Tags » ‘submission’
December 30th, 2014 by Professor Chaos
A few nights ago, I, in my infinite grace and majesty, took a tumble down the stairs, the result of which is a significant bruise above my rump. The bruise is enormous–bigger than any I’ve ever had before, and is dark purple which Wikipedia tells me is called Byzantium.
This, among other things, has got me to thinking about marks.
I love leaving marks on H2O2, of all kinds. I carefully apply lipstick only for the purpose of leaving prints of my lips all over his face. I beat his ass to a lovely Byzantine shade, not unlike the one mine currently sports. Afterwards, every time he sits down, each resulting wince will remind him of me. I leave bite marks all over him. I write on his body–his chest, his ass, his cock. Loud and lovely proclamations that he is mine.
But marks fade. They are transient by nature. This seems like it should bother me, but it doesn’t. Their impermanence compels me to reapply them, frequently, in new and creative configurations; each kiss, each scribble, each bite a sign of my desire made manifest upon his body. My love emblazoned upon him, evidence that, despite whatever may come, I was here, this happened.
Chaos Was Here
December 18th, 2013 by Professor Chaos
Tonight will be intense. Tonight I will pull from him a fluid manifestation of his pain, but I am not going for blood. No, tonight, I will go for tears.
My voice is calm, my demeanor methodical, though my heart is pounding and my stomach is fluttering. This is unusual for me. Normally, I am unable to hold back my laughter during play, my joy uncontainable, my smiles so wide they hurt my face. Tonight, however, I am nervous; I have never intentionally made a partner cry before, but I am determined to do so now. I am wielding my “mean stick” as he calls it. Similar to a wooden night stick, it’s something like a cross between a cane and a paddle. Heavy and very, very cruel, it is one of my favorite toys.
My most favorite toy is lying on the bed, face down, naked except for his purple boxer briefs. Purple is my favorite color. He knows this, and that’s why wears them. This makes me smile. I aim right below the curve of his ass, above the line of the shorts.
He moans into the pillow, already in pain. “No warm up tonight?” he asks. Tonight is not about gentleness or slowly building pain. Tonight is about intensity. Tonight is about tears. “I am warming you up,” I say. “I could be hitting you so much harder.” I raise my arm above my head to demonstrate.
He twists and screams. “It hurts. IT HURTS.” I remain impassive, although I smile freely now, my endorphins overpowering my nervousness. I know it hurts. That’s the point.
My heart continues to race–no longer with agitation, but with excitement. My dominance is substantiated more as sensuality than sadism, and indeed I have never really considered myself much of a sadist. I do not think I am a very effective or skillful top. I do not think about ramping up the pain or whether something will sting or thud. I merely consider what I want, and then? I take it. And tonight, I am taking his tears.
“I. DON’T. LIKE. IT.”
“Hold still,” I tell him. He’s writhing around on the bed, and I’m having trouble aiming. I want to hit him repeatedly in the same place, to break through his body and tear the emotions from his soul and the tears from his eyes. But he won’t hold still. I move down his thighs. This hurts him more, and I know it.
“I want you to stop, I WANT YOU TO STOP,” he is sobbing. But it is dry sobbing. No tears yet. “That’s not the safe word,” I tell him. He moans: “I know.” I’m not stopping.
“It’s not about what you want,” I tell him. “I KNOW,” he cries.
My arm is getting tired, but I am resolute. No stopping. No stopping just yet.
“There are tears,” he sobs. “I’m crying for you, Boss.” I turn him over and see his face, red. For a moment, I think he’s messing with me–he is, by his own admission, “a bit of a brat.” But he’s not bratting me this time: I see a tear trickle down his cheek, a hard won spoil. The sight of it makes my heart do things I can only try to articulate, and I am awash with feelings which are raw and unfamiliar. They are, in a word, intense.
I gather him up in my arms, my brave, beautiful boy, broken by me, and hold him.
“Thank you,” he whispers.
We haven’t said our first “I love yous” to one another, but my heart is bursting with it. I do not think now is the time for those words, so I hold his face and make him look into my eyes, emoting as hard as I can. He senses my emotions and responds, quietly. “You’re very special to me, too.” His voice is ragged and my eyes prick. I wonder if I will cry, too, but I don’t. Tonight, the tears are his alone. I merely marvel at his beauty, his vulnerability, and my fortune that he is mine.
September 18th, 2012 by Professor Chaos
Don’t come to me on your knees
(If I want you there, rest assured, that’s where you’ll end up)
Come to me with your back straight, your head held high
As I find the thrill of victory so sweet
Don’t be afraid–
I won’t bite you (unless you like it)
I won’t hurt you (unless you like it)
I won’t mock you (unless you like it)
And unless we’ve talked about it first.
Don’t tell me how worthless you are
How pitiable you are
And then ask me to own you.
I only own things of value.
Don’t expect anything
Don’t presume anything
Don’t demand anything–
Remember that if this is going to work, then I am going to be the demanding one
Don’t treat me like a fantasy,
Don’t try to make me into your fantasy.
Maybe, if you are lucky, I will make you into mine.
Don’t tell me that you think I’d be good for you,
Show me why you would be good for me.
I may be a pervert, but I am also a romantic:
Take the time to learn who I am,
Then show me you are actually interested in me
Not just some image you have of me in your head
Come to me with a smile on your lips and your hand outstretched in friendship.
Remember that I’m a lady, but I’m also just a person,
I’m not inherently better than you, and that I want this as much as you do–
Perhaps even more.
Allow me the space to be who I am,
give me what I need, and I will take what I want–
January 13th, 2012 by Fizz
“Mine,” I declared calmly, clasping his hands against my hips. My pace as I rode him was slow but insistent, and I could feel the heat building up in the wet intersection between our bodies. He seemed patient, though—too patient for my taste. I moved his hands back above his head, pinning each of his wrists firmly against the pillow, and whispered to him,
“Show me how much you want it.”
He didn’t say a word. He just wrenched first one hand free and then the other, grabbing my right arm with them and twisting it behind my back. When I fell forward onto his chest, he breathed into my ear,
“Put your other arm behind your back. Do it now.”
I swallowed and complied. He squeezed my two wrists together in one strong hand and pushed his other one through my hair, holding my head down next to his.
“Mine now,” he told me. I nodded helplessly, and resumed grinding my hips down against him as he began to thrust up faster.
So. … I’ve been switching a lot.
More than I’d realized I wanted to, even. When I talked to Leon before my first visit to him and Ali, I warned him not to get his hopes up; I was curious about bottoming but couldn’t predict whether I’d ever be in the mood to try it while I was there. I knew that there are a few typically bottomy things that I like—being pinned, grabbed, and otherwise manhandled, for example—but had never been inclined to genuinely give up control during sex.
So imagine my surprise, my first night there, when Leon was fucking me from behind and I suddenly realized that the thing I wanted absolute most at that moment was for him to grab my wrists and pin them down. And I didn’t want to ask for it—I was in no way prepared to have a conversation about it right then—I just wanted him to do it, because he wanted to and he could. Lost for words, I moved my wrists a little closer together and stretched them out, hoping he’d notice. Leon, bless his perverted heart, grabbed them. I nodded hard, to be sure he knew he’d read me right, and for the rest of the suddenly-much-hotter minute or so that we lasted I was his.
When we flopped out afterwards, I felt happy and satisfied, but also confused. Where had that come from? We experimented over the rest of the trip, approaching the same headspace from different angles—trying to find another way into it. We already knew that we liked fighting for top, but I came to realize that most of the time we both wanted him to win. I was fighting back not to gain control over him, but to make him earn control over me.
I wasn’t just refusing to submit without being beaten down first; I couldn’t. There’s a lion in me, and it bristles and roars at the suggestion that I lie down as quietly as a lapcat. I could eventually be made to take orders, but I had to be chained up or handcuffed, and usually under immediate threat of pain. Anything else would be dishonest and emotionally uncomfortable, with the intense mental dissonance that comes from playing a role that doesn’t fit.
And yet … for that minute, the first night, I wasn’t fighting and didn’t want to be. That was the closest I’d ever come to really feeling submissive, and it didn’t feel dissonant at all. It was comfortable and sexy, even while leaving me shaken by how vulnerable I’d been. Part of it was the appeal of relaxing my guard, letting go of the tension that comes with responsibility for deciding what happens next. Much of the rest was the relief of trusting Leon with that responsibility, and the delight of having that trust repaid with pleasure. As much as I was enjoying fighting him in the meantime, I kept thinking about the moment when I actually let go, and wondering how to get to that place in my head again.
It took about two months.
“Want to play?” Leon asked me, towards the end of a lazy afternoon. Just the two of us were in the apartment.
“Maybe,” I teased. “Did you have something in mind?”
“Yes.” He smiled mischievously and repeated: “Want to play?” He waited while I thought through the part he wasn’t saying: I have an idea. I refuse to tell you what it is. I want to be in charge. I think you’ll like it, but you’ll have to trust me. Do you want it?
“Yes,” I said.
Curious, I sat back and watched as he looped a piece of chain in a tight figure eight around my wrists and padlocked it there. When he was finished, he tugged on the loose end, pulling my arms around easily.
“You’re compliant today,” he observed.
I didn’t realize the answer until I said it, and then it startled me. “I don’t feel like fighting.”
Leon pulled me around a little more, noticing that I was indeed happy to let him move my wrists wherever he wished. He regarded me thoughtfully.
“I think I like you compliant.”
He tied a piece of soft dark fabric around my eyes, careful not to tug on my eyebrow piercing. Unable to pay attention to anything I was seeing, I found myself pleasantly free of the obligation to do so. My face relaxed, and instead of trying to anticipate what was coming, I sat patiently and waited to find out.
“Kneel,” he said.
Leon and I both kink hard on having someone kneel to us. It’s an unambiguous symbol of a degree of control bordering on ownership; when someone kneels to me, I feel possessive in the best way, proud of the treasure who’s offering himself to me or eager to show her off. As a gesture of submission, it is almost always given voluntarily, as opposed to taken by force. The very idea of kneeling for someone else brings out the lion in me—I can be bound, I can be beaten, I can be threatened into staying where you put me, but all of those things will be over my passionate resistance. I don’t just kneel.
The lion in my head thrashed and roared in protest. It felt muted, distant. In the space it usually occupies, I just felt curious, secure, but tense with anticipation. Leon stood in front of me with a hand on my head—he didn’t break contact, I realized later, the entire time I was blindfolded. Even without being able to see his face, I knew he was thinking about making me go down on him. Even without being able to see mine, he knew it wasn’t the right moment. I was too quiet, too thoughtful … so instead, he asked me to tell him how I felt.
I felt incredibly exposed—I think the word I used was “raw.” Like anybody, I have my public face: the bright, extroverted, always-okay one that anyone who’s met me has seen; and then a more genuine, relaxed face which I wear in smaller groups, followed in ascending order of honesty by the intimate faces which only come out in private. And then this. My defenses were as far down as they come. I wasn’t hiding anything, nor deliberately presenting anything—just being. I was also thoroughly mindful of what was going on in my own head, so caught up in observing my own feelings and responses that it was hard to pay attention to anything outside of them. The only similar experience I’d had before was a particularly deep meditation session.
I rambled to him about all of that, noticing at the same time how soft my voice was and how hard my heart was beating. He said nothing, just listened, letting me draw myself out as I tried to explain with half-articulated fragments of metaphor. It took a lot of effort to form sentences, as well as to physically say them; each of those things required pulling myself a little bit out of the slow, comfortable quiet that had settled over my mind, and bridge the normally narrow gap between my brain and his. If I’d really needed to, I could have snapped out of it, but it would have been difficult and unpleasant. I didn’t want to. This was interesting, and I was curious about it, and having given Leon responsibility for looking out for me, I felt safe taking my time to explore.
Later, after he’d taken off the chain and the blindfold, it took a good half hour of cuddling and soft conversation before I felt ready to interact like a human again. Even then, I remained calm and quiet until after we’d gone out to meet Ali and carry on with our evening. I remember realizing that this is why my local dungeon warns its volunteers to wrap up scenes well before their shifts start; I wouldn’t have trusted myself with any serious responsibility right then either.
We talked a lot afterwards, as we always do, about what had made the scene work. The blindfold was a big part of it. As a communication junkie, I had always been nervous about losing a major source of information, but in practice found it a surprising relief. Lack of ability to see means lack of responsibility to watch, and knowing I had two sources of protection (Leon’s good judgment and a safeword), I was able to let go of that responsibility without fear. This realization made me curious about playing with a gag, which I’d previously had the same concern about. Sure enough, we tried it a few weeks later, and I loved it. In retrospect, my misunderstanding was simple: it’s not only about not being able to talk, but also about not needing to. Or more precisely, about trusting that everything will be okay, even if I can’t.
The only thing in that scene that I didn’t seek to repeat was how disconnected I’d felt. I barely interacted with Leon beyond talking with him; we didn’t have sex, or do any SM. It was just intense D/s, with light bondage and a lot of conversation. While those are enjoyable, it’s not usually all we want out of a scene—we play to connect, and this experience, while fascinating, was aggressively solitary. So having succeeded in finding my way back into what was to all appearances a genuinely submissive headspace, my question was no longer “How do I do this again?” but “How do I do this a little bit less?”
There’s no turning-point anecdote about finding the answer to that; suffice it to say that we continue to experiment. I still mostly bottom to him, and am finding it easier to quiet the lion when what I really want is to give up control. That’s happened often enough for Leon to remind me that he does still like it when I fight back, and would miss it if I didn’t any more. I’d do more than miss it; it was disconcerting when I noticed that the way I’ve most often played in the last few months is contrary to the way I describe my role preference. I still identify as a dominant, and lovely experiences with Leon, Ali, and others continue to remind me how much I enjoy dominating. I just seem to also enjoy submitting, at least to the one person who’s ever successfully brought out that side of me.
When I originally wrote about the lion, I was thinking of it as a style of submission, but that interpretation is too simplistic to encompass my actual experience. The lion is the part of me that fights back against domination, yes, but it’s also the part that dominates. It has no place in the role binary because the role binary has no place for it; that’s just another false dichotomy, trying and failing to represent the world with only two categories. The lion ignores them and roams freely in my mind, coming out in whatever I do: when I’m in control, its strength gives me confidence. When someone challenges me, I resist with its ferocity. And apparently, for someone I like and trust enough, it can retract its claws and be tame.
September 5th, 2011 by Fizz
What use have I for worms?
I am no gardener.
Where I could crush with the toe of my boot,
I’m reluctant to step.
For they are hard to see, down there,
competing to wriggle the lowest.
From the height of a human it’s hard to tell one from another.
So I wait,
and watch–kindly–so as not to interrupt
as they wriggle away in search of a thing that I’m not.
I do not need a worm.
Give me the lion.
Give me the lion with the orange mane,
the teeth, the sweeping tail,
quiet paws, and the unmistakable
curve of his spine.
No housecat he, declawed and docile,
content with long-dead food.
He tears his meat with me,
‘Til I challenge him:
tossing scraps on the ground and watching his hackles rise.
We test one another.
If I do not stand over him–if I turn, and assume his obedience–
he may tear me to pieces
(and I will deserve it).
You must. Respect. The beast.
Therefore he tests
the still and wordless strength
in my gaze, and the tension I keep on the chain in my hand;
in return I test his will, and smile
when he finally lowers his head to obey me
He wears my collar, but it doesn’t make him tame.
It just makes him mine.
Astride his ferocity I am ferocious:
marking his rippling hide,
or twisting a hand through the curls of his mane to hold him.
When I mount him, and ride,
I command the world.
So keep your worms, and give me the lion.
Give me the lion, a chair and whip,
and we shall roar.
August 9th, 2011 by Professor Chaos
The BDSM blogosphere has been all aflutter lately about the devaluation of male submission. And it’s about fucking time. Because the kink scene treats male subs as if they are unwanted, uninvited guests, not recognizing the fact that they are real people with feelings of their own, that their dominant partners cherish them. Every time I see a Fetlife profile that reads “I’m not attracted to submissive men” (frequently, in my experience, on the profiles of female switches and occasionally other female dominants), my stomach clenches. They don’t seem to realize that such an attitude is linked to another problem in the scene: the tokenization of female dominants.
The public BDSM scene has a predilection towards the maledom femalesub dynamic. If you are female, you are presumed to be submissive unless stated otherwise, and if you are male, you are presumed to be dominant unless stated otherwise. (And if you are non-gender-normative, if you don’t fit in a nice little ticky-box, then the scene may accept you but not really know what to do with you.) As much as we would like to believe that the scene is a problem-free sexual utopia, it still suffers from many of the problems that mainstream society does. Straight male sexuality is prioritized, and thus straight male doms are the prevailing players in the scene. Straight male doms have no use for male subs, yet they still like female doms—they like us because we bring a certain energy to the scene and are fun to talk to and be around and because they hope that maybe we’ll co-top their girls with them and that they might be able to get into our pants.
So my sexuality is something that people in the scene can appreciate and sort of see the value in from afar. But the object of that sexuality is not accepted in the scene. While male subs are not seen as potential objects of desire, female doms are seen only as objects of desire. That’s how I feel sometimes as a femme dom in the public scene: they see me, but not my desires.
I feel like Geordi.
[Image: African-American man in a yellow Starfleet uniform, his eyes obscured by a “VISOR”, a piece of technology that allows him to see. Image source: Memory Alpha]
In Star Trek: the Next Generation, the character Geordi LaForge never got laid (this is where I out myself as a nerd, if the pseudonym and the lab coat and the giant boner for science weren’t already a dead giveaway). They had to have a character who was black and disabled, to show how progressive and inclusive they were. But they weren’t progressive enough to give him a sex life. Hollywood had this ridiculous idea about the primal, savage nature of black men, especially in relation to their sexuality. And so the closest poor Geordi ever gets to having a sexual relationship is with a holographic character, and even that is unconsummated–he gets blue-balled by his own fantasies, because oh no, if we show a black man in a sexual situation then the viewers will have to be reminded of the fact that he has a penis. We all know that there’s nothing scarier to mainstream 90’s American culture than a black man’s penis–the popularity of racist porn stemming from the eroticization of this fear belies it. (Not to mention the fact that Geordi falls right into the trope of “disabled characters don’t have a sexuality.”) Geordi and I are both welcomed in our respective communities, as long as we keep our sexual desires silent—closeted—and to ourselves.
When I meet het male doms, I always try to make it abundantly clear to them from the beginning of our association that I am not a switch, I am not interested in playing, I am not interested in co-topping girls with them, I am not interested in anything beyond friendship with them.
And often, they continue to be friendly. And I like that because I am also friendly and I like to have friends, of all orientations. And I think to myself, “you know, we’re different, we get off on different things, but maybe he can appreciate me for who I am even though I’m not submissive and he knows we can’t have that type of interaction.”
“Maybe he can still respect me and the dynamic that I enjoy.” But then I hear language that refers to male submission as if it is something disgusting or shameful.
And that’s what bothers me.
A few months ago, maymay was referred to as “such a fucking weak-ass male submissive that he makes male submission look bad” by a dominant man who is well-known in the local community.
This writing has since been deleted. But the harmful words still ring in my ears. Maymay is not making male submissives look bad. The author is the one who is making male submissives look bad, because he is using the words “male submissive” as an insult. Would he have said “a fucking weak-ass gay”? I think not, at least, not in the San Francisco scene—such words have a clear underlying implication of homophobia. But somehow, using someone’s D/s status as a slur is acceptable.
While I don’t enjoy the maledom-femsub dynamic myself, I think it is a completely valid sexuality. I would never presume to tell someone otherwise. These het-male-doms who make up the mainstream of the subculture that we inhabit? I think they like me and respect me and think I’m hot, but I don’t know if they think my sexuality is valid.
And so I feel tokenized. It’s not fair to me, because where would I, a femme dom, be without my masculine sub? We are two sides of a coin. Today I am not beating my queer drum; today I am borrowing maymay’s drum: You cannot truly respect me without respecting my submissive as well. If you value me, you must value him.
There is a lot of male submissive-shaming in the public scene. You’ll hear it all the time. “Male subs are creepy,” “male subs spoil the atmosphere, so we don’t want to encourage them.” And while I have indeed encountered many male submissives who have acted in inappropriate ways, I have one question to ask: why do you suppose that male subs like maymay who do respect boundaries don’t feel welcome in the scene? It’s not because they are making male submission look bad, it’s because you are equating male submission with badness.
And by doing this, you are hurting me.
This is the reason I go to sleep alone every night. It’s not because there’s something wrong with me as a potential romantic/sexual partner. It’s because there’s no one for me to date. Because everyone’s been telling all the male submissives that they’re unwanted for so long that they won’t come out to play. So I’m sitting here in my kinky sandbox with my toys all by myself.
And it hurts.
If you respect me, if you respect my identity as a female dominant, then recognize that when you devalue male submission, you are devaluing the objects of my desire, and by doing so, you. are. hurting. me. too.
July 18th, 2011 by Professor Chaos
Mainstream femdom plays into the notion that female dominants are invulnerable to emotion, with images of cold ice-queens who endlessly berate their submissives, referring to them as worthless or pathetic. I will never understand this. Why bother owning something worthless? If he’s so pathetic, why are you playing with him?
And then, of course, there’s withholding sex as a punishment. This, too, I do not understand. Why withhold sex? I wouldn’t want to withhold sex. I love sex. Not that I don’t enjoy chastity play, but I prefer to think of it as putting my favorite toy away when I’m not using it. Perhaps most femdoms are, in fact, ice-queens with no sex drive but who have an endless drive for inflicting cruelty and degradation. But I suspect not. I suspect more of them are like me.
I am a dominant woman. I am not invulnerable to desire. On the contrary, I am super-susceptible to desire. My desire controls me. My desire incites me to control others. The key is not about not having power–but about taking that power away. Not giving up control, but the loss of control caused by another. I don’t want someone who is always submissive, without any input from another–I want my dominance to be the key that unlocks the feeling of surrender inside of them. I don’t want someone who is worthless. I don’t want someone pathetic. I want someone valuable. I refuse to devalue submission, or the people that submit to me. It’s not that I’m better than they are or that my desires are worth more. It’s just that my desires are…more important.
I am a dominant woman. I’m not perfect. I don’t think of myself as perfect. I don’t think I am better than anyone else. I don’t have super high self-esteem. I do have healthy self-esteem, most of the time. But above all, I hold myself in high esteem.
I’ve seen the term “slaveheart”–the idea that a slave is someone who has a heart that longs to be owned by another. Slavehearts are often depicted as fragile and vulnerable. But there is no counterpart for dominants, as though our feelings don’t matter, as if our hearts can’t get broken. So I am proposing a corollary term for a dominant: a dominant spirit. A spirit that yearns to possess and overthrow. A spirit that is passionate and loving and fierce and tender.
As I walk this path, as I make this journey (although at times I loathe the trite comparison between BDSM exploration and a journey) I see the insecurities in my heart like cracks on the sidewalk. Thus far, I have a much better idea of who I am and what I want than I did a few years ago. For that, I am grateful. But sometimes it makes me feel hopeless because what I want seems so unattainable. The further I walk on this path, the more cracks I see in the pavement.
I am a dominant woman. I am not invulnerable to desire. I am not invulnerable to loneliness. Or heartbreak.
July 6th, 2011 by Fizz
I’m a bit of a clotheshorse for someone on a thrift store budget. Just a few weeks ago, I found myself fretting about what to wear to a party—did I want to go more femme, or masculine? To follow the theme, or not? I got a sexy idea, put it together, tried it on … and frowned. It was exactly the outfit I’d intended, but the image in my head was nothing like the one in the mirror. My body type’s been roughly the same since puberty; why can’t I picture my own clothes on myself?
I am surrounded by examples of how skinny people can choose to look. They’re in magazines and advertisements, shop windows and clothing catalogues. Many of the brands they suggest I wear don’t offer anything in my size; when they do, many stores don’t sell them. And where they are sold, you certainly won’t see a mannequin shaped like me in the window. Plus-size models? Please. According to the LA Times, the average American woman is a size fourteen. From a Huffington Post interview:
At 5’9″ and a size 6, Katie Halchishick was deemed “plus sized” by the modeling industry and asked to “just shave two inches” off her bony hips.
For reference, this is me. The skirt I’m wearing in that picture is a size twenty-two.
(Size numbering itself is a whole other can of worms, of course. It’s surreal to me that “plus sizes” begin at half my numerical size. Someone half my actual size would be tiny! A friend of mine who is that tiny has the complementary complaint: being labeled a “size 0” as if she were all but incorporeal.)
I’m not just angry about the dearth of sex-positive imagery because it makes clothes shopping a pain. We use our partners as status symbols in this society; if I am never depicted as desirable, I have no social value. That means not only that I’m ignored as a potential partner, but that the very idea that I might have one is a little gross. And of course, anyone who happens to genuinely like fat people is therefore a deviant. The Village Voice described Kevin N.’s experience growing up (emphasis mine):
Meanwhile, his “pretty” girlfriend was an all-state softball player—size 16, five feet nine inches tall, maybe 200 pounds—but could bench more than her scrawny boyfriend. A rumor spread that he was gay, which he didn’t bother to refute. Liking a fat girl was so much more of a preposterous scenario that he worried the truth would “make it snowball even more.”
Living with self-respect while surrounded by this bullshit requires constant attention and willpower. I’m lucky—I have good friends and lovers in my life who make it unambiguously clear how sexy they find my shape. And as much as the BDSM scene marginalizes those who don’t fit its favorite dynamics, it’s pretty size-positive; in a clothing-optional dungeon, there is neither the means nor the incentive to maintain the fiction that stick-thin, unblemished bodies are the norm. I feel confident in the dungeon, and that’s great. I need to, if I want to strut my deviant body proudly in a public space. But I still want something hot to wear while I do it, and then I’m struck once again by the frustrating lack of examples.
I know nobody looks like a mannequin. That’s what the dressing rooms are for. The difference is that I have to actively ignore what I’m seeing in order to imagine myself usefully close to accurately. That’s difficult, and tiring, and having to do it depresses me. If those mental gymnastics sound familiar, it might be because you’ve been listening to maymay.
As a sexually submissive guy myself, I look at a lot of BDSM porn, a lot of women bottoms, and I’ll change the genders around in my head. When I see a woman tied up, I think, “It’s okay, I’ll just imagine them as a guy, someone like me.” […]
And the more I looked at porn the more I realized I really wasn’t interested in seeing images of sexuality that aroused me, I was much more interested in seeing images of sexuality that reflected mine, so I could connect with them and see myself represented in that image and have a validation that I actually exist, that other people are like me there.
He reached it through sexuality, I through fashion, but the longing is the same: we both want to see people who are similar to ourselves portrayed as normal and desirable, and the images just aren’t there.
Neither of us is even holding the shortest end of the stick when it comes to having one’s attractiveness marginalized. Being female-assigned, I benefit from the trope of the curvy girl, and from the BBW and fat admirer communities. BHM appreciators exist, but in the mainstream, the assumption that fat men’s bodies are disgusting is so reliable that it can be used to sell advertising (if they’re acknowledged as objects of desire at all). Maymay’s gender/role identification is underrepresented at best and reviled at worst, but when you do find them in erotic images, most of the models are slender and pretty like him. People who are fat, male, and submissive are both kinds of invisible, no matter how sexy they really are.
I could go on, but a bunch of smart people have already done it for me. Professor Chaos wrote a post in this blog about the invisibility of disabled sexuality. For the 2006 film “A Girl Like Me,” filmmaker Kiri Davis interviewed young black women about their perceived standard of beauty, returning over and over to light skin and straight, fine hair. As the New York Times observed, even those who would reject that standard in favor of a “natural” look might not know how to maintain it—and then may have to endure unwanted rubbernecking and touching. Long, straight, shimmering locks are a mainstay of the beauty-magazine pages. When did you last see a shampoo ad feature someone with naturally kinky black hair?
Our shared concept of what a person looks like comes from the images we see around us—images which have already passed through the very narrow filters of the fashion and entertainment industries. This isn’t just dishonest, it’s dangerous. The link between unrealistic body image and adolescent eating disorders is so strong that the American Medical Association recently adopted policy to discourage digital alteration of advertising models. Such alteration is currently common practice, and its unambiguous message is that even the thinnest few percent of us aren’t thin enough.
When I mentally assembled my outfit for that party, I pictured it unthinkingly on my limited idea of that “normal” human—one who is white, able-bodied, female-assigned, and skinny. The difference between my real body and that image means that when I’m doing my damnedest to disprove the “fat people can’t be sexy” meme, to actively create a better example, I can still try on an outfit, look in the mirror, and for a moment before I catch myself, feel disappointed by what I see.
The day after I tried that outfit on, several hours before the party, I was telling a friend over coffee about my experience with mismatched self-image. We talked about fat-positivity, about frustrating invisibility, and about culture and desire and shame. Finally, she asked,
“… so what was the outfit, anyway?”
I told her: black jeans, a wifebeater, and black suspenders. She stared at me. “What?” I asked.
“Fizz, you have exactly the body type I would imagine that outfit on.”
“Except for having boobs, I guess.”
We compared notes. The image in my head was tall and lanky. She was picturing a “big, working-class punk guy”—my type indeed, but for the boobs and the attitude. That take on it hadn’t occurred to me, but I trust my friend’s judgment; I wore it, chest bound, and packing a strapon. I went to the party, had a good time, and by the time the clothes came off again, it didn’t matter what they’d been; there was nothing to be ashamed of underneath them.
When the next party rolls around, I’ll be fretting once again about what to wear. I want the confidence boost, but I also need to be an example. I am fat. I am sexy. And I won’t let the world keep pretending I don’t exist.