The first time I was slapped in the face – a legitimate, hard snap of the hand across my cheek – I was immediately transformed. Needle-sharp tingling heat bloomed outward from my cheek, my breath was suddenly caught in my throat, and sparks ignited behind my eyelids, under the latex binding them shut. Then the slapping continued, back and forth from cheek to cheek, my head jerking from side to side with each hit. The sensation was overwhelming; not exactly painful, but more a dizzying and building heat and the breathlessness that accompanied each forceful impact. And with each slap, I could feel something regressing inside my head, frantically and mindlessly asking the question, “Why?”
“Why was I being punished? What did I do wrong?”
A couple times I could hear the Why? pressing up against my throat, but all that would come out were dry sobs. The delirious combination of mental and physical assault of being face slapped was, in a word, intense. The link between face slapping and punishment is strong for me. Here I was, being slapped – not because I was being punished, but for the simple pleasure of the one doing the slapping. That idea makes me shudder with lust and fear, but my mind is frazzled by the disconnect with punishment. In my head, there has to be a reason.
After all, here I am, having sex with this man, hearing him whisper demeaning names and fantasies that clench down on my mind and my groin, enjoying the pain he delivers to my body even as I am begging him to stop, exulting in the giddiness and rush of endorphins. Perhaps the slapping punishes me for all of this depravity.
But, no. My head rang from each smack as he fucked me. I was almost crying, and each dry sob that heaved from my lungs seemed to free me of some invisible weight. Even the gibberish of my regressed mind was freeing – like some deep inhibition shaken loose of its tight hold on my ribcage.
That night, being slapped hard for the first time, I finally caught a glimpse of that opening, that transformative release that I have been seeking. It is a perfect melding of the physical and psychological; at least for me.
Here is the bite on Monday, teeth indents still present. Red and puckered, broken capillaries galore.
And two days later, Wednesday night, it is yellowing and fading. Makes me wonder and shudder to imagine what it takes to get the dark purply bruises so often shown off by other masochists. Yes, okay, I have verified that I am, indeed, a masochist (thanks to all who’ve, ah, helped me on the road to this particular discovery).
The area is still tender to the touch, but I am more or less fully recovered. Which means, of course, that it is time to return for more.
But, please. No more tickling. Hard limit.
I have a yellow bruise beginning to fade below my collarbone, the really only lasting remnant of a long, packed weekend. The whip marks were gone by the time I drove back to campus on Sunday, and the other marks on my back gone as well when I checked in the mirror yesterday. Thankfully the lines around my neck are gone too, preventing the potential for embarrassing inquiries.
Just as quickly the memories start to fade, though if I concentrate, details begin to percolate back into my mind. The first night, at a Hampton beach boardwalk, the flashing, garish lights of an arcade, frisbee in the dark, and dashing into the cold salty surf in my underwear. Experiencing the terror and thrill of being surrounded by four sadistic riggers (unbelievably, none of whom had rope with them), and then the aftermath of trying to get sand out of places sand should never have access to.
The second day began messily, with what should have been an 18-minute drive (according to Google Maps) taking instead one hour of missed turns, dead ends, and one very, very frustrated driver. But we made it to the Bound in Boston con, just in time for a group ice-breaker and stretching session with a yoga practitioner. The stretching calmed me down enough to heartily enjoy the next couple hours of rope classes, involving pegs and rings, bamboo poles, and some spectacular escape games. I learned that I am a horrible rigger, but I also learned how to improve.
I sank into blissfully deep ropespace twice on Saturday, experienced my first play party with a fully decked out dungeon. Suspension points in the ceiling, rows of whips, floggers, cuffs, and sex toys hanging along the wall, and lots of people dressed in fetishwear. I was out of place in my tanktop and stretchy pants, but it didn’t matter because soon my top was forced off and I was being whipped, first my back and then my front, then my back again. To hide from the humiliation I was graciously blindfolded and saw nothing of my surroundings for the next hour.
More humiliation was to come as I was ordered to grind against a proffered leg until orgasm. I came, but quietly.
I floated in and out of consciousness in between bouts of whipping, flogging, biting, and hair pulling. The upstairs kitchen provided a reprieve and boosters: soft drinks, alcohol, and table snacks. I refueled with sugar and chips, then descended again to be tied while sitting in a half-lotus, my body folded up like a clam. Hardened piano wires flicked across my nipples, sending sharp coursing pain straight down my spine.
My poor nipples. I take it back, they are probably the most bruised and tender part of my body and remain sensitive to any friction from cloth. They were whipped, twisted, bitten, rubbed, flicked, and pulled in excruciating ways.
And the sex. Oh yes, the sex. Sex that left me sore and tearing latex from around my throat. By Sunday, I was too sore. Sex hurt. I resisted, but was fucked anyway. I screamed and tried to push away, but a low voice whispered close to my ear that he like hearing me scream. I whimpered, and he praised me for whimpering for him.
I begged in a small voice to be hurt, and he happily obliged. He slapped my face till I saw stars, then tightened latex around my throat so I couldn’t breathe. I convulsed, he convulsed, and the latex tightened more.
Afterwards I curled into a small happy puddle of endorphins and didn’t emerge until my stomach grumbled for attention. A small contest of wills ensued with my bedmate (safeword: gumdrop) before I untangled myself to run for the shower. I first stopped to admire the marks scattered across my body, then winced as the hot water hit my skin and reminded me where it hurt. Namely, everywhere.
And when I’d returned and dried off in the room, he came over to admire his handiwork, and decided the bitemark below my collarbone should be emphasized. I tried to pull away, really I did, my palm pressed against his head, pushing away as he leaned in and “emphasized” the bite.
And that is the yellowing, fading bruise I have left from this past weekend.
I find myself discovering more of the ever-widening sphere of kink, LGBT, and alternative lifestyle communities as I talk to more people and reveal my own burgeoning proclivities to friends. Yet there is a certain hesitancy to leap head-on into the full discourse of current topics and issues within that sphere, especially as related to gender. Gender has become such an academic subject, and even now I am hesitant to reveal my thoughts on the admittedly limited reading I’ve done into it. But, honestly, I cannot begin to breach the onslaught of terms I’ve found, from heteronormativity to cisgender.
Labels. All of these labels! It makes my head spin.
Before going further, I should note that this is neither a bash nor a rant on queer/gender theory, but the meandering thoughts of a confused but curious girl. I should also take a moment to explain where I am coming from. After all, I suppose it is my own partial suspicions and biases against pure academics after submitting to it for the past dozen years at work here.
As an example, when I was first exposed (fairly early in my life) to the Linnaeus system of organism classification – binomial nomenclature – I thought it was the perfect categorization system. Every organism belonged in its proper place, everything clean and tidy. Throughout middle and high school I lauded scientific thought and methodology. My knowable world was rational and explainable.
Later on and several biology courses in, I learned that the classification tree underwent massive structural changes. Domains were introduced, a new branch inserted for a class of primitive bacteria unlike other prokaryotes. All organisms with nuclei became grouped under the heading of “Eukaryota.” I also learned of the two classes of scientists who specialized in organizing species: splitters, who wanted to split organisms into their smallest common denominator (which is becoming increasingly anal-retentive with DNA capabilities), and groupers, who’d rather combine organisms with “enough similarities” together.
And the human element of all of this finally hit me. Human priorities, human error, human decisions. Human need for order. The world as I understood it shattered. There was no perfect system. While at the larger scale, these categorizations still make sense to me, the level of arbitrariness increases the closer you get to the species, sub-species, sub-sub-species, etc.
So this long and way-too-much-information-filled anecdote was to get me to this: while I do understand the need for labels and still believe in the power of categorization, I’ve also realized that placing a label onto a thing necessarily reshapes how you think of that thing and places limits on the flexibility of those thoughts. Labeling is natural and necessary, on the one hand, but can be powerfully blinding (and binding), on the other. I look back on how I used to view the world in absolutes and cringe at my narrow-mindedness. Yet we all begin our understanding of the world like this, I imagine. We learn about all the differences between cats and dogs long before we are taught that they are related groups within the animal kingdom.
As I’ve continued to have beliefs stripped away and new ones built up in what I can only imagine will be a lifelong process, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the limitations of labels for describing myself. On Fetlife, for instance, I no longer know what best to put under role, where the choices are Dominant, switch, submissive, Master, Mistress, slave, Top, bottom, fetishist, kinkster, sadist, masochist, sadomasochist, vanilla, not applicable, and not sure. I suppose the last option is most accurate, as I’ve been discovering my masochistic, sadistic, vanilla, kinkster, Top, bottom, switch, and submissive sides.
Of course, it is simply not possible to create enough unique labels for every unique combination that makes up a person. And I still love learning the scientific names of the organisms I read about. I understand that the nature of every human’s personal evolution and fluidity can never be fully described, that stereotypes are founded on truth but almost always stigmatized and exaggerated, that prejudices will always arise, and that new words can help to expand and build upon the vocabulary we use to understand what is around and within us.
I understand it all in theory, anyway. After all, I am still only 23 years old, and a newly-minted 23 at that. I’m only thankful to now be more open-minded and willing to broaden my scope of understanding than maintaining the rigid, unforgiving mindset of my teenage self.
On a related note, I recently had an absorbing conversation with a friend on how important racial heritage should be/is in influencing one’s life. As an Asian-American, I grew up expected to relate school projects and assignments with my heritage. In my AP Studio Art class, my teacher insisted that I make Asian-based artwork. As one of maybe three or four Asians in my graduating class, I attained a status symbol and felt myself being molded to fit the characteristics of the quiet, studious Chinese girl.
Since then, it has been a constant, almost subconscious struggle of fitting my racial identity somewhere within the whole of my being. Perhaps it is why I’ve begun to think about sexual identity more now as well, since it adds yet another layer of complexity to all of this. However, and this really is the crux of the matter, I have never felt the desire or need to advocate on behalf of either of these, race or sexuality. Which is an interesting thought, considering that I know I will never be accepted as anything other than heterosexual by my family. Having fought for so long to simply be accepted as a sexual being (though I’m still not sure that has even been accepted – it is simply not discussed now), I have no desire to take the fight any further.
I wonder if these terms of academic discourse ultimately help or hinder the understanding of queer/sexual/kink/race identity for those who need it most, or, for that matter, if it makes it any easier to reach those communities that need the education the most. I know how strongly people become attached to certain labels, identities, and ideals: passionate advocates for their cause. But should we be splitting our race and society further into tinier, more specific boxes, or can we find “enough similarities” with which to fundamentally understand and support each other?
Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.
I am human, therefore nothing human is strange to me.
Taiwanese-American, a female, submissive, kinky, sadomasochistic, a top, a bottom, a tech geek, a web designer, a college graduate, an artist, a biologist, a tinkerer, shy, quiet, tentative, anti-social, curious, sexual, thin, round-faced, a tomboy, feminine, crazy, moody, introverted, reflective, thoughtful, selfish, fickle, independent, hungry, anal, obsessive, detail-oriented, spacey, near-sighted, funny, a bookworm, a science fiction/fantasy lover, a lover, a dork, realistic, idealistic, a homebody, hypersexual, young, a rope nut, a naturalist, a friend, a listener, a billiards player, a board game lover, a romantic, naive, solitary, intelligent, optimistic, amiable, hedonistic.
- What do the terms queer, cisgender, cissexism, heteronormative, heteroflexible, genderqueer, pansexual (whatever applies) mean to you?
- Is it important for you to identify as one or more of these, or as another sexual/kink/LGBT-term? How are they relevant to your identity?
- How do you describe yourself?