This week, we will finally get to see the second movie installment of the FIFTY SHADES phenomenon. The FIFTY SHADES DARKER previews are lush, extravagant, and filled with erotic imagery that surrounds co-protagonists Ana Steele and kinky billionaire Christian Grey. The preview has Ana and Christian declaring, “no rules, no punishments.” The visuals foreshadow the rise of a romantic thriller with multiple peaks and valleys that’ll surely be peppered with Ana biting her lip or “hitching” her breath, and most certainly losing her panties in public. The first YouTube official preview for this second FIFTY SHADES film currently has more than 17.6 million hits. Yet, despite the millions of dollars the books and films have raked in, and despite all the profits off of FIFTY SHADES sex toys and all the online hits on the previews, there still remain eye rolls upon eye rolls and a ton of tea sipping types of shade about the FIFTY SHADES franchise for so many, particularly those of us who are active and/or identify as activists in the Leather, BDSM, and kink communities.
As an Out and Proud documentarian and activist for the Leather community, and as the Vice President of Leather Archives & Museum as well as a S/M player, I feel constant obligation to observe and review those kinky things that register within the mainstream (or what some call the “vanilla community.”), and all the attention showered on FIFTY SHADES has forced me to pay it more attention than I desire or require as part of my Leather journey. When the books first hit the United States, I worked in administrative positions at a private Chicago university, and I was “out” as a Leatherperson, S/M player and bisexual to anyone who asked about my big ole lace up boots, my leather wrist cuffs, the bruises that often dappled my arms. I was open about my lifestyle to anyone who noted that, last week, I went on a date with a woman named Hillary and this week a dude named David has sent “Ms. Christina” a bouquet of flowers. In my Leather activism, I use my legal name, so I am easy to find on Facebook and Twitter, much to my mother’s chagrin. (Hot damn, I have lots of Leather brothers who look hot as fuck in leather jock straps…how can my mother “hate” to see that roll through her feed???) As the adage says, “I am my brother’s [and sister’s] keeper,” and, thus, my choice to be out as a “Femme Leatherman” is my attempt to try and hold space for anyone who meets me and doesn’t know to whom they might ask a follow up kink or Leather-related question or where to go to try the next taste of kink. I am there to answer questions and encourage them to attend a munch, slosh, or workshop at the local dungeon or weekend kink event or a local Leather bar…and to provide those answers in a non-predatory, no-follow-up-necessary manner.
I felt it was my responsibility to read the FIFTY SHADES books because my staff and our college’s students were reading them, and I didn’t want to affirm or contradict something in the books without having first-hand knowledge what was actually inside. The works of E.L. James brought about several closed door discussions with my young staff and our graduate student population regarding consent and where to go to safely learn techniques, where they’d be least embarrassed to go and buy something like “this” or “that,” and how to locate those non-professionals who also wish to explore “this type” of sexuality with them. And I was happy to risk losing my job to have these conversations because I learned early in my adulthood that sex and sexuality play very large roles in an individual’s sense of self, center of empowerment and happiness.
Here’s the truth: As a former English professor, the worst part about investing time in the FIFTY SHADES trilogy and in making a commitment to watching the film adaptations that many deem “softcore porn” is actually the writing itself—but folks reading the books for good and “naughty” masturbation fodder aren’t looking for high literature, and neither are the film’s fans. However, as a S/M player who can only dream of having her own Red Room of Pain within her home, what I am enormously disappointed in is how EL James made Christian a child of a crack addict and victim of childhood abuse, and I’m doubly disappointed that James made Christian’s mentor and former Dominant, Elena, a pedophile (taking Christian on as her submissive when he was only 15 years old). I continually wonder how, once the books shifted from on-demand print in Australia to being a contracted set of books with a publishing house to a blockbuster film with a blockbuster budget that editors somewhere along the way didn’t suggest adding a healthy, sex-positive/alternative sexuality/kinky individual into the mix. In this world James crafted, all kinky folk are broken—and this is my biggest bone with the narrative, especially since it perpetuates an inaccurate stereotype about my community’s demographics and seeks to undo the heaps of work members of my community engaged within to help revise the DSM-IV and DSM-V so that practicing or engaging in BDSM was no longer considered a mental health disorder or sickness by professional mental health practitioners. (Yeah: these updates to mental health disorder guidelines are only as recent as the 1990s. It’s not been all that long, and those of us in the community still experience the stigma constantly simply because so many still don’t understand.) Thanks to James’ broken kinky characters (coupled with the stereotypical romance novel notion that “love heals all wounds”), it will take Leather, kink and BDSM activists like me additional time to teach mainstream community that, time and time again, the scientific studies show that those who engage in kink, S/M and Leathersex are typically very happy, adjusted, and highly educated.
So, though I’m rolling my eyes and fighting to lift the stigma that comes with long-held stereotypes about folks like me—and though I’m right here standing in my big ass Wesco boots as a Leather activist and feminist who enjoys more than just the typical slap and tickle, why am I here also supporting the FIFTY SHADES phenomena and movies?
Here’s why: despite the books terrible story line and tragic writing, and despite the fact that the movies contain a lead actor who needed a shower after visiting a dungeon, there is an enormous divide between the ridiculousness of “FIFTY SHADES of fucked up” fiction that comprises the novels and films…and the badass reality that has transpired throughout the mainstream of North America for the first time ever. Now, more than ever, sex positivity, especially female sex positivity, is part of mainstream dialogue, and the notions of consent and Power Exchange (versus competition) are unapologetically visible and seen as tools for empowerment and enhanced intimacy. Many things led to this moment, but, by golly, as much as I hate to admit it, the FIFTY SHADES DARKER film coming out this week is contributing to many finding their authentic selves through sexual exploits and more open dialogues about consent. Consider this: when, before the FIFTY SHADES films, would T-Mobile have ever had a Super Bowl ad campaign that included a commercial located in a “Red Room of Pain” and with the hashtag #TheSafeWordIsUnlimited?
As the old Virginia Slims cigarette ad used to read, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” And this world where the everyday Jane and Joe know what a “safe word” is seems so much more comfortable than the one in which I lived when I opened the door and came out of the kink closet.
I officially lost my virginity in Norman, Oklahoma during the 1991 Anita Hill Senate hearings, which publicly answered questions regarding the ways then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas verbally violated the consent of Hill and at least four other women staffers in sexist and blatantly misogynist ways. Thomas did so as a supervisor at the Department of Education and EEOE. It was a complex moment for men and women because Hill’s testimony, which included very explicit sexual statements, were said a by a woman (oh, heavens!); AND broadcast on daytime television. Through her testimony, Hill represented many women who’d needed to thwart a boss’ ongoing advances, and she unapologetically demanded the Senate and society respect a woman’s right to say “no” and for supervisors and those in places of authority to treat a woman’s experience of injustice and harassment (by a male co-worker) seriously…and then for those within the positions of authority to act accordingly. Of course, in the end, in 1991, despite her strength and transparency, Anita Hill’s integrity was the one that was questioned, and Clarence Thomas’ nomination was approved…and Thomas still serves on the U.S. Supreme Court. Anita Hill overtly, calmly and clearly telling future Vice President Joe Biden and members of that Senate about how a future Supreme Court justice once asked her (as supervisor to staff member) if there were a public hair on his Coke can mark a significant moment where it was clear to young women like me that there were other women out there who were tired of having their consent repeatedly violated via sexual harassment by, well, most men around them…and Hill, a woman of color, leaning into that microphone to speak to a sea of older, mostly-white male U.S. Senators, showed women of my generation that there were other women out there who were also no longer going to stand for being blamed for giving men “mixed signals” that “obviously” signaled to men that sexual overtures and harassing talk were invited. A door finally opened and, while Anita Hill, a lawyer and law professor at the time, became the butt of many jokes for many people uncomfortable with seeing a woman self advocate for full and equal rights for women, Hill was also a new hero and comfort to women like me who needed to see firsthand another woman make it clear that, as a woman, my voice mattered and that I had the right to be heard and respected…and that I always have the right to say “no,” and for my “no” to be respected.
In October 1991, as Anita Hill gave her testimony, I was a college student a month away from turning 20 years old, and I’d never touched a penis prior to this, didn’t know a big dick from a small one. I couldn’t tell you if I liked the look, touch and scent of cut versus uncut cock, let alone ever had my face close enough to a dick to know what one might smell or taste like. As a bisexual kid who grew into a young adult during the ‘80s, hanging out with lots of her gay brothers who began their sexual journeys terrified by the specter of AIDS and who studied with female friends who’d had one or two abortions before age 18, I’d decided to wait until I felt I had a good grasp on safe sex and birth control research before I added sex to my pastimes. I’ve always been a thorough researcher, and, though I lost many opportunities with many hot people, I’d always said “no” (and been heard), and I’ve never regretted my choices because they led me to be the feminist Leather activist I am today.
I’d grown up in that 1980s alternative not-punk, not-yet-Goth era some called “New Wave,” wearing all black and pancake makeup, going through two cans of hairspray a week, and spending my spare time with fake IDs in the industrial and acid dance houses and warehouses of Chicago as well as the northside gay bars where no one checked a young woman’s ID, especially when she sported black, knee high leather boots under her short skirt. These were some of the same spaces that S/M players mixed, mingled and met for tricks, and, while I likely mingled and made out in dark corners with many S/M players, I never actually thought about how a flogger or pair of handcuffs on a man’s left hip or a padlocked chain on someone’s neck signaled something about consent or kink…fashion and flagging overlapped. So, in 1991, in Norman, Oklahoma, when this man who agreed to relieve me of my virginity yanked me by my arm to his bed, blindfolded me with one of his used tube socks the second time we fucked, then stuffed another dirty sock in my mouth, choked me and bound my hands with rope another time the same weekend, I simply luxuriated in these new realms of pleasure and wanted to go deeper and have him push that delicious tasting dick deeper into me. We never negotiated or had wine-soaked discussions at a long conference table about implements, diet or bodily marks (as Christian and Ana have in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY)—all I was told while he undressed me was to let him know if I didn’t like something…and I trusted him because I’d also known him for a few years and knew his word was always good. (Only a year before, while camping and sharing a tent, I’d said “no,” and he respected my wishes with no hint of resentment.) His eye was always watchful, even when we weren’t dating and at times when we resided in the “riend zone.” It wasn’t until years later, while being interviewed for a magazine, that I pieced together how my place within Leather, kink and BDSM activism was solidified in October 1991 as I was introduced to the art of fucking during the Senate hearing breaks of this 20th century feminist milestone event. I had no idea that what I was doing in the various rooms of this man’s apartment (and his neighbor’s apartment…and a bit in a booth at a college bar) was considered “subversive” by many of my feminist sisters, let alone described as “kinky,” and I never realized that my sexual journey started with a statement from my first male partner about how I needed to articulate my consent and self advocate for my pleasure.
Here, too, is where I must give FIFTY SHADES props, especially when it comes to the film. When Christian decides they must “correct” Ana’s longstanding virginity (and Ana doesn’t protest), he unwraps her clothing slowly and deliberately, and he places his mouth in her muff before he shoves his dick inside…something most females find atypical in mainstream heterosexual hook ups and sex. He kisses “her sex” (as James calls it in the books) and shows support of her having pleasure and, in doing so, makes a pledge to be conscious of her pleasure and to celebrate, if not seek out, her sources of pleasure. More, during this first “date,” Christian is fully transparent about his kink identity…he might be the Dominant, but he flies her to his home in Seattle, hands her the key and gives her the “choice” to open that door to the Red Room Of Pleasure,and he makes it clear that she can leave his home whenever she wants. (She stays.) He wants her to see that this isn’t just a little thing he sometimes does with a flogger and some fuzzy handcuffs found in the local Lovers Lane clearance rack—this is a full way of life for him and something that has deep meaning and significance to him. He wants consent—and he needs consent both legally and as a S/M and Power Exchange player (versus a rapist or criminal sadist). But what’s more, he craves submission and sexual pliancy that’s given with Free Will. And each time they play, the FIFTY SHADES filmmakers make it very, very clear that it is with Ana’s full consent. Out of Ana Steele has come a new world for many women and many couples…and it is not one I’d ever imagined back when I began my BDSM exploits.
As that man to whom I gave my virginity made me spit on his dick to lube it up before easing it in my mouth for the first time (“No teeth,” he whispered while stoking my hair—there are some things so grossly sweet they’re hard to forget), I didn’t know that my adulthood and feminism were straddling the Second and Third waves of feminism, and I had no idea how S/M and Leather dykes only a decade earlier had fought many of their feminist sisters in the Sex Wars and Porn Wars about whether one could engage in S/M or kink (or, for that matter, use a dildo and not be considered a sister who’d succumbed to the phallic metaphor that represents the Patriarchy) and still be considered a “feminist.” Nope: my older feminist and Leather sisters fought so I didn’t need to think about these things while engaged in deep pleasure. I just knew I loved the way my pussy felt while fucking (and, more aptly, while being fucked by someone who had no problem flipping me onto all fours and ramming me like a jackhammer while holding me in place by my hair) and with a man’s mouth and tongue exploring my cunt’s lips and all the valleys that all led to my clit. I especially adored the vulnerability I felt when he took away my sight or ability to use my hands—this sort of controlled loss of control turned me on to the point where my body wasn’t big enough for the pleasure rolling through my veins…and how it all seemed so organic. While, now, as a Leather activist, I have enormous and deep appreciation for those women who never deviated from their sex positivity and joy of piggish S/M play,—even while losing friendships with their former sisters in feminist solidarity—I also feel forever grateful that I was lucky enough to have someone conscientiously and respectfully open a door I’d waited a long, long time to open…and that, just as I’d dreamed since a young girl of thirteen making out with her female best friend (also while being choked and, sometimes, while engaged in forms of grappling;), the man who “corrected” my state of virginity took me through that door with care and with the intent to empower me to explore and embrace my hungers, whatever they might or might not be. It took me two additional partners to learn that what I enjoyed sexually was not part of the pleasure scheme for many, many others: how was I to know that not everyone likes to be choked during sex? And yet, because that first experience with kink built me from the ground up to find strength and power within my personal ownership of my sexuality, I felt the metaphorical dick drop and awkwardness that came when Guy Number Three asked me, “What the fuck are you doing?” but I felt no shame over the fact that we were simply sexually incompatible or that things like choking were, as he said, “for pervs.” Never, ever have I felt that my hungers were or are, as Christian Grey famously says in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, “Fifty shades of fucked up.” Never.
As we move into the FIFTY SHADES DARKER film, these “discussions” surrounding consent will be taken to a new level, and the question of the “source” of being “fifty shades of fucked up” becomes less about Christian’s kinkiness and more about what he’d endured in non-consensual arenas of his life. Christian’s hunger to give his lover deep pain and punishment is put in comparison to the role consent plays in the contemporary workplace when Ana, a young and new staff member, must endure her employer’s romantic and sexual overtures repeatedly. And the highly-creepy romantic language of a kinky lover declaring He wants Her to be “all mine” and blatant professions of stalker-like chivalry, including things like, “I am incapable of leaving you alone” will be contrasted by the irrational behavior of a triggered, emotionally unhealthy woman (yes: the one with the gun in the previews) who once heard those words whispered to by Christian…and now craves hearing them again. (Ah, yes: another broken kinky person to bring forth discussions regarding consent and the kink community’s mental health. ~sigh~) Most will not easily understand that these more thriller-esque narrative conflicts in FIFTY SHADES DARKER are meant to show the “grey” in mainstream society’s definitions of what is “normal,” and, in fact, that there are many positive lessons learned via a kink journey, but, when we look really hard, they are actually there in the FIFTY SHADES books and movies. And, for those who get super excited by the idea of losing panties in a public space, well, the film appears to be a well-lit and well-framed primer that might help one gain the pro-tips needed to shift that sort of quick-get-commando trick into their big ole bag of sexy moves (i.e., the infamous bra removal scene in Flashdance that so many women attempted to imitate in the 1980s). But here’s the cool thing about the kink and Leather community: we celebrate all kink, even if it’s not our personal brand of kink. In the end, authenticity is what’s sexy.
INTERMISSION. When I returned to the living room with my cigar torch, ready to have him punch up a second round of sticks, he was standing there in nothing but a pair of pink polka dot panties. I could not help but notice just how hairy his well manicured toes appeared—they seem so exposed in this room now that it is suddenly filled with silence and stillness. He had prepared for me and for this moment with great calculation and meticulousness, and that is something I find amazingly sexy. This man who’d butchly discussed cigars and his preference for Scotch over bourbon and who’d let me run my hand over the velvety smooth bulb of his clean shaven head while he sat on my floor and talked about his life as a pilot only moments earlier now clearly showed me that, even in the silence that prefaced our meet up, he’d thought about me. This man who was one of the few who knew how to undo all hooks and ties of a high femme’s old school lingerie and who knew who went first when going up or down a set of stairs and who constantly walked on the street side of the pavement had suddenly fallen into girl headspace. Here she now stood, legs apart, hands clasped before her, head down, and wearing frillier panties than I currently sported under my cocktail dress, begging to be seen.
“I wore these just for you,” she said quietly. “Do you they please you, Miss?”
And they do. Her towering 6’3” is nervous and shy now, and she is showing me something that, likely, not many other people in the world have ever had the honor to learn about this beautiful being. I make her look at herself in my door mirror, meet her own eyes, and call herself pretty; I put eyeshadow, lipstick and a flower hair bandana on her and call her “beautiful.” She nearly cries. Her softness is as hyper-feminine as my Leather brothers’ hyper masculinity on Gear nights in the backroom at the local Leather bar. I recline her, this girl, gently onto my bed, dappling her face with soft, nurturing kisses, and slowly pull her panties down and off her hairy legs, only to stuff them in her mouth and listen to her whimper while I tie her hands together with a small hank of red jute rope tucked under my mattress.
Cock grabbed from off the dresser, then locked and loaded into my harness, I use my stiletto to nudge her onto her belly, then on her knees, lube the living hell out of my strap on and her well-cleaned out, well waxed asshole, and plow her until she uses his tongue to push her panties from her mouth and gulp through her tears of pleasure. I try and match her rhythm as she begs and begs and begs me to free her hands so she can stroke her “little clit” all while I peg her to the state of near hyperventilation that she loves. She’s been good, but not good enough to set her hands free, and she’s also not been good enough for me to snap that gorgeous thick dick into chastity while we move onward to our evening’s festivities. I make her suffer in restraints until I come, and she thanks me for it while moving to the bathroom to remove the makeup smeared across her face as she slowly transformed back to the man with whom I smoked cigars.
Now, twenty-five years after my first conscious kink experience and that first time of being Seen by another, I often find it difficult to remember those first transcendent moments of clarity that came with kink, power exchange and S/M. I’ve taken so many deep trips down the rabbit hole that very little surprises me any more, very few S/M or sexual “dares” feel like edge play or something risky or “new” to me; public nudity (mine or others) is like a Tuesday at the Laundromat; and watching live public sex of all kinds is as commonplace in my life as the evening news. Because I identify as Leather and live in this world daily and at all times (including within my professional work), I find I now must work hard to remember those first moments where I realized the joys and sorrows that came with learning that kink was the main thing that got me off…and that I wasn’t alone. While the SLEEPING BEAUTY series, VENUS IN FURS, THE STORY OF O and Madonna’s SEX book served as my catalog of the Possibilities in the ‘90s and proved to me that I was not alone during those early kink years as a college student in Champaign-Urbana, the trail head markers for this generation’s kinky folk and kink curious—and the source of empowerment for females who’ve grown tired of male-orchestrated, mediocre, all-about-his-dick-and-jizz—come (no pun intended) for many in the form of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY trilogy. Like it or not, we who live in this world of Leather, kink, BDSM and/or fetish and consider it “everyday life” must learn to use FIFTY SHADES as a tool to begin conversations with the un-initiated or newly initiated about healthy and consensual kink, and we must celebrate the fact that new people are embracing their kinky selves or finally—finally!—coming out after so many years of frustration and private suffering and just now finding out how much joy they can experience through sex and pleasure on their own terms.
The books—and now, the movies (which seem to have brought the phenomena to men who’d refused to read the books—ah, heterosexual date nights!) have democratized female sexuality to the point where a woman can unapologetically read the book while working out at the gym or riding to and from work on the train…something Anita Hill likely never imagined would be one of the results of her testimony at the Senate hearings on Clarence Thomas. While, for generations, women have been told that men have a “one track mind” and high sex drive, now, finally, today’s women can dog ear a page of a black-bound book, look at the man who inappropriately thinks the book is permission for him to ask her whether she’s “into that” and for her to unapologetically say (should she care to take the time), “Yes. I like sex, and I like lots of sex. And I know what I want and know how to get it. But, to be clear: I don’t want you.” Back when I was 19 years old and living in rural Champaign-Urbana, I would’ve given anything to locate anyone other than the flirty older men at the local sex shops and porn rental stores who usually routed me to a swinger cork board filled with handwritten note cards or who left me feeling awkwardly and unusually “icky” about a being sexually hungry woman. I wonder who I might have been if I’d been able to locate one other woman in my city who also enjoyed kink…I know there had to be someone out there, but didn’t know where to find her, and, clearly, she also never found me.
So, here’s the deal: while the FIFTY SHADES narrative has Christian forcing Ana to sign a non-disclosure agreement and, essentially, Ana being banned from talking to others about what they do sexually and in the Red Room of Pain, it’s what the FIFTY SHADES books and movies are doing to folks in the real world that should bring about some celebrating. Women who are turned on by Ana’s journey are flocking in droves to local feminist sex shops, buying more sex toys, investing in higher quality lube, and attending classes that de-mystify the activities and implements in the books and movies. Daytime talk show television has daily segments about the upcoming FIFTY SHADES DARKER movie, forcing TV personalities with formal broadcast journalism degrees and training to talk about female sexuality and kink in five minute segments every day…and to talk about it positively and without a hint of awkwardness.
Women are no longer exclusively feeling sexually empowered by being that “Woman On Top.” Just like Lady Gaga declaring she wants to be that G.U.Y. (Girl Under You), Ana Steele shows Dominant, rich Christian how she enjoys sex and relationship dynamics (non-spoiler/spoiler: she’s not really into kink or S/M, and she definitely doesn’t have a thing for Power Exchange!), and she shows that she can self advocate for her pleasure even when she’s on the bottom. In the preview, viewers hear Ana’s new boss, Jack Hyde, ask her, “Do you want to be kept…or have respect?” Ah, Jack, let’s move through your mansplaining and cut right to the chase: Third Wave and post-Third Wave feminists—you know, those women you demean by calling them “soccer moms” and women who enjoy “Mommy porn”—now, with partial thanks to life in the FIFTY SHADES era, know damn well that being “kept” is a choice made with free will and consent…and consent is an act of respect. Thus, as Jack’s nemesis Christian Grey shows even through all his brooding and protestations about needing Ana more than he needs S/M, one can be a feminist, kept and respected all at once and without any need to apologize to anyone.
The images I have of women going in groups to watch FIFTY SHADES DARKER and sipping wine together while talking about what parts of the books or movies make them hot or what types of toys/toy props in the movies are also in their bedroom closet, and discussing the ways they are exploring their sexuality–even if they never do a kinky thing in their life–is something beautiful to contemplate and behold: it shows that, increasingly, woman are gaining a deeper understanding of their bodies and their physical, emotional and psychological needs, and they are getting more comfortable with being sexy for themselves and sexy as themselves (rather than for the male gaze or in hopes of attracting a potential partner) and advocating for the sex they truly desire…and that is something that can only enhance every other relationship and interaction in their daily lives and bring a deeper sense of strength and empowerment to women. A woman without sexual shame and with a strong grasp her own sexuality is badass and dangerous and someone we can all celebrate.
So, Friday, as all the jokes begin to roll in late night television monologues about FIFTY SHADES DARKER, I may be rolling my eyes at the movie and its inaccurate characterization of those who reside in the kink communities, but I will also most certainly be cheering on the women leaving the theaters across our nation as they think about “what else” they want to give a good, long try but, until now, were always afraid to mention aloud or seek with the intent to actually find. My hope is that there is always someone conscientious and caring on the other side of that sexual or kink equation that help make her stronger than when she began the journey.
CODA. He had a fetish for heels and stockings, and, because of the way he’d make me feel so Free during blood play or in his ropes, I was happy to indulge his desires. I’d cut my hair into Bettie Page bangs and shifted from a redhead to a brunette to please him and to obey his command, and I’d learned to drink tequila and margaritas rather than bourbon because that’s what he preferred to have in his home and prepare for me as a reward after a long day of work. I brought Cuban heels to wear at the event that night and, while he went downstairs to socialize, I spent a good 10 minutes standing in front of a mirror and fighting to get the seams just right and the garter hooks perfectly placed parallel to one another on the front and back, and I continued to fuss with them as I slipped them into my black buckle up heels. I wanted him to be proud when I stood next to him.
Downstairs, I wander about introducing myself to the people also attending the event. This is a new town for me, so I know no one. He is talking with an old friend; their heads are bowed down, clearly in some sort of conversation. I am hungry and eyeing all that is laid out in a potluck against the wall, and I am hoping he decides we will eat…because I am not allowed to eat until he takes his first bite.
He sees me and excuses himself from the discussion. I am examined, and my appearance is considered presentable. He kisses me and tells me I’m the prettiest girl in the room, then walks me away from the food and toward the middle of the space. Turning me away from him, in the middle of the crowd that is just finishing dinner, he unzips my dress and asks me to remove it. He has taught me to fold my garments whenever I discard them, and I’ve become accustomed to stacking my clothes in the exact order that I’d put them back on my body.
He stands before me and watches as I pull the dress from off my shoe’s heel spike and I begin to fold my black cocktail dress. I am aware that, in this moment, I am the only person in the room in any state of undress, and it makes me stand a bit more upright and locked upon him. I try to read him, but he has a poker face. Suddenly I have no sight and I am being choked to near black out by the base of a leather hood. Though I know better, I struggle, and a boot toe on the back of my knee knocks me to the ground. I’m told not to struggle…so, of course, I try and stand up and run away. My stockings scrape across the hardwood floor, and I feel them snag. I lose a shoe and my garter belt slips down my hips to an awkward position but, as I go to adjust the waist, my arms are bent back and I feel the handcuffs snap against my wrists. I continue to kick and slither blind across the floor but, eventually, thick hands flip me on my stomach, a boot plants on my neck, and my ankles are clasped in cuffs.
The room is now silent except for murmurs. I call my Sir’s name. “He is not here,” is all a man’s voice says to me. Two sets of hands, one for each handcuff set, raise me and carry me like a pig on a spit up two flights of stairs and into a room that echoes. At some point, the floor is all shag carpet, and the men deliberately drag me for a stretch so my nose and cheek scrape against the fibers just long enough to have rug burn the rest of the night.
I scream and wriggle to try and get free, but their strength is no match to mine. I am so wet I fear I’ll drip down my leg and onto the carpet. I don’t know which would bring the most violence against me in this moment: my fighting to get free or visible arousal. All is beyond my control.
Thrown onto a seat and tethered even more firmly into place, I am told to answer questions or face punishment. I do not understand the questions at first, and I keep asking for clarifications. I am told I should understand. My answers must be wrong, so, at first, each time I answer, I lose my breath as someone punches me so hard in the chest that my chair moves backward. I am punched so hard once I begin to slip from the chair, and someone shoves me back into a position where both ass cheeks hit the chair. My shoulders are straightened for me by gruff, seemingly leather-clad hands, and I’m left feels a bit less like a woman and more like a doll. I call again for my Sir, but there is no reply. I am confused by his absence, and for a moment, I am concerned that what’s occurring isn’t within our power exchange’s parameters—we’d not discussed me engaging in play beyond those with whom I’d already played and he’d already known and vetted. Guilt hit a moment, but the feel of a finger yanking one of my bra straps down arouses me, and so I let go and wait, wholly aware of the divide between my skin and the air.
I am asked something about my Sir—something simple, but I am so disoriented by the take down and sensory deprivation that I give the wrong answer. I hear the unmistakable sound of a staple gun and feel an odd thud in my arm. And I realize: this isn’t a punishment…this is the reward I’d begged to have for several weeks now. This isn’t a take down and interrogation scene: it is for my pleasure! I moan and then laugh, knowing now the context for the violence. In joy, I have a moment of full transparency. I shout, “A staple gun! Wow! That didn’t hurt as much as I thought.”
In the silence, I hear the sound of one quiet female voice, “Oh, honey…” is all she says. Her voice makes it clear I’m not alone here.
There is sudden and quick movement. Someone grabs my arms so hard I have fingerprint bruises across my biceps and triceps for two weeks. They turn my chair a new direction. And I am pummeled by staple gun staples until I am screaming unconsciously and begging for them to stop. I hear a crowd of folks, some groaning and some cheering. I cannot tell how many people are playing with me. I cannot tell if there is one staple gun or multiple staple guns. I cannot tell who is in the room. I don’t know where I am. I cannot tell who is asking me the interrogation questions. I cannot tell how much time has passed. I know I’m filled with metal and that the staples have begun to get itchy in some places. And I don’t know what will happen next or who will be doing it to me or, other than a safe word, how this is meant to end.
Finally, I answer a question correctly. The room bursts into applause, and the hood is finally removed from my head. My Sir has been there by my side the whole time; he has been one of my torturers, along with two of his other friends. The room clears and, in the quiet, my Sir moves around me, covering me in kisses as he slowly removes every staple individually, washes my blood-caked skin then wipes me over with BZK antiseptic wipes. He calls me his “good girl” more than once and, within my pain-based euphoria, my heart and mind fly.
He carries me like a child to our room, which has no door. He undresses me and folds my clothing just as I would and rests it in the sex sling in the corner, rather than on the room’s dresser. I know this means I still won’t rest. He flips me about and fucks me so hard and for so long that it takes nearly a half hour to regain the ability to walk down the hall to piss and tame my makeup enough so that we might return to the public spaces. Folks stand in our room’s doorway the entire time I am used. He has moved me about that space in ways that ensure that all interested have seen every inch of me. I no longer have anything I can hide from anyone at this event. And I am proud he wishes for others to see me this used and objectified and that he wants to push me this far and hard and to show others at the event that he has a strong, strong girl.
At work on Monday, I wear a sweater over my blouse. During breaks, I go into the bathroom and look at the rainbow-colored bruises. I saunter back to my cubicle never feeling more powerful or more like myself.
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