SM scene, the people involved feel good.
ABUSE: After an episode of abuse, the people involved feel bad.

Souce: lesbiansexmafia.org

Because they are so different, I sometimes think the hyper-articulation of different language is important. It’s one of the reasons that people sometimes use the phrase “consensual non-consent” instead of “rape play,” for example.

The difference between BDSM and abuse goes back to consent, yes; but it goes back to all sorts of other things, too. Like trust, and skill, and agency.

4. Trust in your own agency. Trust in your own experience.

If you negotiate with a lover to get what you want, have an experience, and then everybody feels good after … as long as the experience is “doing no harm” in the world, then I say FUCKING GO FOR IT.

Have some play. Have some ecstasy. Have some screaming release. Have a big bold messy weird experience that maybe other people would judge but it just felt so goddamn good for your body and your mind and your emotions and everything sings a little brighter the next day.

You get to say what happens to your body. You get to have your own experience, and then decide if that was pleasurable or not, enjoyable or not, and whether you’d want to do it again, with this person or with a different person or in a new way or not at all. You get to have your experience of a non-ordinary thing and then, if you feel like fuck yes that was amazing! More more more please! then you can trust that that is real and true. Agency is trusting the answer that you come up with, authentically, when you ask yourself: Does it feel good or bad? Am I left with icky residue or release and joy? Do I feel closer to my play partner, or farther away?

Of course, not every BDSM scene is that easy to evaluate—but some of them just are. Start there. Start with the ones that are easy to tell. Start with trusting your own consent, and agency, and your own deepest experience of what you like or don’t like.

If it matters to you that other people do sometimes see these things you want as contradictory, seek out feminist kink communities. They do exist! This was a topic that came up in the Submissive Playground ecourse quite frequently, actually, and we had a lot of lively discussions about the feminist reconciliation process.

I actually have a dozen more notes about things to say around this process of reconciliation, but this is already more than 2,000 words, so I’m going to call it good for now. Feel free to ask more about specific things in the comments and I’ll do my best to reply!

I hope that gives you lots of places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you with resources, experiments, ideas, support, or just talking in depth through this reconciliation process. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Got a question for Mr. Sexsmith? Ask it here!

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Tara’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about your relationship to feminism and kink? Did you reconcile the two? What was the process like? Slow, fast, hard, simple? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this? Do you have any recommendations for feminist kink Fetlife groups?

Leave your story anonymously if you like; your email address will not be published, and if you don’t want your usual “gravitar” picture of you to show up, just type “+sugarbutch” in your email address (like [email protected]) and I’ll know you want to be anonymous.

I want more.

I want more.

Crave it. Seek it. For every inch you give, I want two. For every mile you run, I want five.

It’s not that I’m never satisfied. I am. Maybe the satisfaction comes in the wanting, the striving. The way I give you a new edge and you nod and work and sweat and labor and your best comes from you, just a little more than you expected. That’s when I relax, and ask for it again. Again. Until your best striving is normal and I ask you for more. Always more.

That’s the point, more than the individual acts. I don’t really care if my house is kept precisely or if my water glass has ice and lime. I care if you’re trying. I care if you’re working for it, paying attention.

It’s not that I’m proud of this, exactly. I don’t say this to brag. This tendency often makes things quite complicated, adding unnecessary layers of needs and request—unnecessary to our day-to-day immediacy, but more necessary to my long term satisfaction. It’s why I moved to New York City, remember—I wanted things to be less easy.

It’s not that the work is the point, either, but that striving is the best way for me to stay on the edge. The brink of something new. The cusp of growth. And that is the broader purpose. When I keep you carefully balanced there, I keep myself balanced there too, in that place of holding your safety ropes, not certain exactly how far to push, exactly when to force just a little more, try just a little harder, you can do it, you can take it for me, just a little more, just for me, just for me. And when you do, when I push through that last resistance to open you just a little further, it opens up something in me to meet you, and we swirl, double-helix vortex, touching the infinite, touching god.

Reconciling Feminism & Sadism

From the Ask Me Anything questions from Sugarbutch’s 4th anniversary:

How do you reconcile your feminism with your sadism and desire to (gulp) hurt women? (In a completely consensual manner, of course.)—Cold Comfort

The closest thing I’ve come so far to explaining this was in that essay from December 2009 called Reconciling the Identities of Feminist and Butch Top, but this question, about sadism, is slightly different, and I have the impression I haven’t quite answered it all the way.

“Butch top” is very much related to “sadist” for me, but that’s just because that’s my particular version of butch topping, into which my sadism is built. In fact, it’s only been recently that I’ve been unpacking sadism from topping, being with someone who is much more submissive than she is a masochist. Point being, much of that essay is exactly about reconciling those identities.

Yet still, I don’t feel like that is an adequate explanation on this topic. Besides, the culmination of that essay is basically, “How did I reconcile these identities? I don’t know, I just thought about it a lot and then it was better.” There must be something more articulate to say about that.

I hit on it a little more in the essay Yes, No, and Consent too, about agency, in feminist terms. It has to do with the very simple distinctions between BDSM and abuse, even if they are equated by many anti-porn feminists. And it has to do with the Platinum Rule—not the Golden Rule, the “do to others what you would like to be done to you,” but the “do to others as they would like to be treated,” and the acknowledgement that how you want to be treated and how another wants to be treated may not be the same thing, especially when you add in the complexities of relationship through sex, BDSM, sadism, and masochism.

But, if someone wants me to treat them a certain way and something about it feels funny to me, I trust that, and I take a break and pause and ask questions (hopefully without over-processing or projecting), until I feel like we have resolved whatever was coming up or until I decide there’s too much there to open up without adequate containment or backup.

To go back to the Platinum Rule: for a pop-culture simplistic example, consider the Love Languages! Which, cheesy as they are superficially, I think are a very useful system to think about the ways that myself and my partner may be seeking the same things (like love, comfort, security, passion) but may be in different ways (through words of aspiration, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts). I think we all have some relationship to all five of those ways (and possibly more), but many of us are more focused on some of those ways than others.

All of us are seeking similar things, like love and sex and companionship, but we may be seeking to play with those things in different ways. And figuring out what my own preferences are in playing with those things, and in being in a relationship, figuring out how I best communicate, who I’m attracted to and what qualities I most prefer in someone else, and how to reconcile differences or misunderstandings between us, has been a huge journey, and has been a huge piece of being able to articulate that I want to play with deeper, heavier BDSM, like pain or humiliation, and to trust someone enough to believe that when they say they want to play with that on the receiving end, they mean it, they know themselves well enough to know what they want, they are experienced enough to understand what they’re asking for, they are in touch with themselves enough to tell when they have reached a limit, and they are strong enough to be able to communicate with me around whatever is going wrong (or right).

I’ve worked a hell of a lot on my own issues, particularly on being able to say what I’m thinking, to stand up for myself, and to not get swept up in someone else’s psychology and psyche. I’ve been in therapy for about four years now, and that has helped me greatly with my communication. I’ve also done all sorts of “alternative” methods of healing, such as massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, tinctures, supplements, nutritional counseling, bodywork … I’ve done a lot of work on myself and my own issues, and I am continuing to work hard to improve the ways I communicate and relate.

So, this is how I would reconcile feminism & sadism:

  1. Acknowledge that people want different things. For example, your desire to hit someone is bad when the person you are hitting doesn’t want to be hit, but when the person you are with wants to be hit, in a playful, controlled, conscious way, that’s called consent and it’s (probably) great. Consider the distinctions between BDSM and abuse, and trust yourself when you know you are on one side or the other. Listen to your lovers when they give you feedback about how your behavior affects them.
  2. Play with people whose consent you trust, and don’t take responsibility for other people’s consent. And, if they consent, then later uncover that it was actually bad for them, they didn’t like it, or blame something on you, you can certainly apologize and take responsibility for whatever your part of it may have been, but it was not your fault that they consented to an act that you then did. Be willing to process a scene after playing, and listen carefully, but know that trying to retroactively revoke consent is a dangerous move.
  3. Seek out and understand the background and history and texts on BDSM. Find mentors (if you’re in a city big enough to have a BDSM scene) and take classes, or join online BDSM groups and learn. There is a rich history of writings and teachers who discuss what it’s like to go into these deep, dark realms of physical sensation and psychology, and many of them hold important explanations for how this play works. Studying these arts makes us more aware, which can make us more conscious, and more intentional, and better able to be present in our play.

I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, had a deep connection to feminism. And I believe in it the way I believe in psychology or democracy—that even though there are plenty of people out there fucking it up, there is a kernel, a spark, a rawness at its core that I believe is important, necessary, and is deeply aligned with me and my sense of purpose in this world. I don’t believe that because some people are taking these things and claiming them to mean some things that I disagree with that I need to then step out of the ring and let them take it over. I’m glad that there can be multiple perspectives coming from one singular idea, it strengthens the idea to have multiple angles, I think (even if sometimes I believe they are so very wrong).

I know there are plenty of people who say they are not a feminist, especially those who work in various aspects of sex, and that there are plenty of feminists who would probably say that I am “not a feminist” because of my BDSM play or my masculinity or whatever. But I have enough sovereignty around my feminist identity that I know that their version of feminism is simply different from mine, and that mine is no more wrong than theirs is.

So that’s my last prescription for reconciling feminism and sadism: Ask yourself what your definition of feminism is. If you start digging to discover that you think feminists never, ever hit someone, or humiliate someone, or call someone a bitch, or shove a cock down a girl’s throat, well then, you are going to have some trouble reconciling those two identities. This is where the #3 Research on BDSM will come in handy, because BDSM circles know the difference between play and real life. We know that rape is absolutely not the same thing as playing with consent, as someone yelling out “no no no” during a scene. We know that the things that we play with during scenes, like pain, like giving or receiving pain, are not fun to experience in real life. I would never want someone to spank me or beat me or slap me in the face for real! I would never want someone to do that to my girlfriend! But under the umbrella of play, it takes on other qualities. It might look the same, a slap across the face vs a slap across the face, but the motivation, intention, control, and outcome are completely different.

Growing involves seeing more than the black or white definitions that labels, identities, and systems of thought often prescribe. Lots of feminists have written about how oppressive the sexual culture surrounding the subordination of women is; and that’s important to learn. However, equating ALL acts of some kind of sex, happening between consenting adults, that you or “feminists” deem inappropriate with oppression or non-consent is denying a key part of sex play: agency. Hurting someone, especially sexually, is something (some) feminists shun, but when you add consent into that mix, you’ve entered into something that is not black or white. And perhaps not even gray, since consent puts any act in a whole new category.

Did that adequately answer your brief but loaded question? Are there other follow-up questions from what I’ve posted here?

Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

I received quite a few questions about my recent post, Kristen’s Homework, especially around how the power imbalance asymmetric balance of power works when adding our gender dynamics into the mix. It’s really hard to explain, and sometimes hard for me to feel like what I’m doing is in question. I do want to keep writing about how my relationship with Kristen is evolving, and this is precisely one of the reasons I haven’t been writing about the sex we’ve been having as much as I used to – because we have entered into some domination and submission in lots of aspects of our relationship, and I’m just not sure how to express that well, yet.

But I would like to try. I’m working on an introduction to what we do, and our basic relationship assumptions, as we explore d/s more and more, so hopefully that will fill in some gaps.

Meanwhile, here’s some more back story to how I got to where I am.

I wrote this piece for Shira Tarrant‘s recent Feminist Sex reading for her book Men & Feminism (Seal Press, part of Seal Studies) at Bluestockings radical activist bookstore here in New York City. In brainstorming about the concept of “feminist sex,” most of what came up for me was the conflict around being a feminist and being someone kinky, specifically someone masculine, a top, and a sadist. This piece begins to try to explain how I’ve reconciled those identities. I do feel like I’ve made peace with their coexistence in me, but I am still struggling with how to articulate how that happened and what it means now.


Feminist Sex: Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

A few years ago, a girl I dated wanted me to slap her. To hit her face. She asked for it specifically, I still remember the conversation on the subway and the precise way that she looked over at me and said, I want you to hit me. Something big swelled in me and I wanted to, I wanted to feel the sting of impact on my palm and see her recoil, to do it again before she was ready, to push something so sensational onto her experience that she was jolted to the edges of her skin and had to feel, to feel herself, to feel me, to be fully present.

This girl and I had already done some other light percussion play, using my hand, or even a paddle, me hitting her ass and thighs, the fleshy parts that I couldn’t possibly do damage to beyond some light bruising. She liked it, we both did. It made sense to escalate, at the time, to something new; we were deepening both our romantic relationship – our trust in each other – and our power dynamic, and it was time to push a little, to see where we could go.

I was terrified. After she asked, after we talked about it extensively, I even tried, a few times, when we were in bed and she said, hit me, now, please, and I couldn’t, I’d bring my hand up and chicken out.

I was terrified of what it would mean for me, as a masculine person, as a butch, to be more dominating in bed. To like it. To like to cause someone pain. To like to cause a woman pain. To hit someone in the face. To hit a woman in the face, to sexualize that act and that power dynamic specifically.

I was paralyzed by that terror – I wanted to do it, the idea, the very thought of it, the discussions with her, turned me on, the girl I was dating wanted me to do it, but I couldn’t.

Beyond wanting to do it, this was the kind of sex act that was in the sex life I was dreaming of having. This was what haunted my fantasies and what I looked for in porn that I watched and erotica that I read. And I was on a very serious quest to figure out how to have the sex that I wanted. I’d just gotten out of a bed-death relationship; I felt like I barely escaped a noose. I was committed to studying sex hard, to figuring out: what I wanted, how to get what I wanted, how to build a relationship with that as an element, how to maintain something sane and hot over a long period of time. That’s precisely why I started this site, Sugarbutch.

I’m a sadist, and a top. That means I like to dominate. And already there are conclusions being drawn by those of you out there who think well of course you like to dominate, you’re masculine, and that’s prescribed for you or in other words you misogynistic asshole, I already knew you were one of “those” butches who needs to make up for your inadequacies by dominating women. Because that’s what we think, isn’t it? Maybe not consciously, but a little bit, somewhere in our brains, we associate these particular identity alignments – butch equals masculine equals top equals dominating equals men’s prescribed gender role. We’re relieved when they line up how we think they will, or maybe we are challenged and uncomfortable – though perhaps in a stimulated way – when they misalign.

There’s something supposedly anti-feminist about wanting to dominate. There’s something in the feminist rhetoric which says we are all equal especially in bed, so that means I-do-you-you-do-me, or that means we have sex neither above nor below each other, and with no reproduced heteronormative misogynistic patriarchal power dynamic.

But I didn’t want that. I’d had that, in early girlfriends, but it didn’t keep things hot enough to sustain a relationship. And secretly, I want to dominate. In bed. I wanted to top and control and hit and demean and humiliate.

Power dynamic theory has many similarities to gender theory. Like the gender identities of butch and femme are not reproductions but pastiche copies at best of prescribed societal gender roles, putting on and taking off power roles in power sex play is a pastiche reproduction of power in our lives, of which there are thousands of examples of interaction on a daily basis. And when we can put on and take off these roles intentionally, the act of adopting becomes further proof that the power positioning in our lives is not inherent, or “real,” or immobile, or prescribed, or “normal,” but part of a hierarchical society of social power that can be deconstructed.

As in my experience with coming to a butch gender identity, when I finally came to a power identity that really deeply aligned with something inside me that just clicked and make sense, I felt like I was coming home to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced previously. Through my personality and tendencies and psychology I have my own set of quirks and workings and functions, and for whatever reason, it makes a lot of sense to me to let out some of my power and control issues in the bedroom by being dominating. It is deeply satisfying the way a glorious meal or a delicious book is satisfying, one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not sure I understand why I like what I like, but what I like does not harm others, and is consensual, and I know myself well enough to accept what I like as what I like – and to let that be a simple truth.

How did this change for me? What happened between the time when I was terrified to slap a girl in the face and today, now, where I am fairly comfortable in my identity as a top, and even as a sadist, as someone who enjoys hurting someone else?

Little by little, I had lovers who pushed me, lovers who were more experienced as bottoms than I was as a top, lovers who wanted more from me and who could take more than I was able to give who made enough space for me to walk into a bigger version of myself and occupy it, try it on.

I did come to a reconciliation with my feminist self and my top self. Phrases – like men should not hurt women or rather masculine people should not hurt feminine people, or even more broadly that people should not hit each other and violence is bad bad bad – I had accepted those phrases as Ultimate Truths, and I started to understand deeper the ways that sensation was not violence, and hitting was a way to be sparked into the present moment, to release whatever our musculature was holding onto, and to deepen trust between people and in a relationship.

I didn’t realize how little trust I had in others until I started playing deeper with BDSM. Because I would tell myself, it’s okay, she wants to do it, but then I would think, does she really? Maybe she wants to because I want to. Maybe she wants to because society tells her she should want to. Maybe she wants to for fucked-up reasons, like she thinks it’s okay for her to feel humiliated and less than me because of her own internal misogyny … but that was me not trusting that what she said was true. That she wanted me to hit her face. And that was me, further controlling both myself, her, and our relationship, in unhealthy ways, because I didn’t trust her.

When I started playing out my control issues in BDSM, in the bedroom, in sex play, the control issues I had in my relationships began to heal.

This was an issue of agency, in feminist terms – my not trusting my lover to communicate with me what she wanted, to explain to me how far I could go, and my not trusting that she would let me know if I was going too far or too hard, either with her physical communication or her words or both, was me not trusting in the agency of my lover. I have to trust that she will tell me, she will let me know, if I am going too far. And I have to listen, apologize, understand what I did, and trust that she will accept that it was an accident, a mistake, and that I’ll do whatever she needs to feel safe again.

In learning my way into being a top, I had many, many conversations about consent and intention and communication, I talked to my lovers when things broke down or didn’t seem to work and I learned more about my own tendencies when things went well. I figured out that sometimes, it was really hard for me to be with someone who bottomed so well, and who I trusted so deeply, that I did harder, scarier, bigger things with them that took me even deeper into my topping and dominance and sadism and power, and sometimes that meant I needed to be comforted afterward, to be told I liked that, and that wasn’t too much, and you didn’t hurt me, and that was what I wanted and thank you. Hearing those things is always a relief.

(I give good aftercare too, of course. But top aftercare is less common in the BDSM world – we don’t usually talk about the toll it takes for the dominant to dominate.)

I practiced, a lot, to be bold and trusting through my topping. I tried scary things and it turned out they weren’t so scary, they were in fact incredibly hot. I got to know myself, and I learned more about the things I wanted to play with, and I talked to smart people whose experiences were similar to what I was going through and who assured me it was possible to come out the other side of it a masculine, queer, butch, sadistic top feminist.

And whatdayaknow, here I am.

Sadism, and the Study of Pain

i have noticed elsewhere online that you have added ’sadistic’ to your lineup of adjectives. i was very interested in your explanation of how you came to claim those words as part of your identity (forgive me if this is not accurate), and would be interested in hearing a similar description of how you came to claim sadistic as well.

Yes, I have added “sadistic” in a couple of my taglines or bios or descriptions recently, and it is an identity label that I claim, at least to a degree. I think the identity of “sadist” is understood much less – outside of kink communities and circles – than the other identity tags I use (queer, butch, top), and it can be incredibly off-putting for folks who don’t understand it.

There’s just so much stigma around it – you like to give others pain? You enjoy that, you get off on it, it turns you on? That’s seen as, well, kind of fucked up by a lot of people.

And it kind of is fucked up, if that’s the way you’re looking at it. But the details of how sadism works a lot more complicated than that – at least, it is for me.

It’s taken me a long time to come to claim a bit more of a sadistic identity, and it’s still something that I say with a little bit of reservation or even shame, partly because I don’t want it to come on too strongly and freak someone out.

First: playing with sadism, for me, must be consensual and intentional. I do not enjoy being cruel in general, and actually it is sometimes very difficult for me to treat someone I love with humiliation or damage, to hit them, to slap someone in the face. I’ve had to go through the feelings of top guilt and, to a greater extend, sadist guilt, when I started exploring this. Those feelings aren’t completely gone, but I know what I’m doing more now and I have more confidence in my perspective and standpoint, so I don’t have as much guilt about it.

I remember precisely when I realized I was a sadist: it was 2002, and I was in a Body Electric workshop called Power, Surrender, and Intimacy. (This is going to get a little bit sacred sex/spiritual, just to warn you.) We had been discussing power, dominance, and sadism – and receiving that with surrender, submission, and masochism – and had been doing exercises all relating to tapping into those feelings. We were in the middle of a ritual (I won’t go into details) when someone had a very strong reaction, and began crying. I was going through my own experience and starting to really feel myself come into some power and dominance in a new way, and I was flooded with the witness of her release. It was a solo ritual, so we weren’t working together or touching, and she probably wasn’t even aware of me, she just started sobbing, loudly, in her own world of release, and I felt the energy as the grief and emotion flooded through her, I was so attuned to the shifts of energy in the room, and started realizing that I was incredibly turned on by her release. It was beautiful – pure and unhindered, just letting go of some really deep things that she’d been carrying and holding on to for who knows how long. I wanted to coax her through it, support her, and in my mind I was soothing her, cradling, holding the space around her so that she herself could have room to be safe and release. I loved the feeling of doing that for someone (even though I wasn’t really doing that for her, I was just imagining the scenario where I would do that) and I got such a rush and release myself from witnessing someone else get into that space of deep release, deep surrender, and then come back, smiling and whole.

So there’s a lot of psychology to it for me: we carry around all sorts of grief, pain, shame, anger, rage, distrust, disassociation, and guilt, especially about our physical bodies and our sexualities. And one of the ways that BDSM and power play and pain play taps into that is through acknowledgment and, ultimately, release – which is why we can feel renewed, refreshed, energized after a deep scene.

We also just don’t have very good tools for release and replenishment available to us. We’re not exactly taught how to remake ourselves and let go of some of our deep grief, and I believe this kind of emotional release is one of those ways.

Aside from the psychology, I also like pain. And as much as I talk about being a sadist, I have spent many years as a masochist also – I’ve been beaten, flogged, caned, whipped, pierced, cut, and slapped; I’ve had 13 piercings (only one of which I wear anymore); I’ve had some experience submitting and surrendering, and using pain as a way to get more present in my body, and then to let go.

There’s a degree to which, though, at this point, I feel like I’ve had enough of that kind of release, I seek something else now. I know how to get myself into a state of deep body release, mostly through yoga or meditation or masturbation or running, and I wanted to explore other things related to that kind of bodily release – namely, guiding it in others. I get more out of the experience of taking someone through it than I do going through it myself, these days. I don’t expect that to be permanent, but I don’t expect it to change either – for now, I know I’m a top who really likes to play with my sadistic side, and that really works for me.

So, after this series of revelations and after some further investigation, and being very sure that I wanted to get deeper into this kind of play, I began studying it more intentionally: how to get someone into that state, how to keep them safe when they’re there, how to encourage the release (but not overwhelmingly so), and how to bring them back from it.

There’s also that moment … how do I describe it. Where put your hand in water and you can’t tell if it’s super hot or super cold – how our senses cross-fire sometimes when sensation is so deep and heavy and stimulating that we can’t tell if it’s pain or pleasure.

I love playing with that line, partly because it is a way to practice pain without suffering – a way to practice pain without being hurt, but to experience it as a release, change, and growth. I think pain play can do a lot of that, too, and it is very interesting to me, as someone who is interested in algology (the study of pain), and someone who studies the cessation of suffering, how to encourage these moments of transformation where pain becomes pleasure, useful, and a methodology of study.

What I’m saying is: sadism is the intentional use of pain, discomfort, and other dark emotions to find deep release, move energy, and renew the self. As someone who is deeply interested in dark emotions, the messy stuff, the hard stuff, and personal transformation and self-awareness, this is a tool that I find incredibly useful.

Submissive Impulses & Why I Heart Sadists, Guest Post by muse

This guest post comes from Muse, as part of a response to my post on The Sadistic Impulse. She adds this PS: “The quote in the story is direct from Big Bad Daddy Lee.”

The first thing I think of when I conjure up images of sex: a fist in my hair, yanking hard, holding me motionless.

I want to be taken, to be thrown around and kicked down and tied up and fucked and spanked and twisted and slapped and bitten and pinched and pulled and made to endure. But I don’t want you to worry about what I want. I want you to know what you want, and I want you to take it. Without asking. I’m along for the ride, I can let myself go, I can be yours to play with. Trust me, I want you to.

But sometimes, I want to fight. I won’t go down without a struggle. I’ll run, bite, wrestle, kick you away. And I’m very wily, very quick, very strong. I’ll twist out of your grip, force you to catch me, grab me harder, pin me up against the wall or down on the floor, drag me by the hair and throw me into bed. I’ll make you do something to wipe the smirk off my face, to get my attention, to stop me in my tracks. I’ll make you restrain me, so I can’t get away again, even if I try. (I will try, at first.)

Finally I’ll look up at you, eyes and mouth wide, wounded, shocked, and I will relent. I will give up. Give in. Give myself over to you.

When I do, you lean over and growl in my ear: “That’s right. I can fuck you any way I want, whenever I want. I can do anything to you. Because you’re mine, aren’t you. And you like it rough, don’t you, you dirty girl. You are such a bad girl. I’m going to have to teach you a lesson. You’re going to get it now.”

Oh, handsome. What you’ve got to give, this naughty girl is going to take so well.

Please, put me in my place.

I dare you.

The Sadistic Impulse

me: I want to smack your ass
her: that’s exciting to me. how do you feel when you’re doing that?
me: strong, powerful. hard and wanting.
me: but also? completely inadeuqate and in awe of such beauty.
her: that’s incredibly sweet …
me: more in awe than inadequate; in reverence.

That moment of inadequacy is so hard to describe (especially via text message, what was I thinking?) – it’s less about the hierarchy between us or my own self-worth (that ‘inadequate’ implies) as it is about awe and reverance, like looking at the Milky Way and witnessing its spinning, a deep wonder at the beauty before me – and then a deep desire to bite into a destroy something so precious.

What is that impulse? My mom, who works with elementary school kids, speaks of it often – spending a few hours on a beach building a sand castle or a rock pattern only to have some of the fourth grade boys come trampling through and destroy it all. Sure, maybe once in a while there is a girl who does this – and sure, there are boys who never would (do forgive my oversimplification of gender roles here) – but by and large, the kids who do this are boys, and boys alone.

It reminds me of what I’ve read in feminist scholarship about pre-Christian matriarchal and goddess-centered cultures of which we have so little record. Some theories discuss how men were (and still are) so much in awe of a woman’s strength and power in sexuality that their impulse was to put it under lock and key, to control, to regulate. What they could not have themselves, they longed to own, occupy, colonize.

And in moments like my date on Saturday night, with girls like her, I deeply understand this feeling.

What is that? Where does that come from? It is similar to the impulse of destruction I’ve hinted at, the witness of something so perfect, so flawless and lovely, so fresh and baby-green and precious, trembling with new life like the leaves on the trees right now, that after a moment of quiet awe and appreciation I want to caress it, touch my hand gently to it, then wrap my fingers closed around it and squeeze the life out until I hear the last gasp of breath. I want to rip it from it’s branch like meat from a bone.

I don’t like this impulse much, I’m suspicious of it. I’m a pacifist, a feminist – but I’m also a sadist. I get off on the intentional release of pain. That also makes me a healer.

I have control of this impulse, to a point. I don’t actually crush baby leaves, or destroy flowers or people. But there have been times, that I can count on one hand, where I’ve been so deeply in sync with a lover, where they’ve sensed this impulse in me and provoked it, where I’ve nearly tipped over the edge and given in. I don’t really know what would happen inside of it, I’ve never trusted someone else – or myself – enough to find out.

Maybe this is one of the ways that I seek balance on a fairly extreme scale.

This too is why I like classic femininity in my lovers, in femmes: I want to see that supposed innocence. It riles me up, incites in me this impulse to take, to conquer, to overthrow, to destroy.

Consensually, and with such reverance and care, of course, of course.