Erotic Fiction: Spar

Black and white image of a man and woman's hands and thighs as they stand side by Mona Kuhn for Erotic Fiction: Spar by Malin James

from Longing & Belonging. Series by Mona Kuhn

Originally, this story was called “Rough”. I wrote it years ago and always had a soft spot for it. I dug it out not long ago and realized how green I’d been when I wrote it, so I set it aside,  figuring its time had passed.

 Then I did a post about sex and intensity. As I wrote it, “Rough” kept coming to mind. When I pulled it out again, I realized that it contained pretty much everything I’d written about in Technicolor Sex, it just needed teasing out. So I decided to give it a tease.

 It’s still a young story, but now it’s closer to what it originally wanted to be.  Plus, I like the new title. Rough sex can take lots of different forms, but sparring is something specific. At its best, sparring is a dance; a meeting of equals; a give and take. For my money, there’s nothing quite as promising as an even field and room to play….

“Spar” by Malin James

A guy once asked if he could have “the honor” of licking chocolate off my breasts. He was fondling a strawberry at the time—an obvious hint at the pleasures to come. A lot of girls would have melted, but the thought of his tongue sliding over my skin made me want to bite it off. Literally. Off. I politely declined and went home.

I like rough sex. My perfect night would end with both of us bruised, bloody and possibly scarred for life. Candles and chocolate are not for me. I like a fight. Which is fine in theory, but finding someone you can scratch that itch with is harder than you’d think.

I don’t like thugs and I don’t like jerks. I want a nice guy who loves dogs and calls his mom once a week. I don’t want a guy out on bail for assault; but finding a nice, well-adjusted guy who’ll laugh at your jokes and choke you out is, to put it bluntly, pretty fucking hard.

That’s why I started kickboxing again. If I couldn’t find a nice guy who liked it rough, then at least I could beat the hell out of a bag. That’s when I met Mike. He was there every time I went to the gym. Turned out the gym was his.

After eight weeks of mild obsession interest, I signed up for a private lesson. I didn’t really need it, but by then I didn’t care. I don’t like pining (I’m awful at pining) and I needed him out of my system. Besides, I’d exhausted my supply of sparring partners by then, so at least I’d get a workout.

When I walked in that evening, the place was empty except for Mike, who was beating the shit out of a bag with the kind of single-minded intensity that makes my belly clench. He stopped when I came in. My belly stayed clenched.

“Hey,” he said, taking off his glove. “I’m Mike.”

He extended his hand, and I took it. I liked the way it felt—strong and solid, but not overbearing. This man was a man with nothing to prove. My belly clenched again.

“Hey,” I said. “Marie.”

Crooked smile. Lean muscle. Steady, calm gaze. He was very, very present. His eyes felt like the edge of a cliff and I took a running leap.

“So, I’ve booked an hour. What do you offer?”

He was still holding my hand when our eyes locked. It should have been awkward, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t awkward at all. It was the kind of blood-rushing, cunt-swelling turn on that sinks right under your skin. Cue music. Fade to black. Except this wasn’t a movie, so skip the fade to black.

“It depends,” he said. “What are you looking for?”

“A challenge,” I replied.

His hand tightened and relaxed, an instinctive, light pressure, like knees brushing under a table. We were having a conversation. I tried to keep my face calm. Do you want this? Yes. Do you want this? Yes. Are we doing this? Yes. I smiled and squeezed his hand. Negotiations were done.

“Sure,” he said. “A challenge. I can give you that. Need to warm up?”

“No. I’m plenty warm.”

We circled each other, testing. He threw a left hook and I dodged. It barely grazed me, but I caught enough to know that he hadn’t tried to pull it, and that, my friends, was hot.

We’d been at it for just a few minutes when I decided to move things along. Tucking my shoulders in, I drove him back against the wall, but I’d underestimated Good Guy Mike. He wasn’t above playing dirty. To my snarly, feral delight, he picked me up by the waist and pressed me into the wall.

(I don’t have to tell you that sweatpants won’t hide a hard-on. All I’m going to say is that by the time he pinned me, I knew everything I needed to know, thank fucking god).

“Now what,” he said, grinning at me. He looked like a wolf daring me to throw a stick.

“Now this.”

I grabbed a fistful of his hair and bit his bottom lip. He growled and bit me back. Then his tongue was in my mouth and he caught both of my wrists. Yes…yes, yes, yes….

But I still wanted more, so I (very, very sweetly) kneed him in the gut. He swung me down hard, just like I’d hoped. I landed on the mat, but before I could roll away he’d pinned me with his weight.

Now, I’m not tiny. I’m fit and strong and tall, but Mike was so quick and so big that the sheer, immovable weight of him made me relax. Fighting him was like running at something you know won’t budge, and that’s why you do it – for the sheer, crazy joy of not holding back. Mike was so strong, so reliably strong, that I didn’t have to hold back.

“Gotta get you out of these clothes….”

He yanked down my pants and I tore at his sweats. The gym was a fishbowl and the doors were unlocked, but you couldn’t have paid me enough to care, not with his mouth on my tits, sucking and teasing with his rough, hungry tongue. I groaned and spread my legs.

He slid into me, deep and hard. I pushed my hips up, slick and open, wanting more. The way we fucked wasn’t tender. It was raw and rough and real, but under the bites, we were watching, gauging, asserting, retreating…. The give and take made me high.

We were wet and slippery with sweat. I tasted blood, but I didn’t know whose. Red welts. Dripping salt. Fists in hair. Hands on necks. Teeth and nails and blooming bites. When I came it was almost too much. My nerves felt like hooks in my skin, my lungs, my swollen cunt. I came and kept coming. I couldn’t stop coming. I sank into my body and pulled him in deep.

I felt his mouth on my neck, his teeth on skin, light pressure, harder pressure…. It started all over again. I came as I watched. I watched him and I waited. You can do that if you breathe. You can come and watch. Focus. Breathe. I watched his face and breathed.

He wrapped his fist in my hair, and I let him. He marked me, and I let him. He saw me, and I let him. And when he came, I saw him too.

We were quiet for a long time after. Gradually, I looked down at our bodies as we lay back on the mats, sweaty, panting, bruised. I hurt everywhere a person could hurt and it felt glorious. Like a brand new, shiny day.

“So,” he said, touching my jaw. I could feel a bruise forming. It’s a beautiful feeling, when you like how you got the bruise. “Can I take you to dinner sometime?”

I gave him a satisfied grin.

“It depends. How do you feel about dogs?”

“I love ‘em,” he said. “Lost my Sadie last year. I haven’t had the heart to get another. Someday. Maybe soon.”

He looked away, embarrassed. The man had clearly loved his dog.

“In that case, dinner would be great.”

On Secret Identities

Black and white image of Malin James with one half of her face in sharp relief and the other in shadow

Photo by Malin James

A few weeks ago, I introduced myself as Malin. This isn’t unusual – people often call me Malin, even if they know my real name. The only reason it caught me up was that the person I’d introduced myself to was my daughter’s teacher, someone with no overlap into the Malin portions of my life. It made me realize how deeply my relationship to that name, and the identity it signifies, has changed.

Malin began as a construct – a second identity engineered to be a firewall between my real life and what I wrote. What I didn’t realize was that creating the firewall formalized a boundary that pre-existed Malin by decades. I’d always felt a certain split, but the pseudonym freed me to fully engage both halves of what I perceived to be two conflicting identities – the hungry, sexual, wolf-grin parts of me that wore black leather pants and always carried cab fare, and the introverted nerd who liked to stay home and read.

Clearly, these (and many other) facets of my personality can and do co-exist. But right after my daughter was born, when I switched genres and started writing erotica, formalizing the difference and attaching an “identity”  to the latter was a huge relief. It gave my sexual intensity somewhere to go while I sorted through the insanity of suddenly being someone’s mom.

Five years later, I’ve grown out of that formalized boundary between Malin and the rest of me. The name no longer signifies a secret or hidden identity because there is, quite literally, no difference between Malin and the rest of me. By pure coincidence, both facets have fully integrated. There’s nothing secret or hidden left to hide (except access to my home address).

Unlike a lot of people who use pseudonyms, mine is, at this point, more of a convenience than a necessity – Malin James is the author of all of my work and it’s easier to let it stay that way. It also acts as a sort of marker – if you know my real name, we very likely have a friendship / relationship that extends into real life. Plus, I’m protective of my family so the firewall is still nice to have.

My slip a few weeks ago made me aware of how, for the longest time, I thought of Malin as a separate person, and how that separation ended up being a really healthy thing. Without the pseudonym formalizing the division in my identity, I probably wouldn’t have integrated them as naturally as I did.

Naming that half of myself gave me permission to be everything I no longer felt comfortable being. (It wasn’t just motherhood. There was a lot of shakubuku involved). Rather than repress it, I gave the problematic parts a formal context, ie: Malin does sex and engages the world, while the rest of me works in a library and mashes peaches for my kid.

I’m hardly unique in this – people create secret identities all the time. In fact, the duality of characters like Catwoman and Batman is a large part of their appeal (at least, it is to me). Despite their duality, they are fundamentally whole – both halves get face time, both halves have a purpose. It’s a neat solution to a common problem of how to reconcile seemingly disparate parts of yourself.

The fact that I needed that division makes me sad, but that need was a product of no longer felt right in my own skin. Having two identities running parallel to each other was a way to inhabit all of myself without sacrificing either half – the light or the dark. What I realized the other day is that fully inhabiting both identities brought them closer and closer together until they overlapped. And that’s where I am now.

Integrating Malin into the rest of me was never my intention. I could have happily continued jumping back and forth over that formalized divide, but I’m even happier now that I don’t have to. I like being fully represented in all aspects of my life. I like that, if you read my blog or follow my Twitter feed, you get a sense of who I actually am, not just the parts that jive with an image.

Everyone has a different relationship to their secret identity. For some people, it is a non-negotiable necessity. For others, it’s the freedom to be their real, honest self. For me, it became a way to grapple with conflicting identities. In the end, the divide made both halves got stronger until the line between them blurred.

I’ll always have practical reasons for maintaining my pseudonym, but knowing that what started as a pen name became a temporary home makes me love the name, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I keep it. I’m grateful for Malin and giving it up would be, at this point, almost as strange as giving up my legal name.

Elust #86: Self-Objectification, Sexy Migraines & More

Elust 86 Header
Photo courtesy of Modesty Ablaze

Welcome to Elust 86

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #86 Start with the rules, come back October 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

On Self-Objectification

Female Orgasms – Addressing Women’s Sexuality

Migraine – A Sexual Spiritual Explanation

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Can You Train a Sub to Orgasm on Command?

Rupert Campbell-Black and me…

 

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

Yes I’m a Sexblogger and No I don’t care about your dick

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

BUTTER FOR LUBE… Salted or Unsalted?
KOTW:Static on the line
Control Queen
Well, That Didn’t Go According to Plan

Writing about Writing

A BDSM Vignette from Two Viewpoints

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Sex Negative

Erotic Fiction

The Cure
sports

Erotic Non-Fiction

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT – with a twist
Iris
A Polyquad Squad Orgasm
Beautiful Birthday Fuck
Purpose of Tasks
Do You Trust Me
The meanings of “good girl”

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

How Long Is Enough
The Virgin. Unlocking Feminine Power.
The Other Day
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
addressing doubts one step at a time
How D/s has taught me to stick up for myself

Body Talk and Sexual Health

Against All Odds

Poetry

Where I’m From

 

 

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Flash Fiction: Auction Sale of Clothes

Black and white photograph by Cartier-Bresson of a woman standing on a stage in a auction house modeling a dress in front of a full room

Auction Sale of Clothes by Cartier-Bresson (Berlin, 1951)

“Do you like it?”

“What? The model or the dress?”

“The dress…and the model, I suppose.”

The woman cocked her head. The dress was the sort of thing you’d wear to a cocktail party. The model was the sort of thing you’d bring home from a cocktail party.

“Yes,” she said, thoughtfully. “I do.”

“Which?”

“Both.”

The man raised a brow but failed to look surprised.

_______

Standing on a platform in a dead woman’s clothes wasn’t Laura’s idea of high fashion, but it was a paycheck and paychecks were good, especially when you liked to eat.

“Lot 398. Christien Dior. We’ll start the bidding at….”

Laura ignored the auctioneer. She didn’t want to know. It made wearing the dress depressing, like sampling a pastry she couldn’t afford. Laura hated not affording so she canted her hips and ignored the bidders too. These days the bidders were worth ignoring.

There were two types of people at auctions like this—collectors and ghouls. Ghouls, with their shabby collars and hard mouths, came to watch a rich person’s things get sold off. Collectors were different. Collectors went hunting for very specific things, but what made a thing special was anyone’s guess. Just the week before, someone paid $500 for a soap dish with an impeccable provenance…whatever that meant.

Laura pivoted and tried not to yawn. At first, the keen, avid eyes in the audience had turned her on so much that her thighs would be slick by the time she left the platform. Once or twice she’d even come (quietly, of course). It didn’t matter if she was modeling last year’s lingerie or someone’s ridiculous hat, being scrutinized felt good. But that had been ages ago. The novelty was gone. Now she barely noticed.

Laura unhooked the dress’s train, revealing an obscene amount of leg for 10am. Suddenly, the soft hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she looked up.

A couple was sitting in the middle of the room. They were young and golden and bright as if they’d gathered up all the stray light. Now that she’d seen them, she couldn’t look away.

Laura’s center of gravity dropped into her hips. She did a half-turn as the nerves in her belly coiled. She wanted the couple to notice. She wanted to make them bid. Laura moved to center stage, rolling her hips. She knew she looked like a woman begging to be kissed. Then the golden woman winked, and she almost fell off the stage.

The woman scanned Laura’s body, from her hem to her face, with the kind of cold interest she was used to in men. Every nerve in Laura’s body clustered between her legs. The woman smiled like a collector. She smiled like she knew. Laura squeezed her thighs tight, felt how plump and wet she was. She swore the woman knew.

Silver shoes peeked out from beneath her hem. The woman met Laura’s eyes and raised a brow. Without thinking, Laura raised the dress so the woman could see the shoes. Ankles, knees, halfway up her thighs…she would have kept going, right up to her waist, but the woman gave her a tiny nod, so Laura stopped. She didn’t lower the dress. The woman looked pleased. Still, they didn’t bid.

Laura squirmed, unwilling to drop the hem as the bids rose higher and came faster and the pressure built. She squeezed her thighs together as tight as she could. She could come like that. She had before. She would come and the woman would watch her. She would come and the woman would know.

But the woman shook her head.

Laura went still.

A Catalogue of Very Specific Things:

Silver dress. Silver shoes.  Twitching fingers, shifting hips. A trembling mouth that makes a quick but perfect O. The flush of a lip, a swollen lip, soft between hard teeth. Wide eyes. Young skin. Impulses waiting to spill….

The woman whispered to the man.

The gavel cracked.

“Sold, to the gentleman in the middle of the room.”

__

The woman sighed.

“Thank you, love.’

“Have you got your eye on anything else?”

“No,” she said. “Let’s collect.”

Flash Fiction: Statue

White marble classical statue of a woman's torso and thighs covered by a sheer veil

Marble statue. Courtesy of Getty Images

“So. Henry has this fetish….”

Marjory swirled her martini around with a naked swizzle stick. She’d already eaten the olives.

“Okay,” Jackie replied, waiting for the ellipses to run out. They didn’t.

“So, is he into feet or something?”

Marjory shook her head.

“Spanking?”

“No.”

“Breast milk? Teddy bears? Tell me it’s not corpses.”

“No, no. It’s none of that. Besides, Henry’s too squeamish for dead people.”

“Thank Christ.”

Jackie downed the last of her cosmo and signaled for another.

“So, what’s he into then?”

Marjory blushed and looked away.

“Statues.”

“Statues?”

“Yeah. You know… Greek statues.”

“Like…the kind in museums. With boobs and missing bits?”

“Yeah. Like those.”

“Huh. That’s interesting.”

“Yeah….”

Marjory had always played it kind of straight. Jackie was the one who’d gotten around. She waited for her sister to say more, but wasn’t surprised when she didn’t.

“So what’s the problem? It could be worse. It could be corpses.”

“Stop with the corpses. This is serious.”

“Okay, okay….”

The bartender set down Jackie’s cosmo. She tossed him a wink for the extra twist.

“So,” she said, toying with the little curl of lemon. “Tell me why it’s serious. Can’t he get it up? Can he only fuck in the Met? Museum fucking is hot….”

“No! I mean, yes. He can get it up. But he really, really wants me to do this thing and I’ve never done anything like it before and I don’t know if it’s normal or not.”

“Sweetie,” Jackie said, “there is not such thing as normal. There’s just stuff you’ve done and stuff you haven’t. So what does he want you to do?”

“He wants me to…you know. Dress up.”

“Like what? A statue?”

“Yeah,” Marjory said, chewing her lip. “Like a statue. He even bought me an urn.”

“Aw! He bought you an urn? That’s super sweet!”

“Yeah, but is it? Sweet, I mean? Isn’t it kind of weird?”

“I don’t know. What does he want you to do with it?”

“Hold it.”

“While he fucks it?”

“No. Just hold it. While I watch.”

“Yeah?” Jackie smiled. It was a smile she knew Marjory hated, but only because she’d never smiled that way herself. “Watch what?”

Marjory leaned in and dropped her voice.

“He wants me to watch him…masturbate.”

Jackie slapped the bar and laughed.

“That’s it? He wants you to hold a vase while he wanks? That’s great! Oh! You know what you should do? You should wear, like, a sheer toga thing and expose one breast. That would be lovely! He’d be so surprised!”

“Jackie, I’m serious!”

“Marjory, so am I! Of all the fetishes in the world, this one is pretty sweet. Random, but sweet. It’s not like he’s asking you to cut off your arms for authenticity. Besides, haven’t you ever watched a guy get off? It’s fucking hot!”

The bartender glanced over and pretended to straighten the cocktail napkins. Jackie pounced.

“Hey! Sexy guy! Am I right? Isn’t being watched by a woman you’re into hot?”

“Uh…yeah. Actually, it is.”

The bartender smiled. Jackie grinned.

“See? It’s hot! And the only other thing he’s asking for is that you hold a thing and stand super still while he does it. My vote is that you go for it. Expand your horizons. Embrace the new.”

“I don’t know….”

“Of course, you don’t. You’ve never tried it. Go on. Be a statue. Live a little.”

“Okay…if that’s what you think.”

“That’s exactly what I think,” Jackie said, scrawling her number on a napkin and sliding it to the bartender. He took it and tucked it into his pocket. “You’ve already got the urn. Now all you need is something sheer.”

“I don’t have something sheer.”

“We’ll go shopping for curtains tomorrow.”

Technicolor Sex

Marilyn Monroe in a read dress against a green floral background for Technicolor Sex by Malin James

Marilyn Monroe, circa 1952. Image courtesy Getty Images.

You know how sometimes, every now and then, sex can light you up? It’s the kind of sex that squeezes your heart and gobbles it whole. Sublime, intense, shattering sex that leaves you wrecked and soaked and scratched and bruised and so happy you could cry?

Yeah. I love sex like that.

I used to associate catastrophically good, mind-altering sex with kink because, when I was younger, the only time I experienced it was in kinky situations. The impact it made on me drove me to experiment with all sorts of sexual deviance, which was great and profound in its own way, but it also kept me from understanding my natural sexual wiring until much later.

Recently, I’ve come around to realizing that, while I am definitely a kinky person, kink isn’t actually what drives my sexuality. Intensity does, and kink is one possible way for me to get a hit of that drug.

Note: When I say “kink”, I’m referring to all of the kinks I enjoy, plus the million other kinks that fall under the term’s umbrella. Unless I specify a particular kink by name, just figure I mean it as a placeholder for anything that falls outside the sexual mainstream, whatever that is….

Some people have a central kink around which other kinks play out, like the sub who loves spanking but isn’t into service. I don’t have a central, identifying kink. I have a spectrum of equally weighted, kinky options. That’s because, for me, the turn-on isn’t the kink itself, but the intensity that comes from engaging it.

I’ve written before about how I don’t identify as a Domme because it comes with a set of expectations that don’t consistently apply. While I enjoy playing that role, I slide in and out of sexual dominance depending on what I’m doing and who I’m with. For me, sexual dominance is an impulse—awesome when it’s instinctive with a partner, but not necessarily something I pursue for its own sake.

Unlike someone whose sexual identity is fairly set, my sexuality is fundamentally intuitive. I’m kind of like a tuning fork—I ring at different frequencies with different lovers because different people tap different aspects of my sexuality. This isn’t to say that I don’t have my own preferences and boundaries. It’s no secret that submission isn’t my thing. Masochism, however, is. I like pain – both dishing it out and taking it – but only if it’s part of my natural dynamic with a partner.

And that’s really the thing for me—my dynamic with my partner. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-time thing or a long-term relationship, more than anything, I respond to connection – that humming recognition that you both want to fuck. While I really enjoy a lot of different kinks, the intensity I crave has more to do with a feedback loop than with the kink itself, and what creates that delicious feedback loop changes from partner to partner and moment to moment.

So, when I say that my sexuality is intuitive rather than definitive, I really mean that my sexual response cues off a feedback loop. Kink can, and often does, form the basis of that connection, but sometimes it just happens out of the blue. It’s a lot like dancing – you move with each other’s impulses and improvise, so dancing with one partner is nothing like dancing with someone else. I’m hyperaware of my partners’ impulses, and that awareness shapes my response. It creates a sort of bespoke sexual experience, but what fits one partner in one moment, won’t necessarily fit another.

That’s why, while I love rough sex, I’m only going to want it with certain people because it’s not about rough sex, per se. It’s about rough sex with someone I want to have rough sex with. So, as much as I enjoy restraint and watching and being watched and group sex and fucking in places you shouldn’t be fucking, I love vanilla too. For me, it’s not about what we’re doing; it’s about how it feels while we’re doing it.

If I get that intensity through missionary with unbroken eye contact, fine. If I get it through edge play, voyeurism, or trusting a partner enough to push my own boundaries, fine. In the end, it’s all just a gateway to the kind of intensity that makes for the kind of sex that dismantles your brain and turns you into a cock or a cunt and the basic need to fuck.

That isn’t to say that I can’t enjoy kink or have amazing sex without that brain-dismantling intensity because I can and have and will. In the end, I love sex—kinky sex, or sex that’s as vanilla as it gets. The kind of sex that I’m talking about here is just one variation in a million. I just happen to love it because it’s as context dependent as I am.

For me, at its best, sex is a function of impulses and variables and kink is just one of those variables. While I genuinely enjoy kinky, filthy filth, the intensity I want is a product of dynamic and connection, informed by, but not dependent on kink. It’s just as likely to happen with eye contact as it is with anything else.

I like it when sex is the unpredictable product of impulse and instinct. I like it when sex surprises me. Within the boundary of certain hard limits, my sexuality is fluid enough that it doesn’t hold a definitive shape, which means that sex is always something of an adventure. Even if I’ve been with someone for years, something – an emotional quirk, a request, whatever – can hit me in a way I didn’t expect. That sudden change in frequency is the shot of sexual adrenaline that starts the rest of the feedback loop.

It’s like alchemy and it’s different with everyone. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it reminds me what having a body is all about. That’s when you get sex that’s shattering and cathartic; sex that’s so intense and so fucking good you have to check for a heartbeat after. That’s sex in blazing Technicolor. Kink or no kink, I love Technicolor sex.

Sinful Sunday: Pretty Thing

Sometimes, you just have to face the facts. Like no matter how you hold your shoulders, your tits are never going to fill that bra….

Malin James wearing the Malin Bra by Iris London

The bra in this picture is so pretty that I’ve kept it, even if only to wear in self-deprecating posts. It’s so pretty that I wasn’t even that disappointed when it didn’t fit. Sometimes pretty doesn’t have to have a purpose. Sometimes it’s just nice to know it’s there, smiling in your drawer.

For more Sinful Sunday, click the pretty lips.

Sinful Sunday

On Self-Objectification

Woman on a red bed taking a selfie for Selfies and Self-Objectification by Malin James

Selfie by Malin James

I’m a contrary person. If there’s a popular take on something, I tend to play devil’s advocate, if only for the sake of discussion. The idea that selfies are a form of female “self-objectification” is one of those issues. The only difference is that, in this case, my objection is rooted in actual disagreement, not just the spirit of debate.

A great deal of ink has been spilled on selfies and their social impact. A lot of articles voice a concern that selfies foster poor self-esteem in young women and a reliance on external validation. Others protest that selfies as narcissistic, vain and shallow—also as regards women. Still others point out that posting selfies can make a woman vulnerable to bullying, predation, anxiety and stress.

All of these concerns are valid – in some cases. In others, selfies are a source of healthy self-expression, positive reinforcement, memories and the basic human drive to exclaim Hey! I was here! It all depends on the person and their motive for taking the selfie, and that’s far too contextual a thing to usefully question or protest.

What I take issue with is the assertion that selfies are a form of self-objectification, ie: that women who take selfies have unknowingly drunk the patriarchal Kool-Aid.

So, what ‘self-objectification’ and why I have an issue with it?

Before we can deal with self-objectification, we need to start with objectification as a concept. Objectification is a theory that refers to the treatment of a person, usually a woman, as an object, stripped of autonomy and subjectivity. (For a detailed definition, click here). Objectification is usually assumed to be sexual at its core.

According to feminist theory, sexual objectification is a symptom of the male gaze, a way of seeing everything, including women, through a male, often sexualized, lens. According to critics, the male gaze has led to internalized misogyny – that’s the drinking of the patriarchal Kool-Aid I mentioned earlier. It’s the idea that women have been subjected to the male gaze for so long that we’ve internalized an objectifying view of ourselves and other women.

While I do believe that internalized misogyny can manifest in all kinds of subtle ways, it isn’t, and can’t be, inherent in selfie-taking. Here’s why.

Objectification is something that is done to you. It’s the lens through which you are viewed. Even if you wear nothing by fuck me pumps and a smile, you are not objectifying yourself. You might be inviting objectification, but odds are you aren’t viewing yourself an object devoid of autonomy and reason. You’ve simply presented yourself in a sexualized way. Objectification is the step other people take when they see you.

So, is it possible for women to self-objectify? Can a woman see herself as a thing stripped of personhood and subjectivity? Can a woman view herself as an object? Well…while it’s possible, especially in cases of abuse, but casually speaking it isn’t likely.

When a woman takes a selfie, she’s acknowledging that she has a body. She isn’t stripping herself of intelligence, resilience, bad-assness or anything else. Those qualities still exist in the way she sees herself, regardless of how she angles her body. She is simply asserting her physical presence for reasons of her own and that is what subjectivity is all about.

Whether you like it or not, inviting objectification is a legitimate, autonomous choice. Whether or not it’s a symptom of internalized misogyny is as unique to the individual woman as is any other motive for selfie-taking, which brings me full circle.

People take selfies for all kinds of reasons. Judging those reasons as shallow, vain, dangerous or anti-feminist is as useful as judging someone’s motives for eating an ice cream cone. Sure, you could eat ice cream for unhealthy reasons. You could eat ice cream to excess. Or you could just eat ice cream because it tastes good and you want ice cream. There are too many possible motives to warrant casting it in a reflexively cautionary light.

The same thing goes for selfies – protesting on the grounds of internalized misogyny discounts the many reasons she might have for taking the picture. It denies her the ability to make an autonomous choice and strips her of sovereignty over her image and how she uses it. That’s anti-feminism dressed up as real feminism, and it’s much more dangerous than the hottie in your timeline.

Selfies are a curious thing. As a species, we are preoccupied with our presence in the world. It’s why we have cave paintings, graffiti, art, and most other forms of human accomplishment. They are an assertion of presence – a huge I WAS HERE shouted into the void of existence. Selfies are just another way to shout into the void. It’s an assertion of presence, regardless of the reason, and that makes selfies important. The fact that women use them to assert their presence in the world for reasons of their own is a devil worth advocating for.

Elust 85: Voyeurs, Good Men, Dates with Prey & More

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Photo courtesy of Cheeky Minx

Welcome to Elust 85

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #86 Start with the rules, come back September 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Use
Hot
The Case of the Purloined Panties

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

The Inspection Zone
Date with prey

 

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

Voyeur

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Erotic Fiction

Alleyway
After Dark
Night World Flash Fiction
THE PUNISHMENT ROOMS
HELPLESS, BOUND AND SUBJECT – Part 1
Temper temper
How to Start Super Sex
Nobody Comes Looking For Me
it was time to play

Erotic Non-Fiction

Cunnilingus. The Most Special Intimate Kiss
Nastya is nasty
“Do you want to cum in my mouth?” A Memoir
Humiliation: Raylene’s caning 2

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Come as you are…
A Case for Good Men
Changing Labels
10 Commandments of Courteous Casual Sex
The Aftermath
I miss you

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Formative Kink: “Tanya, the Lotus Eater”
At his feet
Consent In Gorean Culture

Body Talk and Sexual Health

Manicured

 

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The Body Politic

Black and white image of a woman wearing a black corset for Luck and the Body Politic post by Malin James

Photograph by Jeanloup Sieff

It’s been a rough week…a rough month, to be honest. I don’t normally share this sort of thing, but it ties into something important, so I’m going to.

My body is strong – a bit busted up, but strong and faithful and generally trustworthy. That’s why I was taken by surprise when I got a “concerning” (ie: abnormally abnormal) result on a cervical biopsy last month.

I took it for granted that the biopsy would come back clear. I had no basis for that assumption – there’s a history of cervical cancer in my family, so abnormal results shouldn’t have surprised me, but there you go. Nothing blinds like optimism.

Unfortunately, I was also in the tiny minority of women who get a cervical infection after a biopsy (not fun, in case you were wondering), which is why they waited  a month to do the procedure that eradicates suspicious cells – the very same cells that took advantage of the delay to grow like the ambitious little bastards they were. As a result, this fairly simple procedure ended up being a lot more involved (and painful) than it usually is, which is why I’ve spent the week laid up. Lots of time to think.

Aside from really wishing I’d had (even) more drugs during the procedure because wow, A LOT  just wasn’t enough, I’m trying to take it in stride. It’s a common procedure and they caught the cells before they had a chance to become a problem. So, why am I feeling so fragile and emotional? You’d think my head fell off….

It’s to do with a few things I suspect. The first is that a woman’s cervix is freaking sensitive and having it messed with, even by a doctor for the very best of reasons, is unsettling. I’ve also experienced sexual trauma so I’m extra protective of that area, which made it upsetting in that way too. And then there’s the last thing, which is what I want to focus on – the feeling of having dodged a bullet through sheer, dumb, circumstantial luck.

This isn’t about mortality – that’s a whole other thing. It’s about **resources and who gets access to them. I had a relatively straightforward procedure that, even with complications, worked out to my benefit – no cervical cancer for me, thanks! The price I had to pay was worth it, and I would gladly pay it again. But some people aren’t so lucky. Some people don’t have a choice.

The procedure I had is routinely available in 2016. So is the Pap smear that led to the biopsy that led to me sitting in stirrups while a surgeon did surgical things to me. And because I have medical insurance, I was given the choice of having those things done. A lot of women would happily make the same choices, but without access to comprehensive medical care, they can’t. And that’s a horrible thought.

I’m thinking about all of the women who try (and have tried) to end pregnancies in ways that are as dangerous to them as they are to the fetus. I’m thinking about breast cancers that metastasize and the daughters who lose mothers because something is wrong but no one knows what  – not until it’s too late. I’m thinking about all of the people who die from preventable diseases because services aren’t available when they’re needed.

I am not equating what my cervical experience with an abortion. Not even close. What I am doing is pointing out that, while reproductive health is something that we advocate for, fund and defend, there are a lot of people who don’t enjoy the benefit of those resources because they can’t afford them. That makes it frustrating and all the more tragic in a different way when people who do have access don’t use them.

Everyone is physically vulnerable. Our mortality guarantees that. But if you have access to resources and education, use them—get STI screenings, get Pap smears, do breast exams. They are crazy-amazing interventions. While nothing in medicine will prevent you from eventually kicking off, access to care buys you choices, and that’s something I wish everyone had more of. Unfortunately, in practical terms (at least, in the U.S.) health coverage is still not universal, despite the political progress made in this area, and that’s nothing compared to the lack of basic medical care in Third World and developing nations.

Our bodies, whether we like it or not, are political objects, and medicine is a political issue. I’m not saying you have to rally for universal health coverage, abortion rights or fundraise for breast cancer awareness. All I’m saying is that a great deal of the world’s population does not have access to good medicine. In fact, for the bulk of human history, no one did.

So, if you do have access to health care, don’t take it for granted and definitely don’t  waste it. Use the educational and medical resources available to you. It’s one very basic way to advocate for more. And when you vote on issues pertaining to medical assistance, try to let empathy guide you as much, or more than, economics or political allegiance. There are so many resources regarding reproductive health, from birth control to cures for abnormal cell growth. It breaks my heart that, whether due to insufficient sexual education or insufficient funding, so many people have to do without.

That’s why I feel lucky (and ridiculously emotional) – I got to have a procedure that hurt like hell, thoroughly rattled my cage and may have saved my life somewhere down the line, and I got it because I have a lovely little card that means I’m part of an HMO with a co-pay I can afford. That’s an incredibly privileged position to be in, especially in a world where people still die from curable diseases. Given all that, I don’t mind being reminded how lucky I am.

** While this post is generally about women and reproductive health, the same applies to all areas of medical concern, from vaccinations to urology (fun! sorry…not fun…). If you have access to health care, use it, even if the resource you need makes your five-year-old cry. Even if it makes you cry. It’s better than not having the choice.