Rough Sex Anyone?

My current lover and I have been having quite rough sex. Hair pulling,  choking and slapping, etc. I am really enjoying it in the moment but afterwards feel a bit strange about it. He is very loving and respectful generally, but I worry I am betraying my feminist principles by allowing / enjoying these activities. What do you think?

Ivy.

Dear Ivy,

Rough sex gets a bad rap sometimes, and often for the wrong reason. Sometimes people assume that rough sex means that one partner is being coerced, and the other partner is being unnecessarily aggressive, or aggressive as a form of genuine punishment, hatred or anger. While this can and does happen in situations where consent is not established; the difference here Ivy, is you are consenting and enjoying it. This is an extremely important distinction.

Pleasure and eroticism come in many forms. Sadly, because human sexuality is not discussed frequently enough or widely enough in a public context, it is often hard to know what other people enjoy and how many people enjoy it. We are often forced to keep our sexuality to ourselves for fear of being shamed or ridiculed for it.

The current surge of interest in rough sex play and kink can be measured by the popularity of books such as 50 Shades of Grey. Regardless of what one thinks of it from a literary perspective, people all over the world are now talking about alternative sex practices more than ever, and in more public ways. To my mind, this is a very good thing. Books like this give permission for people to experience alternative forms of sexuality and arousal, and decide for themselves whether or not they would like to try them, and then decide if they like them.

While some aspects of rough and kinky sex do carry a degree of danger, the acts you’re describing (aside from the choking) are essentially harmless, as long as you pay attention to your limits and honour them. The dangers with choking are very real and very high, and even the most experienced kink practitioners warn strongly against it. Learn and understand your limits with spanking and hair pulling, communicate them, and stop immediately if it ceases to be fun! It’s always a good idea to have an agreement with your lover about what your ‘stop’ word (also known as a safe word) is, so he knows when he hears this word, it really means STOP IMMEDIATELY, and is NOT part of the game. In advance, choose an incongruent word that you both identify as being the STOP word. e.g. car keys ( or some other random and un-sex related word).

Feminist principles are a valuable part of being a contemporary woman and so too is your relationship with your sexuality. As a person of any gender, allowing yourself to freely express and enjoy your eroticism is a healthy and fundamental part of being an adult. Depending upon how you perceive your feminist principles in light of sexual pleasure, you may find that the two can very comfortably go hand in hand, because as women, we have fought (and continue the fight) to be allowed to decide what we do with our own bodies, who we share them with and how. Give yourself permission to be all of who you are; sexual, sensual, kinky and feminist. They do not need to be in conflict with each other.

Listen to your body, notice its responses. This is where you will find the greatest liberation.