Trigger Warning: Mention of rape, assault, sexual violence, coercive sex, manipulation both in real and fantasy contexts
For a long time, I have struggled with violent fantasies. Fantasies of rape, kidnapping, public non-consensual groping, power play, fantasies of gangbangs, humiliation, possession, incest, and more, I promise you, much more, have gotten me off for longer than I can remember. A vague sense of guilt has accompanied these fantasies—a feeling that as a woman and a feminist, I am somehow betraying myself, that I should get wet for enthusiastic consent, not violent or non-violent coercion scenarios.
In the past few years, I have been probing this distinction. Like many or perhaps even most women, I have been sexually manipulated, I have been coerced into sex, or I have uneasily gone along with it in order to fulfill some questionable social obligation that I felt at the time. I have been catcalled and I have been touched against my will in my sleep. I once received a phone call early in the morning, wherein a young man told me he knew how I liked it rough in the mornings, he knew what I wanted in the mornings, that I wanted to suck his hard cock. I have been raped, and of course it wasn’t simple, but complicated. These events of disempowerment were truly disempowering—and I promise you this seemingly redundant wording is purposeful. I felt sickened, trapped, horrified, confused, angry, used, defeated, panicked, and traumatized. Disempowerment, true disempowerment, is traumatizing.
Yet I am the same person who masturbates to the idea of rape, who gets wet to the idea of being choked on a cock, who comes to the fantasy of being force-fucked without a condom, who comes ten times harder when her fear of pregnancy is invoked.
These imaginings of disempowerment are not truly disempowering and here’s why: Ultimately I am in control. I am in control of these scenes. They are not events. I would like to make a distinction between these terms “events of disempowerment,” and “scenes/scenarios of disempowerment.” An event of disempowerment features real disempowerment, real lack of control, real helplessness, real fear, and real trauma. A scene of disempowerment is a false disempowerment, in which the person imagining it is in full control, in which the imaginer can stop the scene at anytime.
This dichotomy can be further complicated when considering kinky scenes of disempowerment that are enacted with a partner. Even when all involved have given enthusiastic consent at the outset of a kinky scene, the enactment of a kinky scene can cross over the line between fantasy and intention and it can then become an event, a potentially traumatizing one. This line is very thin. Masturbation is the safest way to ensure a scene of disempowerment will not become an event of disempowerment because there are no other people involved. Even when the people involved have the best of intentions, enacting scenes of disempowerment with a partner can be treacherous terrain.
Kinky sex with a partner can be wonderful, hot, and very special, but having another person involved, even with safety precautions in place, even with a safe word and a safe sign, can sometimes cross over into dangerous territory if the bottom does not, for some reason, feel comfortable using their safe word. They might feel that they would be disappointing the other person, or things might be going too fast, like a train they do not feel capable of stopping. Or if they have been disempowered in small, gendered ways all their lives, they might simply find that with another person, they cannot remember how to communicate, they might fall back into a lifelong pattern of being accommodating and allowing the other person to do what they want, they may forget in the heat of the moment that they have agency, and for them, the fantasy or scene of disempowerment that should have been safe and erotic will become unsafe, and utterly unerotic and even traumatizing.
Speaking from experience, people (like me) who are socialized as girls and women later find it difficult to express what they themselves want, having never before been asked or even allowed to have an opinion on anything important in life, let alone sex. We are conditioned to be kind, forgiving, accommodating. We are socialized to give men what they want. And men, forgive me for a little bias, are socialized to take what they want. The man’s pleasure, the man’s orgasm is emphasized in pornography and even informational videos on sex. The popular myth that women don’t like sex, or that they are difficult to operate machinery sexually is alive and well in our culture (think of sitcom moms withholding sex… Like I could ever withhold sex! I need it just as much as anybody else!) The focus on heterosexual relationships in every form of media out there, and the overwhelming assumption that the MAIN EVENT is penetrative Dick In Vagina sex contributes to the idea that women are a vehicle for men’s sexual pleasure, objects to be used, consumed, watched, and fucked.
And so women and men have to be especially careful when engaging in kinky play. They have all these years of history and socialization to contend with. A woman may feel uncomfortable saying her safe word because it feels like saying ‘no’—and we know how much more difficult it is for a woman to say no in any given scenario, especially to a man, when there is an inherent danger to doing so, and where she has been conditioned all her life to simply let these things happen to her, to just let the will of the men around her bat her around from place to place. It takes such courage, such long hours of thinking, such energy and will to exert your own wishes upon the world as a woman, to stand firm, to look inside yourself and say, “No, this is what I want, and only I can know myself well enough to know what I want!”
All of this taken into account, this is The Sexy Creed:
1) I will have sex as much or as little as I please. I will be as sexual or as un-sexual as I like.
2) I will masturbate as much or as little as I please.
3) I will embrace my libido, however enormous or tiny it may be at any given time. I will accept these fluctuations as evidence that my body is in tune with my mind and my life at large. This is a beautiful thing. I will respect the libidos of others, whatever their size. I will respect those who do not have a libido, I will respect those who have a small libido, I will respect those who have a medium, a medium-large, a large, an enormous, and a ginormous libido. I will respect all of these libidos, and I will respect that these libidos can change. I will respect that libidos can be strange and can be activated or deactivated by many different things. I will respect the sexual needs of others.
4) I will try to love my sexy bits, even if sometimes I wish I had different ones.
5) I will not judge anyone for how many partners they have or had. I will not judge anyone for how few partners they have or had.
6) I will masturbate to whatever I damn well please.
7) I will never be ashamed of my sexual proclivities, however disempowering they may be. I will not judge anyone else for getting off to something I don’t get off to, as long as they are not imposing their sexual fantasy on another against the latter’s will and as long as they are not harming someone.
8) I will never be ashamed of what fantasies and scenes of disempowerment make me come. In fact, I will be fucking proud of the fact that I am able to come and that I know myself well enough to know just what makes me come the hardest. I will celebrate my Awesomely Weird Sexual Self. I will celebrate coming as hard as I possibly can and imagining whatever I need to imagine to make that happen!
9) I will never force my fantasies on anyone else. I vow not to harm another person in pursuit of my own sexual pleasure. To that end, I will tread carefully when enacting any fantasy with another person. I will use safe words or signs (when gags are involved). I will communicate with the other person in detail. I will have a conversation about this very topic, fantasy and intention and the complications therein, before enacting a scene. I will listen and to be open.
10) I will communicate honestly and openly about my sexual desires with my partner.
11) I will not feel guilty about having some separate fantasies for masturbation that I don’t necessarily share or enact with my partner or anyone else. I am my own person, and I deserve to have some fantasies of my own!
12) I will try stick up for myself, even when it goes against my socialization, especially in sexual situations.
13) I will take the time to meditate and reflect on what I want and need, separate from the wants and needs of others. I will take the time to get to know myself, my wants, and my needs, and so doing I will consider these things worthy of knowing. I will take the time to communicate these wants and needs and this inner self to my partner.
14) I will have fucking good sex!
15) I will have fucking good solo time!
16) I am the only expert on me, and you are the only expert on you. Forever and ever, Amen.
Note: This is my Sexy Creed. Maybe you have other needs, considerations, or beliefs for your creed. I invite you to write them down and to create your own Sexy Creed. I invite you to share or not share your creed as you like. And I invite you to let me know of any statements I’ve forgotten in the comments below.