I was taught it is never OK for anyone to physically harm or disrespect me. But as I got older, and began having more sex, that boundary became blurred and became the genesis of my exploration of a variety of kinks.
A practice that negated everything I’ve been taught to combat, the idea to never let someone hurt or humiliate me and to never belittle or harm another Black person. But both eventually became the ultimate orgasm for me. Sadosm-masochism, the derivation of sexual gratification from the infliction of physical pain or humiliations either on another person or oneself, eventually became the catalyst for the several kinks that followed.
My disclaimer for the readers is that S&M and the practices I discuss in this piece are all grounded in consent. Consent within these kinks is essential and they should never be confused with sexual aggression or assault.
In addition, my partners, who are currently exclusively Black people, and whom I refer to in this article have given their consent. They are not people who I’d ever humiliate or inflict physical pain upon that they did not explicitly request.
Partners calling me a slut and spitting in my face was initially odd because, for me, a Black, queer woman, being humiliated and the risk of physical pain is familiar because they’re both tools that white supremacy and the patriarchy used to oppress me. In addition, the reality that my identity has also made me a target for physical harm at the hands of past partners and my communities.
So, of course, I was hesitant and confused when I found myself masturbating to humiliation porn and begging my partners to make me feel like shit during sex.
Let me offer additional context, I am a switch. There are times I am the submissive partner on the receiving end of the pain and humiliation and there are times I am the one who inflicts the pain and degradation. I’m writing from both perspectives as an offering for a better understanding and to highlight how me being a Black woman shows up on both sides.
Until recently, I was frequently on the receiving end. But thanks to some amazing sex I’m currently having, compliments of twitter match-making brilliance, #twinder, I had some grounding conversations with a new partner about what we would like our sex to consist of. He, a 30-something-year-old Black man—we’ll call him my “Good Boy,”—made it very clear that he wants me to degrade him and explore impact play. His requests are within the sexual boundaries and parameters I’ve set for myself, so I was excited to oblige. Calling him a good boy with my hands around his throat and spitting in his mouth was my pleasure.
I spent an entire Sunday in a very dominant role and I have to say, it was a great way to kick off my week. I work in philanthropy, a very white and oppressive sector, spending 40 hours a week trying to claim power and dominance in a space that wasn’t built with me in mind. It wasn’t until I sat down and reflected on the amazing sex with my “Good Boy” and the encounters I’ve had with past partners where I showed up as the sadist, that it was made clear that I was reclaiming something my autonomy as a Black woman through this practice. Something feels forbidden about being in this role.
When every room I’m in is designed to make sure I do not have power or requires me to police myself to avoid hurting someone, specifically those in positions of power based on their proximity to white supremacy and patriarchy, being a sadist grants me a form of pleasure and liberation that feels prohibited.
The shift wasn’t just professional, I was showing up for myself differently as a mother, and as a friend. A reminder that the sex we have can influence other parts of our lives and that’s actually how it should be. We’ve easily leaned into how the lack of sex impacts our moods and concentration, so why wouldn’t having the sex we crave make an impact as well? Zoom calls were holding my attention longer than usual, I was facilitating the hell out of meetings and my patience for my daughters teenage stank wasn’t nearly as thin.
Now, let’s talk about when I show up as a masochist. I have been labeled a “strong Black woman” all of my life which has robbed me of the ability to feel helpless or free of responsibility without guilt. However, with one of my other partners– another thirty-something-year-old, Black man who I’ll call “Thomas”–I’m free to be as helpless and pitiful as I want. I’ve always been told not to depend on a man and that submission was a sign of weakness. Yet, sex with “Thomas” gives me the autonomy to lean into all of those things, and as a Black woman who is constantly caring for other people, it feels really good to be cared for intentionally and not have to make any decisions for anyone, especially myself.
It‘s also an encounter where he knows how to make me feel like shit. The man can make me melt by calling me a simple bitch and spitting in my mouth, both things I’d beat somebody’s ass in the streets for.
With Thomas, it’s okay because the humiliation is grounded in trust and intimacy.
I’m not saying that any of you need to allow your partners to snatch you up and call you a hoe, unless you’re into that, of course. But do allow yourself to imagine what your boundaries are and how leaning into either of these roles can serve you. We all should be having consensual sex that feels good and affirms us in other aspects of our lives and identities.
Pleasure is Principle is a series focused on opening the boxes that Black folks have been placed in pertaining to sex, a safe space approaching pleasure beyond the confines of respectability while challenging the systems and ideas that have historically policed Black pleasure and joy. Follow me on Twitter at @ BrandiAlexandir.